Sonny Gray’s gem spoiled in A’s 7-4 loss to Seattle

By Emily Zahner & Gabe Schapiro

On the mound for the Oakland Athletics in just his third Major League start, Sonny Gray (1-1, 1.00 ERA) shined bright and glowed with confidence. In the second of this three game series against the Mariners, Gray, facing off against Joe Saunders (10-12, 4.86 ERA), had the look of a veteran as the A’s were defeated by the Seattle Mariners 7-4 on Tuesday evening. The A’s fall to a record of 71-54, 1-½ games back of the first place Texas Rangers who picked up a victory tonight. The Mariners improve to 58-67, and remain in a distant third place.

The 23 year old from Smyrna, Tennessee lead off the game by shutting down the Mariners’ hitters 1-2-3. If run support was something he was worried about, the A’s offense took care of that in their half. Mariners starter Joe Saunders was hit hard early, as the A’s batted around and were a double away from hitting for the cycle against him in a 40-pitch first inning. Jed Lowrie, hitting lead-off for the fourth time this season, started off the game with a triple down the right field line. Homeruns by Josh Donaldson and Nate Frieman gave the A’s an early 4-0 lead in the first, giving Sonny some early run support. Gray cruised through two, then hit some trouble in the third. He started the inning with a four-pitch walk to Michael Saunders, and as lead-off walks so often do, it came back to bite him. Three batters later Nick Franklin got a hold of a change-up that was meant for the outside half and drifted in, sending it into the right field bleachers, making the score 4-2.

The A’s scattered a few hits through seven innings, but neither team was able to get on the board again through seven. Gray finished his night after seven strong innings, holding the Mariners to just two hits, two runs (both earned), and striking out seven on 94 pitches. Of his outing tonight, Manager Bob Melvin was pleased, saying “he was great… he’s got some presence out there, he certainly has the stuff and he continues to give us impressive outings.” In Sonny’s last outing, he fanned nine over eight innings. Gray is establishing himself as a competent and reliable started for the A’s, which with Bartolo Colon going to the DL and Brett Anderson still on rehab assignment, is arguably something Oakland needs the most. The A’s bullpen might be another topic of serious discussion.

The momentum drastically shifted to the Mariners in the eighth. Sean Doolittle was the first man out of the bullpen, and the Mariners bats, seemingly relieved to no longer be facing Gray, came alive again. Four consecutive hits later and the game was all tied at 4-4. Ryan Cook was summoned to stop the bleeding, but he couldn’t find his control and the runs kept on coming. After two wild pitches, two walks, and a fielders’ choice play at the plate that injured catcher Derek Norris, the Mariners had built up their first lead of the game, 7-4. Jesse Chavez, the third pitcher of the inning, stabilized the chaos and mercifully ended the inning. Bob Melvin later confirmed the Norris had fractured his left big toe.

The disastrous five-run eighth would prove to be too much to come back from, even for a never-say-die club like the Athletics. The back end of the Mariners bullpen kept the comeback kids at bay, closing down the ninth 1-2-3, clinching the 7-4 win. The A’s and Mariners complete their three game series tomorrow at 12:35pm.

Reds edge A’s, 6-5

By George Devine, Sr.August 7, 2013
 
Corky Miller, Alberto CallaspoThe A’s will be glad to leave Cincinnati. They lost 6-5 to the Reds in a hard-fought game to end their series on the banks of the Ohio and now head to Toronto.

The scoring started in the first as Shin-Soo Choo singled to right, beginning a busy day in the position for Seth Smith, then advanced on Todd Frazier’s walk and reached third on Joey Votto’s base hit to right, scoring when Jay Bruce grounded into a 6-4 force.

Josh Donaldson put Oakland on the board in the second with a homer to right, his 17th of the year. In the bottom of the inning Zack Cosart singled to right and scored as Corky Miller hit a double in Smith’s direction.

In the home third, Votto singled to right, and scored on a homer hit over Smith’s head by Jay Bruce, his 24th of the season. Cozart walked and scored when Miller doubled to left.

In the fourth, Brandon Moss singled to short, then Alberto Callaspo doubled to right, so Moss reached third, scoring on Stephen Vogt’s single to right.

