A’s have nothing but respect for new-look Mariners

Felix Hernandez leads a Mariners' team that is the best it's been in a decade.

Felix Hernandez leads a Mariners’ team that is the best it’s been in a decade.

Once the A’s prime competition in the American League West came from Southern California.

Now with the Angels having steamrolled the West while Oakland slumped, the A’s must look to the Pacific Northwest, where the Seattle Mariners would like nothing better than to knock the A’s out of the Wild Card race.

The A’s and Mariners play three games this weekend in Safeco Field.

And while the Mariners haven’t seen the post-season since the world was young, the A’s are facing a team that could either join them in the Wild Card game or knock Oakland out of it.

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Will outfielders try to beat the system on dropped balls?

With all the calls being overturned with balls being accidentally dropped in the transfer from glove to hand in Major League Baseball these days, A’s center fielder Coco Crisp was asked Monday how long before someone drops the ball during the transfer on purpose?

After all, runs have to hold and retreat to their bases once they see the ball being caught. But with umpires consistently ruling “no catch’’ even after players have taken three or four strides following the catch, how long before someone opts to make a catch and then drop the ball on purpose to maybe force a very fast runner to get a double play?

Crisp wouldn’t advise it.

“I wouldn’t do it,’’ he said. “You’ve got to make the catch, make the play.’’

The same question was put to Oakland first base coach Tye Waller.

“I know it’s been talked about,’’ Waller said. “So far, nothing I’ve seen has been like that. I think everybody wants to get the outs they can get.’’

As part of their start-of-series scouting meeting before the game Monday, the A’s spent extra time talking about how they want to handle fly balls to the outfield that are no longer as routine as they once were.

“We need to have guys peaking over their shoulders,’’ Melvin said.

Waller said that he’s told his base runners he’d divide the responsibility with them.

“I told them, `I’ll watch the ball,’’ he said. “They have to run heads up.’’

Waller took his eye off the ball over the weekend in Seattle when Yoenis Cespedes lined out to Dustin Ackley. Ackley dropped the ball making the transfer, and neither coach nor base runner realized it. So Waller is going to be watching the ball until the transfer is successfully made, which will put more responsibility on the runners.

“A play like that can never happen again,’’ he said. “You can’t undo what’s been done. But you can make sure it never happens again. It’s an adjustment process for all of us.’’Will


New rule gives Moss a hit, but he doesn’t like it

Brandon Moss is no fan of the rule change that gave him a hit Saturady

Brandon Moss is no fan of the rule change that gave him a hit Saturady

Brandon Moss never felt more at odds with an RBI single than Saturday when he became entangled in one of baseball’s new rules.

Batting in the third inning with men on first and third and one out, Moss hit a ball out to right on which the Mariners’ Dustin Ackley made a nice catch. But when Ackley came up to make the throw to try to prevent a run from scoring, he dropped the ball.

Under the latest interpretation of baseball runs, the decision was that Ackley hadn’t caught the ball at all. He needed to make a clean transfer to his throwing hand, and he hadn’t. Moss got credit for a single and an RBI.

“I should have been out. It should have just been a sacrifice fly,’’ Moss said of Ackley’s performance. “That was an incredible catch.’’

As it was, Moss was out anyway, because he ran to first, then turned to second base and passed Josh Donaldson, the runner at first base who had retreated on what he thought was a caught ball.

“It’s a case of danged if you do and danged if you don’t,’’ said Moss, who really does use words like “danged.’’ “When you see a catch like that, you just react like you always have. The new rules are really having an effect on us that way.

“You would think they can’t go on like this. It’s only been 10 or 11 games we’ve played, and we’ve already seen a lot of plays like that. Look, it worked out very good for me, but if I’m honest, he caught that ball. I should have a sacrifice fly, nothing else. ‘’

The rule was primarily instituted to deal with force plays making the double play turn at second base. Moving the requirement to hold onto the ball until a clean transfer to the throwing hand goes against decades of baseball history.

“I know the rule is meant to simplify the game, but it’s not. It’s making the game more confusing. They have taken away the umpire’s judgment, and their judgment has always been pretty good.

“I’m worried now at first base to take a second and make sure I made the transfer clean. It slows you down, but sometimes you will drop the ball. It happens. I know if I do (drop the ball now), the runner is safe, no matter if I caught the ball.’’