Oakland A’s podcast with Jerry Feitelberg: A’s rolling good enough to catch Houston in second half

Photo credit: bleacherreport.com

On the A’s podcast with Jerry Feitelberg:

#1 Jerry, the A’s are opening the second half of the season with a record of 50-41. They for a good part of the first half were a team in last place in the A.L. West. What were some of the factors that lifted them out of the cellar to second place and just seven games out of first place?

#2 The A’s have been getting some great offensive help, but it’s looking up and down that lineup with some of the key bats and key support that they’ve got that have helped the along the way.

#3 Going into the second half, the A’s will continue to try and figure their nemesis, the Houston Astros. The Astros are chalked with talent up and down their lineup, the A’s face the Astros in a couple of weeks, and when that time comes, the Astros will be an important series.

#4 The A’s are in need to get some starting pitching they won’t get Jharel Cotton is reportedly developing well on his come back while Daniel Mengden, who made a comeback, threw an outstanding game on his return to the A’s.

#5 Second half of the season getting ready to get started the A’s are opening things up hosting the Chicago White Sox on Friday night. For the Sox, Ivan Nova (4-7, 5.58 ERA), and for Oakland, Mike Fiers (8-3, 3.87 ERA).

Jerry Feitelberg does the A’s podcasts each Thursday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Oakland A’s Feature: Home and Away

Photo credit: Sports Graphic Number of Bungeishunjū Ltd.

By Lewis Rubman
SRS Contributor
March 17, 2019

OAKLAND — MLB is a game of ambivalence, paradox, constant decision making, and frequent boredom, interspersed with excitement, tension, and brief flashes of indescribable beauty, in which young men with short careers toil in their craft or sullen art, slogging through a season.

Grinding it out over 162 games whose venues extend from St. Petersburg, Fla., to Seattle and from Miami to San Francisco, after which the six division champions and four wild-card teams play three elimination rounds, which can consist of as many as 13 games, before the two remaining team face off against each other in the World Series, which, in turn, can last another four to seven games.

Games are played in four different time zones, and afternoon games often are played the day after night games, which can last into early morning, as we saw this past week end in SF. All this can wreak havoc with the players’ timing, and baseball isn’t just a game of inches; it’s also a game of split seconds. The six weeks of spring training that teams spend preparing for this ordeal, while necessary to get the squads into playing shape, also adds to the burden of weariness they accumulate over the season.

West Coast teams in the AL suffer more than any others from this grueling schedule. Not only must they fly across the continent to reach Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay, but the distance between the three west coast AL cities is intimidating. It’s roughly 795 miles from SeaTac Airport to Oakland International Airport and another 410 miles or so to John Wayne Airport in Orange County. (It’s 185 from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Logan International Airport in Boston).

So, when the A’s and Mariners decided to interrupt their spring training this year to play a two-game, regular season series in Tokyo—with a 16-hour time difference across the international date line, 5,140 and 4,700 miles distant from Oakland and Seattle, respectively—it raised several questions about how this would effect the teams’ quality of play in Japan, when they got back to the states, and as the season progressed.

These notes don’t pretend to answer—or even ask—all of those questions. Rather, they are intended to offer some suggestions, facts, impressions, and opinions that can contribute the discussion.

In Japan, Oakland looked flat; Seattle did not. In the March 20 opener, A’s starter Mike Fiers coughed up an early two run lead and left trailing 3-2 after the third inning, having throwing 58 pitches, 40 of them in that fatidic frame. Liam Hendrick’s wildness cost him a run in his one inning, the fourth, and Ryan Dull surrendered three runs (two on a home run by Tim Beckham) in the two-thirds of an inning he struggled through.

The final score of 9-7, Seattle, showed that both teams’ hitters were ahead of the pitchers. The A’s lost the second game, 5-4, in 12 innings. The M’s scored what proved to be the winning run after Jurickson Profar took Marcus Semien’s high throw at second, leaped and threw to first while in the air, pulling Jay Bruce off the bag in a failed double play attempt that, if successful, would have closed down the frame.

Seattle, on the other hand, looked sharp. Hunter Strickland saved both games, and Ryon Healy sparkled on defense and hit a double and a homer in the second.

Although Oakland was officially the home team, emotionally, this was Seattle’s home (or home coming) opening series. Nintendo was the majority owner of the franchise from 1992 to 2016, which greatly increased the M’s following in Japan, not least because the team established a pattern of hiring Japanese players. Yusei Kiikuchi, the lefty who started the second game for Seattle, went 15-5, 3.04 ERA for the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Japanese Pacific League last year.

