I didn’t get a chance to blog before the game, so here’s a rundown of Saturday’s news, though some of it is predictable. The A’s lost yet another one to the Yankees, 9-2, and it had all the ingredients of past defeats to New York. There’s always at least one big bopper in the Yanks’ lineup that wears out A’s pitching. This weekend it’s been Mark Teixeira, who homered twice today and has three homers and seven RBIs in the first two games of this series. You think Teixeira salivates when he sees “Oakland” on the schedule? Since the start of last season, Teixeira has six homers and 17 RBIs in 11 games against the A’s.
The A’s could salvage something by winning Sunday, I suppose. But this has the feel of a team moving backward right now. The A’s are a season-high seven games behind first-place Texas. They are due to get a boost from the return of third baseman Brandon Inge (likely Monday), center fielder Yoenis Cespedes (sometime during the upcoming road trip) and designated hitter Manny Ramirez (possibly Wednesday if he’s promoted from the minors). And on a six-game road trip against Minnesota and Kansas City that begins Monday, the A’s will face two teams who began Saturday with a combined record of 32-57. But if the A’s reverse their ways and start playing better, will it matter in the scheme of the A.L. West race? The Rangers, who are 29-18, have to cooperate and go in a slump. The Angels, who are starting to play better, also must go back to their bumbling early-season form.
Then again, this season wasn’t supposed to be about contending, right? It’s supposed to be about building for the future and seeing young players develop. I’m guessing that won’t make many of you feel better if the A’s start to slide in the standings. But you can draw encouragement from a young player like Josh Reddick, who hit his 13th homer Saturday. Pitchers Tommy Milone, Ryan Cook and Jarrod Parker have obviously looked very good, too.
Maybe the A’s will get hot and climb back over .500. If so, we’ll see if that helps keep their hopes alive in the division race. …
–Left-hander Travis Blackley will get the call for Monday’s start against the Twins. He’ll take the place of Graham Godfrey, who was used in relief Saturday. I blogged a few days ago that Blackley might get his shot, and the Australian is pretty jazzed about it. He made his big league debut back in 2004 with the Mariners, but he’s appeared in just 15 major league games since then. His journey has included a shoulder surgery that wiped out his 2005 season, and a stint in the Australian Baseball League. “I’m just thankful I’ve got a job up here at the moment,” said Blackley, who started this season with the Giants before being designated for assignment May 13.
–I’ve got a bit of this in my story for Sunday’s paper, but Cespedes looked good in batting practice and should start a brief minor league rehab assignment in a couple days. Cespedes experimented with a new batting grip today but also used his old one, where he wraps his pinkie around the knob of the bat (the A’s are trying to discourage him from doing that, believing it could lead to more hand injuries). Cespedes said he’s going to gradually incorporate his new grip, which should be easier to do once he receives a new shipment of bats with a modified shape near the knob. “I’m not going to adapt from one second to the other,” he said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. “I’ve been doing it one way for a long time.”
That’s all for now …