Gray’s Cy Young hopes may well rest on A’s offense

Sonny Gray has positioned himself for the AL Cy Young race, but he's going to need some help.

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.

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Game 13 wrapup: Cooler heads prevail after Fielder HBP; A’s strikeouts high, but lower; Crisp possible for Monday

One of the undercurrents of the first two weeks of the Major League season is how fragile Major League tempers and Major League bodies are.

The Dodgers are having to make do without Zack Greinke thanks to the broken collarbone he suffered when he and the Padres’ Carlos Quintana got into a scuffle after Greinke hit Quintana with a pitch the other day.

Nothing like that happened Sunday in Oakland in Detroit’s 10-1 win over the A’s, but it could have.

Tigers’ first baseman Prince Fielder, who is a giant of a man, didn’t take kindly to being hit by a pitch thrown by Jarrod Parker. Fielder made his displeasure known to A’s catcher Derek Norris.

“He told me it was `a little high for my liking,’ ’’ Norris said after the game. “I told him it was a pitch that got away from (pitcher Jarrod Parker) coming up. He said OK and went to first base.’’

You have to think that’s Fielder’s approach is the better one than Quentin’s. Charging the mound in righteous fury is may be good for the soul in the short-term, but it’s bad for the body (see Greinke) and it’s bad for the wallet (see the eight-day suspension slapped on Quentin).


–The A’s won the American League West last year despite Oakland batters leading the league in strikeouts.

And strikeouts are an item to look at now, 13 games into the season, with the A’s having fanned 38 times in the last three games, eight of those Sunday.

Even at that, the A’s are much improved in the strikeout wars, down to 7.31 strikeouts per game now from last year’s 8.56 per game.

“I think you have to look at it that the Tigers have strikeout pitchers,’’ Norris said. “They are paid millions and millions to get those strikeouts. There are times they’ll make you swing and miss.’’

Oakland manager Bob Melvin has been dealing with the high rate of Oakland strikeouts almost from the time he took the job, and it doesn’t seem to be keeping him up nights.

“I don’t know how we could have been swinging much better than we had been coming into this series,’’ Melvin said. “We had good at-bats in winning the game Friday.

“We’re somewhere in between (where they were last year and where they want to be in terms of strikeouts). But I think we’re still a good offense.’’


–Center fielder Coco Crisp missed his second successive start Sunday thanks to a groin injury, but he was noticeably improved from Saturday. He might play Monday. “It will be a game-time decision,’’ Melvin said. “There’s a chance. He’s feeling better, but there are  no guarantees.’’


–Injured infielder Adam Rosales may be close to coming off the disabled list and going out on an injury rehabilitation assignment.

Rosales, sidelined by sore ribs, has been taking batting practice before games over the weekend, and manager Bob Melvin said Rosales will be ready to play once he can play defense without pain.

“He needs to turn the double play and make an aggressive throw,’’ Melvin said. “That’s how he hurt it in the first place.’’


–Josh Donaldson had built his one-struggling average up from the depth of .120 to .277 with five consecutive multiple-hit games, but that streak came to an end Sunday.

Still, Donaldson said he’s feeling better at the plate and his manager said the third baseman has been one of the vital cogs in the A’s offense.


–Brandon Moss is going in the other direction.

The first baseman went 0-for-2 with a walk Sunday and his hitless streak has stretched to 16 at-bats.

That’s one at-bat shy of his career longest hitless streak of 0-for-17, which ran from September 10-29, 2010 when he was with the Pirates.


–Melvin said that shortstop Hiro Nakajima, slowed by a late spring hamstring injury, will not be heading out on an injury rehab assignment as quickly as Rosales.

“Rosales is further along than Hiro,’’ the manager said before the game.

The A’s want to see Nakajima be able to make full-out sprints and to be able to break from side-to-side on defense before they start his clock on the injury rehabilitation assignment.


A’s 9, Rangers 4

Pretty good day for the A’s offense obviously, and boy, was it needed.

After shaking up the top of the order today and scoring nine runs, I don’t see why Bob Geren would change things tomorrow. Sure, Orlando Cabrera went 0-for-5 hitting leadoff, but Kurt Suzuki had three hits in the No. 2 spot and help set the table for the heart of the lineup.

But the way I see it, the A’s can tinker w/the top of the lineup all they want. It’s the guys anchoring the middle — Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday and Jack Cust — who have to produce. They did that today, and you saw the results.

–Putting just a tiny damper on the victory was Brad Ziegler’s shaky ninth inning. He entered with a 9-1 lead and left with it 9-4 after getting just one out. Andrew Bailey came in to slam the door. In Ziegler’s defense, an error by Cabrera opened the door to the rally.

But it makes you wonder if Bailey will start getting some of the save opportunities over Ziegler. Geren has dropped hints that Bailey could be in line for some closer’s duty. I don’t think Ziegler’s done enough to lose his handle on the job, but Bailey definitely has more of the classic closer-like stuff, a little like Joey Devine.

–Toronto rolls into town for three games this weekend, followed by Kansas City for two. To the A’s benefit, they’ll avoid seeing both Roy Halladay and Zack Greinke.

Check in w/you tomorrow …