The crowd was with him on every pitch. And then, of course, there was the Ichiro factor. Seattle’s ageless star announced his long-anticipated retirement after the end of the series, followed by a long and emotional tribute. The series had been billed as the MGM-MLB Opening Series, which rings hollow even here and rang hollower still in Tokyo. A knowledgeable Japanese friend had to ask me what business MGM was in.

This cover from Japan’s leading sports magazine, Sports Graphic, with its title, “Ichiro Opening 2019,” sums up the Japanese view of the series:


The trans Pacific jaunt obviously didn’t hurt the Mariners’ performance while abroad. Going into tonight’s play, they have gone 11-7, a half-game behind Houston, who completed a three-game sweep of them over the weekend. But haven’t had to travel east of Chicago, and they seem to be in a tailspin.

Meanwhile, the A’s have struggled to hit their stride. They are 11-8 outside of Japan, with seven of the wins and three of the loses coming at home. Monday was their first day of rest after 18 straight days of work (unless you consider sitting around club house for hours on end waiting for it to stop raining in Arlington on Saturday night a day off).

In that period, the team traveled 5,550 miles and went through seven hours of time zone changes On the bright side, Khris Davis came out of it leading the majors with 10 home runs, and Profar seems to have overcome his distressing unevenness in the field.

Or at least it seemed so before he committed an unforced throwing error in the top of the second tonight. He also seems to have turned the corner in his hitting, having raised his average from .106 on April 7 to .200 after tonight’s game. The numbers are ugly, but the trend is hopeful. And it was his RBI double in the bottom of that same second inning that gave the A’s the first of their two runs in tonight’s 2-1 victory over Houston.

The Oakland bullpen, considered one of the best, has performed unevenly. Treinen, Hendricks, Trevino, and Petit have ERAs ranging from 0.79 to 1.42, with only one loss and one blown save (both charged to Treinen), including the Tokyo games. On the other end of the scale, the veteran Joakim Soria, who lost one of the games in Japan and posted a 15.00 ERA, has lost another game since then, although he has brought his ERA down to still unsatisfactory 9.72.

The well-traveled and extremely experienced Fernando Rodney pitched 1 2/3 innings over two games in Tokyo, surrendering only one hit. Since then, he has lost one game and seen his ERA balloon to 10.29. Ryan Dull had a disastrous outing against Seattle, surrendering three earned runs on a walk, a double, and home run in two-thirds of an inning. He has had more success since being reassigned to Las Vegas, where he has one save in five appearances and has yet to surrender a run.

As for the starters, Fiers, after his brief appearance in the Dome—whose hard surface, all-dirt infield is no help to pitchers or fielders—came back to get the win with a five inning, no run, one hit stint against the Angels in the Coliseum on March 28 only to give up a combined 14 hits and twelve runs, all earned, in 6 2/3 innings against in Houston and Arlington during the A’s stops in Texas.

Last night’s starter, Marco Estrada, was mediocre in his five inning, five run, three hit start in Tokyo, although he pitched well in his subsequent starts against the Angels and Red Sox in Oakland before losing his touch against the Orioles in Baltimore.

He didn’t recover it last night, surrendering a lead-off homer to George Springer and leaving with an inglorious line of seven runs, all earned, five hits, three walks, one strikeout, and a hit batter, in 3 1/3 innings. In fairness, I should note that one of the runs charged to Estrada was scored by Springer, whom Estrada had walked, but who crossed the plate on Alex Bregman’s homer off Ryan Buchter. I don’t think Estrada exceeded 88 mph on any of his 69 pitches. He was placed on the 10-day injured list with a lumbar strain before game time today.

Having traveled to Japan, with all the baggage that involves in terms of rest, diet, rhythm, and so on, most likely affected the play of the two teams while they were there. However, it clearly could not have been the deciding factor their performance. Their response to and preparation for the difficulties presented by the trip may, however, have been. But that really doesn’t tell us anything important about the underlying causes of the differences (and it assumes that the two teams were basically similar in the first place).

It is too early for anyone to write the final report on the effect of the trip on the 2019 AL season since it would be reasonable to anticipate that when the A’s and M’s have gotten over the original effects of their long journey, there will come a time later in the season when the weariness and strain of the experience will take their hidden toll.

Although, as they say in the advertisements for investment schemes, past performance is no guarantee of future results, it might be worthwhile when we think over the summer about how it all will work out in the long run to consider how the two teams performed in the 2012 season, which they also opened facing each other in the Big Egg.

I think I’ll save that for another column.

A’s Rally Just Short in 8-5 Loss to Angels

Photo credit: @athletics_fanly

By Matthew Harrington

The opener concept officially backfired for the Oakland A’s Friday night in Anaheim despite the offense’s best attempt at a trademark eighth inning rally. Following an 8-5 loss to the Halos, A’s manager Bob Melvin has some tweaking to do with his pitching staff with just two days left in the regular season.

