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OAKLAND -- The A's are preparing for their biggest game of the season, but you wouldn't know it in the team clubhouse. Brandon Inge is in the building, drawing smiles from one and all. Brandon Moss is boasting about a new bat he's trying. The team is loose.After 17 of their last 20 games on the road, the A's are back in Oakland for the remainder of the regular season."It feels like we've been gone for a month," manager Bob Melvin said.The A's won 12 of those 20 games, but despite success few thought they'd enjoy this year, the A's head-down approach to grinding out every day will remain."We've done very well," Melvin said. "We got ourselves back here with six games left in a good position. We feel good about it. We got some confidence coming out of Texas, and we'll take it day-by-day."Fresh from meaningful ball in front of 40,000-plus in Texas, the A's are excited to see their fans' support in the Coliseum."I hope they fill it up," relief pitcher Sean Doolittle said."Anytime you're at home and you have that (fan support) on your side, it's definitely an advantage," Seth Smith added. "It's always good to feel the fans supporting us."But at the end of the day, it's the quality of ball put on the field that will define the A's future. And they plan to scratch, claw, battle and compete to the bitter end."Until you have an asterisk," Melvin clarified.An asterisk, of course, would indicate the A's first playoff berth since 2006, and they're a magic number of five wins and AngelsRays losses away from it.Brett Anderson threw the baseball on Thursday as he continues to recover from a right oblique strain."All signs point to him being back," Melvin said. "We'll see when that is."The A's could use him next Tuesday, when the struggling Travis Blackley is scheduled to pitch again, but is a regular season return possible?"No," Melvin said. "I would say that's a bit of a stretch."It's old news that Jordan Norberto won't return for the regular season, but Melvin indicated that -- if the team makes the postseason -- there's a chance he would be ready.
Jonny Gomes is this year's Dave Stewart Community Service Award winner.As a Bay Area native who followed Stewart and the A's through the 80s and 90s, the cool factor is not lost on Gomes."Every day I come through those double doors, it's awesome," said Gomes.Gomes was an avid supporter of his hometown little league team, Petaluma National, whose journey to the Little League World Series left them as the United States runner-up. In addition, Gomes supported TroopsDirect, the Wounded Warrior Project, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Alternative Family Services and David Benzer Torture Cancer Foundation."It should be in the job description or the title of being a pro athlete," Gomes said of giving back.Stewart will present the award to Gomes prior to Saturday's game between the A's and Mariners at 12:53 p.m., approximately.Despite recent struggles, the A's are planning to use Travis Blackley in his upcoming scheduled start next Tuesday.Blackley has lasted just three innings over his last two starts combined, allowing seven earned runs in A's losses to the Yankees and Rangers."Just because he's had a couple tough outings, doesn't mean that we're not still confident in him," manager Bob Melvin said.Melvin reserved the right to make a change, but as it stands Friday, Blackley is the man who will oppose Matt Harrison in the penultimate game of the season.