Moss: It felt good to score early against Hernandez
Yoenis Cespedes had been nursing tendinitis in the shoulder the past two weeks, which had hindered his throwing. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SEATTLE – They will have home-field advantage through the first round of the playoffs. Unlike last postseason, they will also have Bartolo Colon.
But will the Oakland A’s have left fielder Yoenis Cespedes?
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That’s a big question looking ahead. And for all the A’s had to celebrate after Friday’s 8-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners, the health of Cespedes will loom large in their postseason outlook.
The multi-gifted outfielder left Friday’s game in the fourth inning after aggravating his right shoulder. He was making his first start in left field since Sept. 13, and the hope was that he would get three games of defense in this weekend and be raring to go for Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
The good news for the A’s is they’ll have four days off between Sunday’s regular-season finale and Friday’s ALDS opener.
“I know we’ve got a little time before the postseason,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Hopefully we can get him healthy.”
Cespedes had been nursing tendinitis in the shoulder the past two weeks, which had hindered his throwing and limited him to designated hitter duties. The troubling part for the A’s is that Cespedes aggravated the shoulder swinging the bat Friday.
Melvin said there was “a good chance” Cespedes doesn’t play Saturday, and he didn’t venture a guess for Sunday. But if Cespedes feels pain swinging, it’s fair to wonder if he would be available to even DH during the ALDS.
That storyline will play out. After clinching home-field advantage for the Divisional Series, the A’s relished the thought of opening the playoffs in front of a boisterous O.co Coliseum crowd next week.
The home crowd was a factor in last year’s ALDS, and there will be more fans this year with the tarps being removed from a large portion of the third deck. Some third-deck tickets still remained as of Friday for all of the A’s Divisional Series home games, but the Coliseum is sure to be packed.
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“The way it was last year, now there’s going to be even more people,” outfielder Brandon Moss said. “That’s a tough place to play for anybody.”
Melvin said the atmosphere will provide “a goose-bump day.”
“It’s gonna be rockin’,” he predicted. And likely taking the ball in Game 1 will be Colon (18-6) , who was not part of last year’s playoff roster because he was away from the team after being suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.
The A’s re-signed him to a one-year deal, and he made the All-Star team and notched his 18th victory in in his final regular-season start Friday. He allowed two runs and just three hits and struck out eight over six innings.
He could become the A’s first ERA champ since 1994 if Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez has a poor start Saturday. Sanchez has a 2.64 ERA, just ahead of Colon’s 2.65.
Colon – the first 40-year-old to win 18 games in the majors since Roger Clemens in 2004 -- said he isn’t sweating the ERA race too much, and he’s hopeful of giving the A’s a lift this postseason. He’ll anchor the A’s playoff rotation along with second-year right-hander Jarrod Parker.
“He’s unbelievable,” Moss said, “and he is very fun to play behind because it’s strikes all day. … When you play behind a guy like that, I feel like we’re gonna win every single time, no question marks.
The A’s do have question mark right now, and it’s the status of Cespedes, who entered Friday leading the AL with 19 RBI in September.
The A’s will move forward, thankful for the presence of Colon in the playoffs and crossing their fingers they’ll also have their slugging left fielder.