OAKLAND -- The bags were packed, the music was on, and everyone was dressed in their customary travel attire -- dress clothes and blazers. The A's departed Oakland with their heads held high after defeating the division-leading Rangers 7-1 on Thursday. "To be able to take three out of four with the struggles we've seen recently is a big lift," A's manager Bob Melvin said.After enduring a nine-game losing streak the A's now have won four of their last six. Next up is a six-game interleague trip to Arizona and Colorado. One negative: Oakland may be without outfielder Yoenis Cespedes for another stretch. The Cuban slugger strained his left hamstring rounding second base in the first inning.
When Cespeds pulled up at third base, he grabbed his left hamstring and bent over at the waist. Melvin said he is optimistic that Cespedes won't miss much time but admitted that when he first saw the injury occur, he was immediately thinking it would result in a trip to the DL.
The A's are officially listing the slugging outfielder as day-to-day. "He probably won't play tomorrow in a National League park," Melvin said. "Even if he can just pinch-hit in a National League scenario in a day or two, he ends up still being a piece for us. We're holding out hope that's the case."Even with the injury news, the focus was on the positive -- and the AL West standings.
"You kind of take some of the sheen off the Rangers and Angels," said starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who upped his record to 5-3. "You don't feel like they are these untouchable teams that you see in the playoffs every year. These are teams that we can go up and beat, and hit, and can pitch against. That's one of the biggest things for this franchise.""I like the direction that we're moving right now," Coco Crisp said. "We believe we can beat every team out there."Crisp had been ice cold, but Melvin showed faith in him, keeping him in the starting lineup the last two games. Thursday he went 2 for 4, with four RBIs. He hit a homer and a bases-loaded triple and accounted for four of the A's seven runs. After the game Crisp had a little fun at the media's expense. "I think right now my mindset is I'm going to right back into struggling after this." Crisp said sarcastically. "I believe that I have no chance whatsoever. These are going to be my last two hits of the season... Seriously, I'm happy with today. I'm going to be OK."Crisp had reason to be in a light-hearted mood. He broke out of an 0-for-16 slump, and snapped a 40-game homeless streak."We all felt it, this is a guy that we rely heavily on," Melvin said. "When somebody struggles that is important to us, we all feel it." McCarthy clearly out-dueled Japanese sensation Yu Darvish and cut through the Texas lineup. He didn't issue a walk, and struck out five hitters over seven solid innings -- throwing just 88 pitches. After allowing a run in the fourth inning, he retired the final 11 batters he faced. "We were going to be a little careful with the pitch count again today," Melvin said. "I never would have envisioned seven innings, I was thinking more like six, and maybe 85-90 pitches today." The A's had a patient approach at the plate against Darvish. He was a bit wild, walking six A's batters and hitting Kurt Suzuki. The Japanese sensation allowed six runs on six hits and departed with one out in the sixth inning.Tanner Scheppers entered in relief and was greeted with a mammoth homer from Brandon Moss. The ball ended up several rows back in the right-field bleachers. It was Moss' first hit with the A's. He became known for his power in Sacramento, where he had 15 homers this season before his Wednesday call-up. "Boy, that went a fair piece," Melvin said. "That's going out at night with a 30-mph wind in his face." The series win as the A's first since May 4-6 in Tampa Bay. Coincidentally, that series against the Rays was also the last series Cespedes played in prior to his left-hand injury.