0

Change of scenery, familiar blueprint works well for A’s

OAKLAND – With far less riding on the outcome Monday, the A’s picked up where they left off in their first game against the Texas Rangers in more than seven months.

Sure, a 5-1 win Monday night at the Coliseum didn’t carry anywhere near as much import as capturing the American League West title with a three-game sweep of the Rangers to close the season.

Yet, it’s the kind of victory the A’s needed on the heels of a 3-7 road trip. It’s also one the A’s might look back upon months from now as one that jump-started their turnaround.

“It’s more just a good win for us as opposed to a statement game,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We just need to get on a roll, start playing a little better and hopefully this is the first sign of that.”

The A’s improved to 20-20 with the victory and moved within five games of the AL West-leading Rangers.

Melvin said before the game, it’s nice to have the resolve and ability to rebound from a 13-game deficit, as the A’s did last season. Yet, it’s not something a team wants to count upon.

Hence, the A’s entered this series intent upon cutting into the Rangers sizable lead and making sure they got out of the way some of the heavy lifting in May.

A strong outing by starting pitcher A.J. Griffin helped the A’s mask any of their offensive deficiencies, if only for one game. He finished with eight strikeouts and no walks in seven innings.

The Rangers jumped to a 1-0 lead on a long home run by first baseman Mitch Moreland in the second inning. Griffin buckled down, kept the game close and waited for the A’s bats to awaken.

Melvin and outfielder Brandon Moss said the key to the game was Griffin keeping the game close and then the A’s striking back with two runs in both the second and third innings.

“It gave Griff some breathing room, and he’s allowed to throw his game,” said Moss, who combined with center fielder Yoenis Cespedes on back-to-back home runs to center in the third inning.

Given a comfortable lead, Griffin settled into a rhythm, relied upon his control and worked without fear of making a mistake.

“The big key is to not let things snowball. … We just feel real confident, especially once we get a lead going,” Griffin said.

Why not, when you can turn over the ball to the likes of Sean Doolittle, Cook and Grant Balfour?

Doolittle struck out the side on 12 pitches in the eighth and Cook navigated his way through the ninth without difficulty.

Suddenly, in less than 2 ½ hours, the A’s no longer dwelled on the disastrous road trip and shifted their focus toward cutting even further into the Rangers lead Tuesday.

“We’ve been scuffling a little bit, it’s no secret,” Cook said. “But inside this clubhouse our identity is still the same. We still trust each other. Sometimes you just need that one game to get back on track and hopefully that was it tonight.”

 

BULLET HERE – Right fielder Josh Reddick said he will see how he feels after swinging a bat before he decides whether surgery is the best option for his sore right wrist. Reddick was placed on the disabled list last Wednesday. He will take swings in a week or so, he said.

 

BULLET HERE – Cespedes left the game with what Melvin called a “stomach ailment” after four innings. Moss moved from right field to center, with Michael Taylor taking over in right field. Melvin said Cespedes “should be” able to play Tuesday.

 

BULLET HERE – Melvin said he will decide as soon as Tuesday how to use pitcher Brett Anderson once Anderson returns from the DL. Anderson “felt good” in a rehab start Sunday, according to Melvin.

 

BULLET HERE – Melvin wore a gold Warriors T-shirt under his jersey in showing support for the A’s Coliseum neighbors.

 

BULLET HERE — Former A’s left fielder Rickey Henderson held court in the A’s locker room before the game, then donned a uniform and hit the field along with the current players.

 

BULLET HERE – Moss’ home run was the 7,000th in Oakland history.

 

1

A’s 5, Rangers 1

OAKLAND – With far less riding on the outcome Monday, the A’s picked up where they left off in their first game against the Texas Rangers in more than seven months.

The A’s swept the Rangers in the final series of the season last year in capturing the American League West title on the last day.

A 5-1 win Monday night didn’t carry anywhere near as much import, yet it’s the kind of victory the A’s needed on the heels of a 3-7 road trip. It’s also one the A’s might look back upon months from now as one that jump-started their turnaround.

The A’s improved to 20-20 with the victory and moved within five games of the AL West-leading Rangers.

