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Melvin move to get Moss in over Dunn results in early A’s lead

Adam Dunn wasn't in the A's lineup Tuesday vs. Royals. Manager Bob Melvin likes him as an option off the bench.

Adam Dunn wasn’t in the A’s lineup Tuesday vs. Royals. Manager Bob Melvin likes him as an option off the bench.

Manager Bob Melvin made one prudent choice (with an asterisk) and one surprising choice in setting his lineup for the A’s wild card game tonight with the Royals.

The surprise is that DH Adam Dunn is on the bench. Brandon Moss, who generally plays left field when Dunn is the DH, is the designated hitter tonight and Sam Fuld is in left.

Then came the big surprise. Moss homered to give the A’s a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. He had no homers in his previous 25 at-bats (11 games) and just two since July 24 (154 at-bats).

Is Moss feeling better now since his cortisone shot in the waning days of the regular season? Maybe so.

It’s clearly a move to put the A’s best defense on the field. Kansas City runs as well as any team in the game, and with Fuld and right fielder Josh Reddick flanking center fielder Coco Crisp, the A’s have their best coverage outfield going.

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A’s got with Soto & Moss, without Dunn & Norris vs. Royals

Adam Dunn will sit out the start of A's wild card game tonight vs. Royals

Adam Dunn will sit out the start of A’s wild card game tonight vs. Royals

Manager Bob Melvin made one prudent choice (with an asterisk) and one surprising choice in setting his lineup for the A’s wild card game tonight with the Royals.

The surprise is that DH Adam Dunn is on the bench. Brandon Moss, who generally plays left field when Dunn is the DH, is the designated hitter tonight and Sam Fuld is in left.

It’s clearly a move to put the A’s best defense on the field. Kansas City runs as well as any team in the game, and with Fuld and right fielder Josh Reddick flanking center fielder Coco Crisp, the A’s have their best coverage outfield going.

Still, choosing Moss over Dunn is not at all clear-cut. Dunn, whose streak of 2,001 games without a post-season appearance, the 14th-longest in Major League history, will end if he gets in the game, is a career .200 hitter against Kansas City starter James Shields.

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Playing in the post-season never gets old for A’s Punto

Nick Punto has made it to the post-season five times since 2006 and relishes one more shot at it.

Nick Punto has made it to the post-season five times since 2006 and relishes one more shot at it.

The A’s as a group have a little bit of experience playing post-season baseball.

Oakland played in the American League Division Series the last two seasons and some of the players brought in recently like Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes were in the World Series as recently as last year.

And then there is Nick Punto. The utility infielder made it to the post-season in 2006 with the Twins, playing (and losing to) the A’s in the ALDS.

He was back in the ALDS with Minnesota in 2009, again getting knocked out early, this time by the Yankees.

Then it was time to get serious about this whole post-season thing.

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Reddick sees a new season for A’s, starting immediately

Josh Reddick, the A's best hitter down the stretch, sees a big-post-season for Oakland.

Josh Reddick, the A’s best hitter down the stretch, sees a big-post-season for Oakland.

There was no lack of joy in any corner of the A’s clubhouse Sunday.

But no one enjoyed the post-game celebration more than Josh Reddick, who spent the hour after the game running around in his superhero underwear that had shortstop Jed Lowrie smiling, shrugging his shoulders and saying “whatever works.’’

It was a personal moment for Reddick who did as much as anyone to push the A’s over the top. He had 16 hits in his last 33 at-bats (batting average: .485) in his last 10 games to provide one stable source of offense.

It was his triple that scored Brandon Moss from second base in the second inning to get the A’s on the scoreboard, and Reddick scored to make it 2-0 on a Stephen Vogt single moments later.

The A’s had lost two-thirds of their final 45 games before Sunday, but with Reddick pants-less and soaked in bubbly and beer, there was no better reminder that it’s a new season beginning immediately.

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Time for A’s to stop waiting, start winning, or else

Sonny Gray pitches Game 162 Sunday, the only game that matters any more for A's

Sonny Gray pitches Game 162 Sunday, the only game that matters any more for A’s

The A’s have been waiting for six weeks for their slump to end.

You know the one. It’s seen Oakland lose 30 of their last 45 games and has seen the A’s go from the next American League power to a team that is perhaps hours away from failing to make the post-season at all.

If that were to happen, it would go do as one of the great collapses of all-time, perhaps the biggest in Major League history. Other teams have fallen about as far about as fast, but none of them had the lifelines of two Wild Card berths awaiting non-Division Champions.

