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Melvin considering Gray over Colon for Game 5

UPDATED at 6:35 p.m. PT

Is there a case to be made for Sonny Gray as the Game 5 starter if the A’s and Tigers wind up getting there?

A’s manager Bob Melvin has to make that call in the next 48 hours after an 8-6 loss to Detroit forced the American League Division Series to a decisive fifth game Thursday.

Before the game, the A’s were going with Game 1 starter Bartolo Colon in Game 5. Colon, the loser in a 3-2 game, may be replaced by Gray, who threw eight shutout innings against the Tigers in Game 2.

Asked after Tuesday’s game in Comerica Park, Melvin said “I haven’t decided yet,” when ask about his Game 5 starter. The Tigers have. By using Max Scherzer in relief to get the win Tuesday, Detroit committed to Justin Verlander, who threw a shutout at the A’s in Game 5 in Oakland last year.

Gray last pitched on Thursday, as did Verlander in a game the A’s won 1-0 after both men were out of the game. Both men would be going on their every-fifth day turn if they are matched up again.

Colon, the A’s 18-game winner who pitched reasonably well but lost Game 1 in the Coliseum, would be pitching with extra rest, which isn’t that big a deal.

What is a big deal is that the Tigers, who have seen Colon over the years, have a book on him. They know what he throws. Colon can beat them, but he hasn’t this year. The A’s are 1-2 in games Colon has pitched against the Tigers this year.

He got no decisions in the two games he pitched against them in the regular season, one win and one loss. The A’s won the first game in 12 innings in the Coliseum in April after Colon allowed three runs in seven innings. The Tigers scored a walkoff win against Grant Balfour on Aug. 29 after Colon had allowed one run in five innings and left with a 6-1 lead.

Gray has only pitched once against the Tigers, but it was a true eye-opener, an eight-inning, four-hit, two-walk, no-run effort in which he, too, didn’t get the win. After Balfour pitched a scoreless ninth inning Saturday in Oakland, the A’s got a walkoff win on Stephen Vogt’s bases-loaded single in the ninth.

Afterward the Tigers were full of praise for Gray, who has pitched well in 10 of his 11 starts since his promotion from Triple-A Sacramento.

The Vanderbilt product seems destined to be a star. What the A’s have to decide now is if they want to double down on Gray in this series.

One major byproduct would mean that Colon would get the Game 1 start against the Red Sox in Fenway Park, where the series will start if Boston comes out of the other ALDS on top, rather than Gray, who has never pitched here.

A’s manager Bob Melvin, in having Gray pitch Game 2 against the Tigers, made a big case for how Gray has pitched well in big games in the Coliseum.

This move would support that.

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Game 157 wrapup: Milone pitches for roster spot; A’s have the numbers to run down Red Sox

Tommy Milone started Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers after having what was, for him, a so-so September.

A year later he’s not even guaranteed a spot on the Oakland roster despite the fact that he is, by his own admission “feeling like I’m pitching better this September than last year.’’

The difference is that last year he was in the starting rotation for virtually the entire season, finishing 13-10 with a 3.74 ERA.

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A’s continue their pursuit of White Sox’s Peavy

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.

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Schedule inequities on display this week with A’s hosting Yankees in New York’s one trip West

There will never be a time when the three American League West teams located on the eastern rim of the Pacific Ocean – the A’s, the Mariners and the Angels – won’t have troubling schedules.

They are about 1,500 miles from the other two teams in their division, Texas and Houston, and further still from the rest of the American League venues.

The question we pose here today is why the schedule makers insist on making things worse than they already are.

The Yankees, who come to town for three games beginning Tuesday, are in Oakland as the middle stop in a three-city West Coast swing. They’ve been to Seattle, and next they head to Anaheim.

The Orioles have already had a three-city junket to the West Coast. The Red Sox, in July, and the Rays in late August and early September, will do likewise.

Such a schedule makes it easy for those teams, minimizing the amount of mileage each accrues and leaving them with just two cross country flights for the AL West portion of the schedule – one to the West Coast and one back to the East Coast. With a day off mid-trip and another after after, it’s as close to a piece of cake as schedule makers can devise.

How many of the West Coast teams have reciprocal deals? None. The A’s, the Angels and the Mariners each must take three separate trips to say they’ve visited those same four cities. Oakland, for example, had Tampa Bay and Boston on an April trip, but their trip to New York was coupled with stops in Cleveland and Seattle. The trip to Baltimore later in the year will also include a stop in Detroit.

