8/26/2014 1:55 A.M. ET
Knee no bother in Donaldson's three-hit game
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- One day without Josh Donaldson is too many for the A's, who were happy to get their third baseman back in the lineup Monday after an injury scare.
Donaldson did not play in a loss to the Angels on Sunday after undergoing an MRI on his left knee, but the results showed no structural damage, and he managed just fine in an 8-2 win in Houston on Monday, collecting three hits, two of them doubles, and three RBIs. He also stole a base.
"He's the kind of guy that, even if he does have some dings," said manager Bob Melvin, "he's going to try to steal a bag."
"Most nights I'm feeling pretty dinged up, so it's not something I think about too much," Donaldson said. "It's just one of those things, you learn to play with that stuff.
"I hit third in the lineup, so I'd say that's pretty big for any team, so I try to go out there and give it everything I have every day."
Despite batting various injuries this year, none of which have put him on the disabled list, Donaldson has played in a team-high 126 games. And while his average is way down from last year -- 49 points lower -- he remains the A's best all-around player, providing spectacular defense and plenty of run production. He already has 87 RBIs, with five weeks to play, after posting 93 last year.
"I'll give him a massage on his knee if I have to just to get him in there," joked starter Jeff Samardzija, who struck out 10 in eight innings. "He's a tough dude. You can't say enough great things about Josh. Everything's already been said about him that you need to say. He's a gamer, comes to play every day. I love having him in there.
"He's such a big part of our lineup. Not only that, even if he goes 0-for-5, what he brings to the team is priceless. We want him in there every day. We also want him healthy, but it's tough to keep that kid out of the lineup."
O'Flaherty could get call as A's interim closer
HOUSTON -- Injured A's closer Sean Doolittle's temporary replacement was not mentioned by name on Monday, but there's good reason to believe another lefty, Eric O'Flaherty, is the guy for the job, particularly after he warming up for a potential save situation on Monday.
That ended when the A's upped their lead, but O'Flaherty was still brought out for the ninth in an 8-2 win over the Astros.
"Either way, it was good to get him in the ninth inning today," manager Bob Melvin said. "We're still dealing with a guy that's a year-plus off from Tommy John, so you don't want to pump-fake a guy like that in that situation. But just to get out there in the ninth inning and have that feeling is good for him."
Before the game, Melvin hinted that he'd like to keep certain relievers in their set roles. So while setup man Luke Gregerson may have appeared a deserving candidate to assume ninth-inning duties, it seems Melvin would prefer to keep using his services in the eighth.
Moreover, fellow right-handers Ryan Cook and Dan Otero have been handling the sixth and seventh innings with ease, and it's O'Flaherty who has been called on to handle any one of them, depending on the day.
"I'm not going to say who is going to close at this point," Melvin said before Monday's game, "but I do have a guy in mind, and we want to keep some guys in their roles as much as possible. So I'm not prepared to say this is my closer, but we have an idea. I've spoken to the group. They're comfortable with it, and we'll wait and see how today's game plays out."
O'Flaherty has not allowed a run over his last 12 games, a scoreless streak spanning 11 1/3 innings, and he's only given up runs in one of his in 15 total appearances since returning from the disabled list July 3. He has no closing experience and hasn't recorded a save in nine big league seasons, but he is equipped with the ability to get both lefties and righties out, a la Doolittle.
Doolittle was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a right intercostal strain, leaving the A's without their All-Star closer for at least two or three weeks.
Pomeranz start lines up A's big four in Anaheim
HOUSTON -- Plenty of speculation was made in recent days about lefty Drew Pomeranz making a spot start for the A's on Wednesday. Now it's confirmed.
Manager Bob Melvin made the announcement Monday afternoon, making official what the Angels probably don't want to hear, that they'll now have to see the A's top four starters this weekend.
With Jason Hammel and Pomeranz starting the final two games in Houston, the A's will head to Anaheim with Sonny Gray, Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija in line to face the Halos in a crucial four-game set.
"Also, it's about giving some guys that we've been leaning on a bit harder a little bit of extra rest," Melvin said. "Drew's done a nice job for us, so it's definitely a combination of things, but certainly we don't take [the Astros] lightly because they beat us two out of three last time here, and it's a much better team that has given us fits this year."
Pomeranz was 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA in eight starts for the A's before he punched a wooden chair and broke his right hand in June. The lefty rehabbed with Triple-A Sacramento, where he remained once healthy, and is 3-1 with a 3.69 ERA in eight starts for the River Cats.
Pomeranz has already faced the Astros once this year but in a relief role, firing two scoreless innings on April 24.
Soto joins A's eager to work with rotation
HOUSTON -- Veteran catcher Geovany Soto joined the A's in Houston on Monday, just a day after his trade from the Rangers in the wake of John Jaso's concussion symptoms, and is anticipating his first start in green and gold Tuesday.
"It's been a little crazy," said Soto," but I'm looking forward to the opportunity and I'm really glad to be here. I was surprised, but really happy."
That's because he's going from an injury-ridden, last-place Texas club to an A's team that's within range of its third consecutive American League West title.
Count Soto among the army of Rangers players who hit the disabled list this year, having needed surgery on his right knee in Spring Training to repair a torn meniscus. He returned in July, only to suffer a groin injury within days and return to the DL.
"At this point," he said, "I feel great."
When Soto catches starter Jason Hammel in Houston on Tuesday, it will mark just his 11th game of the year. The rest of it has been spent watching from the sidelines, where he's kept an eye on the A's.
"They always play hard, never take an inning off, they're always coming after you," he said. "They just find a way to get on, find a way to get runs, find a way to win. Very impressive."
Soto also raved of the A's pitching staff, saying, "It's the core of this great team. It's going to be special working with them."
Upon Soto's arrival, Jaso was officially placed on the seven-day concussion DL, as expected.
• Injured infielders Nick Punto (right hamstring strain) and Jed Lowrie (fractured finger) made the trip to Houston, signaling encouraging signs in their rehabs.
Punto took batting practice on Monday and has also been taking some ground balls, all the while gradually increasing his running activity.
Lowrie, meanwhile, could potentially begin playing catch in the next couple of days. Once able to do that, he's expected to return to the active roster soon thereafter.
• Outfielder Sam Fuld, who hyperextended his left knee in Sunday's game, was held out of Monday's lineup but was considered potentially available.