MINNEAPOLIS -- The A's might be in a dogfight with the Rangers for control of the AL West, but you won't catch them looking past the Twins, even with a three-game set in Texas next up on the schedule.
That doesn't mean they're completely ignoring the Rangers' fortunes, though. A's players gathered around the television in the clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon and cheered on the Pirates as they knocked off the Rangers in a matinee. But they understand that they have to focus on the task at hand, especially after the Twins won the series opener, 4-3, on Tuesday night.
"I think it just comes down to respect," A's shortstop Jed Lowrie said. "If we lose respect for the process, if we lose respect for the guys who are out there trying to beat us on any particular day, then you can be taken advantage of. We need to worry about Texas when we get to Arlington, and not forget that the guys here on the other side of the field are going to try to beat us."
A Major League season can be a long grind, and it's certainly tempting to look into the future to the head-to-head matchup with the Rangers, who trailed the A's by three games going into Thursday's game. But manager Bob Melvin has made it a priority to ensure his players resist that temptation.
"It probably starts with me. I talk about that quite a bit," Melvin said. "I mean, the players understand that, too. It's just the way we are, and it's the way we've been the last couple years.
"We play everybody the same. We don't take anybody lightly, and we don't overlook anybody to another series. One of the things this team has done very well since I've been here is just worry about winning today's game. We'll total them all up in the end. We really don't look too far ahead."
The Twins are the only team outside the AL West remaining on Oakland's schedule. After the conclusion of the series vs. the Rangers, the A's will host the Angels for three games and then Minnesota in a four-game set beginning on Sept. 19. Otherwise, all that remains are three against the Angels in Anaheim and three at Seattle to end the season.
However, Oakland's unfamiliarity with the Twins, who are missing injured catcher Joe Mauer and traded first baseman Justin Morneau to Pittsburgh on Aug. 31, provides added incentive for the A's to keep their eye on the ball against Minnesota.
"It's enough to try to prepare for these guys -- you don't see them all year, and the first time you play them, it's with expanded rosters," Melvin said. "It's tough to get up to speed on this team, let alone look ahead to another team."
In career year, Lowrie gives A's consistency, versatility
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jed Lowrie hasn't needed much help hitting doubles this season, although it took an umpire conference on Wednesday night to verify his 43rd two-bagger of the year.
Lowrie's doubles mark ranks second in the American League entering play Thursday, and he leads the AL with 20 doubles since the All-Star break. He almost missed out on his latest, however, after first-base umpire Bill Miller called his line drive a foul ball in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 18-3 win at Target Field.
Miller had to leap out of the way of Lowrie's smash, and because he didn't get a good look at it, he asked for help from the rest of the crew. There was also visual evidence that it was fair.
"There was a ball mark on the line, and I think that's why they got together, because Bill realized it was a fair ball," Lowrie said.
Lowrie was awarded a double, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected arguing the ruling, but Lowrie disputes the notion that the double should be considered "disputed." In his mind, the ball was a hit, and what matters is the umpires showing a willingness to deliberate and get it right.
"My initial reaction was that I couldn't believe he called it foul," said Lowrie, who argued briefly before A's manager Bob Melvin took up the cause. "I also understand that his reaction is to get out of the way of a ball like that, and he's just making his best guess. It's just an impossible call. So after my initial reaction, all I can do is wait to see if they're going to get together and change their mind."
In the midst of a career season after arriving in a trade with Houston in the offseason, the 29-year-old shortstop has already topped his career-best RBI mark with 66. He entered Thursday's game hitting .287 and has been a fixture for the A's after not having played more than 97 games in a season before 2013.
"I think I've had a pretty consistent approach all year," Lowrie said. "I've had a few ups and downs, but have been pretty consistent all year. I've been in a good routine and been getting results this year."
Melvin said he appreciates the flexibility provided by Lowrie, who has hit mostly second or third in the order, but has started at least one game in each of the top seven spots in the batting order.
"He's probably the most versatile guy in our lineup with where you can hit him," Melvin said. "He understands the approach in any particular spot, so wherever I hit him, I know I'm going to get a guy in that spot that has an understanding of how to do it."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.