The notion seemed to be that either Mike Fiers or Edwin Jackson would start the one-game Wild Card playoff Tuesday against the New York Yankees, but Fiers’ final appearance of the season might not inspire much confidence in a do-or-die situation.

Fiers entered the game after opener Lou Trivino fired a scoreless first inning. The waiver trade acquisition gave up a trio of runs in the second inning after surrendering a run-scoring fielder’s choice and coughing up a two-run homer to Taylor Ward. Mike Trout pulled a pair of homers shy of his career-best in homers, taking Fiers deep in the bottom of the third for his 39th homer of the year and a 3-0 Halos lead.

Fiers departed the game after 3 1/3 innings of work, surrendering another run in the fifth inning. He’d wind up the losing pitcher after coughing up six hits, but he didn’t issue any walks. September call-up Dean Kiekhefer also gave up two runs in the bottom of the seventh, crucial runs for the Angels following the top of the eighth.

The eighth inning has been the A’s best inning offensively and the Green and Gold lead the world in runs scored in that inning. They tacked on a quintet Friday three hits and two walks as well as a timely error. Matt Chapman, Jed Lowrie, and Ramon Laureano knocked in a run each while Marcus Semien doubled in a pair. The A’s would go quietly in the ninth to all, but guarantee the Wild Card contest will be a road game Wednesday at 5:05 pm PT.

Trevor Cahill is slated to start tomorrow’s contest, but Sunday may be a mixture of call-ups and relievers as the A’s try to prepare for the must-win post-season contest.

That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Angels Manager Mike Scioscia Likely to Say Goodbye

Photo credit: sbnation.com

By: Amaury Pi-González

OAKLAND, Calif. — Chances are very good that this week was the last time we will see Angels manager Mike Scioscia as manager with the Angels at the Oakland Coliseum. During their last home stand of the season and during the penultimate game at Angel Stadium on Saturday, September 29, the Angels will give everybody in attendance a Mike Scioscia bobblehead, a sellout of 45,000 is expected.

As a manager, Scioscia led the Angels to their only World Series championship on 2002 against the San Francisco Giants.

Scioscia is the all-time managerial leader in wins, games managed and division titles. He also was honored as the American League Manager of the Year Award in 2002 and 2009.

I have very good memories and experiences with Scioscia. Not only did I have the privilege of calling the 2002 World Series for the Giants, but during the past eight seasons, I traveled to Anaheim to do the Spanish play-by-play for the Angels at Fox Sports Network with my good friend José Mota, who does commentary. Mota is bilingual and as qualified as anybody I have ever met in baseball.Although this season the Spanish Fox Sports West production of the Angels ceased to exist due to a business decision by Disney, who acquired a ton of regional sports networks, including Fox Sports West. Anyhow, you can still see Mota during pre and post games for the English Fox Sports and sometimes on Angels’ radio and other MLB outlets.

There were many times where I have interviewed Scioscia in Spanish (Scioscia speaks conversational Spanish) for the Fox Sports’ Angels pregame in Anaheim. He was always available to talk baseball. A man that was in the Los Angeles area was always thought to be the perfect manager for the rival Dodgers, a team he played for 13 seasons from 1980-1992. He was arguably one of the best defensive catchers of any generation. To try to score on a close play at the plate against Scioscia was a tough thing to do, he was Fernando Valenzuela’s first and foremost catcher. Fernando has always told me great things on how Scioscia guided him when he was a Dodgers rookie. Preston Gómez, a great pioneer manager and lifetime baseball man, once told me: “Scioscia era el hombre que los Dodgers debían de haber firmando de manager.” Translation: “Sciosica was the man that the Dodgers should have signed as their manager.”

On March 29th when the Angels played the A’s at the home opener in Oakland, Scioscia told me this: “I really like my ballclub this year.” Unfortunately, injuries to his pitching staff, many Tommy John surgeries–all while the news broke that Japanese rookie sensation Shohei Othani, who could be the Rookie of the Year in the AL, was also told he had to submit to the surgery.

The Angels’ best player in the game is Mike Trout. Scioscia and Trout have the ultimate respect for each other. They are both huge fans of the Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles. Trout was born and raised in southern New Jersey and Mike Scioscia hails from Pennsylvania. Obviously, Scioscia’s team was not the one that was going to chase the Houston Astros or even contend for a Wild Card spot.

Scioscia could write his own ticket. I do not know what he will choose to do after his managerial life, but whatever he does, he will be just as good as he has been as the Angels manager for the last 19 seasons–the longest tenured manager in the MLB. He could possibly take an advisory position and assistant to Angels owner Arturo “Arte” Moreno. I can easily see that.

