A loss, but Oak­land looks ahead

San Francisco Chronicle - - SPORTING GREEN - By Matt Kawa­hara

If the next month un­folds as the A’s hope, Tues­day night might’ve of­fered a glimpse of sce­nar­ios to come.

Win their first­round play­off se­ries at home and the A’s could be back at Dodger Sta­dium in two weeks for the AL Di­vi­sion Se­ries. Ad­vance fur­ther and they could see the Dodgers, own­ers of the ma­jors’ best record, again in Ar­ling­ton,

Texas.

For now, though, a 7­2 loss sim­ply gave the AL West cham­pion A’s an up­close look at a Na­tional League force with a re­cent his­tory of deep post­sea­son runs.

The Dodgers hit four home runs, three off right­han­der Frankie Mon­tas, rais­ing their ma­jors­lead­ing to­tal to 104 while lock­ing up the NL West ti­tle. Rookie right­han­der

Dustin May, fir­ing 99 mph fast­balls, and five re­liev­ers held the A’s to five hits, with Rob­bie Gross­man’s solo homer the only one to drive in a run. In a rar­ity, Gold Glove first base­man Matt Ol­son com­mit­ted his first er­ror this year, lead­ing to an un­earned run.

The A’s have yet to name a ro­ta­tion for their first­round se­ries, but right now it’s hard to see Mon­tas as a top­three op­tion. Over his past six starts, Mon­tas has a 10.86 ERA in 24 in­nings with 10 home runs al­lowed. Max Muncy hit a two­run homer off Mon­tas in the third in­ning Tues­day and Chris Tay­lor and AJ Pol­lock added solo shots in the fourth. Corey Sea­ger had a first­in­ning RBI sin­gle off Mon­tas and a solo homer off re­liever T.J. Mc­far­land.

Muncy’s homer fol­lowed a two­out bloop sin­gle by Sea­ger that fell in front of Mark Canha, who started in cen­ter field with Ramón Lau­re­ano get­ting a day off. With the A’s clinch­ing the di­vi­sion and a first­round home se­ries Mon­day, man­ager Bob Melvin opted to rest Lau­re­ano and start Tommy La Stella at des­ig­nated hit­ter to “get him off his feet.”

The A’s en­tered Tues­day as the No. 3 team in the AL stand­ings, a half­game be­hind the No. 2 seed White Sox. Melvin, though, said he doesn’t view play­ing for a higher seed as a main pri­or­ity given the depth of the AL field: “I think it’s just as much try­ing to cre­ate a win­ning at­mos­phere and mak­ing sure ev­ery­body has the proper rest.”

“You may see days off for sev­eral guys com­ing up,” Melvin said pregame. “We’ll ba­si­cally play it day­to­day on what we feel like we need to do.”

In this most un­usual sea­son, the A’s clinched their first di­vi­sion ti­tle since 2013 while in their Los Angeles­area ho­tel Mon­day night and didn’t cel­e­brate much as a group be­cause of health pro­to­cols. Util­i­ty­man Chad Pin­der said “you could hear some yells down the hall­way” when the Astros lost at Seat­tle to seal the West. Melvin said the A’s held a meet­ing be­fore Tues­day’s game to rec­og­nize the di­vi­sion win.

“You’ve got to cel­e­brate these kinds of things in any way that you can,” starter

Sean Manaea said, but “I feel like we’ve got a lot more work to do and a lot more cel­e­brat­ing.”

Manaea, who started the wild­card loss to Tampa Bay last year, said fac­ing the Dodgers in the fi­nal week should be a gauge for the A’s and him­self — he’ll pitch Wed­nes­day. As of Tues­day, the A’s had faced two teams with records of .500 or bet­ter this sea­son, the Astros and Padres.

“Next time we see them might be in the World Se­ries,” Manaea said. “They’re not an AL team, so it’s just dif­fer­ent. But they’re just still a very, very good ball­club.”

“You may see days off for sev­eral guys com­ing up. We’ll ba­si­cally play it day­to­day on what we feel like we need to do.”

Bob Melvin

Harry How / Getty Im­ages

Frankie Mon­tas re­acts af­ter giv­ing up a two­run home run to Max Muncy. The A’s starter gave up three homers Tues­day.

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