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Infrequent homer bursts don’t bug Lowrie, Melvin

When Jed Lowrie debuted with the A’s back in April, he hit three home runs in the first week of the season.

Was that setting unreasonable expectations? You bet.

True, he’d hit 16 homers last year for the Astros in 97 games, but there was ever reason to believe that was a fluke. He’d never hit more than nine in a season, although admittedly he was never a full-time player. And Minute Maid Park isn’t the toughest place to go deep.

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Game 76 wrapup: A’s give Iwakuma respect even in beating him; long homer drought no issue for Lowrie; ailing Jaso says he’s no Wolverine

The A’s have beaten Hisashi Iwakuma twice in the last week.

The rest of MLB teams have beaten him once all year.

So what’s the secret? Why is Oakland successful when others aren’t?

For one thing, the A’s give Iwakuma all due respect. It’s not like they think they own him.

“He’s not going to give up a lot of hits,’’ shortstop Jed Lowrie said. “Just look at the numbers. He doesn’t do that. Tonight, we didn’t get a lot of hits against him.’’

Three of the hits the Mariners did get off Iwakuma were home runs – a two-run shot by Yoenis Cespedes in the first, a game-tying solo homer in the fourth by Lowrie and the homer that put the A’s ahead to stay in the sixth from Coco Crisp.

“My homer was big because they’d just scored off (Bartolo) Colon and they had the momentum shifting their way,’’ Lowrie said. “They were feeling pretty good having a lead against Bartolo.’’

Crisp’s homer, like Lowrie’s came from a bat that the A’s aren’t counting on to produce home runs.

“I’m just up there swinging,’’ Crisp said. “If I can get a strike, I want to hit it.’’

Crisp said Iwakuma is tough to hit because he throws a large variety of pitches. The A’s have been good at being selective.

“We’re not swinging at a lot of his pitches,’’ Crisp said. “He has nasty stuff, really nasty. He’s a guy where the numbers tell the story.’’

When the A’s did swing, however, they made impact, and they made the pitches count.

 

–For Lowrie, the home run was his first in 62 games, the longest homerless streak of his career.

He wasn’t obsessing on his inability to produce the long ball, however.

“It’s not a lack of confidence,’’ he said. “Maybe there haven’t been a lot of home runs, but there have been a lot of doubles.’’

Lowrie is tied with Josh Donaldson for the team high in doubles with 20. Except for the streaking Manny Machado (33) of the Orioles, Lowrie and Donaldson are on pace with the American League’s doubles leaders heading into the final week of June.

And that’s not bad.

 

–John Jaso was in the original starting lineup after suffering an abrasion on his left palm that he believe would not be a problem. After all, he’d played half of Thursday’s game in Texas after the injury occurred, and it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

But the A’s catcher found that he was having trouble in the batting cage. He said during bunting drills his hand “felt like it exploded.’’

So he was subbed out, replaced by Derek Norris, who was back at close to full health after taking a foul ball to his groin Wednesday in Texas.

Will Jaso be able to go Saturday?

“We’ll have to wait and see,’’ he said. “We’ll see how my body feels. I’m not Wolverine.’’

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Schedule ready to do an about-face for A’s

This weekend brings to a close a streak of 30 games in 31 days played by the A’s.

They get a day off Monday. Then after two games against the Reds in the Coliseum they get another day off Thursday.

Then after a weekend series at home against the Cardinals, another day off Monday.

That’s basically insane, loading up that many off days after forcing a team to grind it out day after day for almost five weeks.

Welcome to the wonder world of Major League Baseball schedules. There’s nothing that can be done, so the A’s basically just have to deal with it.

Manager Bob Melvin said that his current plan is to have his starting pitchers continue in their regular rotation.

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Game 75 wrapup: This one proves 2013 is a new year for A’s relievers Cook and Doolittle

A year ago, Thursday’s loss in Rangers Ballpark would never have happened.