Listen to A’s home games in Spanish on KIQI 1010AM/990AM in San Francisco/Oakland/San José/Sacramento/Stockton.

Laureano Better Than Big Mac, Canseco in A’s 8-4 Win over Texas

Photo credit: @SportingGreenSF

By: Matthew Harrington

OAKLAND–Just think where the Oakland Athletics might be if they’d called Ramon Laureano up sooner. Maybe a 3.5 game division deficit is actually a division lead at this time. The 24 year old rookie has won games for the A’s with his glove, his arm, his baserunning and his bat since getting the call August 3rd and Friday night was no different.

The speedy center fielder became the first Athletic to have two multi-homer games in his first thirty big league appearances, going deep twice in the A’s 8-4 win over the Rangers at the Coliseum on Friday night. He joins the Bash Brothers, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco as the only players in A’s history to accomplish the feat in the first 50 games of their careers.

The A’s needed the win with the Astros rallying past the Red Sox and the New York Yankees dispatching of the team directly below the A’s in the Wild Card standings. A loss would have pushed Oakland 4 1/2 games back of each team. The A’s pounced on Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo, plating five runs of him in just 4 1/3 innings.

Laureano put the Rangers on the ropes in his first at bat of the game, working his way into the leadoff spot after earning manager Bob Melvin’s trust over a first cup of coffee that includes a .309 batting average in 81 at-bats. Laureano rewarded his manager with a solo shot to center field, his 4th homer of the year already, to give the A’s a 1-0 lead just one batter into their licks at the dish.

Marcus Semien hit his 12th long ball of the season with a runner on in the bottom of the 2nd inning, then the rally continued till Matt Chapman’s two-run single made it 5-0 A’s.

Joey Gallo did what he does best, crushing two-run homer off Chris Bassitt in the top of the 4th. Bassitt, the second man out of the pen after Liam Hendriks served as “opener” once again, allowed three runs over his three innings of work.

Yusmeiro Petit was credited with the win for his work pitching the fifth and sixth innings despite the A’s already being up 5-2. He got some major run support when Laureano blasted another solo shot, this time off reliever Adrian Sampson. Sampson would get tagged for another pair after an error and three straight singles put Oakland up 8-3.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the A’s. Fernando Rodney labored for his appearance in the seventh inning. He gave up one run, his fourth of September in just 2 2/3 innings and it could have been much worse. Ronald Guzman hit a ball that appeared to hit the top of the wall in right, but was ruled a double and scored only one run. Rodney walked the bases loaded with two outs, but Ryan Buchter came in and got the deep fly out from Rougned Odor to escape the big inning.

Jeurys Familia also struggled in his inning of work after getting one out, but giving up a hit to Nomar Mazara, a walk to Adrian Beltre and an RBI double to  Gallo to pull Texas within four at 8-4. He’d get the final to outs and turn the game over to the closer Blake Treinen. Treinen, a dark horse Cy Young candidate, finished off the ninth in his usual dominant fashion to give the A’s the final 8-4 lead.

The A’s and Rangers will continue their series with game two on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 pm PDT.

The A’s will send one of their few true starters to the hill, Edwin Jackson, a journeyman with a 5-3 record and 2.91 ERA. He’s locked in a battle with Mike Fiers to determine who will pitch in the one-game playoff come October if needed. He’ll be opposed by Yohander Mendez, a southpaw with a 1-1 record and 5.59 ERA.

A’s to host Rangers in weekend series starting Friday night

Photo credit: markmoneyhoffman.com

By Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s will host the Texas Rangers at the Coliseum for three games beginning Friday night. It will be the final time the teams will meet this season.

The Rangers find themselves in last place in the AL West with a 61-79 record. The Rangers had hoped to have had a better record as they put together a lineup with hitters that could put runs on the board. On the other hand, their pitching could not keep the other team from putting more runs on the board.

The A’s, who have an off-day on Thursday, after 20 consecutive games, find themselves in a race for either one of two possibilities. The A’s are 3.5 games behind the Houston Astros in the race for first place in the AL West.

If the A’s were to win the division, they would not have to play in the one-game playoff between the two Wild Card teams. They are also 3.5 games behind the New York Yankees for the first Wild Card slot. The first Wild Card hosts the game at their home park. If the A’s finish in the second spot, they would have to fly to New York for the game.

Also, history is not on the side of the second Wild Card. The home team usually, but not always, prevails when the one-game playoff is held at their home stadium.

The A’s have a lot to play for this weekend. While they have successfully handled the Rangers so far this year, they cannot take them lightly. The Rangers would love nothing more than upsetting the A’s apple cart.

