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Reddick, A’s frustrated after Friday night gets away

Josh Reddick couldn't have been more frustrated than he was after failing to get runs home in the sixth inning Friday vs. the Angels.

Josh Reddick couldn’t have been more frustrated than he was after failing to get runs home in the sixth inning Friday vs. the Angels.

When Josh Reddick flew out to left field to end the sixth inning Friday, he slammed his bat down so hard if his name was Jed Clampett he would have struck oil.

Reddick has been on a nice run since coming off the disabled list five weeks ago. Coming into Friday he had a .299 average since July 22 with eight doubles and six homers.

He would have given those extra base hits all away to have come up with a bleeder over the infield in the sixth inning Friday.

Oakland was in a 2-0 hole after Coco Crisp’s valiant try for an over-the-wall theft of a Chris Iannetta had gone for naught. The ball fell out of Crisp’s glove as the center fielder hit the wall so hard he knocked himself out of the game, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.

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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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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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A’s: Crisp delighted to join the team in a victory again

Coco Crisp returned to the A's lineup in a big way Tuesday.

Coco Crisp returned to the A’s lineup in a big way Tuesday.

It had been less than two weeks since the last time Coco Crisp had been in the A’s starting lineup.

Quite a lot has happened in that seven-game interval. The A’s traded Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes. The Angels have crept closer in the standings. The Oakland offense had stalled.    Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays doesn’t change all of that. It does modify it some, though.

The offense is still struggling, but it was Crisp who came up in the fifth inning, looked for the biggest whole on the infield and guided the ball into right-center field for the game’s first RBI.

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A’s: Lester addition forces Tigers to play catchup

Yoenis Cespedes is heading to Boston after big trade deadline deal Thursday.

Yoenis Cespedes is heading to Boston after big trade deadline deal Thursday.

Deny them what you will, the Oakland A’s aren’t boring.

They could have settled for just having made the Independence Day trade for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but in the final six hours before the trade deadline they went out and completely rebuilt their roster.

At that point, the Tigers’ Justin Verlander said Oakland made the trade because of the A’s had to come through Detroit in the post-season.

But after the A’s moved Yoenis Cespedes from left field and shipped him to Boston in exchange for All-Star starter Jon Lester and platoon left fielder Jonny Gomes, it seemed like the Tigers were playing catch up with the A’s when Detroit made a three-team deal for the other big name starting pitcher out there, David Price.

With it being obvious there was no room at the inn for Tommy Milone in the A’s rotation near term, they traded the minor league starter to the Twins for center fielder Sam Fuld.

The moves spoke about the A’s on several levels.

One. They didn’t believe they could re-sign Cespedes to a long-term contract when his four-year deal ran out after next year.

Two. They didn’t see Jason Hammel or Jesse Chavez as giving them their best chance to win in a post-season start.

Three. Center field is a problem. Coco Crisp has trouble staying in the lineup ever since running into a pole holding up the Coliseum outfield fence and suffered whiplash. And Craig Gentry has a broken right hand that will keep him out two more weeks at a minimum.

Four. There is no time like the present. The A’s are playing to go to the World Series this season. Next season will have to take care of itself.

Things could change, but Lester seems to be a two-month purchase. He gives the A’s something that, with all their pitching, they didn’t have – experience pitching in the World Series. He was 2-0 in the series last year with a 0.59 and 4-1 in the three rounds of the playoffs overall and his career ERA in the playoffs is 2.11.

The A’s have the best record in baseball four months into the season, but that gets you nothing, particularly when the team with the second-best record in the majors is in your division. Because of that, general manager Billy Beane keeps pushing forward.

Since Jan. 1, Beane has added a left-handed reliever who has been one of the best in the game, Eric O’Flaherty; added a right-handed hitting first baseman in Kyle Blanks, claimed lefty pitcher Jeff Francis from the Reds, traded for left-handed starter Brad Mills, traded for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, then traded for Lester and Gomes and reacquired Fuld.

That nine additions this year already, and even with Blanks injured and Francis no longer around, as A’s co-owner Lew Wolff told me Thursday, “there’s time yet.’’

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A’s: Burns’ spring training trial could be ready to pay off

Billy Burns went from Double-A to the big leagues Monday, joining the A's in Houston.

Billy Burns went from Double-A to the big leagues Monday, joining the A’s in Houston.

Billy Burns was almost out the hotel door, heading to the ballpark in Frisco, Texas, where he’d be the center fielder Monday night for the Midland Rockhounds, the same as the day before and the day before that.

His manager, Aaron Nieckula, changed everything with one phone call. Pack your bags and come to the park, Nieckula said. An explanation would be awaiting.

