Yankees beat A’s 5-4 to sweep the series

MLB: New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics relief pitcher John Axford Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND–The New York Yankees downed the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Sunday at the Coliseum in Oakland. It was a painful loss on three fronts.

First, the loss gave the Yankees a four-game sweep over the A’s in the series. The last time the Athletics were swept in a four-game series at home was in April of 1999. After sweeping the Texas Rangers in three games to begin the home stand, the A’s could have never imagined closing it out 0-4 against a team they swept in New York earlier in the season.

Second, the A’s are not being able to take advantage of their home field environment. Oakland’s record is now just 8-15 at home while they are 11-11 on the road. That is really quite extraordinary as most teams fare much better in home stadiums before fan friendly crowds. For some unknown reason that is not happening for the Athletics at this point in time.

Third, it was another one-run loss. All losses are frustrating, but the one-run loss games just seem to come back to haunt a team because they are contests that could have been won if one thing had gone differently in the game. The A’s are 6-7 in one-run games this season.

On Sunday, the A’s took the lead in the bottom of the first inning when Billy Burns was able to steal second and third base and then score on a Stephen Vogt ground out. It looked like things might be going to go the A’s way in the game.

The Yankees scored single runs in the second and third innings off solo home runs from Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury. The crowd became nervous as New York took the 2-1 lead.

Oakland came back to score to two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning when Stephen Vogt hit a double to left field that scored Jake Smolinski and Billy Burns. The crowd came to life with the A’s back in the lead 3-2.

The Yankees served notice that they were not going to go down easily by putting together a four-hit two-run inning in the top of the sixth to retake the lead 4-3.

The Yankees put the dagger into the A’s in the top of the seventh inning. With two and runner at first, Carlos Beltran hit a double down the left field line that allowed the Aaron Hicks to score from first giving New York a 5-3 lead.

The A’s did make it interesting by scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth inning, but it ultimately was too little too late and the Yankees won the game 5-4.

In the batter’s box

Carlos Beltran went 2-for-4, scored a run, had a double and a RBI for the Yankees. He has now hit safely in five straight games (10-for-22, .455).

Jacoby Ellsbury had a 1-for-4 day that featured a home run. He is hitting .310 over his last 24 games.

Mark Teixeira snapped an 0-for-19 hitless streak with an RBI single in the sixth inning

Billy Burns had a big day for the A’s scoring three runs to go with two stolen bases. He went 2-for-4 for the game.

Coco Crisp hit a double and that extends his hitting streak to six games.

Stephen Vogt had a big day going just 1-for-4 but he had three RBI in the game. Two of those RBI came off a two-out double in the bottom of the fifth.

On the hill

The Yankees put together a strong pitching performance on Sunday against the A’s. Starter Michael Pineda (2-5) picked up his second win of the season working six strong innings. Pineda gave up three runs (all earned) on six hits while striking out six batters and walking just one.

Pineda working six innings allowed the Yankees to then go to their three-headed bullpen monster of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Miller did give up a run but it was unearned as it was created by an error. Chapman picked up his sixth save of the season and threw a number of pitches in excess of 100 mph.

Jesse Hahn did not have a bad start for the A’s. He went 5.2 innings giving up four runs (all earned) on six hits. He struck out three and walked none, but he did give up two home runs.

John Axford was asked to come in and get Hahn out of trouble in the sixth was not able to make it happen. The bullpen cannot save the day every time.

Daniel Coulombe who was just called up from Nashville worked the final two innings of the game. He did not give up a hit or a run. Coulombe struck out two and walked none.

The Disabled List continues to grow

The Athletics announced on Sunday that Sonny Gray has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right trapezius. The A’s now have 13 players on the DL which is the most in the Major Leagues.

Gray had been struggling through a very tough beginning to his 2016 season. His record stands at 3-5 with a 6.19 ERA in nine starts.

This is the first time Gray has been on the disabled list in his career.

Left-hander Daniel Coulombe was brought up from Triple-A Nashville to replace Gray on the Major League roster.