Below are the A’s and Rangers pitching matchups:

On Friday night, The A’s will send Chris Bassitt to the hill. Bassitt has pitched well at times, but he has not been as consistent as the team had hoped. However, in his last start against Minnesota, he went 4 2/3 innings and allowed one run. The A’s could potentially use an “opener” when a bullpen pitcher to start the game and then bring in Bassitt after the first or second innings.

The Rangers will counter with the veteran hurler Yovani Gallardo who has a 8-3 record and a 5.97 ERA. Gallardo beat the Twins 7-4 in his last start. His line was pitched five innings and gave up three runs. Gallardo has a 5-2 record with a 4.07 ERA in his last eight starts.

On Saturday, the A’s Edwin Jackson will pitch for the Green and Gold. Jackson has a 5-3 record and a 2.91 ERA so far this year. In his last start, Jackson went six innings and allowed just one run and three hits.

The Rangers will start Yohender Mendez. Mendez recorded his first MLB win last Sunday when he beat the Twins. He pitched six scoreless innings and allowed three hits while walking one and striking out three. He has a 1-1 record and a 5.59 ERA for the season.

On Sunday, Trevor Cahill will start for the A’s, and Texas has not yet announced their pitcher. Cahill has a 6-3 record and a 3.60 ERA. The big righty has pitched extremely well at the Coliseum this year. In his nine starts at home, he has a 5-0 record and a 1.09 ERA. He beat the Yankees last Monday before 41,000 fans. He allowed the Yanks’ three runs (two earned) and five hits while walking one and striking out three.

The A’s pitching will have their hands full as they try to stop the Rangers’ hitters. The Rangers’ infield consists of Ronald Guzman at first, Rougned Odor at second, Elvis Andrus at short, and Adrian Beltre at third. The Rangers’ outfield will be patrolled by Shin-Soo-Choo, Joey Gallo, and Nomar Mazara. Robinson Chirinos will handle the catching. Every one of these players can hit the ball out of the park.

The A’s also have big boppers. They have five guys that have hit 20 or more balls out of the park this season. Part-time players such as Mark Canha and Chad Pinder are in double figures in that department.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the A’s cannot let their guard down. The team knows what’s at stake and their manager Bob Melvin will prepare them. The A’s are 84-57 and have 21 games left to play. They have to keep winning, and they will need help from other teams if they are to move up in the standings.

The Boston Red Sox could really help the A’s as they host the Astros at Fenway Park this weekend, and have six more, three at home and three in New York, against the Yanks. The Red Sox would love nothing more than upsetting the Yanks’ apple cart.

The surprise team and feel good story of the 2018 season have been the A’s. The players know they are good and they are showing the world what they can do.

A’s are “double trouble” for Astros as they win 7-1 and tie Houston for first place

Davis-Melvin
Photo: @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics beat the Houston Astros 7-1 at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday afternoon and are now tied for first place in the American League West. Fans were in disbelief that the A’s (74-49) were in contention for the Wild Card in the AL, but now, the Green and Gold are fighting to win their division. Virtually none of those fans thought that was a possibility before the season began.

Strong starting pitching and power hitting was the key to the A’s win on Saturday.

Trevor Cahill (5-2) started the game for Oakland. He has been pitching the lights out in the Coliseum with an ERA under one at home. Cahill continued his mastery of opponents in his home stadium as pitched seven innings of shutout baseball, allowing the Astros just one hit. The right-hander struck out seven batters and walked just one. Cahill threw 100 (62 strikes).

The A’s also went on another power surge on Saturday as they hit eight doubles which tied an Oakland single-game record, but you were not allowed to hit just one double – you had to hit two. All of the extra base hits were recorded by four A’s hitters. Khris Davis (24), Stephen Piscotty (33), Matt Olson (26) and Josh Phegley (6) hit all of the “two-baggers” for Oakland versus Houston. The A’s posted a total of 11 hits in the contest.

More A’s

  • The A’s were trailing the Astros by 12 games back on June 18. Today they are tied for first place.
  • Oakland’s 74-69 (.602) record is tied for third best in the majors. It is tied for fourth place in A’s history after 123 games.
  • Khris Davis’ double in the first inning snapped a 0-13 hitless streak.
  • Matt Olson’s two doubles extended his hitting streak to six games.
  • Matt Chapman’s 14 game hitting streak and 30 game on-base streak came to an end on Saturday when he went 0-for-4 in the game.
  • Add on Trevor Cahill: he retired 20 of the 22 batters he faced in the game. The A’s have won Cahill’s last seven starts.

