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Two first-time All-Stars set to shine for A's

MLB.com @JaneMLB

The A's are riding high, emerging from the first half as perhaps the sweetest surprise story in baseball and set to return from the break as a legitimate contender.

Nevermind that they've been forced to use 12 different starting pitchers on account of an injury bug. After putting together an MLB-best 21-6 record to finish out the first half, the A's are within just three games of the second American League Wild Card spot much thanks to a deep lineup and blistering backend of the bullpen.

The A's are riding high, emerging from the first half as perhaps the sweetest surprise story in baseball and set to return from the break as a legitimate contender.:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::

Nevermind that they've been forced to use 12 different starting pitchers on account of an injury bug. After putting together an MLB-best 21-6 record to finish out the first half, the A's are within just three games of the second American League Wild Card spot much thanks to a deep lineup and blistering backend of the bullpen.

Leading the way: All-Stars Jed Lowrie and Blake Treinen, who gathered with their peers in Washington, D.C., on Monday in preparation for Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. The game, held at Nationals Park, will be live on FOX at 4:30 p.m. PT.

Lowrie, the lineup stabilizer, embodies the very professionalism these A's have exuded during their hot stretch. The 11-year-veteran is like a magnet in this clubhouse; the team's youngsters watch his every move.

He's a marvel at the plate, this year batting .285 with a .357 on-base percentage and .492 slugging percentage. Already, he's matched his season high for home runs (16), many in the clutch. The 11-year veteran excels in such situations, batting .381 with nine homers in the seventh inning or later.

Video: OAK@CLE: Lowrie drills solo HR for 100th hit of 2018

"Just his ability to take the at-bat he wants to take every single time, it's incredible," A's third baseman Matt Chapman said. "No matter how big the situation is or what the score is, we could be getting blown out or there could be bases loaded and two outs, and he takes the same kind of at-bat. He takes the at-bat he wants to take.

"He's always there if you want to watch video or pick his brain about something. He can put it in terms that we understand. He's so smart. Sometimes I feel like he's smarter than the pitcher and the game. He knows what guys are going to throw. Through experience, and just being a smart guy in general, he can dumb it down for us. I assume not everyone knows how special Jed is, but he's definitely one of the most underrated players in my opinion."

Added A's manager Bob Melvin: "He's been a great resource for these guys. They take a lot from Jed -- how he goes about his business, how he prepares for games, the work he puts in inside the cage that not everybody sees. They flock to him. They ask him a lot about the game, and he really embraces it."

For Lowrie, who has accomplished much in his career, including setting an Oakland record last season with 49 doubles, an All-Star nod alluded him until now.

"I think especially at this point in my career, it's my 11th season, the dedication, the work, the time, I don't think words do it justice," Lowrie said. "It's going to be thrilling. It's something I'll be able to say for the rest of my life."

The 30-year-old Treinen, who leads American League relievers with a 0.94 ERA and has locked down 24 saves in his first full season as Oakland's closer, is equally appreciative. His work, coupled with setup man Lou Trivino's sterling efforts, has been critical to the team's success.

Video: OAK@SF: Treinen fans the side to preserve the win

"It's hard to believe a little bit," Treinen said. "I look back on my path and all of the obstacles, I've been very blessed beyond my wildest dreams to have the opportunities and the doors that have opened up in my life, especially in baseball. I just feel very honored, for my family, for my teammates, for everyone along the way who has supported me for this moment. I want to take the time to enjoy it and have my family enjoy it with me."

While watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX on Tuesday, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics, Jed Lowrie, Blake Treinen