Programming note: Angels-A’s coverage kicks off today at 12 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
OAKLAND – As A’s manager Bob Melvin met with the media before the matinee game against the Angels Wednesday, a cleaning crew was still hard at work trying to address the mess left in the O.co Coliseum’s home dugout.
The second sewage issue of the A’s 2013 season started during Tuesday’s win over the Angels and still lingered with Wednesday's 12:35 p.m. first pitch looming.
Before fielding questions, Melvin jokingly asked reporters if they wanted to move the scrum closer to the dugout bathroom, where five maintenance workers were busy mopping the floor and spraying cleaning solution over the affected area.
When asked if the sewage system’s persistent problems could cause a distraction, Melvin responded with the grace and tact of a White House press secretary.
“To an extent, we got a kick out of it,” Melvin said. “It just made me move out of a superstitious spot, more than anything else.”
Melvin normally has a specific location in the dugout he likes to occupy during games, but was forced to move, along with his players, away from the bathroom.
“It’s more of a distraction during the middle of the game,” Melvin said. “Everybody had great humor about it. It’s not the first time something like that has happened here. So it certainly didn’t affect anybody during the game, nor would it right now.”
While Melvin didn’t take the bait and bash his home facilities, plenty of A’s players looked both shocked and entertained by the seemingly never-ending sewage saga as they took the field for their pregame stretches.
Wednesday’s scheduled starters, A.J. Griffin and Jason Vargas, share a similar unfortunate tendency to surrender home runs.
Griffin leads the league with 34 home runs allowed this season, while Vargas served up 35 last year to tie for the second-most in baseball.
Surprisingly, Vargas posted a respectable 3.85 ERA despite all the big flies in 2012. Griffin enters Wednesday’s start with a 3.81 ERA and 14 wins, so clearly the home runs aren’t preventing the 25-year-old right-hander from proving he belongs in the big leagues.
Melvin said he has no concerns over Griffin’s gaudy home run totals because of context.
“A lot of them are solo jobs and a lot of them are when he’s pitching to the score of the game,” Melvin said. “He does want to cut down on those and he will, but he throws the ball over the plate. He goes after guys.”
If Griffin gives up six more bombs this season, he would pass Catfish Hunter (39 in 1973) and current pitching coach Curt Young (38 in 1987) for the most home runs allowed in Oakland franchise history.
A’s co-owner Lew Wolff expressed displeasure with the lackluster crowds in Oakland during the stretch run, but the team announced that the official crowd of 18,771 at Tuesday’s game brought the season total past the 1,684,532 total attendance from last season. According to the A’s, it’s the fourth straight season the team has seen increased attendance.
[RAY RATTO: A's owner Lew Wolff blames the customers]
Without any notable stadium improvements and a tendency to ship fan favorites out of town, that trend can be attributed to a 183-130 record over the last two years, tied with Atlanta for the best in baseball over that span.