The A’s have to win Sunday, have the Mariners lose Sunday or, failing that, beat Seattle in a one-game playoff Monday to avoid having that added to their resume.

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Breaking down the A’s AL playoff possibilities

So what, exactly, did the A’s accomplish by winning Friday and moving to within one game of securing an American League Wild Card berth?

Perhaps not as much as you might think. Or maybe much more.

The A’s can still host the Tuesday Wild Card game. They can go on the road for the Tuesday Wild Card game. Or they can miss out on Tuesday all together.

Here’s how it all breaks down:

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Keeping Donaldson healthy allows A’s to take deep breath

Josh Donaldson's ability to shake off knee injury Friday was a major plus for A's.

Josh Donaldson’s ability to shake off knee injury Friday was a major plus for A’s.

The key playoff Friday’s 6-2 win over Texas for the A’s was a foul ball that didn’t impact the scoring at all.

It did impact third baseman Josh Donaldson, who drove his already-ailing left knee in to the ground in foul territory in pursuit of the Elvis Andrus grounder.

For a few minutes it seemed like Donaldson was hurt badly enough to come out of the game, and the last two games of the season would have been up in the air.

Win or lose the game, the A’s would unquestionably have been sunk if Donaldson was hurt badly enough to come out. He wasn’t and for that the A’s can only be thankful.

“I think everyone was holding their breath right there,’’ pitcher Scott Kazmir said. “He’s a huge part of what we have.’’

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Kazmir may have saved spot in possible post-season rotation

Scott Kazmir may have saved his spot in a possible ALDS rotation with Friday's win.

Scott Kazmir may have saved his spot in a possible ALDS rotation with Friday’s win.

It was, by Scott Kazmir’s own admission, a “huge relief’’ for him to go out and pitch the way he had the first four months of the season Friday.

He threw seven innings, allowed just four base runners and two runs, one earned.

No one will admit it, but Kazmir might have been pitching for his post-season life.

The veteran lefty came into the game 0-4 in his last six starts with an 8.58 ERA. And the ERA was mostly worse than that, because one of his losses in that stretch was 1-0.

Upper management was considering its options, which would likely have meant moving Jason Hammel in ahead of Kazmir.

While Kazmir had been slumping, Hammel had been pitching some of his best baseball of the season. In his last nine games, eight of them starts, he had a 2.49 ERA.

Now the question will be what to do with Hammel, because Kazmir seems to have locked up the final spot in a post-season American League Division Series rotation, should Oakland get that far.

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A tale of two No. 2s – Derek Jeter and Mike Gallego

Mike Gallego was the last Yankees' player to wear No. 2 before Derek Jeter made that number historic.

Mike Gallego was the last Yankees’ player to wear No. 2 before Derek Jeter made that number historic.

One of the many universal rules in baseball is that all rookies learn some tough lessons from the men who came before.

Even if you are Derek Jeter, even if the team is the Yankees and even if you were the team’s first-round draft pick.

Jeter came to came to the spring camp with the Yankees in 1994, 18 months after New York had used the sixth pick in the draft to take him. He was just 20, and he was a long time away from wearing his No. 2.

In fact, No. 2 at the time was worn by current A’s third base coach Mike Gallego, at that point in his final year as the Yankees shortstop.

Gallego got an email Friday from his daughter, Allison. It seems she’d found Instagram an interview from 1995 when Jeter talked about his Gallego in the spring of 1994 asking him how old he was and if he had a girlfriend.

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A’s trying to fend off Dream Crushing Texas to make playoffs

Stephen Vogt says A's focus remains on fact that the team remains in excellent shape to reach the post-season.

Stephen Vogt says A’s focus remains on fact that the team remains in excellent shape to reach the post-season.

Written on the whiteboard in the Texas Rangers clubhouse Thursday were two words that sum up the final four days of 2014 for the Rangers:

“Dream Crushers’’ it read.

The dream belongs not to the Rangers but to the A’s, who are scrambling to find a way to resuscitate in the final week of the season, claw their way back into the playoffs and then let the chips fall.

The A’s have lost seven of 10, haven’t played well for six weeks and yet still have a decent chance to get to the post-season.

Oakland stranded runners all over the place Thursday – they had a man reach base in every inning but the eighth – then lost when Adrian Beltre hit a walkoff homer in the ninth.

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