OAKLAND -- Before the A's left for their recent seven-game road trip to Baltimore and Detroit, they lost a 5-3 game to Seattle in which manager Bob Melvin said: "Everything we did today is what is wrong with us." At the time, the A's were 8-10 in August, with a serious possibility of finishing the month with a losing record for the first time all season.
With a 2-1 win over the Rays on Saturday, the A's closed August by winning six of nine to finish 14-13. Five of those wins have come in their last six games against Detroit and Tampa Bay, two teams also battling for a playoff spot. This one came with another strong outing by rookie Sonny Gray -- 6 2/3 shutout innings, seven strikeouts -- and two RBIs from Coco Crisp, whom Melvin always refers to as the "igniter" of the offense.
"It was a good night for us," Melvin said this time.
A Rangers loss is the only thing that would have made it better for the A's, but Texas slipped by the Twins, 2-1, to maintain a two-game lead in the West. The A's did add a game to their wild-card lead over the Rays, which is now 1 ½ games, and will go for a sweep tomorrow behind A.J. Griffin.
He'll have a tough act to follow. Gray didn't allow a runner past second base until the fifth inning and came within a James Loney two-out single of completing seven. As it is, Gray has now pitched 21 2/3 innings at the Coliseum in his young A's career and allowed two runs with 23 strikeouts.