Brandon Moss

A’s showing opponents that no lead is safe

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Trailing in a game does little to affect the Oakland A’s right now.

They’re operating with supreme offensive confidence, able to overcome deficits with a combination of power, plate discipline and sheer tenacity with each individual at-bat.

It was on display again Wednesday, when they trailed at Yankee Stadium for the second straight night only to come back and notch a victory. This one ended 7-4, as the A’s erased a 4-1 New York lead and ran their winning streak to five games.

[RELATED: Instant Replay: A’s crush it at the plate, beat Yankees 7-4]

In the majors’ most high-profile market, the A’s (37-22) are showing just how they’ve built the American League’s best record. They’re so diverse in the way they can score runs, and that provides a sense that they’re never really out of a game.

To be sure, Oakland’s big boppers have delivered in the first two games of this series. Brandon Moss hit two homers in Tuesday’s 5-2 victory. Yoenis Cespedes added two more Wednesday and Josh Donaldson’s solo shot in the seventh snapped a 4-4 tie.

But it hasn’t just been about the power. The A’s grind out at-bats and draw walks, running up the pitch count and whittling down a pitcher’s patience. Alberto Callaspo didn’t notch a hit in five plate appearances Wednesday, but he turned in two of the most important trips to the plate in the game.

Leading off the fifth, he fell behind 0-2 to Yankees starter Vidal Nuno but battled back for a walk. Callaspo eventually came around to score on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly to cut the A’s deficit to 4-2.

His next at-bat came with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth, with Oakland trailing 4-3. He engaged Matt Thornton in a nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off five consecutive pitches at one point, before lofting a sacrifice fly that tied the game.

That’s been a trait of Callaspo’s in recent games, and it’s winning the switch hitter playing time, whether it’s at first base, second base or designated hitter, as was the case Wednesday.

A’s manager Bob Melvin and hitting coach Chili Davis talk a lot about “passing the baton” and not trying to do too much, allowing teammates to be the heroes. It can sound cliché and hokey, but it also rings true in so many games with the A’s, who lead the majors with 315 runs scored (5.34 per game).

Six different players drove in runs Wednesday, and five different ones scored themselves.

By winning the first two of this three-game series, the A’s go into Thursday’s finale gunning for the sweep against tough right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, but knowing they’ve already captured a series to begin this nine-game road trip.

No doubt, there was more to Wednesday’s story than offense. Right-hander Jesse Chavez shook off a three-run homer he allowed to Jacoby Ellsbury in the third inning and lasted through six. He left things in the hands of a bullpen that has yet to allow a run in 6 2/3 innings this series.

Chavez’s defense also came through for him on his very first hitter, when center fielder Craig Gentry raced into the alley in left-center and made a fearless diving grab to rob Brett Gardner.

It helps when all components of your team are contributing to wins. It also helps when you’ve got so many ways to jump back into a ballgame, as A’s opponents are learning all too well.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.