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September 02, 2012

Rangers well aware of hot A's

Joe Nathan joked the other day that he doesn’t think Oakland is going to lose another game this season. It might not be a joke by the end of the season.

Yes, the A’s are for real and are the hottest team in baseball with a month left. They have put themselves in position to push the Texas Rangers for the American League West title.

Oakland has won 10 of its last 11, and pulled to within three games of Texas on Saturday.

“It’s been impressive to watch what they’ve done and they’re obviously on fire right now,” David Murphy said. “They’re hungry. They’re motivated. They’re having fun and have put themselves in a great spot to be in the postseason.”

Murphy said not many people would have considered the A’s contenders before the season given how their roster was constructed, but they have young talent and pitching that appears to be holding up.

Not even losing veteran starter Bartolo Colon to a performance-enhancing drug suspension last month has slowed them down. Brett Anderson, coming back from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, has stepped in and pitched well.

“They’re not a team that on paper you would be extremely impressed with, but you can’t measure heart and they have a lot of it,” Murphy said.

Said manager Ron Washington: “Three letters – hot. They’re hot. They’ve done well and they’ve gelled. And they got a good manager.

“As of Sept. 2, they’re three games out so you’ve got to figure they’re real. We’ll know how real they are when 162 is over. That’s the season, 162.”

The A’s have gone 9-1 over their last 10 games, while the Rangers are 7-3. Washington will take 7-3 over a 10-game stretch all the time. If it’s not enough to hold off the A’s, Washington said, he’ll tip his cap to them.

“If every 10 games they can go 9-1, they deserve it,” Washington said. “Can they keep that pace up? We’ll find out. We got seven with them, so we’re going to find out.”

The Rangers and Athletics have a four-game series in Arlington from Sept. 24-27, and then wrap up the regular season with three games at Oakland from Oct. 1-3.

“But the only thing we’re concerned about is Cleveland today,” Washington said. “We’re going to get our seven times and we’ll see what happens but we’re not going to get ahead until we start playing.”

Here are a few other pregame notes:

* Washington reiterated that Scott Feldman will remain in the rotation. However, it could have been in jeopardy if Feldman allowed one more hit in the first inning Saturday. Washington said he was going to pull Feldman if the Indians collected a fifth hit in the opening inning.

* Teams have been implementing a shift against Mitch Moreland lately, but Ron Washington doesn’t want Moreland to alter his approach. “I want him to approach the shift with confidence he can hit through it or over it,” Washington said. “Once he starts changing his style, then they’ve won.”

* Reliever Mark Lowe said he has no physical issues and is available. He hasn’t pitched since Aug. 25, but Ron Washington said there haven’t been opportunities for Lowe. Washington had Koji Uehara work the eighth inning Saturday to get “the bad taste out of his mouth” after giving up a two-run homer Friday.

-- Drew Davison

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