Instant Replay: A's 8, Mariners 2

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Instant Replay: A's 8, Mariners 2

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OAKLAND -- When the A's hit a home run, they win 65.8 of the time. When they hit multiple home runs, they win 72.5 of the time. When Coco Crisp leads off with a home run, they win every time.Crisp's first at-bat since Sept. 18 produced his 11th home run of the season, and his fourth that led off a game. The A's have won all four of those contests, claiming the latest Friday night over the Seattle Mariners 8-2.Around the league in a tight playoff race, the Rays lost to the White Sox, but the Angels' 7-4 victory over the Rangers put the pressure on Oakland to keep pace. The A's win lowered their magic number to secure a berth in the Wild Card game to four.Starting pitching report:Making the 96th start by an A's rookie this season, A.J. Griffin was once again strong. After becoming the second pitcher ever to go undefeated in his first 11 starts while maintaining an ERA under 2.00, Griffin was roughed up in his last two outings. He tossed fewer than five innings in each, sporting an ERA of 9.00 and an opponents batting average of .375.Friday night he looked more like the pitcher who went 6-0 with a 1.94 ERA over his first 11.Griffin scattered four hits over five and two-thirds innings. But he got into trouble in the sixth inning when he loaded the bases by hitting John Jaso in the hand.The bullpen got the call, and held Griffin's final line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 96 pitches. Griffin advanced his record to 7-1.Bullpen report:Sean Doolittle entered in a tight spot, inheriting a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the sixth. He worked quickly, using four pitches to get Justin Smoak to fly out to right field and end the threat. Doolittle has now stranded 19 of his last 20 inherited runners.Doolittle went back to work in the seventh inning, but his first offering was met by Michael Saunders' barrel for a home run to right-center field that made it 4-2.Jerry Blevins and Jim Miller pitched the eighth and ninth.With the bats:A day after hitting a season-high tying five home runs, the A's tacked on another two Friday, upping their major league-leading total to 106 since the All-Star break. Their 189 home runs on the season are tied for eighth most in franchise history. The A's did well to score without their typical top-of-the-order jackrabbit, averaging 5.78 runs per game over the nine-game span without Coco Crisp. But Crisp reminded Oakland why he is undoubtedly the team's leadoff hitter early.In the A's first at-bat, Crisp worked the count full and the crowd to their feet before spinning on the sixth pitch from Blake Beavan and sending his 89-mph fastball over the right-field wall for a 1-0 lead.Stephen Drew came feet away from going back-to-back, but his opposite-field drive traveled 362 feet, where Trayvon Robinson corralled it leaning against the wall at the 362-foot sign.Drew didn't leave any room for doubt his next at-bat. Following a third-inning single by Cliff Pennington, Drew got every bit of a no-doubt bomb into the right-field bleachers that reclaimed the lead for the A's.Crisp initiated another scoring rally in the fifth inning when he doubled with two outs. The A's loaded the bases to chase Beavan from the game, and relief pitcher Oliver Perez's first pitch got away from catcher John Jaso, allowing Crisp enough time for a belly-slide into home plate and a 4-1 A's lead.Crisp added a single in the seventh for his third hit of the night, finishing a triple shy of the cycle.His seventh-inning single was bookended by walks to Cliff Pennington and Drew, and the A's added four insurance runs on a walk to Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick's fielder's choice and a two-RBI single by Josh Donaldson with the infield drawn in. It was a 37-pitch inning for the Mariners, and it sucked the life out of any Seattle comeback plans.With the gloves:The A's played error-free ball, snapping their season-high streak of games with at least one error at six. They still have the second most defensive miscues in the American League (107).Yoenis Cespedes hands down made the play of the game in the eighth inning. Jesus Montero laced a line drive to left-center field. Cespedes had to travel a good distance to get to the ball, and left the ground at top speed, fully extending parallel to the grass before the ball disappeared into his glove.Crisp came within inches of robbing a home run a half-inning after hitting one of his own. The center fielder was in position, leapt at the wall and looked hopefully into his glove when he returned to the playing field, but came up empty on Trayvon Robinson's game-tying home run.Brandon Moss looked every bit the first baseman when he initiated a 3-6-3 double play to end the top of the fourth.Attendance:The A's announced a paid attendance of 16,376.Up next: The A's big series continues Saturday afternoon when rookie Dan Straily (2-1, 3.60 ERA) takes the mound against seven-year veteran Jason Vargas (14-11, 3.94 ERA). Coverage begins on Comcast SportsNet California with A's Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m.

Kaval: A's considering future move into Raiders' locker room

Kaval: A's considering future move into Raiders' locker room

OAKLAND — The Raiders are likely to play at the Coliseum for the next two seasons at least, but the A’s are daydreaming about the time they can finally call the venue their own.

One idea they’re considering is moving their home clubhouse into the space that currently serves as the Raiders locker room, which would more than double the current space they have.

Beyond that, imagine the possibility of the A’s current clubhouse being transformed into a “club” type area for fans to schmooze and enjoy some beverages. Team president Dave Kaval says both ideas are on the table for after the Raiders move to Las Vegas, which they’re planning to do for the 2020 NFL season.

The No. 1 long-term goal for the A’s, obviously, is to find a location in Oakland and build a new baseball-only stadium. The homework continues on that front, with Kaval maintaining the promise for that announcement to come sometime in 2017.

The Raiders have lease options to play at the Coliseum for each of the next two football seasons, with their plans for 2019 uncertain as their Vegas stadium is built.