This is Coulombe’s second time up with the big club this season. He faced the Red Sox on May 10 giving up three runs (all earned) in two innings of work. Coulombe had a 0.56 ERA in 13 appearances for Nashville.


Up next

The A’s travel to Seattle for a three-game series with the Mariners. The Mariners are coming off a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds and have won four games in a row. Seattle has sole possession of first place in the American League West.

The pitching probables are:

Mon 5/23 LHP Rich Hill (6-3, 2.54) vs RHP Taijuan Walker (2-3, 2.95)

Tue 5/24 RHP Kendall Graveman (1-6, 5.48) vs. RHP Nathan Karns (4-1, 3.33)

Wed 5/25 Athletics To Be Announced vs, Hisashi Iwakuma (2-4, 4.39)

The Yankees return to New York City and will begin a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.

A’s beat Rays 7-6 in comeback victory

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays
Oakland Athletics third baseman Danny Valencia Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics (16-22) closed out their nine-game road trip on a high note with a 7-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays (16-19) on Sunday. The victory also gave the A’s the series win two games to one.

Trailing the Rays 6-5 with two out in the top of the ninth inning the Athletics played like a team that refused to lose. With two out, Billy Burns hit a 1-2 pitch into center field for a double. That brought Danny Valencia to the plate. Valencia had already hit two home runs in the game. Valencia hit the first pitch to him from reliever Steve Geltz over the left center field wall for a two-run home and gave the A’s a 7-6 lead.

Oakland closer Ryan Madson came on in the bottom of the ninth and needed just four ptiches to retire the side and preserve the win for the A’s. It was save number 10 of the season for Madson.

This is a significant win for the A’s for three reasons. First, they won a game on day when their pitching ace Sonny Gray did not have a great outing. Second, the A’s had to come from behind to win on Sunday proving to themselves they can fight their way back into games. Third, Oakland won a one-run game. For whatever reason, this is a team that finds itself in one-run games frequently. The Sunday win works as a reminder they can win those close game.

In the batter’s box

Danny Valencia was the man with the bat today for the Athletics. He hit three home runs on Sunday to bring his total to five for the series in Tampa Bay and for the season to date. Valencia drove in five runs and scored three. He hit in the number three spot Sunday as Josh Reddick was given the day off versus a left-handed starter.

Coco Crisp played center field and hit lead off Sunday. Crisp went 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored.

With Reddick given the day off, Billy Burns played right field. Burns went 1-for-5 with one run scored. That one hit was the double in the top of the ninth that kept the inning alive for Valencia to hit what became the game-winning home run.

Chris Coghlan was brought in to pinch hit for Tyler Ladendorf in the top the seventh inning. Coghlan took a 0-1 pitch over the left center field wall for his fifth home run of the year.

The A’s scored seven runs on 12 hits while leaving six men on base. They struck out eight times and walked twice.

Brandon Guyer was the leader at the plate for the Rays on Sunday. He had a lead off home run in the bottom of first inning off Sonny Gray to tie the game at 1-1. Guyer came to bat in the bottom of the second with two runners on when the inning was extended by a two-out error. Guyer hit the ball into the left field stands for a three-run home run. Guyer finished with five RBI on the day.

Evan Longoria went 2-for-4 for the game. Longoria hit his seventh home run and a double on Sunday.

The Rays scored six runs on six hits and left four runners on base. Rays batters struck out nine times and walked two times.

On the mound

A’s starter Sonny Gray had another tough outing on Sunday. Gray has not recorded a win in his last four starts. He had a no decision on Sunday. Gray worked 5.2-innings giving up six runs (three earned) on six hits. He struck out four and walked two. Gray gave up three home runs (Guyer 2, Longoria). He threw 99 pitches (67 strikes). Gray’s ERA now stands at 5.84.

The A’s bullpen came in and did the job for their team on Sunday. Ryan Dull relieved Gray in the sixth and worked 1.1-innings. Dull allowed no runs or hits. He struck out four and walked none.

