A’s 2, Rays 1 — game story and notes

OAKLAND – The A’s saved most of the fireworks for after their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night, when fans were treated to a pyrotechnics show.

Such is the luxury when rookie right-hander Sonny Gray is on his game, mixing up his pitches, hitting his spots and generally having his way with hitters.

Hence, the only offense the A’s needed came on a Coco Crisp RBI single and solo home run as the A’s beat the Rays for the second straight night, this time 2-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 35,067 at the Coliseum.

Gray allowed five hits and one walk over 6 2/3 innings, while striking out seven. That qualifies as quite a turnaround from his previous start, when he allowed eight hits, two walks and six runs in half as many innings pitched.

“He was great again,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Gray, who improved to 2-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.57. “In a game like that, you had the feeling pretty early on that both guys were going to pitch pretty well and runs might be hard to come by.”

The A’s moved 1 ½ games ahead of the Rays for the first wild-card spot. They also remained two games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West.

Gray was making only his fifth major-league start Saturday night, but he displayed the composure of a seasoned veteran.

Such makeup isn’t uncommon among A’s pitchers, Crisp said. In fact, he expects the kind of maturity Gray shows every time he pitches.

“Oakland does a good job of grooming their young guys, getting them in the right mind-set to come up here,” Crisp said. “Since I’ve been here, everybody who has come up has had a fantastic outlook on how to play the game. … He’s just another product of a good farm system.”

Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt is a product of the Rays, having been selected in the 12th round of the 2007 draft. He joined the A’s earlier this season.

On Saturday, Vogt started against his former team and delivered a lead-off triple in the sixth. Crisp singled home Vogt one batter later for the game’s first run.

“The Vogt triple felt like a three-run homer at the time … ,” Melvin said. “Vogt had a nice night.”

Vogt starting likely had far more to do with his familiarity with Gray than it did with Melvin hoping to tap into Vogt’s eagerness to stick it to his old team.

Vogt caught Gray numerous times at Triple-A Sacramento. Saturday marked their first time as battery mates in the majors.

“It’s nice to contribute to a win,” Vogt said. “This was huge for me personally.”

Gray said he enjoyed seeing Vogt play such a critical role in the A’s victory. Gray did his part, thanks to a mastery of four pitches, primarily his fastball.

“The big thing was fastball command, keeping it down,” Gray said. “That’s something I struggled with last start.”

Against the Rays, Gray struck out five of the first six batters he faced. His sixth strikeout ended a two-on, two-out threat in the fourth.

With Rays starter Alex Cobb matching Gray through the first five innings, it became apparent that it wasn’t going to take much offense to turn a scoreless game into a hard-fought victory.

“We got just enough,” Melvin said.


— The A’s send A.J. Griffin to the mound Sunday as they go for a sweep of the Rays. The Rays swept the A’s at home earlier this season in the teams’ only other series.


— Grant Balfour closed out the game for his 35th save of the season, and second in two games, despite allowing a run. He pitched in his third straight game. Therefore, he won’t be used Sunday, Melvin said.


— Gray boosted his record to 2-0 at home. He has allowed only two runs in 21 2/3 innings in his three starts at the Coliseum.


— Melvin said left-hander Brett Anderson will be ready to pitch again Sunday, if needed.


— The A’s intend to call up three players from the minors Sunday, Melvin said. Two or more are expected to join the ranks Tuesday.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser said it’s “likely” that second baseman Jamile Weeks and outfielder Michael Choice will be among those called up Sunday.

Weeks entered Saturday’s game batting .273 for Triple-A Sacramento in the lead-off spot. Choice was hitting fourth and batting .298 for the same team.


— Catcher John Jaso is “feeling a bit better,” Melvin said. Jaso has been on the disabled list since July 25 after he suffered a concussion.

“He’s pretty antsy about getting out and hopefully getting some at-bats somewhere,” Melvin said. “We still haven’t ruled him out potentially being a piece for us in September.”


— The A’s are a majors-best 49-6 when they hit more home runs in a game than their opponent. Two of those victories came in the first two games of this series.



Rays creating memories on three-day stay in Bay Area

OAKLAND — The Tampa Bay Rays are going to leave town with plenty of stories to tell, with the best ones having nothing to do about playing the A’s for three games.

On Friday, Rays starting pitcher David Price spent well over an hour in a cab, to the tune of $202, on his trek from the team hotel in San   Francisco to the Coliseum.

In the top of the eighth inning, Rays closer Fernando Rodney entered the bathroom in the dugout. For what happened next, we’ll turn to Rays manager Joe Maddon.

“All of a sudden, I hear voices coming from behind me,” Maddon said. “What is going on? Then, of course, you hear Fernando with his little Fernandoisms coming out of the bathroom.”

Rodney was locked in the bathroom and unable to extricate himself without help. Ultimately, a Coliseum security guard and a Rays trainer destroyed the door knob with a weighted bat and freed Rodney.

“Kind of funny, I guess, if it’s not you,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s some events that take place in this building that maybe (don’t) so much in others.”

Earlier this year, a sewage backup forced the A’s and Seattle Mariners to share a locker room after the game.

