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Game 151 wrapup: Wolff says he’s not complaining about fans; Reddick likes his handiwork with pies; Rookie starter Gray comes up big against Trout

There is no timing quite like bad timing.

And so it was for A’s managing general partner Lew Wolff, who took to the pages of USA Today Tuesday to talk about the low turnstile count at the Oakland Coliseum on the same night the A’s surpassed last year’s attendance total of 1.665 million.

It was the fourth year running that the A’s had registered an increase in yearly attendance, and in the wake of a 2-1 walkoff win over the Angels, the A’s still have five home games left in which to build on that total.

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Game 148 wrapup: Moss, A’s impressed by Darvish; Magic number at 10; Rangers accomplish none of their goals so far; Balfour says all credit to Bartolo

Brandon Moss homered in the first inning the last time he faced Yu Darvish, a two-run shot that led to what would become an 11-4 A’s win back on Sept. 4.

So perhaps it should have been no surprise that when Moss faced the Rangers’ ace in the first inning Saturday, he’d unload with a run-scoring double.

The difference this time was that there would be no scoring on either side, and the A’s would claim a 1-0 win that would move Oakland to 5½ games in front of Texas in the American League West. The A’s magic number to win the West — any combination of 10 A’s wins or Rangers losses would give Oakland the title.

It never occurred to Moss that his hit would produce the game’s only run.

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Game 147 wrapup: Balfour angry at being skipped? A’s pretty sure Rios was out at third; Anderson back, not foot, hurts; Dad visits Donaldson

The move was so by-the-book as to be automatic.

The A’s had a one-run lead in the ninth inning. Closer Grant Balfour was up and loose in the Oakland bullpen.

Balfour was coming into to close out Friday’s 9-8 win over the Rangers. The A’s got the win, but Balfour never left the bullpen. Instead, left-hander Sean Doolittle, who’d gotten out of the eighth inning with a bit of magic, pitched the ninth to get the save.

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Game 146 wrapup: It’s time to let Moss play against leftties; Donaldson likes A’s plan for success; Young soars to .201; Balfour finally back in action

Are the A’s about to play the Texas Rangers, their last competition in the American League West title fight, with one arm tied behind their back?

Maybe. The Rangers are scheduled to start two left-handed pitchers, Derek Holland on Friday and Martin Perez on Sunday, against the A’s.

Oakland generally sits lefty cleanup hitter Brandon Moss against left-handed pitchers, and the A’s have had some success doing so. Nate Freiman has had a big year against left-handed pitching at .314 with four homers and 22 RBIs, and Freiman, a right-hander, is the usual starter at first against lefties.

There are times to throw away the numbers, however, and this may be one of them. Moss is an impact player, and more now than ever. The A’s are 13-4 since Aug. 26, going from 2½ games behind Texas to 3½ games in front of the Rangers in that time.

The driving force? Brandon Moss. He’s a .356 hitter in those games with five homers and 17 RBIs, an average of an RBI per game although he’s only starter 13 of those games.

He didn’t play Thursday when the Twins threw lefty Scott Diamond at Oakland and the A’s came away just fine with an 8-2 win. But since Aug. 26, in the limited time Moss has had against lefties, he’s been much better than his .216 season average against them.

Specifically he’s 5-for-10 with two homers and five RBIs.

Moss isn’t going to ask to play against lefties. Ask him, and he’ll say that he hasn’t hit well enough to earn the right and that it’s all about the team winning and “it’s not about whether it’s hard for me to sit and watch.’’

Ask manager Bob Melvin and he’ll say he doesn’t know yet what his lineup will look like. But Moss has stood up and been counted when the A’s needed him to be The Man. A couple of swings from Moss in games Friday or Sunday could be the difference between winning and losing for Oakland.

And the A’s very much need to win to keep the Rangers at bay.

“If I play, I play,’’ Moss said. “This (platooning) is what we’ve done for two years, and it’s worked pretty well. It’s about what we have done, not about what I have done.’’

Moss was slogging along in the minor leagues last June when the A’s pulled him back to the big leagues for one last shot. Since then he’s hit 46 home runs in less than a season and a half, a figure that is tied for the 12th-best total over that stretch in the Major Leagues.

He’s immensely grateful for the chance the A’s have given him.