The A’s had right-hander Ryan Cook and left-hander Sean Doolittle throw a combined 16.2 innings against the Rangers in 2012, and the two setup men didn’t allow a run. They could barely get a hit, going a combined 9-for-57 (.158)

Oakland is only halfway through the 2013 season, and already the Rangers have scored three runs off the two, including one each Thursday. Texas hitters are 10-for-33 (.303) off Cook and Doolittle this time around.

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Adjusted sightline has Jaso on base aplenty again

When John Jaso came off the bench to go 0-for-2 subbing for the injury Derek Norris Wednesday night, it snapped a streak of 17 games in which he’d reached safely via a hit or a walk.

So what did he do to bounce back Thursday afternoon? He walked his first two times to the plate. It’s part of a deliberate strategy on Jaso’s part to spend more time swinging at good pitches and letting the bad ones sail by.

“I’ve adjusted by eye sightline,’’ Jaso said in explaining the uptick in number of walks he’s received and his batting average as well. He came into the game Thursday with 10 hits in his last 27 at-bats (.360), and those hits, coupled with seven walks, give him a .500 on-base percentage over that stretch.

And that percentage is something Jaso takes great pride in.

“I’m being able to stay behind the ball more,’’ Jaso said. “I’m not flying open when I sawing. And I’m being more aggressive at the same time I’m drawing more walks.’’

That’s not lost on manager Bob Melvin, who’s had him batting second much of the time in order to take advantage of his high on-base percentage.

“Jaso is swinging the bat really well and has a good on-base percentage,’’ the manager said. “He’s driving the ball again, too.’’

“I got tired of swinging at bad pitches,’’ Jaso said. “I needed to be aggressive in the strike zone and not chase balls out of the zone. It’s starting to work.’’

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Game 74 wrapup: Norris experiences his worst pain ever; Cespedes wants back in left field, but denied

It was, quite simply, the worst pain Derek Norris said he’d ever experienced.

A foul tip off Adrian Beltre came up and hit Norris in the groin. And it was no glancing blow, either.

For a moment Norris thought he’d be able to go on playing. And then he started to lose feeling in his legs. He wound up falling down on his knees as the A’s medics sprinted from the dugout and tried to assess the damage.

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Game 73 wrapup: A’s are in Darvish’s head; Moss finally has his swing the way he wants it

Chili Davis liked to play mind games when he was a player, and that hasn’t changed since he’s become a coach.

Asked what it was that his hitters have done to win four of five decisions against Texas ace Yu Darvish, Davis just smiled.

“I think we’re in his mind more than he’s in our minds,’’ Davis said.

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A’s intrigued by San Jose lawsuit, but not impacted

Half a continent away, the A’s woke up Tuesday to the news of the City of San Jose filing an anti-trust lawsuit against Major League Baseball over the Bay Area baseball stadium situation.

Many of them were interested, a few of them even intrigued. But none of the players interviewed thought it would have any impact on the A’s as currently constituted.

“I think it would be better for us and for MLB if we had a new place to play,’’ first baseman Brandon Moss said. “That’s regardless where it is. But we don’t want it for us. We won’t see it.

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Game 72 wrapup: A’s show late fight behind Lowrie in loss, but seven runs should have been enough

Jed Lowrie collected one of the most difficult walks of his career in the ninth inning Monday.

Squared off with the Rangers’ Joe Nathan with a man on second, Lowrie went to 1-2 quickly, then had to fight his way back to get a walk off Nathan, who had only walked eight men all year.

Manager Bob Melvin called it “a fighting at-bat right there.’’

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Angel Hernandez, Adam Rosales meet again

For the first time since that series in Cleveland when Adam Rosales hit the homer that wasn’t, the A’s are meeting up with Angel Hernandez again.

Hernandez, who ruled that Rosales’ fly ball to left-center field in Progressive Field was a double rather than the home run that the video replay clearly showed it to be, is behind home plate tonight.

When he made the call against Rosales and the A’s on May 8, Hernandez was on second base. Tonight, as was the case then, He’s the umpiring crew chief.

Will there be any hangover from that last series when Major League Baseball essentially said, `Yeah, it was the bad call, but there’s nothing we can do about it’’

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