We know the A’s have their work cut out to keep the Texas Rangers from cracking open the champagne this weekend. Texas’ magic number is four, and two victories in this four-game series will give them their first AL West title since 1999. So we know the task that lies ahead for Oakland. But regardless of what happens on the scoreboard, I’m interested to see how much fire this team shows after Wednesday’s deflating loss to the White Sox. I think there’s big-time potential for the “hang-over” effect after such a defeat. And I would have said that even if the Rangers had lost last night and the A’s deficit remained at seven games. Yesterday was just a huge shift in momentum, and it’s going to be tough to snatch that back …
–News of the day: Closer Andrew Bailey will have “clean-up” surgery on his right elbow Friday in Pensacola, Fla. with Dr. James Andrews. That rules him out for the final 11 games. Most importantly for Bailey, he said his exam Thursday showed no ligament damage. Andrews will smooth out cartilage and other calcified build-up in his elbow that caused him pain over his recent outings. All indications are he should be fully recovered by spring training. “I guess you would call it the best-case scenario for surgery if they had to go in there,” Bailey said over the phone.
As for the rest of the bullpen, the A’s are likely to be short-handed again tonight. Manager Bob Geren said lefty Jerry Blevins (left shoulder soreness) is unavailable. Michael Wuertz (right thumb) was a question mark before batting practice, and Geren said he was unsure about Craig Breslow. But Breslow told me after Wednesday’s game he expected to be ready.
But there is a new injury revelation: Cliff Pennington’s left shoulder has been bothering him, Geren said, so Steve Tolleson starts at shortstop tonight. Pennington’s shoulder hurts him most when he’s swinging the bat, but Geren said he’s available for defensive purposes. “If he was available (in a full capacity), he’d be in there,” Geren said.
A’s — Davis CF, Barton 1B, Ellis 2B, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Cust DH, Carter LF, Carson RF, Tolleson SS; Braden LHP.
Rangers — Andrus SS, Young 3B, Cruz LF, Guerrero DH, Kinsler 2B, Francoeur RF, Murphy CF, Cantu 1B, Teagarden C; Lee LHP.