A’s behind some of Royals’ success heading to World Series

Royals celebrate their AL wild card win over the A's on Sept. 30.

Royals celebrate their AL wild card win over the A’s on Sept. 30.

Why is Kansas City the team that’s waiting for the San Francisco Giants in the World Series?

You can blame it on (or thank, depending on how you feel about it) the Oakland A’s. So says Don Wakamatsu, the former Seattle manager who is now the bench coach for the Royals, working under manager Ned Yost.

After ending a four-game losing streak on July 22, the Royals had steamrolled everyone through Sept. 7. Kansas City used a blistering 31-13 run to go from eight games out in the American League Central to 1½ games up on the Detroit Tigers

The Royals ran out of juice at that point, falling out of the Central lead while limping home with a 10-10 record in the final 20 games. If the Mariners (9-11) and the A’s (8-12) had done even a little better over the same stretch, Kansas City’s stretch of missing the post-season would have made it to an even 30 years and Oakland and Seattle would have been the American League’s wild card combatants.

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A’s, Mariners know each other well

A little late with tonight’s post, my apologies on that …

–Landon Powell gets a second straight start tonight for the A’s. He’s at DH after jacking a three-run homer yesterday. Jack Cust is in right field and Rajai Davis gets a night off to rest a sore right thumb.

It’s too bad for Powell he isn’t getting more playing time. He’s really produced when he’s been in there. But other than at catcher or DH, it’s tough finding at-bats for him.

–There was lots of get-reacquainted time on the field during batting practice, as so many former A’s players and coaches are with Seattle. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and bench coach Ty Van Burkleo chatted w/Bob Geren. M’s first baseman/DH Mike Sweeney was catching up w/Mark Ellis … And the newest ex-Athletic/current Mariner, Jack Hannahan, is in the lineup at third base against his former team …

The full lineups

Kennedy 3B
Ellis 2B
Hairston LF
Cust RF
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Powell DH
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Mazzaro RHP

Gutierrez CF
Branyan 1B
Lopez 2B
Griffey Jr. DH
Hall RF
Johjima C
Hannahan 3B
Wilson SS
Saunders LF

Snell RHP


Hannahan traded to Seattle for minor league pitcher

I’ll make this brief, but the A’s dealt third baseman Jack Hannahan to Seattle today for minor league right-hander Justin Souza. Souza, 23, was 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 20 games (14 starts) with Double-A West Tennessee. Bob Geren pointed out Souza’s good K/BB ratio (62 strikeouts, 18 walks in 78 innings) and said he’s likely to report to Double-A Midland for the A’s. I don’t have much more on him at the moment … Hannahan, acquired by the A’s in August 2007 from Detroit, provided a tremendous glove at third while filling in for Eric Chavez. But he didn’t develop into the impact hitter that teams look for at the corner infield spots. He’ll be reunited in Seattle with Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, who was on Geren’s staff last season.

Tonight’s lineups:

Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Hairston CF
Holliday LF
Cust DH
Suzuki C
Giambi 1B
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B

Braden LHP

Upton CF
Crawford LF
Longoria 3B
Pena 1B
Zobrist 2B
Burrell DH
Bartlett SS
Kapler RF
Navarro C

Garza RHP


Pregame happenings from A’s home opener

We’re a little more than an hour away from first pitch here at Oakland Coliseum between the A’s and Mariners. Seattle’s clubhouse now provides a mini-A’s reunion of sorts. There’s manager Don Wakamatsu, of course, a Hayward native who was A’s bench coach last season (you can read a little about him in tomorrow’s A’s notebook). Ty Van Burkleo, last year’s A’s hitting coach, is now Wakamatsu’s bench coach.

And don’t forget about Mike Sweeney, one of the most upbeat players in the game who’s now spreading his cheer to the Mariners. After he was released by the A’s last September, he faced the possibility of retirement because of two bad knees. But Sweeney said he avoided micro-fracture surgery on both knees thanks to a series of shots in each knee. He was injected with Synvisc, a gel-like medication often used in knee injuries. The shots last about 8 months. “Basically it’s like WD-40 for your knee,” he said. He’s starting at DH tonight for Seattle.

The 2008 season was Sweeney’s only one w/the A’s, and injuries to his knees ate into his playing time greatly. He was a non-roster invitee to Mariners camp this spring, and played his way into a job, just as he did last year w/the A’s.

“I was very thankful for my time in Oakland,” Sweeney said. “Despite the injuries, I feel I had an impact on the team. I miss a lot of those guys. When I got released, I thought maybe that was it. To be playing again is a blessing.”

–One of the Mariners players tried on an Oakland Police Department hat before they took batting practice. It’s my understanding that players on both teams will wear the hats for pregame introductions as part of the ceremony honoring the four recently slain Oakland police officers. It should be pretty moving …

The A’s lineup:

Sweeney CF; Cabrera SS; Giambi DH; Holliday LF; Chavez 3B; Garciaparra 1B; Cust RF; Suzuki C; Ellis 2B; Anderson P

The Mariners lineup:

Endy Chavez LF; Franklin Gutierrez CF; Mike Sweeney DH; Adrian Beltre 3B; Ken Griffey RF; Jose Lopez 2B; Russell Branyan 1B; Kenji Johjima C; Yuniesky Betancourt SS; Ryan Rowland-Smith P