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Game 46 wrapup: Pure and simple, Colon is a marvel in last start before turning 40

In for John Hickey this week …

Pitchers who work quickly and throw strikes have always been manager favorites, but they are also the sportswriters’ favorites. We always liked to see Greg Maddux coming, and Mark Mulder, and Mike Mussina.

And yes, Bartolo Colon, any time, anywhere. Even in Rangers Ballpark. Actually, especially at Rangers Ballpark.

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Pregame notes: Too early to call this Rangers series crucial? Not to Melvin

Covering all week here in beautiful, balmy Texas for John Hickey. I have yet to run over an armadillo in my rental car, but it’s a long week …

Asked Bob Melvin before the game if this was a good time to be coming into Texas, even without Josh Reddick and Brett Anderson. He got one of those pained looks on his face like he just got stabbed by an old catching injury.

“They’re playing pretty well,” he said of the Rangers. “You look across the board and one the things I look at is who’s hot and who’s not. And I don’t see a lot of nots. They’ve swung the bat very well and there’s a reason they have the record they do. They’re third in pitching in this ballpark and then on top of that, there’s that offense (2nd in hitting, first in homers). So I don’t know if there’s ever a good time to come in here.”

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Game 45 wrapup: Donaldson has no fear in throwing body around; Okajima returns in style; Cook changes nothing to close a game

Josh Donaldson went diving over the tarp in foul territory behind third base in what turned out to be a futile pursuit of a ninth inning foul ball that, if caught, would have ended Sunday’s game.

The batter, Mike Moustakas, grounded out to end it a few moments later, but Donaldson said he had no regrets about throwing his body out in pursuit of the foul pop fly.

“It was the last out,’’ he said. “Of course I’m going to go for it there.’’

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Game 44 wrapup: Moss gets to enjoy a perk of winning with his son; Is `Doolittleing’ a thing now?

If you were anywhere near the Coliseum Saturday night, chances are good you spent the post-game of the A’s 2-1 win over Kansas City watching the fireworks show.

If you were Oakland first baseman Brandon Moss, you were one of the few that did not.

Instead Moss and his almost 5-year-old son Jayden marched up the steps behind the A’s clubhouse to the batting cages. While everybody was settling into and evening of the pyrotechnic art, father was throwing a little batting practice to son.

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Game 43 wrapup: Melvin’s against-the-book move; Doolittle doing a lot; Okajima back in MLB again

If you want an unsung hero for Friday’s 2-1 Oakland win over Kansas City, look for the man who made out the lineup.

Manager Bob Melvin did something Friday he hadn’t done all season. He had Adam Rosales, who generally starts only against left-handed pitching, start “because I liked the right-handed matchup there’’ against K.C.’s James Shields.

And it was Rosales who hit the tie-breaking solo homer off Shields in the eighth inning that gave the A’s the win in the first of a three-game set.

Rosales did have some stat cred against Shields. He’d only faced him five times, but he’d had two hits, both of them doubles. Eric Sogard, who had only three at-bats and no hits against Shields, normally starts against right-handers, but Melvin went with the numbers, including the fact that Sogard was hitting .178 in his last 20 games.

It won’t necessarily happen again, but Melvin is perfectly comfortable going against the lefty-righty book if circumstances suggest it.

“It’s not something I’ll be doing,’’ he said when asked if he would play Rosales at short against right-handers with regularity. “But in this instance, with Rosey’s two doubles off Shields, that made a difference.’’

Make that two doubles and a homer.

 

–One reason the A’s were able to track down the Rangers in 2012 was the performance of a previously unheralded bullpen.

It’s not as unheralded this time around, but the performances from the likes of Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour have been every bit as good as they were last year. Or better.

Doolittle improved to 3-0 with one scoreless inning, the eighth, Friday against K.C., and Balfour closed out his seventh save by getting the Royals in order, cutting through the 3-4-5 spot in Kansas City’s batting order.

Doolittle, a lefty, has a 1.00 ERA. Balfour, the right-handed closer, is down to 1.65. And when you throw in right-hander Ryan Cook’s 1.93, Oakland has eighth- and ninth-inning performance worth of note.

“In that situation in the eighth or ninth, that game is yours,’’ Doolittle said. “you’ve got to go out there feeling invincible. I’m just trying to keep it simple and not giving the hitter room to get comfortable.’’

Melvin admits his job is made easier knowing he can count on his club dominating the game if it’s close in the eighth or later.

“That’s one of the strengths of the club, when it’s late in the game and we’re in position (to win),’’ he said. “Doolittle is throwing lights-out. It’s tough for anybody to put a good swing against him.

“Today it all fell together, getting the homers late, then getting Doolittle and Balfour out there in that spot.’’

 

–For four seasons and a portion of a fifth, Hideki Okajima pitched in the big leagues, and he loved every minute of it.

But the Red Sox let him pitch most of the 2011 season in Triple-A Pawtucket, then the Yankees let him go in the spring of 2012, after which he pitched for Soft Bank in Japan.

