Athletics

A's notes: Football makes appearance, Anderson progressing

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A's notes: Football makes appearance, Anderson progressing

OAKLAND -- The A's may have a magic number of four to clinch a playoff spot, but a much more interesting number might be 90. If the team wins on Saturday it will be their 90th of the season. It is safe to say nobody in their right mind saw that coming at the start of the season. The A's haven't won 90 games since 2006 when they tallied 93 victories.-- Injured starting pitcher Brett Anderson continues to improve as he tries to accelerate the recovery from his strained right oblique. He was in the outfield playing catch again on Saturday. He threw from 120 feet. The team remains optimistic that he could be ready for the postseason. "After that we could get him on a mound," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I would say Monday at the earliest if everything goes well today." Melvin stressed the team is trying to keep it's options open with Anderson but can't afford to rush him back. Once he gets on the mound and throws some pitches the A's will be able to get a better gauge on how ready he is. -- Melvin says he isn't going to shuffle the rotation for the remaining games of the season. Things could get interesting if there is a one-game playoff. Straily would be on turn to start that game. Here's the rotation as it shakes out the rest of the way.A's Rotation: Dan Straily (2-1, 3.60 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (14-11, 3.94 ERA)
Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA) vs. Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 3.42 ERA)
Jarrod Parker (12-8, 3.44 ERA) vs. Martin Perez (1-3, 5.03 ERA)
Travis Blackley (5-4, 3.91 ERA) vs. Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26 ERA)
A.J. Griffin (7-1, 2.71 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (7-3, 4.64 ERA)
How the remaining starts go for each pitcher could determine who makes a potential playoff rotation. The A's would have the luxury of going to a four-man rotation should they make it to divisional play. -- Coco Crisp is in the lineup playing a day game after a night game. It can be very difficult to see baseballs in the Oakland Coliseum during the day. If Crisp can survive a full game out there in the outfield while battling the sun, he is clearly a safe start for the long haul after suffering from allergic conjunctivitis in both of his eyes. He had only appeared as a pinch runner in two of the previous nine games before returning on Friday night and going 3 for 5 with a home run and three runs. -- The A's were throwing around a football before the game. Daric Barton brought the ball down to the field from the clubhouse. They played catch and made some mock interceptions and runbacks. At one point the ball was thrown to Yoenis Cespedes. He struggled to catch the ball. When he tried to chuck it back it went wobbling through the air. He laughed and joked that his shoulder was hurt by the ball. It looked like the first time he's ever picked up the pigskin. Many have remarked that Cespedes' speed and muscular build would make him a killer linebacker. As long as he isn't trying to catch or throw the ball he might make a pretty good football player. Like Bo, Yo knows.Cespedes has been a fast learner since joining the A's. He is making constant adjustments at the plate, is learning a new language, and a new outfield position. The full-extension diving catch he made in left field last night is proof that he is a remarkable athlete. "I think it goes right along with the way he has evolved as a player here since the first day in Spring Training," Melvin said. "He's picked things up very quickly, and once he feels comfortable he is just on to the next thing."The A's are hoping to make a deep postseason run. Maybe once he is done he can don the silver and black. Melvin even joked that Cespedes might get some looks at shortstop next year. -- Playing football is just another example of how loose the A's can be. As Jonny Gomes has remarked on many occasions, the team is playing for fun, not for contracts. That has worked for them all season. "We're trying to keep it as loose as we can," Melvin said. "It's starting to get a little much but we are trying to play today's game and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow." -- Stephen Drew is on an eight-game hitting streak. He is hitting .429 (15 for 35) over that span. Since joining the A's 16 games ago he is batting .271 with five home runs and 16 RBI. The team has a mutual option on his contract for next season. The day they acquired him via trade from the Diamondbacks, assistant general manager David Forst said they wanted to see how he played before considering bringing him back. Drew might be making a strong case to return. "We'd love to have him back," Melvin said of Drew. Drew's 2013 option is worth 10 million with a buyout of 1.35 M. The A's should be able to afford him easily if the front office agrees with Melvin's sentiments.

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

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

BOX SCORE

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 MLB.com.

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."

MACHADO HONORED:
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.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
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.

UP NEXT:
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.