As manager Bob Melvin said before the game, it’s nice to have the resolve and ability to rebound from a 13-game deficit, as the A’s did last season. Yet, it’s not something a team wants to count upon.

Hence, the A’s entered this series intent upon cutting into the Rangers sizable lead and making sure they got out of the way some of the heavy lifting in May.

More help is on the way, with regular center fielder Coco Crisp and backup outfielder Chris Young eligible to return from the disabled list Wednesday.

Before Monday’s game, Crisp ran the bases “well,” according to Melvin, and he also got in some work in the batting cage and the outfield.

Young got in five at-bats during an extended spring training game, though he might need an extra day or two before he returns, Melvin said.

Not a second too soon, perhaps. Center fielder Yoenis Cespedes jogged off the field in the top of the fifth due to a stomach illness, just a short time after he launched a home run.

That left the A’s without their starting lineup, given regular right fielder Josh Reddick also is on the 15-day disabled list.

A strong outing by A.J. Griffin helped the A’s mask any of their offensive or defensive deficiencies, if only for one game.

The Rangers jumped to a 1-0 lead on a long home run by first baseman Mitch Moreland in the second inning.

This time, Griffin buckled down, kept the game close and waited for the A’s bats to awaken.

It didn’t take long, which is a far cry from what Melvin witnessed on the just completed road trip.

The A’s struggled getting timely hits on their most-recent road trip. That changed in the second inning Monday, with Eric Sogard and John Jaso delivering two-out, run-scoring singles that turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 advantage.

Struggling clean-up hitter Cespedes stretched the lead to 3-1 with a home run to straightaway center in the third. Brandon Moss made it 4-1 with an even longer home run to center soon after Cespedes rounded the bases.

For Moss, it ended a streak of five straight at-bats, not to mention a ton of frustration, in which he struck out.

Suddenly, an A’s starter found himself in the enviable position of pitching with a lead and forced to worry about the deficit getting too large.

Griffin responded to the challenge. He held the Rangers in check through seven innings, with eight of the Rangers 21 outs coming via strikeout.

The A’s led 5-1 by the time Griffin departed. Reliever Sean Doolittle struck out the side in the eighth on 12 pitches as the A’s refused to give the Rangers any hope of mounting a comeback. Ryan Cook closed out the game with an uneventful ninth.

 

BULLET HERE – Reddick said he will see how he feels after swinging a bat before he decides whether surgery is the best option for his sore right wrist. Reddick was placed on the disabled list last Wednesday. He will take swings in a week or so, he said.

 

BULLET HERE – Melvin said he will decide as soon as Tuesday how to use pitcher Brett Anderson once Anderson returns from the DL. Anderson “felt good” in a rehab start Sunday, according to Melvin.

 

BULLET HERE — Former A’s left fielder Rickey Henderson held court in the A’s locker room before the game, then donned a uniform and hit the field along with the current players.

 

BULLET HERE – Moss’ home run was the 7,000th in Oakland history.

 

0

Notes, quotes and observations before first pitch of A’s-Rangers

By Steve Corkran

scorkran@bayareanewsgroup.com

OAKLAND – Josh Reddick remains hopeful that his sore right wrist will recover through proper rest and rehab. If not, surgery is a realistic option, the A’s right fielder said Monday.

Reddick was placed on the 15-day disabled list last Wednesday one day after pain-killing shots failed to alleviate the discomfort.

“I’m not going to say, ‘OK, I need surgery,’ but I’m also not going to rule that out,” Reddick said before Monday’s game against the AL West-leading Texas Rangers at the Coliseum. “Obviously, I don’t want that, but it’s something that’s definitely not out of the picture right now.”

Reddick underwent surgery on his left wrist after the 2011 season. That recovery took two months, he said. Unlike last time, Reddick said there isn’t a tear involved in his wrist this time around.

For now, Reddick is taking a wait-and-see approach, with the next step in the process his swinging the bat and seeing how his wrist responds. He expects that to take place in a week or so.

Manager Bob Melvin also is optimistic about Reddick returning sooner rather than later.

“The strengthening he’s doing now and not being able to pick up a bat, I don’t think you rule anything out at this point,” Melvin said, “but I would like to think that’s the last resort.”

