The fact that the A’s were able to clinch the American League West title on Sunday, the final home date of the regular season, worked out well for Billy Beane.
Securing the title meant the A’s general manager could stay at home and not join the team Monday in Anaheim for a possible clinching party there. Beane isn’t much for road trips these days.
As it was, Beane stayed mostly out of the clubhouse celebration Sunday and was uncontaminated by the sprays of champagne and beer that coated most of the rest of the members of his organization.
He was with his twins, Brayden and Tinsley, when I caught up with him far from the madding crowd.
There’s a tendency to jump on a player when he’s down that pervades all sports. Baseball is no different in that regard.
A’s reliever Ryan Cook is in a bad slump, no doubt about it.
But sometimes it’s not bad pitching as much as it is bad luck.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No one knows better than Tommy Milone that his spot in the Oakland rotation comes with no guarantees.
Pitch well in the season’s final six weeks and he can figure he’ll keep getting the ball every five days.
Pitch poorly and the A’s have options. Brett Anderson, the A’s opening day starter, is on an injury rehabilitation assignment and is being groomed to return as a starter after a stretch in which the A’s thought the club might be best served with Anderson joining the bullpen.
Twice in the last four games the Oakland starting pitcher hasn’t made it to the fifth inning.
The last time Wednesday’s A’s starter, Bartolo Colon, pitched in Cincinnati, he gave up four home runs.
But there is no kidding that Wednesday’s start for Colon is a big one. He has thrown at least six innings and given up three or fewer runs in each of his last 15 starts. With the A’s offense on the rails, it figures that Colon is going to have to pitch to that standard for the A’s to come out of this series with a split.
When Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey steps on the mound for the Blue Jays Wednesday, he says it will be special.
That’s because he’ll be pitching against the A’s Bartolo Colon.
Dickey, the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner while pitching for the New York Mets, has been pitching in the Major Leagues off and on since 2001, most of that in the American League.
Colon, who has pitched in the big leagues since 1997, also has spent the bulk of his time in the American League.
But for all of that, this will be just the second time they’ve pitched in the same game.
The A’s would like to add a starting pitcher before the trade deadline comes around Wednesday, and the A’s have a preference for that pitcher to be Jake Peavy.
Wishing doesn’t make it so, of course, but the club is very much in the hunt for the Chicago White Sox’s right-hander, who cleaned out his locker Sunday morning with all indications a trade is just a day or so, if not an hour or so, away.
The Braves, the Dodgers, the Cardinals and the Red Sox came into Sunday as fellow contenders in the race to get Peavy as the White Sox try to shed salary and add good young prospects.