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A’s chasing unwanted history; veteran Travis Blackley discovers he’s … a rookie

The A’s are still without Coco Crisp in their lineup, but A’s manager Bob Melvin seems to think that Crisp is getting closer to a return. The switch-hitting center fielder took swings in an indoor cage for the second straight day.

Well, we’re likely to see history tonight. The A’s are just two strikeouts away from tying the American League single-season record held by the 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1,324). How exactly should we view this “achievement”? Obviously, whiffing at such a historic rate is pretty bad. And that’s a lot of runners the A’s have left on base, when a more productive out would have scored more runs. But at the same time, I think most would agree the A’s are a much improved offensive team over the past few seasons. They rank sixth in the AL with 182 home runs after hitting 114 homers all of last season. They only rank 11th in runs scored, but they’ve scored the second-most in the league since the All-Star break (339).

–We got word today that the Elias Sports Bureau has classified Travis Blackley as a rookie, which is odd considering Blackley made his big league debut in 2004. It has to do with Blackley, 29, missing the entire 2005 season with an injury, and mistakingly having that counted as part of his service time. He’d spent very little time in the majors since then, and now finds himself with rookie status. He didn’t sound thrilled with the distinction when I asked him about today, and he knows that he’s in for some form of hazing, since he didn’t have to take part in rookie dress-up day. Even as we chatted, young pitcher Tommy Milone walked by Blackley and said, ‘What’s up rook?”

“See what I mean?” Blackley asked me.

Anyway, this distinction means all five of the A’s starting pitchers are rookies, which is pretty incredible for a team with a very good chance of making the postseason. Jarrod Parker is making the 94th start by an A’s rookie tonight. For some context, the most rookie starts by a playoff team was 69 by the 1952 Dodgers. Tip of the cap to David Feldman — @dfeldy, a solid follow on Twitter — for that information.

–In-game update: The A’s have scored five runs in the top of the first — helped by two horrible fielding mistakes by Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton — and Texas starter Martin Perez has been pulled after just one-third of an inning. Holy cow …

Joe Stiglich