John Axford pitched the eighth inning for Oakland. Axford gave up no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out one. Axford (3-1) is credited with the win as he was pitcher of record when the A’s scored in the top of the ninth.

Ryan Madson threw a perfect ninth inning needing just four pitches to retire the side. Madson now has 10 saves for the A’s.


The A’s were able to overcome a defensive miscue that took place in the bottom of the second inning. With two out and catcher Hank Conger at bat, the A’s defense went into a shift overloading the infield to the right. Second baseman Tyler Ladendorf was playing in shallow right field. Conger hit the ball to where the second baseman would normally be stationed. Ladendorf charged the ball and was unable to field it. Conger was safe. The next hitter Guyer hit a three-run home run. The error resulted in three unearned runs.

The A’s lead the American League in errors with 28.

Up next

The A’s return home to begin a three-game home series with the Texas Rangers on Monday night. LHP Derek Holland (3-2, 6.09) will start for Texas while the A’s will go with LHP Sean Manaea (0-1, 11.37).

On Tuesday, Texas will send LHP Cole Hamels to the mound to face the A’s LHP Eric Surkamp.

In the finale on Wednesday afternoon, LHP Martin Perez will start for the Rangers while LHP Rich Hill will take the hill for Oakland.



Burns makes a lot out of a little in the A’s big 3-2 win over the World Champion Royals

Moustakas blast
Kansas City Royals’ Mike Moustakas (8) hits a solo home run against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 17, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


By Morris Phillips

photo on the cover by AP: Coco Crisp (4) and Josh Reddick (22) jump for joy after the A’s win the series over the Kansas City Royals Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum

OAKLAND–Billy Burns’ hard hit groundball in the eighth inning didn’t have the look of a game-changer, but it was, keying perhaps the biggest win of the young season to date for the A’s.

Facing Joakim Soria, Burns fought off a 2-2 pitch, sending a two-hopper over and past the first bag and into the visitor’s bullpen, allowing the speedy centerfielder to do what he does best… run. Reymond Fuentes raced over from right field, and bobbled the pickup, which allowed Burns to cruise into third base standing up. Most any other major leaguer—not gifted with Burns’ wheels—would have settled for two bases.

With the blessing of first base umpire Mark Carlson, and by a matter of inches, Burns had put the A’s in position to pull out a 3-2 win over the World Champion Royals, who just happen to be the current kings of pulling out close, low scoring ballgames.

“Fortunate to sneak one down the line there,” Burns said.

“Got it just enough inside the line and hit it just hard enough to get by (first baseman Eric Hosmer),” manager Bob Melvin said.

Burns’ big hit was followed by Josh Reddick’s sacrifice fly that broke a 2-2 tie that for the A’s was plenty hard earned. The A’s game-winning third run may not have been as hard earned as the first two runs, but it was surely a long shot. With the game tied late, Hosmer was hugging the line, and definitely not in the mood to let Burns get a shot for extra bases. But the ball shot past the diving Hosmer, evading his glove by inches.

Earlier the A’s were confounded by Royals’ starter Kris Medlen, who allowed just two hits, and kept the A’s from fully taking advantage of the four walks he issued. The one gift the A’s did benefit from was really on catcher Salvador Perez, who couldn’t snag Medlen’s strikeout pitch to Chris Coghlan, allowing Coghlan to reach on a passed ball, and Coco Crisp to score from third base.

That pulled the A’s within 2-1 in the fourth inning, but they’d get no closer until pinch hitter Jed Lowrie grabbed a bat in the seventh.

Coghlan delivered the hardest hit ball for the A’s on Medlin’s final pitch—one out into the seventh—a ground rule double that one-hopped the centerfield fence. Manager Ned Yost then called upon Kelvin Hererra, his prized setup man, to maintain the narrow lead.

But Lowrie delivered an RBI single on a 3-2 pitch after fighting off a pair of nasty sliders. Lowrie’s hit not only tied the game, but rendered the efficient Medlin to a no-decision.

