BALTIMORE -- A's manager Bob Melvin said a team gets a good grasp of where it stands at the 100-game mark.
The A's played game No. 100 on Saturday night, and they celebrated the milestone with a 6-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The win illustrated why they have become not only a wild-card contender but also a serious player in the American League West race.
The A's got another standout pitching effort, with Bartolo Colon (7-8) and two relievers coming within two outs of a shutout. They got an electrifying all-around performance from Yoenis Cespedes, their most talented player, and contributions from bit players such as Eric Sogard, who started at shortstop and contributed two hits and an RBI.
The A's (55-45) are 10 games over .500 for the first time this season and are only 31/2 games out of first place in the A.L. West. Incredibly, they have gained 91/2 games on first-place Texas in less than a month.
How good is it right now for Oakland? Take it from Colon, a 15-year veteran who has pitched for seven teams.
"I've played with different teams that went to the playoffs," he said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "But to see this team and the way it's playing, it's the most fun I've had."
Melvin is impressed with the valleys his team has avoided.
"We've been able to not just go through a five- or six-game stretch where we play and then have a few bad games in a row," Melvin said. "We've been able
The A's are 18-3 in July, and they need only win once in their final three games of the month to clinch the best July performance in franchise history based on winning percentage. They went 26-7 (. 788) in 1931, and a 19-5 record would put them at .792.
Though different players seem to be stepping up every night, Cespedes showed Saturday what a singular talent he is.
He hit a two-run home run in the fourth to put the A's on the board, reaching for an outside slider from Tommy Hunter (4-6) and pulling it deep into the left-field seats.
He then showed his speed in legging out an RBI triple in the eighth. And after Coco Crisp left in the eighth because of a tight hamstring, Cespedes shifted from left to center and made a sensational running catch to rob Omar Quintanilla in the eighth -- perhaps his finest defensive play of the season.
"That's why they paid him what they paid him," second baseman Jemile Weeks said. "He hits homers, he's got speed, a strong arm. He's got five tools, and he displayed them all."
Cespedes always puts on a batting practice show, and on his final swing in the cage, he hit a homer to dead center that longtime Orioles observers estimated in the 460- to 470-foot range.
Melvin always pitches to Cespedes in batting practice. Did he think that was Cespedes' longest drive of the year?
"Well," Melvin said, "it was the longest one today."
"I feel a lot more comfortable now (in left)," he said through Prieto. "But at the same time, I see some balls that make trouble for me."
Reddick said he lost his breath briefly but that his head and neck felt OK after the collision.
"Looking back, it didn't look as bad as it felt," Reddick said. "But I've never been scared like that before."
In a nod to the highlight catch he made in Toronto -- when Reddick climbed the right-field fence and hung on to make the play -- someone brought a Spider-Man costume to the clubhouse Saturday. Reddick wore it around the clubhouse.
His addition would provide depth and give the A's flexibility in case they had a Kurt Suzuki trade brewing, though Suzuki's name has been quiet in rumors lately.
Sending catcher Derek Norris to the minors is another option.
Given that Anderson has been sidelined for more than a year, assume McCarthy will be ready to rejoin the major league rotation first.
Left-hander Dallas Braden, out all season because of complications from shoulder surgery, was set to face hitters for the first time Friday, but he strained his left groin during a warm-up pitch and had to stop.