The A's were 15 games under .500 (17-32) on May 29 last season and rebounded to finish 88-74. This season, injuries, more than youth, have affected the team. With injured players such as pitchers Rich Harden, Jay Witasick and Esteban Loaiza and outfielder Milton Bradley returning from injuries, it could be time for the A's to get hot again.
"It hurts that Mark [Ellis] is out [with a broken thumb], but Marco [Scutaro] always does an awesome job at second base when he's in there," Crosby said. "It will really help to get the other guys back."
Right-hander Justin Duchscherer (elbow tendinitis) has played catch at Triple-A Sacramento, but a timetable for his return has not been set.
"Getting Rich back is huge," pitcher Barry Zito said. "Now we have Jay back, and hopefully Duch will be back soon. Plus, we have Milton back, so that will help the offense."
Bradley, out since April 27, returned to the lineup Wednesday night and batted sixth. The switch-hitter, who had been sidelined by knee and oblique injuries, is batting .246 with three homers and eight RBIs.
Bradley's return was big news in Cleveland. The Indians traded him to the Dodgers prior to the 2004 season after a run-in with manager Eric Wedge. Manager Ken Macha said his relationship with Bradley has been fine so far.
"He's very intense," Macha said. "He plays hard. He leaves it all on the field. He wants to win."
The return of Bradley, who played every day before he was injured, means Macha will have to do some lineup juggling. Bobby Kielty, 9-for-27 with four homers lifetime against Paul Byrd, started in left field Wednesday night. Dan Johnson, whose eighth-inning single drove in the winning run Tuesday night, didn't start.
"I hate to get Johnson out of there," Macha said. "He's starting to swing the bat a little and he won the game for us."
Third baseman Eric Chavez was a late scratch Wednesday night because of lower back tightness. His two-run homer off Scott Sauerbeck in the eighth inning tied Tuesday night's game. Crosby was moved from fifth to third in the lineup. Antonio Perez started at third and batted ninth.
Macha thought a key moment in Tuesday night's game came in the seventh when Zito retired Eduardo Perez to end the inning. After Victor Martinez singled to increase the Indians' lead to 6-4, Macha went to the mound, with what appeared to be the hook. Instead of calling on right-hander Kiko Calero, which would have led to the Indians pinch-hitting Ben Broussard for Perez, Macha stayed with Zito, who got out of the inning with a popup.
"I thought that's the biggest out Barry got," Macha said. "He probably thought I was going to bring the right-hander in there. I think he was getting ready to leave. I didn't want Broussard hitting against the right-hander there."
Calero and Huston Street retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth innings Tuesday night.
"We got good work out the bullpen," Macha said. "It was six up and six down."
Left-hander Joe Kennedy (shoulder tendinitis) was scheduled to see noted orthopedist Dr. Frank Jobe in Los Angeles. Kennedy has been on the DL since May 11.
Better sleep quickly:
Thursday's series finale starts at 12:05 p.m. ET, meaning it will actually be a 9:05 a.m. PT first pitch for the A's, who have only been in the Eastern time zone since Monday night.
"That's almost cruel and unusual punishment," Macha said.
The series ends Thursday at 9:05 a.m. PT as Loaiza (0-3, 8.35 ERA) faces right-hander Jason Johnson (3-5, 5.92 ERA).