Brandon Moss goes to Cleveland

by Jerry Feitelberg

The last few days at the A’s headquarters in Oakland have been a beehive of activity as “Trader” Billy Beane had decided to break up A’s and rebuild the team once more. The Trades that he made this summer starting with Cespedes for Jon Lester and Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardizija appeared not to have been the recipe for getting the A’s into the World Series. Lester was a two monthe rental and is ,right,now, in line fro a huge payday from either the Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers or Giants. Jason Hammel

went back to the Cubs and Jeff Samardizija is on his way to the White Sox. The A’s also sent pitcher Muchael Ynoa to the White Sox and got four players with little or no majr league experience. They received Pitcher, Chris Bassitt,cather Josh Phlegley, first baseman Angel Raveda and infielder Marcus Semien.In the Meantime, the A’s lost their number one prospect, shortstop Addison Russell, to the Cubs in the trade for Samardizija and Hammell.

After the one game loss in the playoffs to the Royals, the conventional thinking was that the A’s would strengthen their core by addition rather than subtraction. Beane shocked the baseball world be sending their best player Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brent Lawrie and three prospects. Not only was the baseball world shocked, the A’s fans were in a state of disbelief as the team lost its best player for a third baseman who was ok defensively but not in Donaldson’s league as a hitter.

Then to compound matters, Beane sent Brandon Moss to Cleveland for a double-A second baseman who was about number nine on Cleveland’s list of prospects. Moss, who was really sad to leave Oakland, said that the A’s gave hime a chance to play and he came through big time for them. He played first base, right field and left field for the A’s. Unfortunately, Moss had a hip injury that slowed him down in the second half of 2014 but he had surgery and was looking to rebound in 2015.

The A’s have traded their number 3,4 and 5 hitters and have gotten back some prospects and a lot of question marks.

The starting pitching looks solid with Sonny Gray,Scott Kashmir, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin returning. The last two , Parker and Griffin, are coming off Tommy John surgery and it remains to be seen how effective they will be. The bullpen lost Luke Regression but still has Dan Rooter, Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle.

The team has holes that may or may not be fixed by these trades. The A’s have three catchers, John Jaso, Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt. That gives them some flexibility as Vogt can DH or play first base. The A’s signed the former Royal Billy Butler as a right handed DH and first baseman,too. They still do not know who will be at shortstop or second base. Eric Sogar is a possibility at second but is he an everyday player? The A’s outfield will have Josh Reddick in right field. Reddick played well his first year but was slowed by injuries the last two years but did come to life late in the season. Coco Crisp is getting up in age and seems to have more injuries every year and left field duties will be split by Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry.

This scenario does not look a team that is going to contend for the western division crown in 2015, The Mariners have gotten better with the addition of Nelson Cruz. The Angels won the division by 10 games behind MVP Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick. The A’s can’t match the Angels or Mariners firepower now.

So for Cespedes, Donaldson and Moss, I wish you all well in your new baseball homes. It was great fun watching the three of you play here in Oakland. Brandon, I will miss you the most as you let me go home at 20 minutes of two one morning in a nineteen inning game against the Angels when you hit the winning home run. Would love to have all three of you back in the green and gold but because of the way you produced, it looked like the A’s were not willing to let you to have any more green or gold. That would have to come from your new employers.

“Contagious” Starting Pitching Keys A’s to Win in Bay Bridge Series Opener

By Matthew Harrington

OAKLAND, Calif. – A bug is rapidly sweeping the Oakland Athletics clubhouse and every starting pitcher seems to have come down with it. It isn’t a case of the flu, but an epidemic of quality starts, with the latest “victim” to succumb being Jesse Chavez.

“It’s contagious,” said Chavez. “Yesterday, watching Jeff Samardzija pitch, I just wanted to feed off that. As a team, we feed off that. We’re playing good baseball. We’re happy to be home.”

The A’s right-hander matched a career-high in strikeouts (nine) over six shut-out innings in a 5-0 win against the San Francisco Giants at O.Co Coliseum Monday night. The win in the opener of the 2014 Bay Bridge Series marks the fifth-straight win for the A’s (56-33), who swept one of the American League’s best in the Toronto Blue Jays in a four-game set over the weekend. A’s starters allowed three runs over 27 innings of work in the quartet of outings.

“I just want to hold down this spot for what happened earlier in the year,” said Chavez. “Whatever role they ask of me, I’ll do it. I’m just looking forward to being a part of this team.”

