Notes: Kotsay out with strained groin
A's being cautious with playoffs just around the corner
SEATTLE -- Mark Kotsay, who has been struggling with back problems for more than a month, was expected to start Tuesday but was sidelined with a groin strain.Kotsay, who entered Monday's game as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning, injured the leg in his final at-bat in the 10th inning. "You'd like to have all your people every day," manager Ken Macha said. "It's a concern today." It's believed to be a mild strain. But with the postseason on the horizon, the club is being cautious. Kotsay wanted to play Tuesday, but trainer Larry Davis recommended that he sit out at least one game. He'll be reevaluated Wednesday. Macha had intended to use Kotsay on Tuesday against Mariners left-handed starter Jake Woods. Despite the fact that it would be lefty-vs-lefty situation, left-handed hitters have a higher batting average against Woods than right-handers (.298 to .245). Jay Payton started in center Tuesday. Getting Street straight: Closer Huston Street's problem in his ninth-inning blown save Monday was that his deliveries were too good. That means he was generous over the plate. "With the exception of [Greg] Dobbs, which was six inches off the plate, he was too much over the middle," Macha said. Dobbs fought off a pitch to lift a two-out RBI single just over third base. That completed a three-run rally to tie the game at 9. The Mariners won in 10 innings, 10-9. It was Street's 10th blown save and came at a most critical time. Macha said that the coaches are going to look closely at his mechanics, "to make sure he's doing things right. "I remember when [pitching coach] Rick Peterson was here. He said sometimes his emotions would get to him and that affects his command," Macha added. "It's not so much not throwing strikes but being pretty much down the middle. "For a second-year player, he has done exceptionally well. His grooming period was jumping into the hot oil." Scutaro's improvement: One of the more overlooked aspects this past month has been the defense of infielder Marco Scutaro. He was pressed into switching from second base to shortstop last month to replace the injured Bobby Crosby and has held up well. "I would say since he settled in his job, he's done very well," Macha said. "When he first got out there, he needed a little while to get used to what was going on. "He's an excellent second baseman. When he moved over to shortstop, you get in position to throw, and he had some issues with that. But he got that ironed out. He's playing pretty well." Scutaro, who also has filled in for Mark Ellis at second, has played 99 games at three different positions, 59 at shortstop, 32 at second base and eight at third. He made a dazzling play Monday in the third inning, diving to stop a hard grounder by Adrian Beltre. Scutaro flipped the ball to Ellis, who turned the double play. "That was a key play. That particular inning they hit nothing but bullets," Macha said. "That limited the number of runs there. It was a great play. That didn't wind up being the story of the game so ..." Finishing it off: The dynamics of the season change as clubs approach clinching. The A's are going through that. They would like to secure the division title as quickly as possible but their opponents are just as motivated to prevent them. That was the case Monday when the Mariners came back from six runs down. The rally ended a 15-game losing streak to the A's. "I watched the Angels play this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. They were determined not to let that happen," Macha said. "They pitched well. Guys were playing hard. They ran balls out. There's no give-up in that team. "I think the Mariners, because we have done so well to kind of put the kibosh on their season, maybe they want to do the same thing to us." Macha would not have it any other way. "Really, when you look at it, you're playing professional ball. Every night you go full blast,'' he added. "That's the way you should play, 100 percent every night. So whoever wins winds up earning it.'' A's notes: Ichiro Suzuki, sore in his back and knee after Monday's game, did not start. That doesn't make the Mariners better. "I can't remember the exact percentage, like 35, 40 percent, when you get the leadoff man on he ends up scoring,'' Macha said. "So he puts the pressure on you. Plus, he can steal a base. You have to slide step to the plate." Ichiro got on base five times Monday, scoring twice, including the game-winner in the 10th. ... The A's have spent 60 consecutive days in first place. That's the most since 1992, when they had a run of 62 straight. They are assured of breaking that. Up next: The A's closes out the three-game set here Wednesday. Lefty Barry Zito (16-9, 3.89) starts against right-hander Gil Meche(11-8, 4.48).
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.