Only one things matters in Oakland: 'Play hard tomorrow'

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Only one things matters in Oakland: 'Play hard tomorrow'

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Two days ago, Coco Crisp couldn't make out faces in the crowd from the dugout. Less than 72 hours later, he's the man of the clubhouse after his 3-for-5 performance left little doubt that he belongs in the starting lineup -- with or without perfect vision.

"He's something," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It starts with him, all the way around."

Fighting through an eye infection that doctors tell him could last up to three months, Crisp's active red blood cells are still causing some blurry vision in his eyes, but he saw his first-inning shot travel over the right-field wall clear as day.

"The leadoff homer was huge," Sean Doolittle said. "He's such a spark for our offense."

Crisp's goals for the game were considerable lower than his output.

"More than I was expecting," Crisp said. "I was just trying to have quality at-bats. With just six games left, I wanted to get some kind of rhythm to be able to help the team."

He did. But playing in a day game Saturday after Friday's night game, Crisp is wary that his sensitive-to-light eyes will be ready.

"We'll see," Crisp said. "I'm just hoping that each day they get better. If that's the case, then I shouldn't have any problems."

Crisp wasn't the only outfielder to put together an impressive and complete game.

Yoenis Cespedes' stats belie his impact on the A's 8-2 win over Seattle Friday night. He finished 0-for-3, but Melvin is convinced his scorched shot in the hole -- ruled an error -- deserved a hit.

"That's a quality shortstop and that ball just ate him up it got on him so fast," Melvin said. "So I don't agree with that call."

Cespedes' next at-bat came against flamethrower Stephen Pryor. After swinging through the first two strikes, Cespedes showed veteran discipline on pitches touching 97 miles per hour, working a bases-loaded walk that put the game out of reach.

"One of the key at-bats of the game was that walk," Melvin said. "He's down two strikes, lays off a pitch, gets to 3-2 and takes a walk and we score some runs. "

And his full-extension catch in the eighth inning was a Golden Great all the way. Making it look easy, Cespedes has come a long way from the beginning of the season when he was regularly misplaying balls in center field. The growth registers with his manager.

"Now, all of a sudden, he's just a good left fielder," Melvin said. "He's a natural out there."

The stout defense helped the A's bullpen preserve rookie A.J. Griffin's seventh win in 14 starts as he bounced back from two previous rough outings. While he was happy to get back on track, he is well aware that his next slated start lands on the final day of the season. He's been thinking about it, too.

"Not going to lie, yeah," Griffin acknowledged. "But that's the fun part of this business. You get to go out there and pitch in games that matter. I just want to give us a good chance to win ballgames."

Griffin's admission that his next start has already entered his thoughts should come as no surprise. The A's are locked in a tight playoff race with four other teams, and they are making a serious attempt at focusing on only the things they can control, which means no scoreboard watching.

"We're trying not to pay attention to what other teams are doing," Doolittle said. "It's tough this time of year. But we're really trying to focus on everything in here. If we take care of business, it doesn't matter what anybody else does. That's our only goal at this point -- staying focused."

Doolittle and his teammates are buying into Melvin's only goal for the final five games: "Playing hard tomorrow." After watching the A's go all out on the field and commit to the team-first attitude in the clubhouse, even Coco Crisp can see that clearly.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

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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.

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

A new team believes in Stephen Vogt.

The former A's catcher, who was designated for assignment on Thursday, was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

The A's announced the transaction shortly before their game against the White Sox.

News of the Brewers making the waiver claim was first reported by ESPN.

The Brewers were the only team to place a waiver claim on Vogt, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Vogt, a clubhouse leader and one of the longest tenured A's, hit just .217 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games this season.