The decision for Chavez (7-5, 3.06 ERA) also marks a swing towards the early-season progress that had the reliever-turned-starter in the running for American League pitcher of the month in April. Chavez was 2-4 with a 4.08 ERA over his last eight starts coming in to Monday night, including a five-inning, five-run loss at Detroit in his most recent start last Wednesday.

“The last two starts, with two strikes I was over the plate a little bit,” assessed Chavez on his recent struggles. “My main focus was finishing the at-bat if I got ahead.”

Fernando Abad pitched 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief; Dan Otero did his part with 1 and 1/3 frames without a run. Ryan Cook fired off a 1-2-3 top of the ninth inning to wrap up the game. In total, A’s pitchers scattered only five hits to the San Francisco offense. The Giants left seven runners on base, while Oakland stranded nine.

Craig Gentry represented the first A’s run of the night on a John Jaso ground-out in the fifth inning to snap Giants Starter Ryan Vogelsong’s 18 and 2/3 innings scoreless streak in interleague play. An inning later, Alberto Callaspo provided the crushing blow, greeting newly-inserted reliever Juan Gutierrez with a one-out, two-run double. Callaspo took the first offering from Gutierrez, a 92 mile-per-hour fastball, into the gap in right-center to plate Josh Donaldson from third base and Jed Lowrie from first. Vogelsong (5-6, 3.92) was charged with all three runs, and ultimately, the loss after his five and 1/3 innings of work.

Lowrie chased Vogelsong earlier in the inning, singling on a first-pitch delivery to put runners on the corners after Donaldson was controversially hit by a pitch to open the inning. Replay showed that the ball hit Donaldson’s fingers near the knob of the bat, sparking debate from Bruce Bochy. The Giants manager already burned his challenge when officials upheld a hit-by-pitch of Craig Gentry in the bottom of the fifth.

“It was originally called a foul ball,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “Once (home plate umpire Paul Nauert) saw his hand, he changed the call around.”

“It hit the small pinky, the pinky knuckle,” said Donaldson. “He did the right thing. I have to give him some credit. When I heard it, it sounded like it hit the bat, but obviously I felt my hand hurting. I knew it hit my hand. He did the right thing, looked at my hand, saw it was swelling. He asked if I swung. I told him I felt like I didn’t.”

A couple of seventh-inning errors from Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford put Jaso and Yoenis Cespedes on second and third with no outs, setting up a Brandon Moss sacrifice fly off Gutierrez for a 4-0 lead. Donaldson, the starting AL all-star third baseman by way of fan vote, knocked Gutierrez out of the game on a laser up the middle to score Cespedes for the A’s fifth and final run of the night.

The sold-out crowd of 36,067 saw Oakland continue its dominance of San Francisco in the East Bay. Oakland has taken 10 of the last 12 games against their Northern California foes at the Coliseum.

“It’s always fun,” said Chavez of playing in the friendly rivalry. “It’s good baseball. It’s two good teams going at it. I think that’s good baseball.”

While the A’s continue to trend upward to the best record in the Major Leagues, the Giants have scuffled to one of the worst margins of victory in the league. Over the last 26 games, San Francisco (49-40) has gone 7-19 after winning 42 of the first 63 games of the season.

The black and orange send All-Star starter Madison Bumgarner to the mound Tuesday looking to split the two-game series in Oakland before the interleague rivalry series shifts to AT&T Park for a pair starting Wednesday. Oakland hands the ball off to its ace, Sonny Gray to sweep the first half of the home-and-home.

Big Inning Paces Tigers to Sweep of A’s

By Matthew Harrington

For the second time in the three-game series at Detroit, a big inning doomed the Oakland Athletics hopes of exacting revenge on the team that bounced them from both the 2012 and 2013 playoffs. Wednesday afternoon, the Detroit Tigers pounced on A’s pitching for a six-run sixth inning to seal up a 9-3 win and a series sweep in a matinee game at Comerica Park. Detroit (47-34)used a four-run bottom of the ninth Monday to walk off winners then shut the A’s out 3-0 Tuesday night.

A’s starter Jesse Chavez (6-5, 3.23 ERA) turned in his second-consecutive forgettable performance, taking the loss after surrendering four runs to the potent Detroit offense. In his last start on Friday against the Marlins, Chavez went only five innings in a six-hit, four-run no decision. His opponent Justin Verlander (7-7, 4.71), entrenched in a forgettable season, pitched well enough to be tabbed the winning pitcher after striking out four in his six inning, two-run performance to nail down the three-game sweep.

