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September 3, 2013
Donaldson goes all-out, for better or worse, in A's 5-1 loss

OAKLAND -- Tuesday night showed both sides of Josh Donaldson's aggressive play. He made one of the best catches you'll see this year in the sixth inning, diving headfirst over a tarp in foul ground to catch David Murphy's pop-up. He also ran the A's out of a potential two-out rally in the third, getting thrown out at the plate coming from second on Yoenis Cespedes' infield single.

First, the catch. Here's a video. This isn't the first time Donaldson has thrown himself at this tarp chasing a foul ball, but the difficulty of the timing and the getting wedged in between the tarp and the wall -- that was a little different.

"That's the way he plays," manager Bob Melvin said. "That was a hell of a play. You're not going to see too many better plays than that."

Closer Grant Balfour described it as "frickin' amazing." Donaldson said he hadn't seen a replay but, "From what everybody is telling me it's right up there with the best of them for this year."

"It's something I take pride in," said the catcher-turned-third-baseman. "If I get that opportunity, I'm willing to throw my body over to try to make that play."

Now, the baserunning mistake. Donaldson said he did see Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar stop Yoenis Cespedes' grounder with a dive in the hole and started breaking down as he got to third.

"But for some reason I thought I heard, 'Go,'" Donaldson said. "I know it wasn't (third-base coach Mike Gallego) because after I took two more steps I heard him saying 'Stay.'"

Donaldson continued toward home and was thrown out easily by Profar. He lowered a shoulder into catcher A.J. Pierzynski to try to dislodge the ball, but it didn't work. As Pierzynski got up, he appeared to slap Donaldson on the back with his glove, but Donaldson said he asked Pierzynski if he was OK when he came up for his next at-bat and Pierzynski did the same.

"Hopefully there's no hard feelings," Donaldson said.

As for the all-out nature of his third baseman's play, Melvin said he got a little worried watching Donaldson disappear behind the tarp, but there's not much he can do to change it.

"I like it," Melvin said. "Obviously you don't want to run into an out right there, but he thought he heard 'Go.' It is what it is. He continues to play every inning the same way he has all year. That's how he plays."

Donaldson said he'd try to learn from the baserunning error and added: "It's one of those things that kind of sucks."

* Bartolo Colon tiptoed through trouble in the first and third innings -- allowing a runner to third with one out before escaping unscored upon -- but couldn't do it a third time. The three runs the Rangers scored in the fifth were all unearned because they followed Craig Gentry's comebacker that bounced off Colon's glove for an error. But the damage came from Jurickson Profar roping a double to score Gentry and Ian Kinsler following with a line-drive single. All three eventually scored.

"I think everything was fine, I could locate the ball well," Colon said. "The one play that made the difference was the ground ball that I dropped. That was a routine play."

It just the fifth time Colon has allowed four or more runs in a start this season, though only one -- Mitch Moreland's homer in the fourth -- was earned. Three have come in his last four starts, and in none of those four has Colon pitched beyond the fifth inning. In those starts, including the two before his 15-day DL stint for a groin strain, opponents are batting .387 off Colon.

"It's not like they knocked him around (Tuesday)," manager Bob Melvin said. "But at 80-plus pitches, and he took a ball off the hand, I just didn't think it was wise to push him any further at that point."

Colon was checked by a trainer after Kinsler's single hit his bare hand but said afterward: "I'm good." He'll have to wait until his next start against Texas for another shot at being the first pitcher ever with 20 career wins against the Rangers -- he's currently in a four-way tie for the most at 19.

* Michael Choice made a couple of nice defensive plays as well in his first game with the A's in the field. His sliding catch coming in on Alex Rios' blooper ended the fifth inning for Colon, and he ranged a long way into the corner to track down Ian Kinsler's foul ball in the eighth.

Choice played mostly center field early in his pro career, but you can see why Melvin feels comfortable playing him in the corners as well. Both of those plays required good reads and the speed to actually get to the ball, and Choice did both.

The rookie also picked up his first big-league hit in the fifth inning, though maybe not how he envisioned it growing up. He hit a dribbler that Perez fielded in front of the mound and threw high to first. Credit to Choice, though, for hustling up the line and really forcing the issue.

"It's going to end up looking like a line drive in the box score," Melvin said. "You get your first hit, it doesn't matter how you get it."

* Not much to say about the A's offense on this night. They picked up 11 hits and had a runner on base in every inning except the fourth, but the only one that scored was the first one -- Coco Crisp hit a leadoff double in the first, moved up on a flyout and scored on a sacrifice fly.

The Rangers' 22-year-old left-hander Martin Perez won his sixth consecutive start, and Melvin said Perez, whom the A's saw toward the end of last season, looks to be "pitching with a lot more confidence. ... I would say he's probably one of their better starters at this point."

High praise for a rookie, although the guy the Rangers have going in the finale tomorrow -- Yu Darvish -- is up there too. One thing Perez can say -- he did most of the work in holding the A's without a home run for the first time in 16 games.

* In the category of meaningless but interesting stats, the all-time series between the two franchises is now tied at 406-406. Thanks to the A's game notes for that one. In the more immediate realm, the A's now trail the Rangers again by a game in the West, while they hold a 2 ½-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the wild card.

* A note regarding the A's call-ups today: Melvin said in his pre-game session that there are no concrete plans for how he might use Tommy Milone out of the bullpen. If a starter were struggling early, Melvin said he could finish out the inning with a short reliever and bring Milone in for long relief.

"That's probably the role for him at this point," Melvin said.

* Brandon Moss was asked before the game about his A.L. Player of the Week honor and said it's "Cool. It was a good week. That's pretty much all I got."

Moss, who led all MLB hitters with four homers, 11 RBIs and 21 total bases for the week ending Sunday, said it was "nice to be recognized for a good week that came at a good week for the team," but that baseball is a game of "what have you done for me lately."

Moss received the honor once last year, meaning he now has two of the watches that the winners get. What's he going to do with the second one?

"I don't know," he said. "I don't even wear the first one. I don't wear a watch."

* Catcher Derek Norris was back in the A's clubhouse today having finished his three-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento. Norris went 6-for-14 with two home runs, caught two games and played one as the River Cats' DH.

"Everything felt fine," Norris said. "No complaints with anything, progressing each day, keep treating it and come Thursday we'll see what happens."

Norris called his fractured left big toe "a tolerable annoyance. ... I'm going to feel it. It's a broken bone. But it's not preventing me from doing anything I would do without a broken toe." He said he wasn't sure how the toe would respond to running full-out, but he beat out an infield single in his final game at Sacramento and it "felt OK."

* This series wraps up tomorrow with a marquee pitching matchup: Darvish (12-6, 2.73) against Jarrod Parker (10-6, 3.59). Both were very good in August -- Parker, who has a 17-start unbeaten streak, went 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts. Darvish went 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA and did allow six homers in six starts, but struck out 64 hitters in 43 innings. First pitch at 12:35 p.m.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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