One game behind Astros, A's are officially the new item on the national menu

One game behind Astros, A's are officially the new item on the national menu

Now that people are watching the Oakland Athletics (and no, this is not yet another attendance story so you can stop choking the cat) with greater intent, one would imagine that the scrutiny might start to wear on the employees a bit. The A’s have been untouched by the glares of the outside world for so long that this newfound attraction to the rest of the baseball world would start to get a bit claustrophobic.

Well, they’re 38-12 after Tuesday’s nightly Treinen-O-Rama, and since people started paying attention with regularity. Since being swept by Colorado, they are 11-2, and have gone from this:

Boston 74 33 .692 ------ 569 392
Houston 67 40 .626 7 533 354
Cleveland 57 47 .548 15.5 537 443
New York   67 37 .644 5.5 540 404
Seattle 62 43 .590 11 445 448
Oakland     61 46 .570 13 505 472

To this:

Boston 86 35 .711 ------   661 447
Houston 73 47 .608 12.5 583 392
Cleveland 68 51 .571 17 612 482
New York 75 44 .630 10 617 477
Oakland 72 48 .600 13.5 571 504
Seattle 69 52 .570 17 507 531

To sum up that mess, Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Seattle (an altogether tidier affair than Monday’s 7-6 piefight) puts Oakland only one game out of the West Division lead and therefore second place in the American League, 3½ games out of the first wild card spot and 3½ games ahead of the cutoff line.

They are, in other words, in three races at once, and now people in Houston and New York and Seattle and Cleveland are watching them as well. They are officially the new item on the national menu.

And with that level of intrusion, they are about to find out how much of this attention they have craved so long is going to be to their liking.

Attention, after all, comes in many ways – demands on their time from the media, increased scrutiny on all developments from managerial moves to bat flips, and a torrent of occasionally helpful suggestions from on high.

In other words, people are talking A’s, and the A’s, being young and new to the froth and effervescence of multiple pennant races, are bound to listen. I mean, their phones are always charged, if you get the drift.

“But that’s why I tell them in the meeting before every series that we have to pay attention to what’s in front of us today,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We can’t get caught up in the trap -- answering all the other questions about the other teams and where we are in relation to them, and the playoff races and all that. I emphasize it every chance I get, and after that I just have to trust that everyone in the room gets it.”

That’s a lot of trust for a manager, which is why he relies on veterans like catcher Jonathan Lucroy and second baseman Jed Lowrie, and the quietly influential left fielder Chad Pinder to reinforce the walls that keep the barking dogs at a healthy distance.

“I don’t know for sure how we’ll handle everything going forward, but I’m confident that we’ll handle it the right way,” Melvin said. “We have good guys in that room, and even though this is all pretty new to them, them getting distracted and ahead of themselves really isn’t a concern of ours. We’ve had to stay pretty focused to get to this point; I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that we were 12 back (well, 11½ as recently as  June 17, if you must be pedantic about it), so there are going to more people trying to get them to talk about this team and that situation now. I just think it won’t be a problem.”

Well, there are 42 opportunities still ahead for the A’s to prove Melvin right or wrong; for the now, though, there is only the now. They win their game each day and watch objects once beyond the horizon heave 
into view. Part of the fun of the next six weeks is finding out whether they absorb the view and make just part of their daily routine, or end up overwhelmed by the hugeness of the vista and end up with vertigo.

A's considering removing struggling Lou Trivino from late-inning role

A's considering removing struggling Lou Trivino from late-inning role

OAKLAND -- To call this a rough stretch for Lou Trivino would be an understatement.

Since May 29, the A's reliever has been pinned with five losses, the most recent coming Sunday afternoon against the lowly Seattle Mariners. Trivino allowed four runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks in just a third of an inning, suffering his fourth blown save of the season.

"It's frustrating," Trivino said. "Cutter wasn't there today, fastball wasn't there, curveball wasn't there. It just wasn't a good day."

In his last nine outings, Trivino has gone 0-5 with a 12.46 ERA, allowing 16 runs (12 earned) in 8 2/3 innings. During that period, the right-hander's season ERA has ballooned from 2.42 to 4.93.

"I think right now with Lou, it's more location than anything else," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "His stuff is still good. He's still throwing 98. He's still throwing 93 mile-an-hour cutters. He's getting behind in the count. He's walking guys. He's just coming out a little bit early and having a tough time finding the strike zone. I think that's just the issue with him right now. It certainly isn't stuff."

Trivino agreed with that assessment, explaining that it's a mechanical issue with his delivery.

"I think I'm just drifting a little bit, getting out ahead of myself," he said. "I'm not behind the ball. ... I'm not quite filling up the zone, and when I am, it's just not in the areas that I want."

While Melvin quickly dismissed any notion of sending Trivino to Triple-A, he did not rule out a potential role change for Oakland's primary setup man.

"We'll take a look at it," Melvin said. "This guy is really good. He’s just going through a tough stretch right now. Whether or not we need to give him a little bit of a break from that role, maybe that part of the lineup, we’ll discuss it internally. But he’s got good stuff.”

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This has certainly been a far cry from the Lou Trivino we saw last season. As a rookie, he went 8-3 with a 2.92 ERA, looking flat-out dominant for extended stretches. But the 27-year-old appears to have fallen victim to the dreaded sophomore slump, at least so far.

"It's frustrating when I'm not commanding my pitches the way I want," Trivino said. "We played really well today. We pitched our butts off. I thought we played really, really well and I come in and blow the lead for what seems like the 10th time this year. So it's very frustrating. Lord willing, I can fight through this and come up for us."

A's vs. Mariners lineups: Tanner Anderson makes second career MLB start


A's vs. Mariners lineups: Tanner Anderson makes second career MLB start

A's pitcher Tanner Anderson will make his Oakland Coliseum debut Sunday against the Seattle Mariners in his second MLB start. 

The righty acquitted himself in his first big league start on June 10. He allowed just two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out five in the loss. The 26-year-old can deliver a series win, and pick up his first MLB win as a starting pitcher. 

Anderson will square off against right-handed pitcher Mike Leake, who has struggled a bit after a hot start to the season. Leake won each of his first two starts, but is 3-6 since and has posted a 4.48 ERA during that time. 

Josh Phegley and Chad Pinder won't face Leake, as both players were given the day off after starting Saturday. The remainder of the A's lineup is unchanged from Saturday's 11-2 win

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Mariners game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 1:07.

Oakland A's (36-35)
Marcus Semien, SS
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Khris Davis, DH
Mark Canha, RF
Robbie Grossman, LF
Ramón Laureano, CF
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Beau Taylor, C

Tanner Anderson,  RHP (0-1, 3.18 ERA)

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Seattle Mariners (30-44)
Mallex Smith, CF
J.P. Crawford, SS
Domingo Santana, RF
Daniel Vogelbach, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Tom Murphy, C
Dee Gordon, 2B
Mac Williamson, LF
Austin Nola, 1B

Mike Leake, RHP (5-6, 4.26 ERA)