The city breakdown for the Angels and the Mariners is a little different, but the basics are the same. The Angels may have the most ludicrous of trips to visit one of those four East Coast cities, heading to Seattle and Milwaukee before making it to Tampa Bay.

It’s subtle, but it’s East Coast bias at a substantial level. The three West Coast teams are always going to have to fly the most miles, but by this kind of discriminatory scheduling, the Major League Baseball makes it worse than it has to.

There was a time in the 1980s and 1990 when the A’s could generally count on a three-city Baltimore-Boston-New York trip, but as the number of teams have expanded, the number of divisions has increased to three and interleague play has become season-long, that seems to have gone.

It should return, because the West Coast teams have enough built-in scheduling issues as it is. The A’s, for example, have five different trips to the Eastern Time Zone. And with the addition of Houston to the AL West this year, there are a total of six stops in the state of Texas for each West Coast team.

The West Coasters would be getting a break if they could play the Rangers and the Astros as part of a combined trip, but that hasn’t been deemed important. The A’s had one Texas-Houston trip this season, but that’s it and the other four stops will be combined with trips to other cities.

The Angels have it even worse. They have no conjoined Texas-Houston series, so they have to fly to into and out of the State of Texas six different times. That’s a joke.

You can bet that Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t see the humor in it. It’s a good bet that he, A’s manager Bob Melvin and Mariners’ manager Eric Wedge would supplicate themselves at the altar of MLB in New York if they thought it would bring about any change.

There are always going to be schedule inequities with the bulk of Major League Baseball teams concentrated in the Eastern and Central time zones. But it’s time somebody in the scheduling department of the commissioner’s office did something to level the playing field a bit.

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Game 22 wrapup: Lack of replay frustrates Lowrie; Young won’t panic with slow start

Jed Lowrie says he’s long been a proponent of expanded use of replay in baseball games.

Some replay Wednesday might have turned the tide for the A’s shortstop and his team, but it was not to be.

Batting with two out in the ninth with Oakland down 6-5 to the Red Sox in Fenway Park, Lowrie thought he’d hit a double down the right field line. The ball hit the chalk, which is by definition in fair territory.

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Smith homer in wind and rain of Fenway Park leaves the A’s suitably impressed

It won’t be the most clutch home run Seth Smith has ever produced or even the longest he’ll ever hit.

But Tuesday’s homer in the fourth inning of Boston’s Alfredo Aceves is likely to go down as the hardest Smith has ever hit, even if Smith himself doesn’t think that’s necessarily so.

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Game 21 wrapup: A’s hitters respond well to rain, but long for sun; Umpires handled rainout well

The A’s had scored just 15 runs in four games, all losses, coming into Tuesday.

They scored six times in the third inning and 13 times in the game in bringing the losing streak to an end.

Does that mean they want to go out and take all their at-bats in the rain and cold? No. but it does mean they enter Wednesday’s series finale against Boston lefty Jon Lester feeling much better about things.

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A’s, Red Sox expecting to play despite the rain

 

A's Yoenis Cespedes runs under stands at Fenway to get loose while avoiding rain Tuesday.

Just looking at Boston and Fenway Park late in the afternoon, it’s hard to see baseball being played here this evening.

But the A’s and the Red Sox are getting ready to do just that. They’ve been told that, at least for the moment, to prepare for a 6:35 start (3:35 PDT) in what is being forecast to be a light rain.

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Game 20 wrapup: Griffin points no fingers, but A’s defense did him no favors

Nothing seems to bother A’s starter A.J. Griffin when he’s on the mound, which makes him just the sort you’d like to have going for you in an emotional game.

And there was more emotion Monday than you would have in your standard April 22 game, given that it was in Fenway Park just a week after the bombings at the Boston Marathon that bruised a nation’s sense of itself.

“You just go out and pitch, do the same things you always do,’’ was the way Griffin put it going into the game.

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Boston manhunt has A’s-Red Sox series up in air

Remember back in the 1989 Oakland-San Francisco World Series, baseball took a back seat to the Loma Prieta earthquake?

Something of the same is happening in Boston these days. The Red Sox game Friday night against Kansas City Royals was postponed with parts of Boston and is suburbs in lockdown while the authorities pursue a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

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