It's not over for A's, yet

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It's not over for A's, yet

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DETROIT -- "Over? Did you say "over?" Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!" -- John Belushi as Bluto in Animal House That famous clip from the movie Animal House often plays on the big screen at the Oakland Coliseum when the A's are down late in a game. Aside from the historical inaccuracies, it perfectly sums up the Oakland Athletics' attitude as they packed up their clubhouse stalls and headed for home down 2-0 in the American League Division Series and facing elimination. "We're not going to get our heads down and act like we're beaten," Josh Reddick said. "We've gotten this far for a reason and we are a good team and we know we are a good team. We're just going to grind it out and win these next three ballgames." Is the series over? Not until they lose one more game. Just ask the Rangers how dangerous the A's can be when they need three home wins. Many of the Rangers' players were probably watching the Tigers defeat Oakland 5-4 in walk-off fashion from their couches at home. History isn't on their side. The A's have gone down 0-2 seven times in a postseason series and they ended up getting eliminated in all seven. Five teams in Major League history have over come a 0-2 deficit in a best of five series. Two of the teams that pulled off the feat did so against the A's. The Yankees did it in 2001 and the Red Sox did it in 2003. "We just need to win a game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We need to go home and concentrate on Tuesday. If you start thinking about three games ahead, then you lose your focus on Tuesday's game."They do have reason to be optimistic. Of all the AL playoff teams the Tigers are the only one with a losing record on the road. They went 38-43 on the road this season. The A's were 50-31 at home and have fed off the energy at the Coliseum lately. "We're still alive and now it's a must-win situation," Coco Crisp said. It will be an adjustment for the A's who have played all season long like they have nothing to lose. Their storybook season could either come to an end with one more loss, or their tale could get even more miraculous with a few well timed wins. It will be interesting to see how the A's respond with their backs truly against the wall for the first time this season. "It's a little tougher no doubt," closer Grant Balfour said. "You lose the next one you go home. You lose in the regular season there's tomorrow." The A's will work out at the Coliseum on Monday. They take on the Tigers on their home turf at 6:07 p.m. on Tuesday. Detroit will be sending Anibal Sanchez to the mound. Oakland scored six runs -- five earned -- against Sanchez on September 20 in Detroit. Injured starting pitcher Brett Anderson is likely taking the mound for Oakland. He strained his right oblique on September 19 against the Tigers. All reports indicate that he is feeling good, so what better time to have him pitch than a must-win game?

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

The A's optioned catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A Nashville Sunday, the club announced

Maxwell, 26, went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the A's 11-1 win over the Brewers Sunday. Both home runs were his lone of the spring. 

In 2016, Maxwell played in 26 games with the A's after his promotion from Triple-A. He hit .283 with one homer. 

The 2012 second-round draft pick is a career .266/.346/.370 hitter in the minors with 25 home runs. Maxwell is the A's No. 10 prospect by Baseball America. 

The A’s now have 37 players in big league camp.