Athletics Play on Wednesday, but it's not Clear if Oakland Will Opt to Play Thursday

Members of the Oakland Athletics considered joining the protest over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., but ultimately decided there wasn't enough time to make that decision. The players will talk again Thursday about playing or not.
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On a night when six other Major League teams opted against playing as their way of protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., the A’s went ahead and played and beat the Texas Rangers 3-1.

It wasn’t a decision taken lightly. And, in fact, there is a chance that the A’s may opt against playing in the series finale Thursday in Arlington, Texas, for the same reason as the ones put forward by the teams and leagues that decided not to play Wednesday.

To hear manager Bob Melvin tell it, the decision to go ahead was made because the club wanted to be united in its decision, and there wasn’t enough time to get together and fully consider it. The A’s were limited in that regard by being in the Central Time Zone when news came that the Reds and Brewers weren’t going to play and that the entire NBA and WNBA shut down their postseason play for a day.

“We did (have a discussion),” Melvin said. “You know, it was really close to game time, and we decided to play. I did give the option for anybody who didn’t feel comfortable playing not to play.

“But it was kind of too rushed when it came to us before we got together and everybody was pretty united, was united, in playing.”

The Giants and Dodgers and the Mariners and Padres joined the Brewers and Reds in not playing.

Any decision Thursday may or may not be made in concert with the Rangers.

"We had some internal discussions," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said of the decision to play. "I talked to a few of our African American players and our coaching staff as well. We all felt we were comfortable going out and playing.”

"Up until about 6:45 I guess it was maybe in doubt. I talked to Bob Melvin personally and they said they were going to go. He was going to honor if somebody didn't want to play. He was going to honor their personal decision. But as a group, they said they were going to play."

The A’s only got five hits, but they got plenty pitching from Mike Fiers, who threw six innings with only one unearned run scored against him, and from the bullpen of Joakim Soria, Jake Diekman and Liam Hendriks, who finished out the final three innings scoreless, stretching its scoreless streak to 24.1 innings.

But the shooting of Blake, who has been hospitalized after taking seven shots in his back, following the death of George Floyd under a policeman’s knee that was caught of video apparently wasn’t far from the thoughts of the A’s.

None of the players made themselves available for the video conference call that has been typical in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic, instead deferring to Thursday when a game may or may not be played.

“We’re going to talk about it more as a group,” Melvin said, “Extensively as a group.”

For a team that didn’t get its first hit until the sixth inning and finished with just five hits overall, the A’s did a good job Wednesday night of making the most out of what little they had in beating the rangers to extend Oakland’s AL-best record to 22-10.

It wasn’t supposed to be as difficult a win as it turned out to be; the A’s came into the game against Texas left-hander Kolby Allard with a 7-0 record in games started by lefties. For five innings, however, a walked and an error produced the

Stephen Piscotty broke up Allard’s no-hit bid with a first-pitch single in the first inning. When he did, he may have broken Allard’s heart, but he certainly broke up the shutout. The hit came with the bases loaded and tied the game at 1-all in an inning.

That was the end for Allard, and a second run scoring when reliever Luis Garcia bounced a wild pitch to the backstop.

Oakland would load the bases on three hits in the eighth inning, then added a run when Robbie Grossman was hit by a pitch – the American League-leading 25th time the A’s have had a batter hit this season.

Fiers turned in perhaps his best start of the year, although he was in trouble a couple of times. A two-out single and walk was a problem he adverted in the first. In the third, catcher Sean Murphy and second baseman Franklin Barreto couldn’t connect when Murphy tried to throw out the trailing runner on a double steal, and the resultant throwing error put Texas in a 1-0 lead.

Only one more batter would reach base off Fiers.

“He’s gotten better every start, and today was by far his best,” Melvin said of Fiers, who is 24-7 since joining the A’s in the middle of 2018.”

The A’s are 19-6 in August, which is the best record in the big leagues. The 19 wins are the most for any A’s team in the last 14 years since going 21-6 in 2006. The last time Oakland won 19 games in any month was September of 2013, when they A’s were 19-8.

Is the club on a roll?

“It doesn’t feel like rolling, but we find different ways to win,” Melvin said, “which is great. And it’s been for the most part for us homers, but defense plays in close games, our bullpens been lights-out this year and we love our starters. Some big-time players probably haven’t hit their stride yet offensively, but we’re doing just enough to win games.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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