In the fifth, Xavier Paul hit a ground rule double to right and scored when Devin Mesoraco singled to third.

The Athletics’ last scoring drive was in the sixth, when Jed Lowrie doubled to center, reached third when Moss singled to right and scored as Donaldson grounded a base hit to left. Eric Sogard tripled to right, plating Moss and Donaldson.

The winner is Homer Bailey (7-10) and the loser Bartolo Colon (14-4). Araldis Chapman picked up his 27th save of the year.

After a travel day, the A’s first game in the Toronto series is at 4:07 p.m. PDT on Friday, August 9, with Jarrod Parker (7-6) facing Esmil Rogers (3-6).

A’s offense comes up empty, lose to Rangers 4-0

August 4, 2013

by Kahlil Najar and Emily Zahner

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OAKLAND, CA — The Oakland Athletics (64-47) lost the rubber match against the Texas Rangers (62-50) on Sunday afternoon, shortening their American League West division lead to 2.5 games. Rangers’ starter Derek Holland (9-6) continued his dominance against Oakland, keeping the A’s bats quiet through his eight innings pitched, only allowing five hits and striking out 10; this was the third time this year Holland has fanned ten hitters. Through the first six, Holland had only allowed one hit and had already struck out seven, only surrendering a single up the middle to A’s first baseman Nate Freiman in the second. Holland, who recorded his first win since July 13th, is now 5-2 lifetime against the A’s.

“Holland pitched well. Probably the best we’ve seen him pitched in a while. They had a good zone for him and made the change up hard to deal with today ” A’s Manager Bob Melvin had to say on Holland. The game was a pitchers duel, as A’s starter A.J. Griffin (10-8) who was credited with his 8th loss of the season, performed well through six and two-thirds innings. Other than a few costly pitches to Nelson Cruz and Mitch Moreland, Griffin was able to keep the A’s in the game. He tallied 7 strikeouts, five hits and only one walk. “He kept us in the game and played well enough for us to win. We just didn’t give him enough offense.” said Melvin on Griffin’s performance. “We’ve been talking to him about the home runs and we’ve talked about it quite a bit. We’ll be working on it.”

After starting the game strong with two consecutive strikeouts, Griffin threw a four seam fastball to Ian Kinsler that should have been fielded easily by left-fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Whether credit be due to the sun or the impending wall behind him, Cespedes dropped the ball at the warning track and allowed Kinsler to land safely at second. Adrian Beltre then singled on a sharp line drive to left and Kinsler came in to score to make it a 1-0 lead. Nelson Cruz lead off the top of the second by hitting his 20th homer of the season off of Griffin to increase the lead to 2-0. Griffin leads the majors in surrendered home runs, with 28. After five innings of solid pitching by both pitchers, which saw 9 total strikeouts from both teams, Griffin gave up another deep home run to Mitch Moreland with Chris Gentry on first to bring the tally to 4-0 Texas.

The A’s had a chance to bring themselves back into the game in the bottom of the seventh when Nate Freiman and Chris Young hit back-to-back singles, bringing up Josh Reddick. Holland fooled him with a sinker that had him swinging wildly and quietly and efficiently killed the rally. All-Star closer Joe Nathan came in to relieve Holland in the bottom of the ninth and gave the A’s and their 23,263 fans in attendance a glimmer of hope. After giving up a lead off walk to Josh Donaldson and a hard hit single to Cespedes, Brandon Moss grounded into what should have been a double play, but was able to beat out the throw at first to keep runners at the corners. Alberto Callaspo then grounded into a game ending double play that silenced the crowd and gave the Rangers the series victory two games to one, ending the home-stand on a slightly sour note.

On the A’s offense, Melvin said, “We’re having a tough time putting two games in a row together. We’ve been in a little bit of a rut whether it be our defense, our pitching or offense. We haven’t been timely as that goes. The offense has stood out for quite a while now. We do have the guys with the ability to take care of that and we’re confident we will. We just need to sustain it. Not just one game here and one game there. We just need to get on a roll.”

The A’s hope to start that winning momentum when they head out on a seven game road trip Tuesday night in Cincinnati. The green and gold send Dan Straily (6-5, 4.41 ERA) to the mound against Reds ace Mat Latos (10-3, 3.38 ERA) at 4:10pm PST.