A’s starter Chris Bassitt got deeper into the game than Medlin, pitching seven full, but also was saddled with a no-decision. Bassitt pitched well again, allowing five hits and two runs with a home run ball allowed to Mike Moustakas with two outs in the fourth the one pitch he wished he could get back.

“I was caught between pitches and wasn’t convicted to it at all,” Bassitt said. “And that’s kind of what happens when you throw a pitch that’s not really convicted against a good hitter. He makes you pay for it.”

Closer Ryan Doolittle was given the day off, and Ryan Madson stepped up in the ninth, earning his fourth save. John Axford pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and picked up the win.  Oakland took the final two against the Royals, after dropping four straight and seven of their first eight games this season at the Coliseum.

The A’s flew to the East Coast after the game and will open a 10-game road trip in New York on Tuesday. After three against the Yankees, the A’s travel to Toronto and then finish with four games in Detroit. Eric Surkamp will pitch the opener at Yankees Stadium, opposed by Michael Pineda in a 4:05pm EST start.


Astros Jump on Hammel Early to Top A’s 8-1

By Matthew Harrington

For the fourth time in as many outings, the Oakland Athletics lost a game started by trade acquisition Jason Hammel. In need of a win to keep the Los Angeles Angels over a game back entering play Wednesday afternoon, the A’s instead fell to the Astros 8-1 at Minute Maid Park. The Green and Gold (66-41) also dropped Monday’s contest in Houston 7-3, marking Wednesday as only the second series loss in 11 chances all-time against the Astros (44-64) since the start of interleague play and Houston’s move the American League last season.

Two starts removed from a brief two-inning July 19th start where the right hander yielded five runs against the Orioles, Hammel again found himself in early trouble Wednesday afternoon. The other starter acquired in the July 4th Jeff Samardzija blockbuster surrendered six runs in a six-hit first inning, then served up a two-run home run to Jon Singleton in the fifth for eight earned runs. Hammel (8-9, 3.87 ERA) struck out four, walked a trio of Astros and scattered seven hits in his 4 1/3 innings of work to take the loss. He has now allowed 18 runs over 17 innings with the Athletics.

The lone bright spot for the A’s came in the second inning after Josh Donaldson took the first pitch, an 88 mile-per-hour fastball, of the inning over the Crawford boxes in left field. Donaldson’s 23rd homer of the season was the only run Oakland scored off Astros starter Dallas Keuchel. The southpaw (10-7, 2.97) went the distance, notching five strikeouts and a scant three hits over his complete-game gem. Billy Burns went 0-for-4 in his first major league start in the leadoff spot for Bob Melvin with Coco Crisp still in Oakland after receiving an MRI on his neck Monday.

With the A’s idle Thursday, the Angels could pull a half-game back of Oakland by the time the AL West Leaders open up a 10-game homestand Friday night against the Kansas City Royals. The Halos, sitting two games back at the moment, play an evening game against the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday before wrapping up the four-game set at Camden Yards Thursday.

Opening Day starter Sonny Gray will open the weekend series for the A’s Friday night looking for a superhuman effort on a night when O.Co Coliseum will be lit up with a postgame super hero-inspired fireworks display. He’ll clash with the Royals’ Jeremy Guthrie in an attempt to save the dwindling AL-West lead from peril.

After three against the Royals, the surging Tampa Bay Rays roll into town (with or without hot trade commodity David Price) for a three-game set followed by a four-game series against former Athletic Kurt Suzuki and the Minnesota Twins. August 9th against the Twins, fans will receive a special Tony La Russa Hall of Fame bobblehead in honor of the legendary skipper’s induction into Cooperstown earlier this month.

Crowded Outfield Means Catalyst Fuld May Be Odd Man Out In Oakland

By Matthew Harrington

When the Oakland Athletics dealt power-hitting prospect Michael Choice to the Texas Rangers for Josh Lindblom and outfielder Craig Gentry, the idea was that Gentry would serve as the team’s fourth outfielder. Gentry brought all the requisite skills; the ability to play all three positions, a proven track record performing in the role and faith in management that the role was his to lose. Now, with Gentry ready to return from the disabled list potentially as soon as Saturday fresh, the A’s have a tough decision on their hands. What do they do with their bench when everyone is healthy?

