Oakland's road warriors head home

Oakland's road warriors head home
September 28, 2012, 1:17 am
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ARLINGTON -- The boys will be back in town. After a brutal stretch of games that featured 17 of 20 on the road, and a three-game pit stop in Oakland that felt more like a part of the road trip than a homestand, the most difficult stretch of the season is over. Oakland won 12 of the 20 games over the most critical juncture of the season. They head home with a chance to lock down their first postseason berth since 2006. "We do know that we've gotten to the end of a long tough trip and now we get to go home for the final six," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "That's encouraging for us that we did battle through this thing and we are still in a good position."The A's wouldn't end up heading home with a win after losing 9-7 to the Rangers, but the Angels' 9-4 loss against the Mariners did drop Oakland's magic number to clinch a spot in the American League Wild Card game to five. The first inning pretty much decided the game for the A's. Oakland got runners on the corners with one out but Chris Carter grounded into an inning-ending double play. Travis Blackley stepped on the mound and allowed a solo home run to Ian Kinsler on the second pitch he threw, and ended up allowing five runs to score on five hits in just one inning of work. It was the worst start of the season for Blackley. "Honestly I don't know what's going on," Blackley said. "I feel pretty good before the game I am hitting my spots and keeping it down, get out there and I'm just not finding it where I'm wanting it. Kind of running out of ideas on what to do." Blackley has allowed nine runs, seven earned, in his last two starts while lasting three innings. He was visibly frustrated with his performance and even took to Twitter after the game to issue an apology to the fans. "There's no excuses," Blackley said. "I am doing everything I can to be ready for a start between the start and I'm not sure what's going on." The A's bats did their best to get back in the game after falling behind by five runs. Oakland clubbed five home runs, three in the eighth inning, to get back into the game. The biggest homers of the day belonged to Josh Reddick, who snapped an 0-for-30 skid on Wednesday, then blasted his 30th and 31st home runs on Thursday. His second homer of the day made it a two-run game. "It's a great personal accomplishment," Reddick said. "Never did I think I'd do that this year, but the important thing is we're a team and where we are at right now is the big picture."Reddick's struggles were likely due to him pressing at the plate a bit as he tried to get to the 30-homer milestone. After hitting his 29th home run on Sept. 16, he hit .128 (5-for-39) with zero RBIs until smashing No. 30 a distance of 399 feet into the second deck in right field."That hadn't really been on my mind," Reddick said. "The big thing wasn't about hitting 30, it was obviously about helping the team win. I put that in the back of my mind and felt like if I don't think about it then it's going to happen eventually." "We thought get one out of the way, get 30 out of the way, and then he'd be off to the races," Melvin said. "Our group, it didn't look good early and to battle back like we did, you know every game we continue to battle like that. We are never out of a game." Brandon Moss hit his 20th homer of the season and Yoenis Cespedes hit No. 22 on the year. Moss' homer gave the A's three 20-home run hitters for the first time since 2006 when Frank Thomas (39), Nick Swisher (35) and Eric Chavez (22) accomplished the feat. Derek Norris also added a two-run homer in the fourth inning. It was only the fourth time in Oakland history the A's lost after hitting five home runs. "We do have a lot of power on the team, everybody one through nine has pop." Moss said. "We could easily have four or five 20-home run guys with Carter and Jonny Gomes right there at it too."The A's bullpen had to shoulder the innings load again on Thursday. Five pitchers combined for seven innings and allowed four runs. Jeremy Accardo made his A's debut and allowed two runs in the fourth inning, but pitched a scoreless fifth frame. He may have been a little rusty, seeing as how he just joined the team last weekend and hadn't pitched since Aug. 16 in Triple-A. Jesse Chavez had his first scoreless outing for the A's after allowing seven runs in his first three appearances. The A's have three games against the Mariners this weekend and then take on the Rangers for the final three games. With the win, Texas is back to four games ahead of Oakland in the American League West and their magic number to clinch the division is three. The Rangers have three games against the Angels, who are two games behind the A's in the standings, so there will be a considerable amount of scoreboard watching going on this weekend.