The A’s (51-33) did take some positives from Wednesday’s loss. Derek went 2-for-4 in his return from back stiffness that saw him sidelined since June 27. Yoenis Cespedes found himself penciled in as designated hitter after missing Tuesday’s game with tightness in his hamstring.

Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss accounted for the trio of A’s runs. Both hit solo home runs to right field off 2011 AL Cy Young winner Verlander in the first inning. Later, with the game well out of Oakland’s reach, Crisp scored on Moss’s seventh inning single off reliever Al Alburquerque. The Oakland first baseman’s performance Wednesday pushed him past an inactive Josh Donaldson (recipient of an off day from A’s Manager Bob Melvin) for the team lead in homers (19) and runs batted in (62).

Though the A’s struck early to stake Jesse Chavez to a 2-0 lead before he even took the mound, the Tigers struck often against the right-hander. Torii Hunter hit an RBI single off Chavez in the bottom of the first, then tied the game up on his run scoring base hit in the bottom of the third. Austin Jackson put Detroit ahead 3-2 in the home half of the fourth, plating Andrew Romine on a two-out single

The real damage came in six-run, three-pitcher sixth inning that saw the Motor City kitties score six runs. Chavez was lifted by Melvin in favor of Jim Johnson after walking the first two batters he faced. After retiring the first batter, Romine, on a sacrifice bunt, Johnson failed to record another out. Monday night’s hero Rajai Davis knocked a two-run single, Ian Kinsler singled in a run then 2013 American League Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera doubled in a pair to knock the 2012 All-Star from the game for Ryan Cook. In total, the beleaguered Johnson was responsible for four runs on four hits in his 1/3 of an inning.

Cook got the first batter he faced, J.D. Martinez, to ground out for the second out, but yielded a single to Torii Hunter that scored the inherited runner Cabrera. He then finished Nick Castellanos off with a pop-out, but by then the damage was done with Detroit sitting out front 9-2.

After facing the AL Central leaders Monday to Wednesday, the A’s head home to welcome the AL East’s top dogs. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays flutter into town Thursday to open a four-game weekend series at O.Co Coliseum. Melvin has tabbed Sonny Gray to open the series in hopes of snapping the current three-game losing skid.

A’s Blanked By Tigers 3-0

DETROIT, MI - JULY 01: Nick Punto #1 of the Oakland Athletics wacthes the action from the dugout during the ninth inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on July 1, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Athletics 6-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI – JULY 01: Nick Punto #1 of the Oakland Athletics wacthes the action from the dugout during the ninth inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on July 1, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Athletics 6-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

By Kahlil Najar

DETROIT – The A’s can’t find a break against the Tigers. Yesterday it was the slam and today it was a pitcher making franchise history.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello became just the fourth pitcher in Tigers franchise history to throw a shutout without walking or striking out a batter, and the first since Dizzy Trout in 1944. He also had 17 groundball outs and 10 in the fly outs to become the first major-leaguer to accomplish that feat since Baltimore’s Jeff Ballard on Aug. 21, 1989.

“Our guys were swinging at strikes, but everything was moving,” said Oakland head coach Bob Melvin. “He’s got a good sinker and a good change-up, and now he’s mixing in a good breaking ball to keep you off balance. That’s just a very well-pitched game by him.”

Brandon Moss echoed Melvin’s sentiments, “I don’t think he was overpowering. He just went out and pitched a great ballgame. He threw a ton of strikes, ahead of almost everyone, mixing it up with offspeed pitches and kept the ball on the ground. He pitched his game, and it was a great game.”

Brad Mills who started for Oakland pitched a great game and went six innings and gave up six hits and struck out six. His only mistakes were in the bottom of the fourth and sixth when the Tigers were able to score three runs total and give them all they needed to secure the victory.

In the fourth after a Cabrera walk and a Martinez double, Torii Hunter was able to hit a grounder to short and drove in Cabrera to give the Tigers the 1-0 lead. In the sixth, Martinez hit his 10th homer of the year with Kinsier on base and made it a 3-0 game.

The A’s never sent more than four batters up to the plate in any inning and were only able to squeeze out three singles and a double the entire game.

Both teams head back at it tomorrow when the Tigers send up the most hated man in Oakland Justin Verlander against Oakland prodigal son Jesse Chavez, game time 10:08 am PST.