It was, but Burns didn’t need it. Shortly after the first call he got another, this one from A’s traveling secretary Mickey Morabito, on the line to arranging a quick flight to Houston, where Burns would be joining the A’s. Oakland was down two center fielders, Coco Crisp out for at least a few days with a neck injury and Craig Gentry out possibly a couple of weeks or more with a broken right hand.

Before the night was over, Burns would go from being a .250 hitter at Double-A unhappy with the level of offense he was putting out, to being up two levels and getting his first big league at-bat. He flew out to right as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of a 7-3 loss to Houston.

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A’s: Gentry, Crisp prove speed doesn’t take a day off

Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry combined their speed skills to run down Giants Monday.

Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry combined their speed skills to run down Giants Monday.

The focus in Oakland almost always on the offense, which has scored the most runs (444) or on the pitching, which has the second-best ERA in the majors (3.11).

The thing is, the A’s can do more. And they did more Monday in the opener against the Giants, a team they will play three more times this week.

The A’s first run came in the fifth inning off Giants’ starter Ryan Vogelsong, who hit Craig Gentry with a pitch. Gentry then stole second and took third as Coco Crisp dropped down a brilliant bunt down the first base line, beating it out with a speed show of his own.

“It’s a good combination when they’re both on,’’ manager bob Melvin said. “there’s the dynamic where (the pitcher) has to be quick to the plate.’’

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A’s: Latest trend in clubhouse: Going to the jungle

I went to the jungle Friday.

I had no idea of what was going on when I walked into the A’s clubhouse shortly after it opened at 3:30 p.m. ET and heard multiple players yelling “I went to the jungle!’’

The phrase was new to me in a baseball sense, well in most any sense, really, so I asked the nearest player I could find, infielder Nick Punto, what was going on.

He said he wouldn’t let me write about it unless I did it. That’s a challenge writers can get from the players in a baseball clubhouse from time to time. I pursued it.

It seems that on Wednesday in New York, leadoff man Coco Crisp brought a small vial of hot sauce. A few of the players rubbed some on their gums before the A’s-Mets game. Second baseman Eric Sogard was one of the first, and when some of the stragglers came over to join in, Sogard coined a phrase.

“I told them, `Welcome to the jungle.’ ’’ Sogard said.

It caught on. Immediately the practice became “Going to the jungle.’’

The A’s then went out and scored six runs in the first two innings. In baseball, everything that happens has a certain level of causality, so the hot sauce was back Friday.

The challenge, Punto said, was to put a dollop on the tip of my index finger, then rub it over my gums.

Me, I’m just dumb enough to do that. Punto said later he didn’t think I would. He was wrong.

Let me say here and now that there was some pain involved. Not an unbearable amount, but it’s safe to say the practice isn’t for everyone.

Crisp wasn’t around to see me do it, but word got out quickly. A fist-bump ensued.

He explained that he has three small bottles of intense hot sauce. This was the mild one. It registers, he said at 300,000 on the Scoville Chile Flame Scale. Your average Jalapeno comes in at about 2,500-5000. A sweet bell pepper goes at 0-100. So 300,000 is way, way over what most people are used to. These intense sauces are mostly used in small amounts to

Crisp’s other two are Scoville listed at 5 million and 9 million.

I don’t think I’ll be trying those.

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A’s: Cespedes fills in, nails Crisp with pie in face

The As pride themselves on their versatility and depth. 

Yoenis Cespedes is all smiles after delivery celebratory pie to Coco Crisp Saturday

Yoenis Cespedes is all smiles after delivering celebratory pie to Coco Crisp Saturday

It has seldom been tested more than after Coco Crisp’s game-winning single to beat the Red Sox 2-1 in 10 innings Saturday.

The Oakland tradition after a walkoff it is a ceremonial whipped cream pie in the face during the post-game television interview. It’s been going on for a few years now, with right fielder Josh Reddick doing the honors for the most part.

If Reddick is unavailable, or if he’s the man who’s delivered the game-winner, then Crisp takes over. On Saturday, Reddick was off on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Sacramento. And Crisp delivered the hit.

So there was a void.

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A’s day off comes at a good time and in a good place

Coco Crisp gets to celebrate a family birthday on the off-day Thursday.

Coco Crisp gets to celebrate a family birthday on the off-day Thursday.

There are few things the A’s like more than playing in Anaheim, then having a day off before playing again in Oakland.

Many of the A’s have homes or family in Southern California, and they use the off-day to visit family and friends, something that’s hard to do in the course of the season.

The timing this week is great for Coco Crisp. The center fielder will stay in Southern California and will celebrate a family birthday Thursday.

Things were not quite as convenient for infielder Alberto Callaspo, whose wife is about to give birth … in Florida.

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