Regardless, there will be a gap from the time the Raiders execute their move and the time the A’s are ready to move into their potential new digs. They apparently plan to make the most of that time at the Coliseum, which is the only two-sport complex remaining in major North American professional sports.

Kaval addressed the idea of shifting the home clubhouse into the Raiders’ locker room space.

“Well, it’s considerably bigger than our current locker room, and so we could have a more player-friendly area, more lounge space, be more spread out,” he said as the A’s wrapped up a 10-game homestand Sunday. “Even space for training facilities we don’t have now. And so it just provides a lot more flexibility, and a better draw for players if they want to play here in Oakland.”

That last statement shouldn’t be overlooked. As much as current Athletics would appreciate any upgrades to their day-to-day situation at the Coliseum, the improvements might also help a bit when it comes to attracting prospective free agents, who could be sold the idea of better conditions at the Coliseum and the promise of a brand new ballpark to come.

The A’s try to make use of every inch of space available in the current Coliseum set-up, but it’s an antiquated situation to say the least. Players sprawled out on the floor doing stretching exercises outside the A’s weight room often have to deal with reporters stepping around them as they get off the media elevator.

“I think it could be huge,” catcher Stephen Vogt said of possibly shifting the clubhouse to the Raiders’ locker room. “There’s triple the size of what we have. It’s kind of funny to think that we have the smaller locker room but they’re here for (only) 10 days a year basically. That’s just the way it is. If they are truly leaving and they’re not gonna be here, we could really utilize that space.”

Added Kaval: “We do have space in here, but when it’s a multi-purpose stadium it’s always challenging. Everything we’ve had to do over the years has been temporary.”

One consideration regarding the Raiders’ locker room: It’s a farther walk to the entrance of the field, with an extra flight of stairs to climb. That’s something to consider because baseball players tend to make quick trips back to the clubhouse during a game more so than football players do to their locker room.

But Kaval said he’s already talked to A’s manager Bob Melvin about some of the logistical challenges, and he emphasized that any changes wouldn’t happen without positive feedback from the coaching staff and players.

One change the A’s already have implemented this season with players in mind: They’ve dedicated an expanded luxury suite area solely for players’ families during games and also expanded the nanny service they provide for players’ children during games.

As for the A’s ballpark search, Kaval says the four sites the A’s are considering are all “neck and neck” — the current Coliseum site, Howard Terminal, a site near Laney College and one at Brooklyn Basin, on the other side of Highway 880 from Laney.

“We continue to have meetings with all the key stakeholders,” Kaval said. “I think we’re really happy about the acceleration of those meetings. We’re starting to talk more business terms, starting to get into some of the final feasibility (decisions) so we can make that final announcement this year on a location.”

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

OAKLAND — Some 10-9 records are better than others, and so it is that the A’s can hit the road for a nine-game trip feeling pretty good about themselves.

Their just-completed homestand began with Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman leaving a game early and landing on the disabled list. That was coupled with news that shortstop Marcus Semien would be lost for two months or more with a fractured wrist.

The A’s responded to those developments with a five-game winning streak that was halted by Sunday’s 11-1 rout at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

The A’s went 5-4 on the homestand, holding their ground after a heavy dose of injury misfortune, and now the outlook changes just a bit. The focus shifts from the players joining the D.L. to those that could soon return to provide a boost.

Graveman, who has a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to throw off the mound Monday. If that goes well, expect him to be activated sometime in the early portion of the upcoming trip. Sonny Gray, who has been out since injuring a side muscle early in Cactus League games, is set to throw Thursday for Triple-A Nashville after an encouraging rehab outing Saturday for Single-A Stockton.

If Gray comes out of Thursday’s start well, look for the 2015 All-Star to join the active roster and pitch sometime against Minnesota in the final series of this road trip. Nothing can be taken for granted until both pitchers actually return healthy, but it’s a promising scenario to possibly add two starters of their caliber as April turns to May.

“I think any time you look up and you’re over .500 and you’ve had a great homestand and you’re missing your best two pitchers, that’s something to be pleased about,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Getting Kendall back is huge. And Sonny obviously did great last night, and felt great, which is more important than the results.

“We’re excited to get those two guys back but in the meantime, we’re gonna continue to keep playing the way we are because we’re playing really good baseball and we’ll just keep things rolling.”

It was clear early on Sunday that a five-game winning streak wouldn’t reach six. The Mariners led 2-0 in the third when Andrew Triggs missed location on a 1-0 sinker and Taylor Motter launched a grand slam over the wall in left-center.

Triggs, who excelled at missing the fat part of bats over his first three starts, didn’t have the feel for his cutter Sunday. When he fell behind to Motter, the cutter is normally a pitch he would have gone to had it been working for him.

“I wasn’t commanding well,” he said. “I didn’t wanna go 1-0 to 2-0. I felt better going with the sinker. I got it down, but missed location in and out. In a perfect world, the cutter would have been great to get a groundout.”

But to this point, the A’s rotation has held firm without Gray and with the short-term absence of Graveman. Perhaps the biggest test moving forward is whether an offense that is tied for the American League lead in extra-base hits can continue to produce consistently with Semien’s absence, particularly without anyone having established themselves as the regular leadoff man.

A’s manager Bob Melvin likes what he’s seen from his team in light of the injuries.

“Every game we go out there there’s an expectation to win,” Melvin said, “and when you win multiple games in a row, you get that feeling and it’s a little more significant. So hopefully we can carry that on to the road trip. As a group, we’ve been able to manage these injuries here recently, and once we start getting guys back it’s gonna be a good thing for us.”