Now he’s back in the Major Leagues, called up Friday when the A’s released right-handed reliever Chris Resop, who’d struggled the last three weeks.

“I was hoping to make it back to the Major Leagues,’’ Okajima said through interpreter Jason Eda. “I’m very excited to get back here. I was surprised when they told me I was coming up, but to come back from Japan (in 2012) to the United States is a good feeling.’’

Okajima’s catcher for much of his time at Triple-A was Luke Montz, and Montz gave the move a solid thumb’s up.

“Just before I got called up, he pitched in back-to-back games for the first time,’’ Montz said. “He saved them both. He got to where he was throwing his changeup, and they hitters, they just were not seeing that pitch. He was fun to catch.’’

The move made sense for a couple of reasons. One, Okajima’s changeup and curve had been dominant pitches for him at Triple-A after he’d ironed out some kinks. Two, his contract said that if he wasn’t called up by June 1, he’d have the right to declare free agency, so if there was ever a time to give him a try, it was now.

“He’s been throwing really well,’’ Melvin said. “We’ve been having to be careful with (lefties) Doolittle and (Jerry) Blevins, but we’d been using them a lot. Adding a third left-hander makes a lot of sense, all things considered.’’

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Gray’s debut date with the A’s will have to wait

The news that Brett Anderson will miss another month, and possibly a good deal more time, is the latest indication that Anderson’s health will be an ongoing concern in Oakland.

For the short term, however, the immediate question his just how the A’s will address the hole left in their starting rotation by Anderson’s stress frature in his right foot.

Sources say there was some conversation about going to the minor leagues and plucking Sonny Gray, who had been on a hot streak with Triple-A Sacramento, although he lost a 7-2 decision to Oklahoma City Thursday, giving up four runs, three earned, in 6.2 innings.

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Anderson’s ankle still sore, return timetable undetermined

A’s pitcher Brett Anderson is still feeling soreness in his sprained right ankle and won’t be activated from the disabled list when he becomes eligible Thursday.

There was hope that he could start Friday’s game against the Kansas City Royals, but after testing the ankle Tuesday, Anderson reported still feeling soreness and will remain out of action for “the foreseeable future,” manager Bob Melvin said..

Anderson threw a bullpen session Tuesday and joined pitchers for fielding practice. He felt fine while throwing off the mound, but the drills on the field is what led to the soreness.

“We’re not at the point where we’re comfortable putting him out on a big league mound again and going through what we had to the last couple of times,” Melvin said.

Jarrod Parker will make what amounts to a regularly-scheduled start on Friday when the A’s open a three-game series with the Royals.

Chris Young (strained left quad) could rejoin the team for that series. He was back in Oakland on Wednesday to be evaluated and will play the outfield Thursday for Triple-A Sacramento. If all goes well, he’ll be activated Friday.

 

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Crisp activated, leading off in CF for A’s

It’s an early morning back at the Coliseum following Tuesday’s 6-5 loss in 10 innings to the Texas Rangers. The clubhouse hasn’t opened yet, but there’s a bit of news with the lineup posted outside. As expected, Coco Crisp has been activated and will play this afternoon.

This was the first day he was eligible to come off the disabled list from his hamstring injury and the indications over the past couple of days made it seem like he would be back. The A’s went 5-9 during Crisp’s stint on the DL and overall are 6-11 when he’s out of the lineup. That makes them 14-10 when he plays.

Here’s the full A’s lineup for today’s series finale with the Rangers: CF Coco Crisp, C John Jaso, SS Jed Lowrie, DH Yoenis Cespedes, RF Brandon Moss, 3B Josh Donaldson, LF Seth Smith, 1B Daric Barton, 2B Eric Sogard, P Dan Straily.

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Rangers 6, A’s 5: One comeback, but not two

First things first, I’ll get to the latest news. Michael Taylor has been optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. It hasn’t been made official, but bank on Coco Crisp being activated tomorrow and in the lineup for the series finale against the Texas Rangers. Taylor had just one hit in 23 at-bats during this stint in Oakland. He was 0 for 1 tonight, although he did draw two walks.

Onto the game, it was one that had to be frustrating for the A’s. It looked like a loss early, then looked like a win, then a loss, then possibly a win… You get the point.

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Cespedes back after feeling “upside down,” Crisp nears return, Young not yet 100 percent

– Jimmy Durkin, filling in for the next two days for John Hickey

Yoenis Cespedes put a scare into A’s fans on Monday when he trotted off the field before the top of the fifth inning and left the game, prompting fears he was injured.

It was later announced he left with a stomach illness and the Cuban slugger is back in the lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Texas Rangers.

Cespedes feels better today, but, through a translator, said, “my stomach was all upside down yesterday.”

“It was upside down a couple times — in that bathroom,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said, motioning to the dugout bathroom. “You’ve got to make sure that Purell dispenser has plenty of refills.” Continue Reading