Resilient A's stand tall

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Resilient A's stand tall

Programming note: A's-Angels coverage kicks off at 6:30 p.m. tonight with A's Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California!

I checked the tape.It was from Postgame Live on Friday, June 1st. Just moments prior, the A's had lost their season-high ninth in a row, and were now nine games under .500. They'd been shutout in two straight games, which saw Oakland tally a grand total of 6 hits. I turned to Greg Cadaret on-air and wondered if we had just witnessed the unraveling of a baseball season, right before our eyes.Fast forward 101 days, and the A's are a season-high 19 games over .500, with the second-best record in the American League. Their undisputed formula for winning has been no secret:RELATED: Division standings Wild Card standings
- Outstanding starting pitching (3.71 ERA This season, and they've walked 3 or less batters in each of the last 38 games)

- The bats have generated timely longballs (A's have home runs in 14 of the last 15 games)

- The defense has been trustworthy (.983 Fielding percentage which is tied for 12th best in MLB)But beyond all of the measurable stats and figures, there are even more incredible story-lines and angles that can't be measured by numbers. They are what makes this turnaround so special.They Are Resilient
Most recently, the A's were swept over Labor Day weekend by the Angels. In 27 innings they lost a 9 game winning streak, a lot of momentum... and their ace Brandon McCarthy for the rest of the season. What was their reward? A date with Felix Hernandez on Friday night, where Oakland walked away with a 6-1 victory, and eventually a 3 game sweep of the Mariners. This story has been repeated all Summer long. The A's dropped a "should-win" series to Kansas City in mid-August, and responded by taking their next 5. Two separate occasions this season, Oakland has hosted the team with MLB's best record (Dodgers in June, Yankees in July)... and swept them both. You get the picture.Waiting in the Wings
The A's starting rotation features precisely one pitcher from its Opening Day staff. Tommy Milone, the eldest statesman at 25, is now surrounded by Brett Anderson, A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, and Dan Straily. Oakland's hurlers are a prime example of how young players have stepped in, made the most of opportunities, and earned permanent roles. But they are not the only ones.Chris Carter. Brandon Moss. Josh Donaldson. Derek Norris. All position players who were not necessarily even in the A's plans coming out of Spring Training, but have each since won their job by performing when the team needed them most. No club carries the identical roster between games 1 and 162, but Oakland has been fortunate to equal and even improve with the new faces they've brought in.Pulling All The Right Strings
Bob Melvin, at the very least, should be a finalist for AL Manager of the Year. In making lineups, he has used players and matchups to their fullest potentials... for examples, see the SmithGomes and CarterMoss duos. He's been order-flexible in moving guys like Josh Reddick around, specifically to help him out of recent struggles. And Melvin committed to the winning formula in making Coco Crisp the unquestioned leadoff hitter, which ultimately sparked the A's in mid-June. All of this in addition to keeping his players loose, excited, and content in a turnaround-type season.The A's have also been deliberate as a franchise this year: terminating their experiment with Manny Ramirez, trading fan-favorite Kurt Suzuki to Washington and sending everyday-starter Jemile Weeks to Triple-A. Patient approaches of the past have been replaced with the need to perform now... a collaboration of moves which just might pay off for Oakland in October.

A's lineup: Melvin flip flops Healy, Lowrie against Angels

A's lineup: Melvin flip flops Healy, Lowrie against Angels

Manager Bob Melvin is going with same nine in his lineup Wednesday against the Angels, but there is one change to the order.

Oakland A's (10-10)

1. Jaff Decker (L) CF
2. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
3. Ryon Healy (R) DH
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Stephen Vogt (L) C
6. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
7. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
8. Matt Joyce (L) RF
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Sean Manaea -- LHP

Los Angeles Angels (10-12)

1. Yunel Escobar (R) 3B
2. Kole Calhoun (L) RF
3. Mike Trout (R) CF
4. Albert Pujols (R) DH
5. Jefry Marte (R) 1B
6. Andrelton Simmons (R) SS
7. Danny Espinosa (S) 2B
8. Cameron Maybin (R) LF
9. Martin Maldonado (R) C
Matt Shoemaker -- RHP

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Hahn's excellence goes for naught as Angels walk off on A's

Hahn's excellence goes for naught as Angels walk off on A's

ANAHEIM — The night should have been about Jesse Hahn, who had every pitch working and rendered Angels hitters helpless over eight innings.

Instead, the A’s postgame comments Tuesday were filled with second-guessing and do-overs that they wish came their way in a 2-1, 11-inning defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.

The game-winner came off the bat of Kole Calhoun, who singled in Danny Espinosa from second to sink the A’s in their first extra-inning contest of the season. Ryan Madson went outside with an 0-1 fastball and Calhoun spanked it into left-center, a pitch that Madson said he never should have thrown.

“I wasn’t comfortable with that pitch,” Madson said afterward. “I should have definitely stepped off and re-thought it, so I didn’t throw it with conviction. It looked like it was off the plate but something he could handle. I learned my lesson to throw a pitch I’m convicted in.”

Calhoun swung through a changeup on Madson’s first pitch. Josh Phegley, who was behind the plate calling pitches, said he didn’t want to go right back to that pitch.

“(You) kind of obviously second-guess yourself after the game-winning hit is hit off a pitch you just called,” Phegley said. “I thought about going back to (the changeup). I saw in my head him kind of making adjustments and just looping one over the infield, getting the same result. … I thought it was a good pitch and I’ll trust that guy’s fastball any day of the year. It just was not the result we were looking for.”

Phegley was set up to be a hero himself, after he came off the bench to pinch-hit for Vogt and smacked the first pitch from Jose Alvarez in the 10th for a homer to right-center that snapped a scoreless tie. But Mike Trout — who else? — answered with a home run to lead off the bottom of the 10th off Santiago Casilla. He sliced a 2-0 pitch off the plate for a drive that cleared the short right field wall just inside the foul pole.

It was Trout’s 23rd career homer against the A’s, his most off any team.

“I don’t know anybody that hits a home run right down the right field line on a ball that looks like it’s by him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “There aren’t too many guys that are gonna do that. Maybe he and Khris Davis. It’s not like it’s a bad pitch.”

Hahn wound up with a no-decision from an outing that might have been his sharpest as an Athletic, perhaps even more so than his shutout of Detroit on Memorial Day, 2015. He allowed just one hit over eight innings, facing two batters over the minimum in that time, striking out six and walking two.

“I feel like I literally had everything working for me today,” Hahn said. “I think it might have been my best command I’ve had of all pitches.”

Hahn, who didn’t make the 25-man roster coming out of spring, is finding his groove since replacing Raul Alcantara in the rotation. In three starts he’s allowed just nine hits and four earned runs over 20 innings, for a 1.80 ERA.

“He pitched as well as we’ve seen him,” Melvin said. “He had his best sink of the year by far. His best sink in a while, and a good curve ball. He really had it working tonight.”

Unfortunately for Hahn and the A’s, his excellent start didn’t come with a ‘W’ attached.

**

Melvin said center fielder Jaff Decker felt something in his foot on a steal attempt of second in which he was thrown out easily without a slide attempt.

“He got taped up and he was OK,” Melvin said.