Sonny Gray has positioned himself for the AL Cy Young race, but he’s going to need some help.
The A’s helped Sonny Gray make another move toward staking claim on the American League Cy Young Award Friday by beating Dallas Keuchel, a left-hander who’d beaten them six consecutive starts.
There isn’t much to play for in Oakland this year, but Gray’s Cy Young is one of them. He’s 12-4 with a 2.06 ERA, the win total one off the AL lead and the ERA the best in the league at this point.
It’s far from certain that Gray will be able to win the Cy Young. Keuchel has one more win, has 18 quality starts, the same as Gray, and he’s backed by an Astros offense that generally has no trouble scoring for him.
Felix Hernandez wasn’t enough for Mariners as A’s win in 10 innings, 3-2
The A’s aren’t going to see Felix Hernandez again this season.
But this post-season? Well there’s an excellent chance they’ll see King Felix in the Wild Card game Sept. 30. The A’s and the Mariners and whichever American League Central second-place team (the Tigers or the Royals) stand as the likeliest candidates to earn Wild Card berths.
If it’s the A’s and the Mariners, there’s a good chance that Hernandez will take the mound for Seattle if he doesn’t have to pitch Seattle into the playoffs on the final day of the season Sept. 28.
For the A’s, the recent memory of having won a game that Hernandez started will be a counterbalance to the 4-0 record Hernandez has against Oakland this season and his 19-7 overall record against the A’s.
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.
Brandon Moss was one of four A’s hitters to deliver with a runner in scoring position Tuesday.
There’s no masking the fact that the A’s lost again Tuesday, their second game of September looking very much like two-thirds of their games in August.
The A’s didn’t score for seven innings, which is the norm of late. But then something happened that was unexpected. They knocked Mariners’ starter James Paxton out of the game and came up with enough big hits to get the winning run to the plate in the ninth before losing, 6-5.
Oakland wound up with four hits with men in scoring position, all of them in the eighth and ninth innings.
Adam Dunn singled with men on first and third in the eighth.
Craig Gentry doubled with man on second and third in the eighth.
Brandon Moss doubled with a man on second in the ninth.
And Sam Fuld doubled with Moss on second in the ninth.
What happened in the eighth inning and what almost happened in the ninth inning is why Willie Bloomquist really hates Oakland.
And, to be fair, it’s why he really likes Oakland.
The A’s, down 6-0 to Felix Hernandez, scored four times in the eighth to knock the Mariners’ ace out of the game. The A’s would have six at-bats with the batter being the potential tying run before Coco Crisp struck out for the game’s final out.
Talking about the A’s before the game, the Mariners’ veteran backup infielder said the Mariners have to take Oakland as seriously as any team in the game.
“These guys are the scrappiest little (expletives) you’ll ever see,’’ Bloomquist said admiringly. “Gol dang, it’s just who they are. They are in every game.
“And they’ve got bulldogs pitching for them. It doesn’t matter if they are (throwing) 86, 89 (mph), they come out, and they pitch. They play defense and they get timely hits. They are freaking pesky. They are good.
“I like how they play. I hate ‘em, but I like ‘em. I like how they play.’’
Friday’s game wasn’t perhaps the best example of what Bloomquist was talking about. The A’s didn’t win, and they didn’t play the kind of clean defense he generally credits them with. But the Mariners went from having an easy win to having to grind out the last six outs with Oakland one swing away from tying the game.
“We still came out there the entire time,’’ third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “That’s how we play.’’
With their relative surplus of pitching and relative paucity of wealth, the A’s don’t seem inclined to be in on the bidding for Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka in the coming weeks.
That doesn’t mean Oakland won’t be closely following the ins and outs of the Tanaka talk. The 25-year-old right-hander was made available for posting Thursday, and it wouldn’t be too outlandish a proposition to see him coming to rest with one of the A’s American League West competitors.
Tanaka, who was a simply unbelievable 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, stands to be the player with the most potential impact still on the open market this winter. The Yankees (yawn) are almost always the first club mentioned as coveting Tanaka, thanks to their big pockets and fragile starting rotation.
Dan Straily as Wolverine
This is perhaps an odd time to concern oneself with the Oakland offense, but the A’s have gone from scoring early and often in game after game to having scored one run in the last two starts.
That in itself wouldn’t be too miserable if it were not for the fact that the A’s face Felix Hernandez in Seattle Friday and they haven’t scored a run off the King in two starts this year.
Having three of the final five games before the playoffs start be games in which they haven’t been able to score much is not the tone the A’s want to set.
Maybe it’s that West Coast night games don’t get much play back East.
Maybe it’s that ESPN doesn’t show enough highlights of the Oakland A’s.
Maybe it’s that other teams have a couple of great players and the A’s only have a whole bunch of good players.
Whatever the reason, the American League All-Star team announced Saturday is a slap in the face. Not just to the A’s or to the East Bay. But it’s a slap in the face to putting winning teams on the field
The first thing you have to understand is that Adam Wainwright and Bartolo Colon are nothing like one another.
Wainwright is 6-foot-7. Colon is 5-11.
Wainwright throws every pitch under the sun. Colon throws fastballs, then more fastballs.
Wainwright pitches in the National League for the Cardinals. Colon, close to being a lifer in the American League, pitches for the A’s.
Wainwright is, at 31, in the middle of his career. Colon is, at 40, close to the end.
But in one instance the right-handers could be twins.
Much of the focus around Chris Young’s three-hit, one-walk night Friday was on the home run he hit.
And it was a monster, 419 feet to left field.
But it was his third-inning double that was at least as interesting. As he cruised into second base, he raised both of his fists to cranium level and pumped them in the direction of the A’s dugout.