Notes: For A's, character is key
Macha points to his team's 'makeup' to explain recent success
MINNEAPOLIS -- All year, A's manager Ken Macha has been saying that the strength of his team is its "makeup," or its character.
It's what helped them maintain an even keel during the dark days of May, he's said, and it's what's kept them from getting too high on themselves during the salad days of July and early August.
His players agree. The starting pitching has been generally great, the bullpen solid, the offense good and the defense reliable, but the one-day-at-a-time attitude of the team has been a constant.
"We don't really stand out in any area," veteran designated hitter Scott Hatteberg said Wednesday before the A's took on the Twins in the third game of a four-game series. "So makeup, yeah, that sounds about right. Makeup, resilience, whatever you want to call it."
"Hands down, I'd say makeup," added lefty Barry Zito. "I don't think we're more talented than any team. What makes us different is that we're so tenacious. We just keep coming at you, whether it's over the course or the season or one game. We have this relentlessness."
Said third baseman Eric Chavez: "I'd go with makeup, too. We've got a bunch of guys who are gritty, hard-nosed ballplayers that just love to play the game."
Reliever Jay Witasick, who has been with the team for less than a month, picked up on that vibe right away.
"The room has a certain feel to it," he said. "There's a lot of guys who fit in because they approach things the same way. Everyone plays hard, everyone gets along. Another word for it, I think, could be maturity. There's a lot of young guys here, but you've got veteran guys like [Jason] Kendall and [Mark] Kotsay who have aided their development, and you have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff here, too.
"It's just a great place to play. Great guys, great attitude."
Added Macha, "In April and May, I told them, 'Everybody prepare, go out and play hard.' Now I tell them, 'Everybody prepare, go out and play hard.'"
Allergic reaction: Thanks to an unidentified allergy that started bothering him last week in Oakland, Chavez has been carrying large bags under his eyes for the past five days.
"I have no idea what it is, and neither do the trainers or doctors," said Chavez, who was seen by the Twins' doctor on Wednesday. "It's weird. You'd think that if it started in Oakland, it wouldn't bother me out here, but it hasn't gone away or gotten any better."
Chavez, who drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Tuesday's win and was batting .333 over the 10 games prior to Wednesday, said the allergy makes his head "feel a little funky" but doesn't affect his vision or his play.
"It's just something I have to deal with, I guess," he said. "It'd be nice if someone could tell me what it is, but for now I'm just taking Claritin, and that's not working."
Dribblers: Mark Kotsay and Bobby Kielty, the bad-back brothers, started in the outfield together for the first time since July 22 in Texas. Outfielder Jay Payton, who went hitless in eight at-bats in the first two games of the Twins series, did not start for the first time since that same day. ... Rookie closer Huston Street, who was a batter away from getting into all three games of the weekend series against the Tigers and closed the first two games here, was not expected to pitch Wednesday. "We'll see how he feels and let the game situation dictate what we do," Macha said before the game. "I'd like to give him the day off." ... Cliff Pennington, Oakland's top pick in the June draft, had a total of six hits and six stolen bases at Class A Kane County in his two games prior to Wednesday. ... Triple-A Sacramento right-hander Seth Etherton, who spent some time in the A's rotation earlier this year, improved to 7-5 with a 2.64 ERA when he beat Nashville on Tuesday.
Up next: AL Pitcher of the Month Zito (10-8, 3.72 ERA) takes on Twins righty Kyle Lohse (7-10, 4.49) on Thursday in matinee finale of the four-game series at 11:10 a.m. PT on Thursday.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.