Can A's compensate for losing Crisp again?

Crisp didn't think his home run would stay fair

Can A's compensate for losing Crisp again?
September 2, 2013, 7:15 pm
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Coco Crisp fouled a ball off of his shin on Monday against the Texas Rangers. (AP IMAGES)

Coco Crisp has averaged just 110 games in his three seasons with Oakland. (USA TODAY IMAGES)


OAKLAND – The A’s beat the Texas Rangers in an important game Monday before a charged-up Coliseum crowd. They also might have lost center fielder Coco Crisp to injury in the process.

This team has substantial experience with both of those events, and it’s tough to gauge what emotions the A’s should have felt coming out of a 4-2 Labor Day victory that pulled them into a first-place tie in the American League West.

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They’re riding a hot streak in which they’ve won eight of their last 10 games, and taking the first of three against Texas should have their confidence soaring through the roof.

But it’s no secret how important Crisp has been to their current roll. He swatted his third homer in as many days -- a two-run shot in the fifth inning that broke a 2-2 tie – only to leave an inning later after fouling a ball off his right leg.

He was diagnosed with a right shin contusion, and A’s manager Bob Melvin was unsure of his availability for Tuesday night.

“I’m sure he got a pretty good bruise there,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “Knowing Coco, he’ll be fine. We definitely need him, that’s for sure.”

It poses an interesting question should Crisp miss any time: Are the A’s riding such a wave of momentum that they can compensate for the man most responsible for that momentum?

The A’s (79-58) are hardly a one-man show –lots of different heroes have lifted them to a season-best 21 games over .500.

But Crisp – the speedy leadoff man turned slugger – has been marvelous of late. His go-ahead homer off lefty Derek Holland – which glanced off the left-field foul pole and was upheld after a video review – gives him seven homers in his past 12 games.

As Oakland pitcher Brett Anderson put it: “He’s the table setter, and he eats the food too.”

No one has ruled Crisp out for even one game. But he’s averaged just 110 games in his three seasons with Oakland, and his injuries tend to linger.

Melvin is used to getting creative with his lineups to account for Crisp’s absence. His players are accustomed to playing without him. If he does miss time, it might mean a shot for 2010 first-round pick Michael Choice.

Choice made his major league debut Monday and went 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored. Melvin said Plan “A” if Crisp can’t go Tuesday would involve Chris Young playing center and Choice potentially in a corner spot against left-handed starters. Texas is throwing lefty Martin Perez on Tuesday.

“You could see that (Tuesday) if Coco couldn’t play,” Melvin said. Regardless of who’s in the lineup, the A’s want to sustain their late-season mojo against Texas at the Coliseum.

They swept the Rangers in a season-ending series last year to steal away the A.L. West crown. The A’s are just 6-8 against Texas this season, but they’re a confident bunch right now, and memories of last September’s sweep surely provide positive vibes for this series.

A’s closer Grant Balfour said any kind of mental edge over the Rangers would be good, but he added:

“There’s still 27 games of baseball to go, so we’re not sitting here celebrating.”

The sight of their leadoff man limping back to the dugout in the sixth inning was enough to ensure that.

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