Tigers Stun Athletics in Grand Fashion

By Matthew Harrington

The Detroit Tigers may not always beat the Oakland Athletics, but the motor city kitties tend to find the most excruciating ways to do it. After bouncing Swingin’ A’s from the postseason in the last two campaigns, the American League Central leaders added another chapter of success against their West Coast foes Monday night at Comerica Park, converting a 4-1 deficit in the ninth inning into a walk-off grand slam for Rajai Davis and the Tigers (45-34).

With a decent lead in the ninth, Oakland A’s Manager Bob Melvin tabbed bullpen backend stalwart Sean Doolittle (1-3, 2.97) to sit the Tigers down for three final outs. Instead the A’s bench boss saw a surefire victory turned into a stunning defeat. Detroit came to the plate in attack mode against Doolittle, with Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila reaching base with no outs three pitches in to the left-hander’s night.

Doolittle found his footing, striking out Eugenio Suarez but failed to put Austin Jackson away on a full-count pitch. Instead Doolittle nibbled outside the strike zone to bring former Athletic Rajai Davis to the plate representing the winning run. Davis patiently took the first-pitch delivery from Doolittle for a ball, then crushed a belt-high breaking ball deep to left field about ten feet from foul pole for his sixth home run of the season. Davis made reliever Blaine Hardy (101, 2.89 ERA) the winner, handing the 27-year-old his first Major League win

Doolittle saw his scoreless inning streak snapped at 26 1/3 innings Saturday in Miami, blowing his second save of the season after allowing a Casey McGehee single to tie the game at 6-6. With a second blown save Monday night, he now has failed to shut the door in two-straight games after going the first 38 games of the season with only one missed opportunity. Since taking over the closer’s role for a struggling Jim Johnson, the first baseman-turned-reliever has collected 11 saves in 2014.

The A’s (51-31) looked securely en route to their fifth-straight win after taking a commanding 4-1 lead in the eighth inning. Oakland and Detroit entered the inning tied 1-1 after strong performances from A’s starter Scott Kazmir and his counterpart Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez opened the frame getting Yoenis Cespedes to bounce a grounder to short, but Suarez threw the ball away on the play. Brandon Moss made Detroit pay for the mistake by lacing an RBI double to left, chasing Sanchez from the game with no outs in the seventh. The 2013 ERA leader allowed the two earned runs on eight hits with only a pair of strikeouts (including the 1,000th of his career) but exited in line for the loss.

Joba Chamberlain fared far worse in relief of Sanchez, allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base, walking Josh Donaldson before yielding a single to Stephen Vogt to load the bases. A visit to the mound by Tigers Pitching coach Jeff Jones proved only a brief respite for Chamberlain, as Lowrie took the fifth pitch of the next at-bat to left for a two-run single to stake the A’s to a commanding 4-1 lead.

Lowrie knocked in the A’s first run of the game on an RBI single of Sanchez in the top of the sixth, but 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera responded in the home half of the inning by ripping a solo home run off Kazmir to left field, the 14th long ball of the season for the back-to-back American League Most Valuable Player.

Kazmir would then walk J.D. Martinez before exiting the game two pitches in to the next batter. Kazmir appeared to suffer tightness in his lead leg after bouncing the first pitch to Nick Castellanos well in front of the plate. After a brief visit from Melvin and trainer, the southpaw stayed in the game for one last pitch. After seeing his pitcher grimace on the pitch, Melvin instantly jumped up to pull his ace from the game.

After the game, Melvin stated that Kazmir was fine and the quick trigger was precautionary. Kazmir also departed his last start against the New York Mets on Tuesday earlier than expected, surrendering seven earned runs over three innings of a 10-1 shelling in Flushing Meadows. Aside from the one blip, Kazmir has been rock solid as the anchor of the A’s rotation, potentially in line to make this season’s All-Star team after going 9-3 with a 2.66 ERA in his first 16 starts for the green and gold.

The A’s won’t have an easy road bouncing back, as they’ll face the Tigers’ surpise of 2014 Rick Porcello (10-4, 3.41) in the second game of the three-game series. Oakland sends lefty Brad Mills to the mound in his first start since getting his first win since 2012, outdueling Zack Wheeler and the Mets last Wednesday.

