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Reddick gets straight A’s for walk that started it all in ninth

Josh Reddick hit a two-run homer Monday, but his ninth-inning walk had equal importance.

Josh Reddick hit a two-run homer Monday, but his ninth-inning walk had equal importance.

August hasn’t been terribly kind to the A’s, so when Chris Carter hit a two-run, two-out homer on an 0-2 pitch, an A’s fan could be forgiven for thinking, “here we go again.’’

Then Josh Reddick stepped up against Tony Sipp, the Astros lefty reliever who was brought it because Reddick and the man following him in the Oakland batting order, Eric Sogard, are both left-handed.

Reddick isn’t much for walks, but he worked Sipp for one on a 3-2 pitch. And just like that, the Astros’ momentum was blunted. Sipp is a decent reliever, but all of a sudden he could not find the strike zone. He walked Sogard. And Andy Parrino. And Coco Crisp, driving in a run.

Later in the inning Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris would each drive in two runs. And it all came back to that walk.

Small things can get ignored, but this walk that helped get the A’s to 11-12 this month shouldn’t be one of them.

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With Doolittle and Jaso headed to DL, A’s need starting staff to be special, and a Moss sighting would be nice, too

Suddenly, the A’s are in medical crisis mode. Sean Doolittle is down with a ribcage muscle pull, and there’s no telling when he’ll be back. John Jaso, suffering concussion symptoms from a hard foul tip he incurred two weeks ago, is in the same boat. When a guy is suffering from headaches and dizziness that long after the fact, there is legitimate cause for concern that he may not be able to get back behind the plate for a good long while, if at all.

Oakland’s middle infield is being held together with baling wire with Jed Lowrie and Nick Punto out. Lowrie, on the DL with a fractured index finger on his throwing hand, probably has at least another week before he can even think about returning. Punto hasn’t yet resumed baseball activity.

Josh Donaldson had an MRI on his left knee Sunday, and the A’s took a deep sigh of relief that there was no structural damage found. But he was already playing hobbled (nagging hip), as is Stephen Vogt (foot), Coco Crisp (neck) Josh Reddick (braced knee), Derek Norris (back stiffness) and Sam Fuld (jammed left knee trying to make a spectacular catch Sunday). Craig Gentry is back from a fractured hand, but that doesn’t tip the balance of health back nearly enough.
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This could just be the beginning of a great A’s-Angels battle that could spill over into October

The A’s and Angels may consider themselves rivals, but let’s face it, they’ve never really had the kind of storied rivalry the Giants and Dodgers have built. Of course, the two National League teams had roughly an 80-year head start before the two American League clubs started facing off as NorCal-SoCal opponents starting in 1968. But even over the last 46 years, the A’s and Angels have had comparatively few pennant race battles against one another, and they’ve never met in the postseason.

They have had some good ones. In 2002, the A’s won 103 games to take the division and the Angels won 99. Oakland was upset by Minnesota in the ALDS, while the Angels rolled all the way to the World Series and beat the Giants in seven games for the only championship in their history. Two years later, in 2004, the Angels beat out Oakland by a single game to win the division and the A’s missed the playoffs altogether as a result. In 2006, Oakland returned favor, holding on to win the division by four games over the Angels, who missed the playoffs despite going 89-73.

This year could top any of those races. As teams with the two best records in baseball — and right now they’re tied for that honor with identical 76-52 marks — this could wind up being the wildest and woolliest A’s-Angels finish ever, and what’s more, it might not be done in the regular season. Because of the way the postseason rules are set up now, there is a pretty strong chance the A’s and Angels could meet in the A.L Division Series as well, provided whichever team winds up as the wild card subsequently wins the one-game playoff.
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As Coco goes, so go the A’s, or so it seems

Coco Crisp helped get the A's back on track Friday with a homer and a double to do in the Angels.

Coco Crisp helped get the A’s back on track Friday with a homer and a double to do in the Angels.

It had been a sad stretch for the A’s in the first 19 games of August, winning just eight of them.

So when the Angels opened up Friday with Mike Trout hitting a homer off Sonny Gray, it had a chance to be more of the same.

That it wasn’t was thanks to Coco Crisp. The A’s center fielder, who earlier in the week was finding a way out of a 5-for-43 skid, homered off the Angels’ Hector Santiago and suddenly things were sweetness and light.

Or as manager Bob Melvin put it, “when Coco hit that home run it was like, `all right, we’re fine.’ ’’

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Moss fights power skid with surge of run-generating walks

Brandon Moss is walking more of late as he waits for his power slump to end.

Brandon Moss is walking more of late as he waits for his power slump to end.

Brandon Moss walked twice on Wednesday.

He walked once on Sunday in Atlanta and three times on Saturday against the Braves.

Meanwhile, he hasn’t had any hits over that stretch, going 0-for-12 since a single in the eighth inning last Thursday in Kansas City.

The slump isn’t a good thing. Neither are his 21 games without a homer, his worst stretch as a member of the A’s. In that period he has just five RBIs.

“I know I’m in a pretty good home run drought,’’ Moss said, then looking at his two doubles over the same period, he added, “really, it’s an extra-base hit drought.