And that explains, at least in part, why he’s not going to push his case to play.

“When you think of where I was last year and where I am now,’’ he said, “obviously I’m very appreciative of the chance I’ve gotten. I’ve got 100 percent confidence in the team and the (front office) staff to make the right decisions.’’

That’s the company line, too.

But it’s difficult to see the A’s putting their best lineup forward against the Rangers in a series Oakland needs to win and not see Moss a part of it.

 

–Josh Donaldson says the A’s don’t have to do anything differently against the second-place Rangers this weekend to move closer to another playoff spot.

“Pitching and hitting is what it’s about,’’ the third baseman said. “We’ve done that the majority of the year, and when we have, we’ve done fine.’’

Donaldson was in the lineup at third Thursday less than 20 hours after being hit on the right hand by a pitch. He singled, walked twice and scored a run in five plate trips. Defensively, he made a pair of above-average plays, getting plenty on the throw with his injured right hand.

“At this point of the year,’’ he said, “it’s going to take a lot to get me out of the lineup. It was a little sore, which I expected, but I’m going to play.’’

 

–Chris Young, who generally plays only against left-handers, got a start against one Thursday and had a double and a triple, although both of the hits came against right-handed relievers.

The two hits got him over .200, all the way to .201, for the first time since May 25, when he was hitting .207. It’s been a tough year for Chris Young.

“I feel like I’ve been swinging well,’’ Young said. “Today some balls found some holes. It’s not about the numbers anymore, not at this point of the season.

“It’s about winning games, just winning games. Our season depends on that.’’

 

–Grant Balfour, talking before Thursday’s game, said “we aren’t there yet’’ when asked if it was possible he was getting too much time off. Balfour hadn’t pitched since Sept. 6 before throwing the ninth inning Thursday.

After the game the Oakland closer was talking as if the long layoff, his tired arm notwithstanding, was perhaps a little too long.

“I felt good,’’ he said. “But you do need to be out there more consistently to have your command. But it went OK, and I’m ready to go.’’

And he’s looking forward to the three games this weekend against the Rangers.

“I don’t think about three games,’’ he said. “I just think about the next game. Tomorrow is the most important day for us.

“We’ve played well to put ourselves in good position going in. Now it’s up to us to make the most of it.’’

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After the Twins, Rangers series looms large for A’s

It will be interesting to see how the A’s play the final game of their series in Target Field.

They are coming off their biggest blowout of the season, an 18-3 win over the Twins Wednesday. And on Friday they start their final series of the season against their competition in the American League West, the Texas Rangers, in Arlington.

With those kinds of bookends, a day game like this could get lost in the shuffle.

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Game 145 wrapup: Reddick may be ready for a start; Gray has no problem sitting while A’s are scoring; Milone finally get an inning of work

A’s right fielder Josh Reddick may have played his way back into a start or two in the near future.

Talking before the game, manager Bob Melvin said he was finding it difficult to put Reddick, who hasn’t played in over two weeks thanks to a wrist injury, into the lineup. Brandon Moss and Daric Barton both are doing well in Reddick’s absence and the A’s were 11-4 since Reddick’s injury.

The A’s made it 12-4 Wednesday, but the scope of the win, 18-3, and the fact that the A’s scored early and often changed the dynamics for Reddick.

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Milone’s season not playing out like he’d hoped

This is not the way Tommy Milone envisioned his season winding down.

Just two months ago he was a key member of one of the best young pitching staffs in the Major Leagues, and at 26 he was a left-hander with positive playoff experience and plenty of promise.

The season started out well enough with Milone earning the No. 3 spot in the rotation and winning his first three starts. But then luck started to get rough. Over the course of his next five starts he brought his ERA down from 3.86 to 3.71 but went 0-5. He couldn’t catch a break.

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Game 144 wrapup: Melvin gives Parker added respect; A’s pen still among best despite slump

It was the kind of thing you see in the middle of a playoff chase that you don’t see in the middle of a season

A’s starter Jarrod Parker had given up a run, then loaded the bases with two out in the sixth inning. Oakland still had the lead at 3-2, but Parker was looking vulnerable.

It was time for a visit from the pitching coach. It didn’t happen. Instead, manager Bob Melvin exercised his prerogative and took the walk to the mound.

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