Astros’ notes

  • The A’s scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning which means the Astros opponents have now outscored them 56-55 in the first inning.
  • Alex Bregman’s road on-base streak continues as he picked up a base-on-balls on Saturday. His streak currently stands at 38 games.
  • The ‘Stros recorded just two hits in their loss on Saturday. It was just the third time this season they posted two or fewer hits in a game.
  • Dallas Keuchel (9-10)–who was charged with the loss–saw his four-game road winning streak come to an end.

Up Next

The A’s and Astros wrap up the three game series on Sunday at 1:05 pm PDT on Sunday.

The Astros will send RHP Justin Verlander (11-8, 2.52) to the mound in an attempt to salvage one win in the series. The A’s will go with their ace LHP Sean Manaea (11-8, 3.44). Manaea won his last start on Monday in Oakland over the Mariners 7-6. He is 1-1 in three starts versus the Astros this season.

A’s win a thriller over Mariners 3-2; close in on first place in the AL West

Photo credit: @Athletics

By Jerry Feitelberg

OAKLAND — The Oakland A’s won their fourth game in a row as they defeated the Seattle Mariners 3-2 at the Oakland Coliseum in a very close and competitive contest. With the win, coupled with the Houston Astros’ 5-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies, the A’s found themselves just one game behind the Astros in the race for the AL West division crown.

The A’s are now 72-48, and most of the pundits who predicted this team would finish last in the AL West now have an egg on their collective faces. This team is for real. They have relatively good starting pitching, one of the best bullpens in all of baseball, power up and down the lineup and sensational defense.

636575966572545642-032518-mlb-record-projectionsM’s right fielder Mitch Haniger doubled into the left-field corner to start the game. Mike Fiers retired Robinson Cano for the first out, but Haniger was able to advance to third on the play. With the infield drawn in, Fiers got Jean Segura to ground out. Jed Lowrie made sure Haniger stayed at third base. Nelson Cruz hit a blooper to right field that Stephen Piscotty could not catch. Piscotty was playing deep as Cruz loves to torment the A’s pitching. He had a long run for the ball. It looked as if he caught the ball, but he trapped it. Haniger scored on the play.

In the bottom of the first, Marcus Semien tied the game with a blast off James Paxton that landed in the seats in left field. Jed Lowrie was the next hitter. Lowrie lined a shot off Paxton’s shoulder for a base hit. Paxton’s shoulder dropped, and he was unable to continue and exited the field. Felix Hernandez was brought in to pitch for the M’s. Hernandez walked Khris Davis to put two men on with one out. A’s manager Bob Melvin had Matt Olson pinch-hit for Mark Canha. Olson hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the first inning.

In the bottom of the third inning, Jed Lowrie homered with a man aboard to give the A’s a 3-1 lead. King Felix had retired six in a row since coming in to relieve Paxton. With two out, he walked Matt Chapman. Jed Lowrie then hit his career-high 19th home run of the year and upped his RBI total to 76, which was a new career-high for him.

The M’s plated a run in the top of the fifth when lead-off hitter Cameron Maybin hit his fourth home run of the season over the left field wall. Fiers regained his composure and retired the next three hitters in order The A’s led 3-2 in the middle of the fifth inning.

Fiers retired the M’s in order in the sixth inning. Melvin then turned the game over to his bullpen. Ryan Buchter, Yusmeiro Petit, Fernando Rodney, and Blake Treinen allowed three hits and no runs. The A’s won 3-2.

Game Notes and Stats: The M’s announced the negatives on James Paxton’ left forearm. He suffered a bone contusion and is listed as day-to-day. The M’s, A’s and their respective fans wished him a speedy recovery.

The A’s Matt Chapman continued to play fantastic defense. Chapman lit up the crowd when he made a fantastic catch off Robinson Cano’s popup in foul territory. Chapman made a running catch as he head to lean over the tarp in foul territory. The crowd went crazy.  Chapman extended his career-long on-base streak to 28 games. With his double in the eighth, he has now hit in 12 straight games.

Jed Lowrie hit has 100th career home run. It was the third home run this year off Felix Hernandez.

Jonathan Lucroy threw out Dee Gordon, trying to steal second in the top of the eighth. Lucroy has nailed 20 runners, and that ties him for the Major League lead with Jorge Alfaro of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Felix Hernandez made his first appearance of his career. Hernandez took the loss and is now 8-11. Mike Fiers improved to 8-6.

The A’s are now 38-12 since June 16th. They are 50-0 when leading after the seventh inning. They are the only team in baseball that is undefeated when leading after seven.

The final game of the three-game series will be played Wednesday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum. Game time is at 12:35 pm. Lefty Brett Anderson (2-4, 4.53 ERA) will pitch for Oakland, and the M’s will send Mike Leake (8-7, 4.11 ERA) to try to stop the A’s

Time of game was a crisp two hours and 28 minutes and 17,419 fans saw the A’s win a thriller over the M’s.