“I feel like it’s one of those stretches where I go and look at video and I have nothing other to look at than pitch locations. Pitchers miss their spots very often, and when they do, it’s in a count where I’m trying to battle, or they miss to the complete opposite side where I’m looking. They’ll throw away when I’m looking down and in.

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A’s rediscover themselves a bit in their home sweet decrepit home, begin tuneup for Angels

Bud Selig said for about the 1,000th time Tuesday that the A’s need a new ballpark, but for the moment, the old gray cement mare is pretty crucial to their more immediate concerns. They needed to regain their equilibrium following their worst road trip of the year (1-6), end their five-game losing streak and get back to the things that made them the best team in baseball the first four months.

A 6-2 victory over the New York Mets was pretty much textbook A’s. Scott Kazmir delivered six strong innings and allowed just one run, even though he didn’t quite find his groove until Oakland broke things open with a four-run fourth, sparked by Coco Crisp’s bases-loaded triple. The bullpen got to do its more customary shutdown thing, with Ryan Cook (helped by an Eric O’Flaherty one-out cameo), Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle slamming the door once Kamzir was done.

As for the much-discussed offense, the A’s finally put together a big middle inning, got a two-run longball add-on from Josh Reddick and just generally looked like the Oakland offense we saw before the Yoenis Cespedes trade. The game story focuses on the reemergence of Crisp as a necessary component for the A’s down the stretch, and you can read it >here.

“The offense was a little bit more like we’re used to seeing, making pitchers work and drawing some walks, getting some big hits,” concurred manager Bob Melvin. “That was good to see.”

To be sure, the mix of everything that suggested the A’s were getting back to being themselves with a huge home weekend series against the Angels looming was significant. It helped, too, that the A’s drew a crowd of over 23,000 for Tuesday night’s game. It portends well that the weekend could be big at the gate when Oakland needs its home crowd to perhaps unnnerve the Angels a bit.

The A’s aren’t talking about the Angels yet but you know they’re on their minds. They want to put their best foot forward this weekend, so an off day Monday and another Thursday should do wonders.

“Coming back home, having the day off yesterday to reset and recharge a little bit, being able to get the first win of the homestand in the first game, I think it’s huge,” said Doolittle. When (Travis) d’Arnaud hit the home run, it would have been really easy for everybody to say, `Uh oh, here we go again,’ but Kaz did a great job shutting them down after that and Coco and Reddick had some big hits for us.”

So one more game with the Mets Wednesday afternoon and then it’s on to the showdown.

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Crisp says timing of A’s slump coincidental to Cespedes deal

Coco Crisp says the trade deadline deal of Yoenis Cespedes to Boston should  work out in the end.

Coco Crisp says the trade deadline deal of Yoenis Cespedes to Boston should work out in the end.

A’s center fielder Coco Crisp doesn’t much care for the idea that the trade deadline deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox was a bad one for the A’s.

Crisp likes the additions of Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, even if the A’s are 7-10 since the trade went down taking the slugging Cespedes to Boston, including a 1-6 road trip through Kansas City and Atlanta and a season-high five consecutive losses.

He said that in the first four months of the season the A’s never had to face much in the way of a slump. Now, they are facing a major test. Oakland has scored three runs or less in 13 of 17 games this month, and even with the A’s good pitching, it’s hard to generate many wins like that.

“Everybody goes through ups and downs,’’ Crisp said while packing for the trip home after the A’s 4-3 loss Sunday night to the Braves in Atlanta. “This is our first.

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Abad nothing but good coming out of A’s bullpen

A's lefty Fernando Abad has been perfect this year when it comes to stranding inherited base runners.

A’s lefty Fernando Abad has been perfect this year when it comes to stranding inherited base runners.

When the A’s got Fernando Abad from the Nationals last year at the cost of minor league infielder John Wooten, it wasn’t an eyebrow-raising deal.

The results have been startling, however, and only in a good way for the A’s. Abad came into Sunday night with a 1.69 ERA, an opponents’ batting average of .167 and a 2-4 record.

More significantly, he has been a force coming out of the bullpen. He’s entered games with 23 men on base, and he hasn’t allowed any of them to score.

“He’s been incredible, and incredibly consistent for us all year,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “The numbers speak exactly what he’s meant to us and what he’s done for us: the ERA, the inherited runners, to be able to strike a lefty out with guys on base.

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A’s not ready to panic; fans not so sure

Manager Bob Melvin has 39 games to get the A's into the American League playoffs.

Manager Bob Melvin has 39 games to get the A’s into the American League playoffs.

For three days in June, the A’s held a six-game lead in the American League West.

That was then. Now things are much different, a virtual tie in the West with six weeks left in the season.

Time to panic?

Not in the A’s clubhouse. Oakland has 39 games left (the Angels, who are .002 percentage points up on the A’s, have 41), a mostly favorable schedule and the belief that they can play better.

But to watch my twitter feed, it’s not a case of the world coming to an end. The end has come and gone.

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A’s experiencing some of the problems of success

There are problems with success, as the A’s are discovering.

Win consistently, and the expectation is that you will continue to do so.

Best the best and playing at less than your best level raises eyebrows.

And in the big leagues, have the best record and you’ve got virtually no chance of claiming a player on waivers.

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