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Postgame thoughts as A’s avoid the broom vs. Yankees

Second baseman Cliff Pennington has played in several meaningless Septembers for the A’s since breaking into the big leagues in 2008. Pennington is the team’s longest tenured position player — Daric Barton technically has more service time, but he’s also spent much of the past two seasons in the minors — and thus Pennington has a deep appreciation for being part of this late-season push for the postseason that Oakland is part of.

“It’s awesome,” Pennington said after Sunday’s 5-4 victory over the Yankees that helped the A’s avoid a three-game sweep.

They are four games behind Texas as they begin a four-game series Monday against the Rangers in Arlington, and they hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the A.L.’s second wild card spot. As the A’s play these final 10 games of the regular season, you can’t overlook the inexperience of so many important players on their roster. Not just inexperience in terms of time in the majors, though that is significant. But inexperience as far as playing in big, pressure-packed games. We tend to focus on the inexperience of the A’s young pitching staff, but it goes for much of their roster. Even the starting position player who’s been in green and gold the longest, Pennington, is playing in his first pennant race. He credits some of the veterans the A’s imported this season for helping others be ready for it.

“Fortunately, we’ve had some guys come in — Jonny Gomes in particular and (Brandon) Inge when he was here — they’ve been there before and helped us (prepare) for what it was gonna be like,” Pennington said. “For everybody else going through it for the first time, we’re just trying to slow the game down, take it one game at a time, and put a good run out there.”

–Given how overworked the A’s bullpen was after Saturday’s 14-inning defeat, I thought the A’s only chance to avoid a sweep Sunday was for starter A.J. Griffin to pitch deep in the game. … Didn’t happen. The rookie lasted just 4 1/3 innings and left another huge task for the relief corps. That group responded, as Jerry Blevins, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour blanked New York over the final 4 2/3 innings. But the problem doesn’t go away, because the A’s have no more days off. So now it’s up to rookie Dan Straily on Monday to eat up innings and try to take some pressure off the bullpen. That’s no easy task given how tough Rangers Ballpark can be on pitchers. Straily, making just his sixth big league start, will be facing the Rangers for the first time …

Joe Stiglich

  • crister

    I am not in any way a Pennington fan and am inclined to consider him a faster version of Barton, but he has played better since moving from shortstop to second base. I’m reminded of how Inge was incredibly bad as a catcher, but once move from behind the plate, he turned into a solid if not from time to time very good player. I don’t believe that Pennington’s going to have an Inge-like transformation, but might being moved off of the more demanding and glamorous position have in some way altered Pennington’s outlook or expectations of him as an offensive contributor? That or it’s just another case of a guy feasting on sucky September pitching. Man, how I hate Septembers with its fool’s gold stats and clouding of gaging a player’s real ability with all the watered down rosters. I remember Ellis having bad offensive numbers for the first five months of a season only to go all gangbusters in the last four weeks to get his over all numbers to a respectible level and sucker a lot of people into believing that the following year will finally be the one time and time again. Yeah right…