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Rangers’ Washington continues to be impressed by A’s

The A’s didn’t have to do anything more to impress Ron Washington.

After all, the Rangers manager has been a fan of the A’s since he coached third base for them from 1996-2006.

The Rangers sent a message by sweeping a three-game series in Oakland last week. The way the A’s responded was to beat the Rangers two best pitchers on consecutive nights Monday and Tuesday, knocking Yu Darvish and Martin Perez out of the game before either to get to five innings pitched.

It was worse on Tuesday, because the A’s ruined Washington’s birthday (he’s never had a managerial win on his birthday).

It’s all about pitch selection for the A’s hitters, and that hasn’t changed.

“The two games they beat us, our pitchers didn’t execute and we didn’t score any runs,’’ he said. “I don’t see anything different. They’re the same team. They grind out at-bats. They take advantage of opportunities very well. They’ve got a lot of guys in that lineup who execute.’’

But after seeing Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir both post their fourth wins and the bullpen contribute four shutout innings, Washington saved most of his praise for the Oakland pitching, which leads the American League in ERA at 2.85 despite having starting pitchers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin out for the year needing Tommy John surgery.

“They always pitch. They could miss all they want, they’ve got stuff in that minor leagues they can bring up,’’ Washington said. “They’re a pitching-rich organization.  It’s that simple. They’ve got kids ready to come if they need it. And they can pitch. They can spin the ball, change speeds, hit spots. That’s what they’ve always done. Even in the years when they were lean, they could pitch.

“They know how to scout pitching. They know how to go get pitchers that fit their mold. They figure if they got a chance on the mound, they can do the rest.’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.