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Don’t look for Brett Anderson to start again in 2013

Looking at the situation from the outside, it may seem as if they A’s are taking a risk in not finding a way to get Brett Anderson back into the starting rotation for the post-season.

But as things stand now, that is exactly the plan for Oakland, and the A’s seem to think the bigger risk would be to push Anderson into a role he hasn’t filled since the first month of the season.

Manager Bob Melvin indicated Tuesday the club was leaning heavily in the direction of having Anderson pitch out of the bullpen for the rest of the season and for whatever portion of the post-season the A’s reach.

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Game 143 wrapup: A’s offense roars back to life; Colon feeling better each time out; Smith makes contribution at last; Moss due to have tooth pulled

There was a stretch in May and June when it seemed like the A’s offense was first-class.

The A’s got away from that some in July and early August, but in the last few weeks the A’s seem to be back with bats blazing.

Oakland scored seven runs in a 7-2 win over the Astros Sunday, a total that isn’t amazing on its own. But when you consider that all seven runs came home after there were two out in the third inning the picture changes.

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Game 141 wrapup: A’s spreading offense around

There’s an evolution taking place in the Oakland offense.

They aren’t content to score in just one or two innings any more.

The A’s are spreading their offense around, one of the reasons they’ve won six of their last eight games to move into a one-half game lead in the American League West over Texas.

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Game 139 wrapup: Anderson closer to a start; Parker honored to join Catfish, Lefty; Moss says Crisp is the man who makes the A’s go

Brett Anderson took another step toward the Oakland starting rotation Wednesday by collecting his second career save.

Anderson threw the final three innings against the Rangers, allowing two runs while throwing 39 pitches.

The A’s have been trying to build up Anderson’s pitch count to be able to justify getting their opening day starter out of the bullpen and back into the rotation, and having him pitch three innings, which he’s done twice in his last three appearances, is one way to do it.

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Game 138 wrapup: Donaldson opens eyes around baseball; Nakajima future with A’s murky at best

When the A’s first turned to Josh Donaldson two springs ago and asked the catcher/third baseman to quit catching and concentrate on playing third base, he jumped at the chance.

It wasn’t an easy transition, but his willingness to work on his game never wavered.

Tuesday night, with an acrobatic catch against David Murphy that carried the third baseman into the space between the left field tarp and the padded retaining wall behind it, Donaldson may have given notice that his defense doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone’s.

A’s reliever Jerry Blevins was the pitcher at the time, and he was coming over to back up at third base.

“That catch should get him an invitation to the ESPYs. He’s just a guy who plays all-out all the time.’’

Jon Daniels, the Texas general manager, is in town to watch his Rangers play the now-second-place A’s. He was one of many who were blown away by the catch.

“When he first came up last year,’’ Daniels said, “he was a below-average third baseman. Now he’s one of the best.’’

The question for the A’s since late last year when it became clear that Donaldson could play third and would only get better was simple: How to rein in someone who puts his body on the line all the time.

The answer is that you can’t.

“That’s the way he plays,’’ A’s reliever Grant Balfour said. “That’s just him.’’

“He could get hurt, but he doesn’t let that stop him,’’ Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I never knew what a good athlete he was. But he’s a gamer. Big time.’’

Oakland center fielder Coco Crisp, speaking for many, looked at that play and said, “That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen anyone make at third base.’’

 

–The A’s callups Tuesday, presumably the last ones of the season, did not include one big name.

Hiro Nakajima, the man signed out of Japan to be the A’s shortstop in place of the departed Stephen Drew, had a bad spring, was injured just before the season began, missed a month of the season, then went on an injury rehabilitation assignment.

He never returned. Nakajima had an up-and-down year with Sacramento, finishing at .283, but after a slow start he was at .320 or so and it seemed like he might be the next player promoted.

It never happened. Now the question is whether or not he will be around to finish out his two-year contract with the A’s.

A team player, he was willing to spend whatever time the organization needed proving himself at Sacramento. But after a year in the minors and with no promotion, he may decide he doesn’t want another year of this.

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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

sethsmith

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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Game 130 wrapup: Doolittle, Cook survive bases-loaded jams; Griffin finally gets first win of August

You can put together reams of printed pages about Miguel Cabrera and they won’t tell you anything more than the reverential way others in baseball talk about the Tigers’ third baseman.
He’s a great hitter. He doesn’t have any evident weaknesses. There’s no part of the plate he doesn’t cover. There’s no part of the bleachers he can’t reach with his homers.
The trouble is, Prince Fielder is no day at the beach. Fielder is having probably his worst big league season, but no one would willingly pitch to Fielder with the bases loaded with a 7-4 lead unless the alternative was pitching to Cabrera with two men on with a 7-4 lead.
Even with two men on, Cabrera occasionally will get walked intentionally, as was the case in the seventh inning Monday. A’s manager Bob Melvin was willing to take the risk and have Fielder bat as the go-ahead run rather than have Cabrera bat as the tying run.
So he had reliever Dan Otero load the bases by walking Cabrera after the count unintentionally got to 2-0, then went to the bullpen for Sean Doolittle.
This is not a high-percentage move. Coming into the game Fielder was 6-for-14 (.429) with two walks after 16 previous intentional walks to Cabrera.
“I’m sure it gives him extra motivation,’’ the manager said. “It was a chance I felt we had to take.’’
And Doolittle has hardly been rock-solid of late. In 2.2 innings over four games, he’d allowed six runs. But he was well rested, and he throws a mean fastball.
Ultimately, he was able to get what he thought was a “routine fly ball, until I turned around and saw Coco sprinting.’’
That was center fielder Coco Crisp, who said he knew that there is seldom anything routine when Fielder makes contact.
“Prince Fielder hit the ball,’’ Crisp said. “When that happens, the ball will go a long way.’’
Melvin’s gamble paid off, but it’s not likely that will be of much comfort the next time that situation comes up.
Given the potency of the Tigers offense and the fact that the A’s play three more games in Comerica Park this week, a repeat wouldn’t be that much of a surprise.

–There was another bases-loaded situation Monday, and there was every bit as much riding on the outcome.
The Tigers were down 8-5 after Victor Martinez’s homer in the eighth inning, and with two out, the Tigers got a pair of hits off Ryan Cook, who then walked Austin Jackson.
That was followed by a visit from pitching coach Curt Young, who wanted to get a couple of things straight with Torii Hunter at the plate.
“He wanted to make sure I struck to my game plan and executed my pitches,’’ Cook said.
The key pitch was the first one, a strike. Cook said he wanted it down. It was up, but it was a strike.
“From there I was in the position to make my pitches,’’ Cook said.
Hunter is one of the best hitters in the game with men on base, but this time Cook struck him out.

–A.J. Griffin had gone four August starts without a win. He was 0-2, but the A’s had won the other two starts after he left the game.
On Monday, for once, the a’s offense kicked in early enough that even a couple of two-run homers, one each by Omar Infante and Miguel Cabrera, weren’t enough to deny Griffin the win.
“The bats were outstanding tonight,’’ Griffin said. “We’ll build off this one.’’
Griffin came into the game with the Major League lead with 30 homers allowed, and now the number is up to 32. A dozen times now he has allowed multiple homers in a game, which ties the A’s franchise record originally set by Catfish Hunter in 1973.
Homers have been on Griffin’s mind of late, but he’s trying to get past