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Slow day is good day at the Coliseum

It’s late August, the A’s are a half-game back of first place in the American League West and yet there really isn’t a ton to report before tonight’s second game of a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners. That’s probably not a bad thing. The A’s seem to be a relaxed and confident team with the September stretch drive around the corner.

Of course, after the game the A’s hope to be talking about another strong Sonny Gray start and a return to first place.

There were a couple small notes from manager Bob Melvin’s pregame session:

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Game 123 wrapup: Milone not thinking too much about job status; Donaldson RBI swing on way back; Otero continues to push for more signficant time

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.

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Game 117 wrapup: Straily’s best game shows up up north; Moss dismisses his double but he likes A’s rally; Is it time for Mustache Gang, Part II?

No one had to sketch out the situation for Dan Straily.

The A’s bullpen was hurting from overwork and closer Grant Balfour was going to need a day off.

Straily needed to get deep into the game for the A’s to have a decent chance to win.

The right-hander had not even made it to the fifth inning in any of his previous three starts, but this time was different.

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Game 112 wrapup: What’s next in A’s rotation?

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.

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A’s find there are too many buyers at deadline, but they’d like to add a starter and a second baseman

The A’s have not been buyers at the trade deadline often in the last decade.

Now that they are, so, apparently, is everybody else.

All of which is going to make it more difficult for the A’s to get something done at the deadline.

“It’s about how many players are available, simple supply and demand,’’ A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “Right now there are more buyers than there are sellers, more buyers than last year.’’

The A’s want to be one of the buyers when the deadline rolls around Wednesday.

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Game 78 wrapup: Straily sent down as A’s consider options; Jaso pinch-hits, catches, still feels pain; Melvin alters pinch-hitting strategy

Dan Straily was caught off guard Sunday afternoon when he was summoned into a quick meeting with A’s manager Bob Melvin after a 6-3 loss to Seattle.

Straily, who has been in the Oakland rotation since a stress fracture in Brett Anderson’s right foot put the opening day starter on the disabled list, was given the word. He was being sent down to Triple-A Sacramento, at least for a short time.

Oakland has a day off Monday, another Thursday and a third next Monday. With all that extra time, the A’s will not need to employ a fifth starter until July 6. So the A’s will bring up a fresh face, although the club said no decision has been made yet on who might get the call.

Since the bullpen will be, theoretically at least, rested with two days off in four days, it’s unlikely to be a reliever. It won’t be a starter, since there’s no need. So it almost certainly will be a position player. The A’s are a little short at catcher and at middle infielder, so the likely choices would be catcher Luke Montz or one of two infielders, either Andy Parrino or Hiro Nakajima.

The A’s aren’t getting much production out of catcher Derek Norris (.188) or part-time shortstop Adam Rosales (.195). Montz is hitting .265 with some power and did an adequate job as third catcher when he was up earlier. And Nakajima, who had a big hot streak to get up to .320 for Sacramento, fell down to the low .270s before rebounding to .279 entering Sunday.

As for Straily, he may be the man who gets the call when the A’s need a fifth starter again, but as both he and manager Bob Melvin said, there are no guarantees.

“There’s nothing promised,’’ Melvin said. “Do we want it to be Dan? Absolutely. But we don’t want him going do there with no sense of urgency.’’

For his part, Straily took the demotion in stride as much as was possible.

“With all these days off, it was either this or be the long man in the bullpen,’’ he said. “I have the confidence I’ll be back. There’s no reason to get down. This isn’t the desired (move).

“But I have to go down and make sure I’m still first on the list. Just like every other time I’ve gone down.’’

 

–John Jaso enter Sunday’s game as a pinch-hitter after having missed three consecutive starts with a nasty abrasion on the palm of his left hand.

Did he come back too early? Jaso seemed to think he did.

“I took some swings off a tee, and it felt OK,’’ Jaso said. “(But in the game) I took a swing and it still hurt.’’

The A’s are hoping that a day off Monday will leave Jaso good to go Tuesday night against Cincinnati.

Jaso was involved on one of the key plays in the game in the 10th inning when he couldn’t block a pitch in the dirt that had the Mariners’ Mike Zunino struck out. Zunino wound up getting to first base safely on the wild pitch from Grant Balfour and the Mariners went on to win on a three-run homer by Kendrys Morales.

“I rushed the throw a little, and I didn’t have to,’’ Jaso said. “And that cost us there. If I’d slowed down and collected myself, I would have had him.’’

–Melvin likes to use as few players when making a move as possible.

He went against that philosophy in the ninth inning when he used first baseman Nate Freiman to hit for second baseman Eric Sogard with a man on first base and one out.

