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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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Tanaka has potential to alter look of AL West

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.

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Game 88 wrapup: All-Star snub of Oakland suggests contributing to winning isn’t a valued commodity

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

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Game 82 wrapup: Cardinals’ Wainwright, A’s Colon are different in style but the same in results

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.

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Game 76 wrapup: A’s give Iwakuma respect even in beating him; long homer drought no issue for Lowrie; ailing Jaso says he’s no Wolverine

The A’s have beaten Hisashi Iwakuma twice in the last week.

The rest of MLB teams have beaten him once all year.

So what’s the secret? Why is Oakland successful when others aren’t?

For one thing, the A’s give Iwakuma all due respect. It’s not like they think they own him.

“He’s not going to give up a lot of hits,’’ shortstop Jed Lowrie said. “Just look at the numbers. He doesn’t do that. Tonight, we didn’t get a lot of hits against him.’’

Three of the hits the Mariners did get off Iwakuma were home runs – a two-run shot by Yoenis Cespedes in the first, a game-tying solo homer in the fourth by Lowrie and the homer that put the A’s ahead to stay in the sixth from Coco Crisp.

“My homer was big because they’d just scored off (Bartolo) Colon and they had the momentum shifting their way,’’ Lowrie said. “They were feeling pretty good having a lead against Bartolo.’’

Crisp’s homer, like Lowrie’s came from a bat that the A’s aren’t counting on to produce home runs.

“I’m just up there swinging,’’ Crisp said. “If I can get a strike, I want to hit it.’’

Crisp said Iwakuma is tough to hit because he throws a large variety of pitches. The A’s have been good at being selective.

“We’re not swinging at a lot of his pitches,’’ Crisp said. “He has nasty stuff, really nasty. He’s a guy where the numbers tell the story.’’

When the A’s did swing, however, they made impact, and they made the pitches count.

 

–For Lowrie, the home run was his first in 62 games, the longest homerless streak of his career.

He wasn’t obsessing on his inability to produce the long ball, however.

“It’s not a lack of confidence,’’ he said. “Maybe there haven’t been a lot of home runs, but there have been a lot of doubles.’’

Lowrie is tied with Josh Donaldson for the team high in doubles with 20. Except for the streaking Manny Machado (33) of the Orioles, Lowrie and Donaldson are on pace with the American League’s doubles leaders heading into the final week of June.

And that’s not bad.

 

–John Jaso was in the original starting lineup after suffering an abrasion on his left palm that he believe would not be a problem. After all, he’d played half of Thursday’s game in Texas after the injury occurred, and it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

But the A’s catcher found that he was having trouble in the batting cage. He said during bunting drills his hand “felt like it exploded.’’

So he was subbed out, replaced by Derek Norris, who was back at close to full health after taking a foul ball to his groin Wednesday in Texas.

Will Jaso be able to go Saturday?

“We’ll have to wait and see,’’ he said. “We’ll see how my body feels. I’m not Wolverine.’’