The platoon in place at catcher means both backstops are safe, not that John Jaso or Derek Norris would have been a victim of a crowded bench in the first place thanks to their offensive profiles. Nick Punto brings the intangibles, representing the type of glue guy franchises need in the club house if they hope to survive the 162-game grind with morale intact. Alberto Callaspo, who made his debut at first base in Tuesday’s afternoon half of the doubleheader, now boasts experience at every position on the diamond except catcher, pitcher and center field. The switch hitter stands firmly entrenched as the right-handed bat in a right-left platoon with Daric Barton at first. That leaves fourth outfielder Sam Fuld as the odd man out.

Fuld came to Spring Training a minor league free-agent competing for a position on the Major League roster that he was far from first in line for. The A’s gave prospect Billy Burns, possessor of plus-speed and the eye at the plate Billy Beane adores, an extensive look with 72 spring at-bats over 26 games. The speedster did not disappoint, pilfering 10 bases to pace the green and gold in Arizona while producing a .370 on-base percentage. Gentry, of course, was acquired to be the man off the bench to patrol the grass at O.Co Coliseum and every sign still points at him filling the role. His spot on the roster were only slightly derailed by a lower back strain. There was also always the option that Beane and co. would stick with no true fourth outfielder, electing to have Callaspo or first baseman/designated hitter Brandon Moss, who broke into the majors as an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox, spelling Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes when one of the triumvirate needs a breather.

Instead, the A’s saw something in Fuld, who hit a respectable .271 (abeit, less impressive than Burns .306 mark) with a .348 OBP in 59 preseason at-bats. The veteran outfielder, a product of Stanford University, led Oakland with four triples in the valley of the Sun. His March performance landed the 32-year -old a roster spot on Opening Day for just the third time in his seven seasons at the Major League level, not counting the 2008 season when he didn’t play above the AAA level. He’s certainly the one slated to head to the Sacramento Rivercats, if not elsewhere in the bigs, but he’s done nothing but excite in his time in Alameda County. If he hasn’t won a permanent spot in Oakland, he’s certainly shown value to the 29 other general managers in the league.

The compact left-hander, in hitting and throwing alike, has sparked the A’s offense in the leadoff spot when the coaching staff grants Coco Crisp a day of rest, something they plan on doing often this season for late-season preservation. Fuld currently sits behind only Callaspo, buoyed by the lone A’s home run of the season, in slugging percentage and OPS. Fuld is tied for second on the team in RBI’s with two, though five other Athletics have a pair as well. Fuld was denied another Thursday night when attempting to stretch an RBI triple into an inside-the-park homer proved ill-advised.
The 5-foot-10 journeyman with a career .235 batting average and only two seasons of 100-plus games-played may not be in the plans full-time for Oakland, but as long as he can produce like he is Fuld deserves a roster spot.

Every time number 29 steps to the plate or has a ball hit his way elicits an excitement that something electric is happening. He’s the one-man rally, the highlight reel grab, the game-changer in every sense of the word. It’s no wonder that he’s gained a cult-level status in his stops in Chicago and Tampa Bay. Rays fans watched the phenomena that was Fuld, dubbing the outfielder’s blossoming the so-called “Legend of Sam Fuld”. He soon saw his status elevated to tall-tale heights, with Chuck Norris jokes being altered to feature Fuld as the larger-than-life protagonist in Norris’ stead.

The Oakland A’s are now 2-0 when Bob Melvin pencils Fuld into the starting line-up. Perhaps it’s coincidence. Perhaps a season of Fuld can lift the Athletics over the playoff hump and bring the East Bay its first World Series title since 1989. Fuld’s future in the clubhouse at 7000 Coliseum way remains uncertain, but one thing is. A’s supporters would gladly watch Fuld’s legacy expand over this season over the likes of Punto or Gentry if it involves bringing the A’s more wins and some hardware in October.