In the past he would have used Adam Rosales, who could then have come in to play second base for Sogard. Instead, Freiman was used (he flew out) and Rosales came in to play defense, leaving only Chris Young available on the bench.

It turned out to be not a huge deal, but it could have been if the Mariners and A’s had gone past the 10th inning.

Rosales is 0-for-11 with five strikeouts as a pinch-hitter and it may be that Melvin is running out of time waiting for Rosales to contribute in that situation. The shortstop/second baseman is hitting just .195 overall, but take away those 11 at-bats and he’s hitting a marginally more respectable .214

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Game 57 wrapup: Straily keeps filling up strike zone; Freiman gets critique on how to run out a triple; Young breaks loose

Dan Straily didn’t get the win Saturday, but not because he didn’t deserve to.

The second-year right-hander limited the White sox to five singles and double in six innings, didn’t walk anyone, struck out eight and left a 3-1 lead to the A’s bullpen.

Sean Doolittle wound up letting Chicago back in the game, so when the A’s did go on to score a 4-3 win, the victory went to Jerry Blevins, who got the final out of the top of the 10th innings.

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Freiman finds split-second decision was right one

Nate Freiman was faced with a split-second decision in the sixth inning of Monday’s game.

For a while it haunted him, concerned that he’d made the wrong call, but upon further review, the A’s first baseman is content he made the right call

The Giants’ Pablo Sandoval was up with men on first and third and none out and hit a sharp grounder to Freiman at first. Here’s the question – do you go for the double play and concede the run or do you try and keep the run from scoring?

With the A’s up 2-0 at the time, Freiman decided it was more important to try and keep the run from scoring. So he took a few steps to first base and got the out there without taking his eye off the runner at third, Gregor Blanco, who looked as if he wanted to run but didn’t.

What that meant was that the runner at first base, Marco Scutaro, was now at second as the potential tying run.

A’s starter Dan Straily eventually gave up Blanco’s run on a grounder hit by Buster Posey, but he pitched out of the inning and the A’s went on to a 4-1 win in the first game of the series.

“At the time, I decided to make sure I got at least one out and to see if I could keep the runner from scoring,’’ Freiman said. “It was going to be a tough double play to turn, although the ball got to me quicker than I thought it would at first.

“At the time I wasn’t sure that it was the right play. But with the way in inning played out, Gregor Blanco was going to score, and so we were going to give up one run, regardless. It all goes back to the fact that the most important thing was that we got at least one out for sure on that (Sandoval) grounder.

“The thing that you can’t allow to happen is that you come out of that situation not getting any outs.’’

 

–Brett Anderson is still wearing his walking cast and is still using crutches to avoid putting too much pressure on the stress fracture in his right foot.

He’s probably got at least two more weeks of that, but no one can say for sure. Bones tend to heal at their own pace. So Anderson is learning to adapt while his A’s teammates do their thing.

“It’s different, sort of like being a fan,’’ he said. “Baseball is still fun to watch, especially the way this pitching staff is going. Yesterday I was able to watch two good baseball teams collide.’’

Just how well have A’s pitchers been doing? Coming into Tuesday’s start by Jarrod Parker, Oakland pitchers have a 2.33 ERA in their last 10 games and the team has won nine of those 10.

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Gray’s debut date with the A’s will have to wait

The news that Brett Anderson will miss another month, and possibly a good deal more time, is the latest indication that Anderson’s health will be an ongoing concern in Oakland.

For the short term, however, the immediate question his just how the A’s will address the hole left in their starting rotation by Anderson’s stress frature in his right foot.

Sources say there was some conversation about going to the minor leagues and plucking Sonny Gray, who had been on a hot streak with Triple-A Sacramento, although he lost a 7-2 decision to Oklahoma City Thursday, giving up four runs, three earned, in 6.2 innings.

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A’s facing a flurry of roster moves this week

The A’s have some decisions to make in the next week, and not all of them are clear cut.

Between now and Friday, outfielders Chris Young and Coco Crisp and starting pitcher Brett Anderson are likely to come off the disabled list.

It seems a no-brainer that Dan Straily will be the odd man out in the rotation. He has made three starts with Anderson out, and is due to make another against Texas Wednesday, two days before Anderson (sprained right ankle) is first eligible to come off the disabled list.

Young and possibly Crisp could come off the disabled list on Wednesday, and while it’s certain that Michael Taylor, who has an .063 average and hasn’t driven in a run, will be sent down, choosing between the other two candidates, Luke Montz and Daric Barton, will be a matter of just what kind of flexibility A’s manager Bob Melvin wants.

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