If it looks too good to be true, it isnt As baseball


If it looks too good to be true, it isnt As baseball

Even with Brandon Moss as todays Wearer OThe Dessert, there is bad news in Oakland. Even with his three-run home run that sped the Elephants to a 7-4 win in 10 innings over the Seattle Mariners and cut their duty by one more game, things are worrisome in Oaktown.

And why? Because the reports on pitcher Brett Anderson remain good. His way-off-to-the-side throwing session (long-toss) went well, and he is loosely scheduled to throw a bullpen session as early as Monday.

Now this good news-becomes-bad news thing seems counterintuitive, but the As as a concept work best as a complete headscratcher, a bafflement to the game, the nation and even to themselves.

And frankly, for the what-the-hell narrative to play out again, they need that all-rookie pitching rotation that Anderson would ruin.

Anderson could conceivably pitch a wild-card game Friday if the Monday session goes well and the As are in a mood to rush him. This would ruin the childrens crusade the As would otherwise send into the division series, and would take a little edge off their How The Hell Are They Doing This? campaign.

Having a pitcher of Andersons caliber (when healthy, he is very good) and vast experience (68 entire starts) available for whatever postseason opportunities await both helps the Athleticals and undermines their whole raison detre. They are, after all, the team the nation would fall in love with if it could only figure out how the hell theyre doing what theyre doing.

And the all-rookie postseason rotation, the first of its kind, would have been a perfect metaphor for a team veritably swimming in them. Even the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers, who got 69 starts from rookie pitchers en route to the World Series, used veterans Preacher Row and Carl Erskine for four of the seven starts against the Yankees.

The As, on the other hand, are prepared to face OctoberWorld with Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin, have 10 more career starts than Anderson combined. And if thats the difference, then give us the one more oddball item every time.

Now while it amazes us that we still have to do this, we must explain that we have no dog in this fight. The As are going to do what theyre going to do, and we have no rooting interest either way.

But if theyre going to go to the trouble of setting up a team that nobody can comprehend, they may as well go big. When youre the wackiest ship in the army, you have to come correct.

And given what the As have done and how they have done it, this is about as correct as they can come. And now Bob Melvin might ruin it by taking advantage of someones return to health?

Damn it.

Saturdays game meets the narratives demands nicely. Fall behind early, have Straily give up two massive homers to Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders in the same inning, get a runner (Stephen Drew) thrown out at the plate to end the eighth, and then go two-run homer from Josh Donaldson in the ninth and then three-run cakeface from Moss in the 10th. Moss reward, one pie and two Gatorade buckets, are all part of the plot line.

But good news like Andersons potential return just gets in the way. The team that gave you, and then took away from you, Manny Ramirez, Bartolo Colon, Brandon McCarthy, Jemile Weeks, Brandon Inge and yes, Anderson, shouldnt be adding components this late in the movie . . . er, season.

The As are not finished here yet. The Moss home run kept them a leg . . . well, a shin and a patellar tendon . . . up on the principal foes, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay, and they can still reach up and touch Baltimore and New York. There is much to win, and much to lose, in the final four games of the regular season, so Anderson if ready is an obvious choice for either a play-in game, the wild card game, or even the division series opener if Texas can be caught.

But thats not what the narrative demands. The narrative demands a childrens crusade of pitchers, and injuries and pink-eye and bee-stings and ricketts and Dutch elm disease and poison sumac. This isnt the Moneyball narrative where Billy Beane has sunbeams emanating from his head. This is the Moneyball narrative where everything that can go wrong goes wrong and the team ends up winning anyway, and for no sensible reason.

So be wary of good news. It isnt what these guys do. I mean, it is what they do, but it isnt . . . I mean, this looks lots harder than the box score say . . . I mean, oh, the hell with it. Just go with this: If it looks too good to be true, it isnt As baseball.

And if you dont believe that, go ask Brandon Moss. Hes the one trying to remove cream cheese from his nostrils.

A's give up four home runs, drop series opener to Orioles

A's give up four home runs, drop series opener to Orioles


BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones called it a game the Baltimore Orioles needed to win.

The center fielder set the early tone, and the rest of the team followed his lead.

Jones hit a pair of home runs, Jonathan Schoop added a three-run shot and Baltimore beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Monday night. The Orioles won for the second time in six games, but they are still in the thick of the wild-card race.

"Adam's done that a lot and it never goes unnoticed or unappreciated or assumed, more importantly," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Jon obviously had a big blow there, but can't tell you how hard it is, as hard as Adam plays as long as he plays, and then mid-to-late August you're still able to do that. That's one of the things that separates Adam."

Wade Miley (7-10) held the A's to two runs, five hits and four walks over six-plus innings to pick up his first win at Camden Yards since June 17. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA against Oakland this season.

Jones tied a career high with four hits and is one home run shy of reaching 25 for the seventh consecutive season. Zach Britton got the final out with two runners on for his 11th save this season and his 60th in a row.

Baltimore beat Chris Smith (0-3) for the second time in 12 days. Smith allowed five runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings - his shortest start of the season. He was pulled after allowing Schoop's three-run homer, which made it 5-1. Ryan Dull entered and allowed another homer by Jones.