The A’s are down three outfielders right now, with Coco Crisp and Chris Young also on the disabled list. Crisp and Young are eligible to return Wednesday.

Reddick is batting .152 in 29 games this season, with one home run and 14 RBI. Last season, he hit .242, with 32 home runs and 85 RBI.

 

– Crisp and Young on Monday took the next step in their rehab from injuries that sidelined them the past two weeks.

Young played seven innings in an extended spring training game, hitting a home run in five at-bats.

Melvin said it’s likely that Young will be sore on the heels of playing in a game for the first time since he suffered his injury April 29. Given the A’s have an off day Thursday, Young’s return might be pushed back until Friday.

Crisp, on the other hand, appears right on schedule. He ran the bases “well” Monday, according to Melvin, and also took batting practice and shagged fly balls.

“We probably miss Coco at the top of the order as much as anything,” Melvin said. “He’s our igniter. But, again, you don’t make any excuses. Other teams have injuries, too. You play through them.”

 

– The A’s and Rangers are playing for the first time since the A’s swept the Rangers in the final three games of the regular season to capture the AL West title in dramatic fashion.

More than seven months have passed since the A’s completed the sweep Oct. 3 and advance to the playoffs.

To a man, the Rangers and A’s say, there’s no lingering emotions from that series.

“Last year’s over,” Reddick said. “This is 2013 and that’s the way we got to look at it now and not reflect on what happened last year.”

Yet, Reddick admitted, the Rangers might not feel the same way.

“Maybe they have some kind of revenge going on out there, but we’re not going to let it affect us right now,” Reddick said.

Rangers manager Ron Washington insisted that he and his players are focused on this series and not harping on their late-season collapse.

“We’re not in here for any revenge,” Washington said. “We’re here to play baseball tonight and win a ballgame. They beat us, we understand that, but there’s nothing we can do about that.”

Washington said the fact his team is playing well the first quarter of this season is what “fueling” the Rangers.

Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson said he and others remember the series very well, but it’s nothing more than a happy memory.

“Last year was fun, especially how it happened,” Donaldson said. “It was kind of one of those storybook endings. It was nice, but that’s over.”

 

– Former A’s left fielder Rickey Henderson held court in the A’s locker room before the game, then donned a uniform and hit the field along with the current players.

 

– Starting pitcher Brett Anderson also has been on the DL the past two weeks. Melvin said he will make a determination Tuesday on how to use Anderson upon his return.

Anderson threw 80 pitches in a rehab start Sunday and “felt good,” Melvin said. Anderson suffered an ankle injury in the same game in which Crisp and Young got hurt.

 

– Outfielder Michael Taylor is batting .050 this season, with one hit in 20 at-bats. Melvin said he thinks Taylor just needs more time and at-bats before he busts out.

That’s what happened last year with first baseman Chris Carter, who now plays for the Houston Astros.

“He just hasn’t had the quality at-bats that he’d like to have,” Melvin said of Taylor. “We still feel the ability is there. It just hasn’t translated here at this point. … We still hold out hope his ability will take over and he will have success here.”

 

0

Reddick hoping to avoid surgery on ailing wrist

OAKLAND – Josh Reddick remains hopeful that his sore right wrist will recover through proper rest and rehab. If not, surgery is a realistic option, the A’s right fielder said Monday.

Reddick was placed on the 15-day disabled list last Wednesday one day after pain-killing shots failed to alleviate the discomfort.

“I’m not going to say, ‘OK, I need surgery,’ but I’m also not going to rule that out,” Reddick said before Monday’s game against the AL West-leading Texas Rangers at the Coliseum. “Obviously, I don’t want that, but it’s something that’s definitely not out of the picture right now.”

Reddick underwent surgery on his left wrist after the 2011 season. That recovery took two months, he said. Unlike last time, Reddick said there isn’t a tear involved in his wrist this time around.

For now, Reddick is taking a wait-and-see approach, with the next step in the process his swinging the bat and seeing how his wrist responds. He expects that to take place in a week or so.

Manager Bob Melvin also is optimistic about Reddick returning sooner rather than later.

“The strengthening he’s doing now and not being able to pick up a bat, I don’t think you rule anything out at this point,” Melvin said, “but I would like to think that’s the last resort.”