Up Next: The A’s wrap up their series versus the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon at 12:35 pm PDT. Brett Anderson (2-4, 4.53 ERA) will pitch for the A’s, and the M’s will send Mike Leake (8-7, 4.11 ERA) to try to stop the A’s.

They are off on Thursday before starting a crucial three-game series with the Astros on Friday at 7:05 pm PDT.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: AL West: Two different worlds; What do the A’s need?

Photo credit: @biggamerings

By: Amaury Pi Gonzalez

The American League West now has the World Champion Houston Astros, we can see why the Astros are in outer space and the other four teams are on planet earth. Standings below are enough and clear for anybody to understand.

1 – Houston 101-61 .623 —

2 – Los Angeles 80-82 .494 -21

3 – Seattle 78-84 .481 -23

4 – Texas 78-84 .481 -23

5 – Oakland 75-87 .463 -26

It we took the champion Astros out, it would have been a great race. Four teams separated by five games in the lost column. But we cannot do that. The Astros came to live with us here in the West back in 2013, after 51 years as a member of the National League winning nothing in the NL. Since they moved to the AL West, Houston have won two pennants and a World Series.

While the Astros still basking in their impressive 2017 championship season, the other four teams are involved in a dog race to see who can improve the most. We know the Astros have a team already that could easily win again in 2018 and be competitive for a long time. I hate to use the word ‘dynasty ‘because these days with free agency it is not something that anybody could predict. If not, ask the Giants.

What do the Athletics need?
The last three seasons the Athletics have owned the cellar. Ending in last place this year with 75-87, last place in 2016 with 69-83, and again in last place in 2015 with 68-94. Back in 2014 the A’s had a respectable 88-74 season, and finished in second place, 10 games behind the division leaders Angels.

The A’s have a very good nucleus of young talented position players: Healy, Olson, Chapman, Pinder, Powell, and guys that have been there in the past like Marcus Semien and veteran Jed Lowrie, who is returning. Their infield seems to be set (not to make any comparisons, but the Astros strength is also in their infield with Bregman-Correa-Altuve and Gurriel). The outfield is quite another story. Let’s assume that Khris Davis (arbitration eligible) is coming back, then we need a regular center fielder, is it Powell? Matt Joyce who had a very good season (.243 25 HR 68 RBI) on his first of a two year contract with the team, could be the Opening Day right fielder. It could take until Spring Training to see who of these guys figure in the mix: Brugman, Nunez, Canha, Smolinski, or some other outfielder coming from someplace else, not in the A’s organization.

Their weakness seems to be in the bullpen and the inconsistency of their starters. For starters, I believe they could use a veteran like Vallejo-native CC Sabathia. If the Yankees do not retain him, he is a free agent. Hope is, that the A’s do keep their young group of players because that is their future. A veteran hurler like Sabathia would compliment their young starters, like Graveman, Cotton, and others. It could be the same effect as when Bartolo Colon was with the team next to a young Sonny Gray. Remember?

I do not expect the A’s to be very active this off-season, but I could be surprised. Healy is one guy that could be gone, as much as I hate to see that, I can understand it, since they have very good young infielders, and I forgot to mention Franklin Barreto is just 22 years old, he had a taste of major league baseball this season. Barreto is a nice kid; hard-working, when I spoke with him this year, he comported himself like a veteran. The A’s will not be favorites in this division next season, but they might make it very interesting, especially if their young talent continues to improve.

As I had said during the. year, the best news for the A’s this year, is that under the leadership of team president David Kaval, the team is now in a very good position to build a new park in Oakland. People that have lived here (Bay Area) for a long time, know very well that building a new sports facility is not something that happens easily. This is not Cincinnati, Kansas City. Atlanta or Texas. Therefore, you need strong leadership and from the first time I met Mr. Kaval personally during the A’s Fanfest prior to the starting of the 2017 season at Jack London Square. I saw his passion and dedication to make this happen. And I believe he will make it happen.

However, and as much as I like the Lake Merritt location, something still tells me that at the end of it all. The A’s might build their new place right at the same place where they have been playing since 1968. At the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. I believe that is the best location, most accessible, and although there is nothing around it, the land is there and they can build around the park.

Next season, the Athletics will celebrate their 50th season at Oakland.

A’s Samardzija “Coming for Blood” With Another Stretch Run Gem

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

OAKLAND, Calif. – For the first time since August 25th, the Oakland Athletics’ Jeff Samardzija saw something by his name Monday night he hadn’t seen in a while; a W.