The Rays trailed 3-1 when Rodney entered the bathroom. He was stuck in there for 15 minutes or so, according to Maddon. The score was tied at 3 when Rodney rejoined his teammates.

“It was pretty funny, actually,” Maddon said. “And actually we should have put him back in there for another two runs. That would have been fine. … It was pretty entertaining. Hey, listen, it got us back in the ball game.”

As for getting to the Coliseum, Maddon said it took him and his players only 20 minutes by BART on Saturday, whereas they spent one hour, 45 minutes by bus Friday.

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said he was one of the few players to take BART both days, so he isn’t sure what the fuss is about.

“Once I heard that the (Bay) bridge was closed, I didn’t want to sit on the bus for two hours,” Longoria said. “So, I hopped on BART. It was quick and easy, very nice public transportation. It was uneventful. It was a lot like riding a bus, just a lot quicker, that’s for sure.”

Longoria said no one noticed him and his teammates during the ride to the Coliseum.


Starting lineups Rays-A’s — Saturday’s game

Here are the starting lineups for the Tampa Bay Rays-A’s game Saturday night. First pitch is 6:05 p.m., with fireworks afterward.



LF David Dejesus

SS Yunel Escobar

2B Ben Zobrist

3B Evan Longoria

DH Matt Joyce

RF Wil Myers

1B James Loney

C Jose Lobaton

CF Desmond Jennings

P Alex Cobb





CF Coco Crisp

3B Josh Donaldson

SS Jed Lowrie

RF Brandon Moss

LF Yoenes Cespedes

DH Seth Smith

1B Daric Barton

2B Eric Sogard

C Stephen Vogt

P Sonny Gray



A’s 4, Rays 3 — game story

OAKLAND – If you let your thoughts wander during the TampaBay Rays-A’s game Friday night, it would have been easy to convince yourself that you were getting a glimpse into the future.

Both teams still entertain visions of winning their respective divisions. For now, they are the two teams currently in possession of the wild-card playoff spots in the American League.

The A’s beat the Rays 4-3 on Friday and moved one-half game ahead of them in the wild-card standings, not to mention within two games of the Texas Rangers in the American League West.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki and shortstop Jed Lowrie delivered the big hits, with Suzuki erasing a 1-0 deficit with a three-run home run and Lowrie breaking a 3-3 tie.

Suzuki was traded to the A’s by the Washington Nationals on Aug. 23, just as the A’s departed for a seven-game road trip. He played at the Coliseum on Friday for the first time since the trade.

“You couldn’t write that,” A’s starting pitcher Parker said of Suzuki’s timely blast. “You couldn’t make that stuff up.”

Who says you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression?

“It was pretty special,” Suzuki said. “That felt really good. For it to be off a pitcher like (David) Price, who’s arguably one of the best pitchers in the game right now, is pretty neat.”

As usual, the A’s kept things in perspective and their focus on the playoff race.

There’s a sizable margin between the A’s and Rays and the teams chasing them for the two wild-card berths.

Therefore, it isn’t difficult to envision these teams holding on and playing an even more meaningful game in October, with the winner advancing.

Seeing Parker and Price on the mound further validated the feeling that this three-game series merely is a prelude.

Price is the reigning American League Cy Young winner and Parker on Friday increased his streak to 17 straight starts without a loss, including a 4-0 mark in six August games.

Price and Parker delivered the kind of game commensurate with their resumes in what A’s manager Bob Melvin called “one of those marquee matchups as far starting pitchers go.”

The two aces engaged in a well-pitched game from the outset, with Parker allowing a two-out, run-scoring RBI single in the second for his lone blemish through five innings.

The A’s managed only two hits off Price through the first four innings. It seemed as if they were going to need some unlikely occurrences to break through against Price.

Sure enough, that’s what happened.

In the fifth, Alberto Callaspo reached base on a throwing error by Ben Zobrist, who entered the game with an 81-game errorless streak, a Rays record for second basemen.

Chris Young followed with a walk despite being hitless against the Rays all season and batting under .200.

Then came the capper, with Suzuki smashing Price’s first pitch of the at-bat over the left-field wall for a game-altering home run.

“Suzuki’s hit was huge because it didn’t look like we were going to be able to string too many hits together against Price,” Melvin said.

However, it wasn’t enough to ensure victory as the Rays rallied for two runs in the eighth to tie the game. For that, the A’s needed Lowrie and Grant Balfour.

Lowrie delivered a one-out, RBI double in the bottom of the eighth that broke a 3-3 tie. He also made a nifty grab on an errant throw by first baseman Daric Barton in the ninth that turned a potential disaster into a force out at second.

“Sometimes you got to make plays like that to win games,” Lowrie said.

Balfour closed out the game for his 34th save of the season. It came one day after he allowed four runs to the Detroit Tigers in the ninth and blew a save opportunity for only the second time this season.

“His stuff was really good tonight,” Melvin said. “Admittedly, he didn’t have his best stuff (Thursday) but he was on it tonight. His velocity was up, you could see the intensity, and he was throwing the ball where he wanted to. All the stuff he does well when he shuts it down.”


