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Can new kids on the block relocate A’s from the cellar?

Will Joey Wendle and the rest of A's newcomers lead an escape from last place?

Will Joey Wendle and the rest of A’s newcomers lead an escape from last place?

It won’t mean much outside the West Coast if the A’s were to do an about-face in the final four weeks of the season and pass the Angels in the standings.

Both teams have had miserable years. The A’s finished dead last in the AL last year, and while a repeat of that is unlikely with the Twins having nine more losses than the A’s to this point, they are last in the AL West with a 59-79 record.

The Angels have trailed the A’s much of a yo-yo season, but a recent surge had moved the Anaheim crew four games up on the A’s in battle to avoid cellar rental. If the Angels would have won Tuesday’s game to stretch that lead to five games, the A’s would have had few answers as to how to take the Angels down.

But coming into Wednesday, the A’s are only three back, and a win Wednesday would not only give the A’s a series win by a realistic chance of finishing out of last place.

And when vacating last place is all there is for a baseball team, it matters quite a bit, regardless of what outsiders might believe.

Do the A’s have enough in the tank to escape the cellar? Not unless they get some unexpected help. But they got some Tuesday night from a pair of rookies, Ryon Healy and Joey Wendle, who drove in all of the Oakland runs in the eighth inning of a 3-2 win that stole a seemingly easy victory from the Angels.

But there are new faces here, and more on the way. Jharel Cotton, the Virgin Islands native who came over in the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick trade with the Dodgers on Aug. 1, gets his first Major League game in a start Wednesday.

Raul Alcantara, who stumbled through his MLB debut Monday, will, manager Bob Melvin believes, be better now that he’s had a game to get his nerves under control.

And then there are some minor league hitters, including first baseman Matt Olson and center fielder Jaycob Brugman could get looks, as could slugger Renato Nunez, who doesn’t have a regular position but who hit 23 homers and drove in 75 runs while bouncing between left field and third base.

Could they make the difference between last place and fourth place for the A’s?

That’s what the next four weeks are all about.

 

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Ryon Healy confident after bummer of a day defensively

Ryon Healy will have to prove to the A's that he can handle third base defensively heading forward.

Ryon Healy will have to prove to the A’s that he can handle third base defensively heading forward.

The second inning Monday scarcely could have gone worse for Ryon Healy.

The A’s rookie third baseman had the first play of the bottom of the second come his way. Houston’s Yuli Gurriel’s slow roller was going to be a difficult third out of the inning, Healy got to the ball, and bounced a throw to first base. Gurriel had a hit, and short of a laser throw on the fly from Healy, he would have had a single, no matter what.

Marwin Gonzalez followed with an inning-ending grounder, or it would have been inning-ending if Healy hadn’t muffed the pickup. Now the Astros had two men on with two out and Teoscar Hernandez at the plate.

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Ryan Dull trying to rediscover his focus in grueling season

Ryan Dull, here paired with catcher Stepohen Vogt, is trying to fight his way out of an August skid.

Ryan Dull, here paired with catcher Stephen Vogt, is trying to fight his way out of an August skid.

When reliever Ryan Dull began the season by not allowing any of the first 36 base runners he inherited to score, the A’s right-hander knew that kind of unprecedented success wasn’t going to last forever.

Six of the last 10 inherited runners he’s faced have scored. And the season overall is starting to catch up with Dull, whose ERA has gone from 1.98 to 2.34 in his last eight games, losing twice and suffering a blown save during that time.

The second of the losses came Monday night when he grooved a pitch that Carlos Santana hit out in the eighth inning for the only run in Oakland’s 1-0 loss to Cleveland. It was a pitch Dull “wanted back” after he said “I pulled it right over the middle of the plate.”

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Bob Melvin, A’s deal with baseball after Reddick/Hill trade

Bob Melvin was sad to see Josh Reddick and Rich Hill be traded, but he said the A's played themselves into this kind of move.

Bob Melvin was sad to see Josh Reddick and Rich Hill be traded, but he said the A’s played themselves into this kind of move.

Josh Reddick was the A’s best overall player this season, which made it tough for manager Bob Melvin to see the club trade him Monday to Los Angeles.

Rich Hill was the A’s best starting pitcher, and Melvin saw him go, too, packaged with Reddick for minor league pitchers Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes.

Suffice it to say Monday wasn’t a great day for Melvin who was able to talk to Reddick but could only exchange texts with Hill as the two men scrambled to join the Dodgers for a flight to Colorado.

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Dillon Overton on Saturday; A’s hope it’s Rich Hill Sunday

 

Dillon Overton will return to the A's Saturday to start in Cleveland.

Dillon Overton will return to the A’s Saturday to start in Cleveland.

The A’s pitching rotation for the weekend series in Cleveland is getting some clarity, but only some.

Dillon Overton, the left-handed rookie who has helped pitch the A’s to two wins in three starts, will be recalled from Triple-A Nashville to start Saturday against the Indians. And Rich Hill remains probable for Sunday’s series finale, but if his blister problems have yet to be resolved, then Sonny Gray would get Sunday.

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Ryon Healy quickly becoming an A’s clubhouse favorite

Ryon Healy (48) has a new fan in A's catcher Stephen Vogt (21)

Ryon Healy (48) has a new fan in A’s catcher Stephen Vogt (21)

Ryon Healy has been with the A’s for a week now, and already the rookie third baseman is making an impact.

He homered in his second start, a three-run shot that went a long way to producing a 5-4 win over Toronto. He doubled as part of a five-run inning in his fourth start, driving in a run. Game 5 saw him drive in two runs with a double in a game the A’s won in 10 innings.

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A’s could use more of Monday’s unexpected plate patience

Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso (17) were factors in the A's fourth-inning uprising Monday fueled by walks.

Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso (17) were factors in the A’s fourth-inning uprising Monday fueled by walks.

Coming into the second half after the All-Star break, manager Bob Melvin was asked what it would take to get the A’s to look at more pitches, take more walks and thereby generate more offense.

He summed it up in two words: work and patience. He didn’t see much of it, the A’s being next-to-last in walks at the break and dead last in on-base percentage.

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Rich Hill comes full circle in start against Blue Jays

 Rich Hill's rise to prominence began with 4-3 win over Blue Jays last September in Toronto.

Rich Hill’s rise to prominence began with 4-3 win over Blue Jays last September in Toronto.

You could say the game that turned it around for Rich Hill was a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays last year in Toronto on Sept. 20.

Then he was just a guy fresh out of the independent leagues, lucky to have caught on with the Red Sox with Boston needing any able-armed starting pitcher the Sox could find. Now he’s the best starting pitcher on the free agent market and arguably one of the best starters in the game.

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Ryon Healy arrives and Billy Burns is demoted, so Danny Valencia, Coco Crisp can count on seeing diminished time

The A’s will begin  the second half of the season resculpting their lineup, beginning with Friday’s move to send down center fielder Billy Burns and promote 2013 third-round draft pick Ryon Healy, who is the club’s new third baseman.

The moves mean Healy is the new third baseman, with Danny Valencia relegated to part-time work as a first baseman against left-handed pitching and an occasional designated hitter.

And while Burns is gone, that doesn’t mean more playing time for the other center fielder, Coco Crisp. Instead, manager Bob Melvin the plan is to see if Jake Smolinski is up to getting regular work in center field for the 38-51 A’s.

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