The A’s are down three outfielders right now, with Coco Crisp and Chris Young also on the disabled list. Crisp and Young are eligible to return Wednesday.

Reddick is batting .152 in 29 games this season, with one home run and 14 RBI. Last season, he hit .242, with 32 home runs and 85 RBI.

0

Game 39 wrapup: Moss strikes out four times on 14 pitches; Rosales sees the humor in lost homer

It was the kind of game that left A’s right fielder Brandon Moss scratching his head.

He struck out four times. He saw 14 pitches.

“You can’t do much worse than that,’’ he said. “I guess I could have struck out on 12 pitches. Overall, it wasn’t a very good day.’’

Continue Reading

0

A’s facing a flurry of roster moves this week

The A’s have some decisions to make in the next week, and not all of them are clear cut.

Between now and Friday, outfielders Chris Young and Coco Crisp and starting pitcher Brett Anderson are likely to come off the disabled list.

It seems a no-brainer that Dan Straily will be the odd man out in the rotation. He has made three starts with Anderson out, and is due to make another against Texas Wednesday, two days before Anderson (sprained right ankle) is first eligible to come off the disabled list.

Young and possibly Crisp could come off the disabled list on Wednesday, and while it’s certain that Michael Taylor, who has an .063 average and hasn’t driven in a run, will be sent down, choosing between the other two candidates, Luke Montz and Daric Barton, will be a matter of just what kind of flexibility A’s manager Bob Melvin wants.

Continue Reading

0

Game 38 wrapup: Balfour shakes off the rust; Barton feels his power coming back

Grant Balfour has rung up a save in every game he’s pitched this month.

Before Saturday night, that meant both of them. Pitching for the first time in six days, Balfour put two men on but pitched out of trouble to secure the A’s 4-3 win over Seattle that brought a five-game losing streak to an end.

And if there is anything that underscores the problems the A’s are having these days, it’s that they had not been finding chances for Balfour to do his ninth-inning thing.

He hasn’t blown a save all year, but he only has six chances. Either the A’s are behind late, which has been the problem in recent days, or they’ve had more than a three-run lead, which was the case much of the time in a 16-12 April.

Continue Reading

1

Game 37 wrapup: Jaso’s knowledge of Iwakuma no advantage; Straily likely to get one more start

There’s an old adage in baseball that the batter who is a biggest threat to a pitcher is someone who’s spent some time catching that pitcher.

It played out Friday night when John Jaso, who caught Hisashi Iwakuma last year in Seattle, had two of Oakland’s four hits off Iwakuma in seven innings in a 6-3 Seattle win.

Jaso doesn’t care about the numbers. He said it doesn’t work that way, at least when he is the catcher involved.

Continue Reading

0

The homer that wasn’t still a topic of conversation

As most of you know, before I took over covering the A’s this year, I used to cover the Mariners.

Before covering the Mariners, I covered the A’s way back when, but that’s not the issue in front of us.

The thing is, there were plenty of friendly faces when I made a quick pass through the Seattle clubhouse before Friday’s series opener.

Guess what they wanted to talk about? The home run that was denied the A’s Adam Rosales Wednesday night in Cleveland when video replay inexplicably went against him in the form of acting crew chief Angel Hernandez.

Now the Mariners didn’t want to go on the record. They don’t want to pay a penalty for speaking truth to power. There is an uneasy coexistence between players and umpires, and tilting the balance isn’t productive.

But they were plenty willing to talk about the play, which some of them saw live on a flight back to Seattle from Toronto.

“Man, what was that all about?’’ one player said. “That call was as bad as I’ve ever seen.’’

Continue Reading

0

Game 36 wrapup: A’s don’t blame Thursday loss on botched homer call; Anderson to start for Midland

The one thing A’s watchers can take out of this week’s series sweep at the hands of the Indians is that Oakland players didn’t blame Thursday’s loss on Wednesday’s botched homer call by umpire Angel Hernandez.

The one, the A’s said, had nothing to do with the other.

And win or lose, that’s how it should be. The baseball season is too long and to unrelenting with games virtually every day to spent too much mental work on one bad result.

Continue Reading