— Parker last lost May 22, against the Rangers. That was 86 games ago.

His string of 17 starts without a loss is tied with Jim “Catfish” Hunter (1973) for the most in Oakland history.


— Right fielder Josh Reddick had a cortisone injection in his right wrist Wednesday, Melvin said.

Reddick is eligible to return from the disabled list Sept. 10. Melvin said he is hopeful that the shot is enough to get Reddick past his second stint on the disabled list this season.

“It certainly did the trick for Coco, so maybe that does the trick for him,” Melvin said in reference to center fielder Coco Crisp’s injured wrist responding well to a cortisone shot earlier this season.


— Speaking of Crisp, Melvin said it’s no coincidence that the A’s offense performed well during a seven-game road trip that ended Thursday during a time when Crisp batted .345 (10 for 29).

“We get a lot of our moxie from him,” Melvin said of Crisp. “I’ve said often that he’s our engine”

Crisp started Oakland’s game-winning rally with a lead-off single, and he advanced to second because he was running before the pitch on a grounder to short.


— Catcher Derek Norris (broken toe) is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday, Melvin said. Norris is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday.


Rays-A’s starting lineups for Friday’s game

Here are the starting lineups for the Tampa Bay Rays and A’s for the first game of their three-game series, which kicks off Friday night at the Coliseum:



RF David Dejesus

2B Ben Zobrist

3B Evan Longoria

LF Matt Joyce

1B James Loney

CF Desmond Jennings

DH Kelly Johnson

C Jose Molina

SS Yunel Escobar

P David Price





DH Coco Crisp

3B Josh Donaldson

SS Jed Lowrie

LF Yoenis Cespedes

1B Nate Freiman

2B Alberto Callaspo

CF Chris Young

RF Brandon Moss

C Kurt Suzuki

P Jarrod Parker


Rays Price peeved at Bay Bridge closure

OAKLAND — The Tampa Bay Rays apparently didn’t get word that the Bay Bridge would be closed during their three-game series against the A’s this weekend.

On Friday, starting pitcher David Price fired off several Tweets about his nightmarish commute from the team hotel in San Francisco to the Oakland Coliseum.

“Already an hour down on this ride to Oakland Coliseum, my phone says I have a solid 40 (percent) more,” Price said via Twitter. “Safe to say, I’m not in the best mood now.”

Price later Tweeted that the time-consuming ride cost him $202. He is slated to pitch against the A’s on Friday night, so the longer-than-expected ride no doubt also threw off his routine.

The Bay Bridge is scheduled to open Tuesday morning. By that time, the Rays will be long gone.

In the interim, Price came up with a solution for avoiding a repeat commute Saturday and Sunday.

“Don’t worry, I have a helicopter rented for tomorrow!!,” Price Tweeted “I’ll get to the field in an estimated time of 8 minutes 24 seconds.”



Game 132 wrapup: Anderson gets in, gets save; Moss opens up stance and ball starts jumping; Straily finds comfort zone throwing to Suzuki

Brett Anderson kept jumping up in the bullpen every time the telephone rang.

Anderson, a starter for virtually all of his career, isn’t used to the rhythms of the bullpen.

“Every call, first to last, I figured I’m in the game,’’ Anderson said. But as the game went along and the A’s lead went from 3-1 to 7-1 to 10-1, he began to calm down.

“I thought they might save me to see how Bartolo does,’’ Anderson said.

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Smith sets sights on big finish after eye surgery


When A’s outfielder/DH Seth Smith smoked a Bruce Rondon out of Comerica Park in the rain Tuesday night, he brought to an end a 40-game stretch without a homer and a month without an RBI.

The homer came in his fourth game back in the starting lineup after taking a couple of days off to have some touchup Lasik surgery on his eyes.

And it gives a suggestion that his 40-game stretch in which he averaged just .189 may be at an end, which could be great news for an A’s team still scrambling to put together consistent offense.

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Game 131 wrapup: Moss cleans up as cleanup hitter; add-on runs are back in Oakland’s repertoire; Milone finds groove from windup

Brandon Moss had a breakthrough year in 2012 when he hit 21 homers in less than two-thirds of a season as the A’s first baseman.

On Tuesday night he set a new personal best with his 22nd homer. There was a time not that long ago when it seemed that getting to 22 might take considerably longer than it did.

It took Moss 265 at-bats to get to 21 homers last year. He was at 366 at-bats coming into Thursday, and in his 368th at-bat he hit a go-ahead homer Tuesday to trigger the A’s 6-3 rain-shortened six-inning win over the Tigers.

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A’s could help themselves by claiming Kubel

Jason Kubel, the kind of useful player that the A’s dote on, just became available when the Arizona Diamondbacks put him on the designated for assignment list before Tuesday’s game.

That means the Diamondbacks have 10 days to trade him, release him or, if he goes unclaimed on waivers, to sign him to a minor league contract.

It might well be worth the A’s effort to put in a claim on him. He’s a 31-year-old left-handed hitter with power, and with the A’s having lost one of their prime left-handed hitters, Josh Reddick, until probably the middle of September if not the remainder of the season, Kubel could fit right in.

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