"I always feel strong at this time of the season," Jones said. "It's called pacing myself. I've learned how to pace myself over the years."

Jed Lowrie homered for the A's, and Boog Powell hit his first career home run in the eighth inning, appropriately enough doing so in Baltimore, where an unrelated Boog Powell slugged 303 home runs and won the 1970 MVP.

"It didn't seem real," said Powell, who made his major league debut earlier this season with Seattle and was acquired in a trade earlier this month for Yonder Alonso.

The younger Powell is expected to meet his namesake for the first time Tuesday, according to

Welington Castillo responded for Baltimore with a solo home run in the eighth off Michael Brady that provided the 7-3 lead.

Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI double by Matt ChapmanChad Pinder was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on the play.

The Orioles tied it in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Mark Trumbo. Jones led off the fourth with a homer and Baltimore never trailed again.

"He's a good hitter for a reason. It's tough," Smith said about Jones. "You try to attack his zones, and it seems like I make a good pitch and he breaks his bat but he finds somehow to put it in the outfield."

Manny Machado became the third Oriole to earn AL Player of the Week honors this season, joining Schoop (July 23) and Tim Beckham (Aug. 7). Machado batted .385 (10 for 26) with four home runs and 12 RBIs over six games.

Athletics: C Bruce Maxwell, who took a foul ball off his face mask Saturday at Houston, did not start for the second consecutive game. He entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and went 0 for 2. . SS Marcus Semien left in the seventh with a wrist injury.

Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy (wrist) went 0 for 3 with a walk on Monday in his first rehabilitation game with Triple-A Norfolk.

Athletics: RHP Paul Blackburn (3-1, 3.46 ERA) received a no-decision after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings in his lone appearance against Baltimore on Aug. 11.

Orioles: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (5-8, 6.47 ERA) struggled in his previous outing against Seattle, when he was charged with six runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. He is 4-1 with a 4.70 ERA in eight career starts against Oakland.

A's Cotton notches first big league victory in two months: 'He found out if...'

A's Cotton notches first big league victory in two months: 'He found out if...'

HOUSTON — No one questions the quality of stuff that Jharel Cotton takes to the mound.

According to A’s manager Bob Melvin, the key for his rookie starter is more an issue of mindset and aggressiveness.

Cotton was in attack mode Sunday after a wobbly first inning against the Houston Astros. The result was an encouraging six-inning outing that set the A’s on the path to a 3-2 victory that helped them avoid a three-game sweep at Minute Maid Park.

While the victory was important for his team’s overall psyche, Melvin also hopes it triggers some confidence for Cotton in how he can attack a dangerous lineup and have success.

“I think he found out if he throws the ball over the plate, it’s gonna allow him to stay in the game longer,” Melvin said. “He should take a lot out of this game, especially against a lineup like that. Knowing that if I’m throwing the ball over the plate, using a mix of pitches and I’m not afraid to use my fastball, that the results can be good. We’ve seen him pitch really good games because he’s got good stuff.”

Cotton (6-10) rang up his first major league victory since June 23 against the White Sox. That was before a blister on his thumb led to a stint on the disabled list. Since then, he’d struggled with walks, ill-timed homers, and generally enough turbulence to invite speculation on whether the A’s might skip him for a start or send him down.

He answered Sunday by holding the majors’ highest-scoring team to two runs on four hits over his six innings. That was after walking two in a 25-pitch first. Not since that scoreless outing against the White Sox back in June had Cotton surrendered less than four runs in a game.

A’s closer Blake Treinen, who recorded a six-out save and combined with fellow reliever Chris Hatcher to bring home the ‘W’ for Cotton, said watching Cotton tame the Astros lineup didn’t surprise him.

“I’d heard of him from before I was even (traded to the A’s), and I’ve seen his stuff. Sometimes as a young pitcher it just takes experience. When things are going really well, you don’t have to think.You just trust it.”

The A’s beat the Astros for just the third time in 15 games this season. On so many occasions, Houston has taken advantage of Oakland mistakes and forced the issue with aggressive baserunning. On Sunday, it was the A’s who dictated things in that fashion.

Center fielder Boog Powell, who went 3-for-4 with a walk from the leadoff spot, led the game off with a single against Brad Peacock (10-2). Then Marcus Semien grounded one toward the hole on the left side. With Powell racing hard into second, Astros shortstop Alex Bregman threw wildly into right field. Powell came around to score, and Semien — advancing all the way to third — came home on the play when Marwin Gonzalez made another throwing error.

Jed Lowrie scored on a passed ball in the sixth to push the A’s lead to 3-1, marking the first time in Oakland history the A’s scored three or more runs in a game without notching a single RBI.

Semien’s mad dash around the bases reminded him of a similar play as a Little Leaguer in El Cerrito, when he circled the bases in the same kind of way on his mother’s birthday. Afterward, she convinced him he’d hit a real homer.

“I got some texts from some old Little League friends about that one today,” Semien said.

It wasn’t conventional, and it didn’t matter. Over the first two games of this series, the A’s had scored one run total and advanced just one runner as far as third base.