“This last month has been fun for me,” said Samardzija, thrilled on being in a playoff race despite a recent lack of personal results. “It’s something I’ve been asking for for a long time. I haven’t been in this situation before. I want to take advantage of it. Opportunities aren’t guaranteed; they don’t come around too often, so you don’t want to waste them.”

The July 4th trade acquisition wasted little Monday night, firing seven five-hit innings, allowing only one run to the visiting Los Angeles Angels (96-61) to lead Oakland to an 8-4 win over the 2014 American League West winners. The A’s (86-70) staked Samardzija to an early cushion, scoring six runs on only two hits in the bottom of the first to maintain a one-game lead over the Kansas City Royals for home field advantage as the top AL Wild Card team. The A’s magic number is now down to four.

“I feel like I have thrown 210 innings, that’s for sure,” joked Samardzija. “That doesn’t’ matter at this point. It doesn’t matter how you feel. You owe more to your teammates and to yourself to go out and do your job and do it to the best of your abilities. I feel great.”

Geovany Soto and Stephen Vogt each collected two-run hits in the contest for the A’s. Soto now has five RBIs over his last two games.

Over his previous four starts, Samardzija (5-5, 2.92 ERA) received a scant five runs of support from his offense. The righty went 0-2 over that stretch despite allowing only five runs in 30 innings. He entered play Monday night without allowing a run over his last 16 innings, but saw the scoreless stretch snapped after a Mike Trout sacrifice fly plated an unearned run in the first inning. He has not allowed an earned run over 23 innings.

“He’s aggressive, he’s coming at you,” said Soto of his batterymate. “He’s a shark, he’s coming for blood. Good or bad, he’s coming after you.”

The solitary run came after the LA leadoff man Kole Calhoun reached base on a double, then took third while Jonny Gomes struggled to corral the wall ball. Samardzija would bounce back from his left fielder’s error to retire the next three hitters, but not before conceding the final 90 feet to Calhoun on Trout’s RBI pop out.

After a fielder’s choice found Sam Fuld on first base with one out in the first, Halos starter C.J. Wilson lost any semblance of control over the strike zone. The southpaw issued walks to Josh Donaldson and Jonny Gomes to load the bases, then handed out run-scoring free passes to Derek Norris and Nate Freiman to put the A’s ahead 2-1 with two outs.

After Freiman, Geovany Soto coaxed a full count out of Wilson before knocking in two runs on a single, effectively knocking the southpaw out of the game.

“He’s had some big hits,” said Melvin of his backstop. “You can walk and walk, a run here, a run there. Next thing you know, we pop up. He’s the guy who really came up with the big hit of the inning.”

Wilson toiled through just 2/3 of an inning and 35 pitches, 19 of which were balls, while allowing four walks and six runs (four earned). Wilson (13-10, 4.61), the losing pitcher Monday night, had won his previous four decisions in the limits of Alameda County. He is now 5-2 as a member of the Angels on Oakland A’s home turf over seven starts.

“That’s been something we’ve done very well in the past,” said Melvin. “It was good to see us take some walks, not try to be too aggressive, which maybe we have been a little bit too much recently. We made him work, next thing you know we’re up 6-1.”

Angels reliever Mike Morin appeared to have the third out on a Nick Punto bouncer down the third base, but a poor throw by David Freese found Punto at third base with another two runs across for the home team.

The A’s added another pair of runs in the seventh inning after Stephen Vogt ripped a bases loaded single off Michael Roth. Vogt entered the game as a pinch hitter for Nate Freiman in the third inning and remained in the game at first base.

“When we just put that one up, then put the second on up, I was excited,” said Samardzija. “It felt like, with the way we were going, that was going to be enough. We add four more to that, add some more later in the game. It felt good. When we score early, as I pitcher you get to take a deep breath and pound the zone. You know they need to work at bats and get back in the game. It’s ideal. Any time they want to give me eight, I’ll accept it.”

Los Angeles pulled within four in the eighth inning after Albert Pujols rocketed an Evan Scribner 1-2 delivery into the bleachers in deep left field. Pujols 28th blast of the season, coming with two runners on and two outs, pushed him past the 1,600 mark in career runs batted in. His 1,602 RBIs ranks 33rd all-time.

The A’s seek a third-straight win Tuesday night for the first time since August 7-9, sending Opening Day starter Sonny Gray to the mound. The babyfaced fireballer looks to bounce back from a September 18th 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers that saw the righty cough up five runs over just five innings. He’ll face LA’s Wade LeBlanc for game two of Oakland’s final three-game homestand of the season.

“We’ve been through a lot this last month,” said Samardzija. “It’s nice to see everyone come together and start clicking. We’ve had great defense, great at bats. Our pitchers have been pitching. That’s what you want. I think we’re doing it at the right time.”