Once again, the A's pulled out a victory in spite of their offensive inefficiencies, and in doing so, they bolstered their lead over the Orioles for the second Wild Card spot to three games.
The A's won 2-1 in Baltimore on Saturday and will look to clinch the series on Sunday, when star rookie Sonny Gray takes the mound opposite Scott Feldman. Gray stymied the Mariners in his last start, allowing two runs in seven innings with seven strikeouts, but took a no-decision after the A's bullpen faltered in the eighth. The 23-year-old has a 1.44 ERA in his five big league appearances (including three starts).
"He pitched great again, it's good to see," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Gray, who's begun his Major League career with 27 strikeouts in 25 innings. "He's got some presence out there, and certainly has the stuff."
Feldman picked up the win against the Rockies his last time out, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing two runs. He scattered five hits and struck out three, retiring nine of the first 10 he faced, and cruising through most of the afternoon before hitting some trouble in the seventh.
The A's still own the second Wild Card spot, but the Orioles are right on their heels, trailing by only three games after Saturday. Oakland was 2 1/2 games behind Boston, which trailed Tampa Bay by mere percentage points for first place in the American League East, for the top Wild Card spot.
A's: Crisp could be key cog in stretch run
The offense for Oakland sometimes seems to feed off leadoff man Coco Crisp, and that was certainly the case on Saturday.
He hit the go-ahead home run in the ninth inning of Saturday's 2-1 win against the Orioles, and in Friday's series opener, Crisp tied a career high with four hits, including a homer and three runs. He's hit a home run in three straight games.
A's manager Bob Melvin remains confident his team will win more games than it loses when the bats are clicking, especially when Crisp gets on base.
"Coco is our table setter," Melvin said. "When Coco plays well we seem to fall in behind him. We put up runs like that, we usually win those games."
Orioles: Gausman could be called up before September
Top prospect Kevin Gausman, who is expected to be one of the Orioles' September callups, could join the big league club earlier than that.
Manager Buck Showalter hinted at such a scenario prior to Saturday's game, with Gausman -- who would likely work out of the bullpen -- perhaps joining Baltimore prior to his next start for Triple-A Norfolk, scheduled for Monday night. The Orioles start a three-city road trip on Tuesday that opens in Boston, with stops in New York and Cleveland, and one possibility -- given Monday's off-day -- would be to send out a current starter and have the potential to get him back without missing a start.
• Five of the A's last 11 games have been decided by one run (they are 3-2).
• With Friday's win, the Orioles clinched their first season series win over Oakland since 1998.
• The Orioles are 20-12 against the AL West this season, while Oakland is 14-14 against the AL East.
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.