OAKLAND -- The A's are keeping things in perspective as they seek their first division title since 2006. Especially now that they have that clinching celebration thing out of the way. "To get to tomorrow we have to win tonight," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "All hands on deck." Oakland pounced on the opportunity to pop the bubbly after insuring themselves a spot in the postseason. They have an opportunity to do it again on Sunday as the American League West champions if they can sweep the Rangers. While some might question their decision to celebrate with two games to play, it was important to reward the players for a long successful season. It sure looked like they had a good time but they cut it off early. "I think it's business as usual for us," Melvin said. "I think everybody got out of here at a decent hour, I know they did. I don't think anyone overdid anything."-- On Monday Brett Anderson threw from the mound for the first time since straining his right oblique. How he bounces back will determine if he has a chance to take the mound for the A's in a possible one-game playoff on Friday. While they still haven't ruled it out, they are keeping it close to their vest. "I think we need to get through these games here," Melvin said. "Trust me our front office has looked at this thing every angle you could possibly look at." Anderson is 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA, 25 strikeouts and just seven walks in six starts this season. He is the most experienced pitcher in the starting rotation. If he is deemed healthy enough to take the mound it could provide a big boost."I'm sure they have plenty of schedules and options, as a matter of fact I know they do," Melvin said. "His name is included on those so hopefully we get to that point." -- Yoenis Cespedes was voted the American League Rookie of the Month for September. Last month he hit .257 (28 for 109), with five doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 19 RBI, and scored 18 runs. He is the first A's player to win the award since Jemile Weeks in June of 2011. Melvin says the award is a feather in Cespedes' cap, but he's been a big-time player for Oakland all season. "It's not just the last month it's from the first day he got here," Melvin said. "He plays like a veteran, he carries the weight of our team on his shoulders; it doesn't bother him."-- Taking the mound on Tuesday is Travis Blackley. Last Thursday he gave up five runs against the Rangers and didn't make it to the second inning. He is 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA in four starts against Texas this year. The team needs the Australian-born pitcher to make like a boomerang and have a comeback performance. Melvin believes his starting pitcher's struggles are more mental than anything. "I think it's just trying to reflect on the good times and not think too much about a couple of bad starts," Melvin said. "Think more about that then a couple of tough games because he's had more good games for us than he's had bad." -- Relief pitcher Pat Neshek is not with the team. He is with his family in Florida to be with his wife as she gives birth to their first child. Even without Neshek the A's will likely lean heavily on the bullpen. One loss and they have no shot to win the division. Grant Balfour is one guy the A's won't be afraid to use. He entered the game last night with a one-run lead and struck out the side. He even hit 97-MPH on the radar gun. The "Mad Aussie" is usually an intense guy but he was on a whole other level on Monday. Balfour has 23 saves and is 16 for 16 since re-taking the closer's role."When he came in that game he was very confident and our team felt that," Melvin said. "That's why guys in the dugout were poised to go out on the field because they felt something good was going to happen with what he was bringing on the mound." -- Balfour may have been berserk on the mound on Monday but the fans may have outdone him. The announced crown of 21,162 included 5,000 walk-ups and they were loud and engaged in the game from the first pitch to the last. It looked like a much larger crowd than was announced. What they may have lacked in numbers they made up for in enthusiasm. "The fans were unbelievable," Melvin said. "It was really loud and really electric and really intense."-- The Orioles defeated the Rays on Tuesday so Oakland is half a game behind Baltimore in the American League Wild Card race. If they end up with the same record the Wild Card game will be played in Oakland. That is, if the A's don't sweep Texas and win the West.
After five seasons in Oakland, Stephen Vogt begins a new chapter of his career in Milwaukee.
The 32-year-old was designated for assignment by the last-place A's on Thursday and claimed by the first-place Brewers on Sunday.
On Monday, the two-time All-Star catcher discussed his new opportunity with a contender on MLB Network Radio.
"Obviously I was ecstatic to hear I was headed to Milwaukee. We all watch baseball and they are such a fun team to watch right now. And your buddy Eric Sogard is there, so I've got some familiarity. It's an opportunity to win and I think anybody, when you get to the stage I'm in in my career, where I'm 32, I want to win. I'm at the point where that's kind of the goal in the big leagues where all you care about is winning and that's where I'm at. So, to get the news that I'm headed to a first-place team, I couldn't be more excited," Vogt said.
After making the AL All-Star team the last two seasons, Vogt struggled to the tune of a .217 batting average with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games.
But with a new team in a new league comes a fresh slate.
"You get that rejuvenation feeling, you get that feeling that this is the change you needed especially going to a winning team where when you're winning, everyone plays better, when you're winning, everyones happier. No matter where you are in life, you want to have that feeling that somebody wants you. So to have Milwaukee come in and say 'We wanted you,' Yeah, it recharged the batteries. I'm ready to go," Vogt said.
The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.
They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.
The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.
The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.
They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.
Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.
Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.
Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).
Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.
An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.