Notes: Eyes on the prize, Anderson still an option

October 3, 2012, 2:09 am
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OAKLAND -- The A's are keeping things in perspective as they seek their first division title since 2006. Especially now that they have that clinching celebration thing out of the way. "To get to tomorrow we have to win tonight," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "All hands on deck." Oakland pounced on the opportunity to pop the bubbly after insuring themselves a spot in the postseason. They have an opportunity to do it again on Sunday as the American League West champions if they can sweep the Rangers. While some might question their decision to celebrate with two games to play, it was important to reward the players for a long successful season. It sure looked like they had a good time but they cut it off early. "I think it's business as usual for us," Melvin said. "I think everybody got out of here at a decent hour, I know they did. I don't think anyone overdid anything."-- On Monday Brett Anderson threw from the mound for the first time since straining his right oblique. How he bounces back will determine if he has a chance to take the mound for the A's in a possible one-game playoff on Friday. While they still haven't ruled it out, they are keeping it close to their vest. "I think we need to get through these games here," Melvin said. "Trust me our front office has looked at this thing every angle you could possibly look at." Anderson is 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA, 25 strikeouts and just seven walks in six starts this season. He is the most experienced pitcher in the starting rotation. If he is deemed healthy enough to take the mound it could provide a big boost."I'm sure they have plenty of schedules and options, as a matter of fact I know they do," Melvin said. "His name is included on those so hopefully we get to that point." -- Yoenis Cespedes was voted the American League Rookie of the Month for September. Last month he hit .257 (28 for 109), with five doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 19 RBI, and scored 18 runs. He is the first A's player to win the award since Jemile Weeks in June of 2011. Melvin says the award is a feather in Cespedes' cap, but he's been a big-time player for Oakland all season. "It's not just the last month it's from the first day he got here," Melvin said. "He plays like a veteran, he carries the weight of our team on his shoulders; it doesn't bother him."-- Taking the mound on Tuesday is Travis Blackley. Last Thursday he gave up five runs against the Rangers and didn't make it to the second inning. He is 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA in four starts against Texas this year. The team needs the Australian-born pitcher to make like a boomerang and have a comeback performance. Melvin believes his starting pitcher's struggles are more mental than anything. "I think it's just trying to reflect on the good times and not think too much about a couple of bad starts," Melvin said. "Think more about that then a couple of tough games because he's had more good games for us than he's had bad." -- Relief pitcher Pat Neshek is not with the team. He is with his family in Florida to be with his wife as she gives birth to their first child. Even without Neshek the A's will likely lean heavily on the bullpen. One loss and they have no shot to win the division. Grant Balfour is one guy the A's won't be afraid to use. He entered the game last night with a one-run lead and struck out the side. He even hit 97-MPH on the radar gun. The "Mad Aussie" is usually an intense guy but he was on a whole other level on Monday. Balfour has 23 saves and is 16 for 16 since re-taking the closer's role."When he came in that game he was very confident and our team felt that," Melvin said. "That's why guys in the dugout were poised to go out on the field because they felt something good was going to happen with what he was bringing on the mound." -- Balfour may have been berserk on the mound on Monday but the fans may have outdone him. The announced crown of 21,162 included 5,000 walk-ups and they were loud and engaged in the game from the first pitch to the last. It looked like a much larger crowd than was announced. What they may have lacked in numbers they made up for in enthusiasm. "The fans were unbelievable," Melvin said. "It was really loud and really electric and really intense."-- The Orioles defeated the Rays on Tuesday so Oakland is half a game behind Baltimore in the American League Wild Card race. If they end up with the same record the Wild Card game will be played in Oakland. That is, if the A's don't sweep Texas and win the West.

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