One Dollar Buys A’s a Split in New York

By Matthew Harrington

In a reversal of fortunes from Tuesday’s 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the New York Mets, the Oakland Athletics shelled promising youngster Zack Wheeler early on Wednesday to split the a two-game series at Citi Field. Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss homered for Oakland in the 8-5 contest while Yoenis Cespedes went 3-for-4 with a three-run double to give starter pitcher Brad Mills his first win with the green and gold despite a late comeback bid by the Metropolitans (36-42).

The A’s (48-30) scored twice in the first inning off Wheeler on Moss’ team-leading (along with Josh Donaldson) 18th long ball of the season that came with two outs and a runner on base. A four-run second, highlighted by Cespedes’ bases-loaded double, wrapped up the night for Wheeler (3-8, 4.45 ERA). The former San Francisco Giants draft pick, acquired by New York in the 2011 Carlos Beltran trade, went only two innings. He allowed a season-high six earned runs in his first start since going the distance in a 1-0 shutout over Miami on June 19th.

A Coco Crisp solo shot, his sixth round tripper of the campaign, off Dana Eveland put Oakland up 7-0 in the fourth while a Mills double play ball plated Josh Reddick from third base for the A’s eighth run and final run in the sixth frame.

While Wheeler scuffled, Mills thrived in his second start since replacing the injured Drew Pomeranz in the rotation. While he was tagged with a no decision in Oakland’s 4-2 win over the Red Sox last Thursday, Mills (1-0, 4.35) picked up his first win in the Big Leagues since 2012.

The man supposedly purchased for one dollar from the Milwaukee Brewers on June 17th went 6 1/3, allowing only three runs. All three tallies came on the first pitch of a pinch-hit at-bat for Lucas Duda which resulted in a three-run shot that chased him from the game.

Dan Otero finished off the seventh, but set-up man Luke Gregerson scuffled with his inning of work, allowing a two-run homer to former Athletic Chris Young, the chief culprit in Tuesday’s thrashing after mashing two dingers. Sean Doolittle struck out the side in the ninth to seal the 8-5 win for his 11th save of the season.

On Thursday, the A’s receive a second dose of respite this week after having a day off Monday to make the trek from Oakland to the East Coast. They’ll have a day off in Miami before opening a three-game weekend set against the Marlins Friday in Oakland’s first visit to Miami’s new ballpark which opened in 2012. Right-hander Jesse Chavez takes the hill for the Athletics while the Marlins counter with righty Anthony DeSclafani and his 7.59 ERA.

No Guarantees for Scuffling Reddick in Return to Roster

By Matthew Harrington

In 2012, Josh Reddick’s career took a gigantic leap, evolving from fifth outfielder with the Boston Red Sox to a 32 home run masher with the Oakland Athletics. The Savannah, Georgia native went from spare part to key cog in an offense, notching 85 runs batted in while providing Gold Glove-winning defense in right field. 2013 brought a regression, a return to the average with a .226 clip at the plate and diminished power (12 home runs). Again, 2014 proves more the latter than the former for the left-handed hitting outfielder who is scuffling to stay above the Mendoza line (.214 batting average in 50 games) while struggling to stay healthy enough to stay on the field.

Reddick last manned right field on May 31s but exited the game against the Los Angeles Angels after two at-bats nursing a hyperextended right knee. Just like in 2013, a season that ended in a second-straight American League West title for Oakland, the A’s rolled on without Reddick’s contributions required. They currently boast the best win percentage in the Major Leagues (.618) and are tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the most wins in the big leagues (47). Over the last 10 games, all sans Reddick, the A’s have gone 7-3.

Reddick appears poised to wrap up a rehab stint with the Sacramento River Cats in time to join the team for a trip to New York to face the Mets starting Tuesday. While he may be ready to rejoin the team, the Swingin’ A’s might not have a clear role for him. When Reddick first went down to end May on a down note, general manager Billy Beane called upon third-string catcher Stephen Vogt to fill the roster vacancy. The idea heading in was that Vogt would provide some depth at catcher as well as the corner infield and outfield spots where he had a scattering of experience at the minor league level.

Instead, the 29-year-old backstop stole the starting right fielder spot from other candidates like Brandon Moss and Craig Gentry, producing an eye-popping .346 batting average to go with 11 RBIs in only 17 games. While no one will confuse Vogt for a Gold Glove outfielder, his defense afield has certainly passed the eye test. For a catcher, he certainly doesn’t look out of place roaming right field.

One thing Melvin has displayed in his tenure with Oakland is a loyalty his veterans, evidenced by Daric Barton’s ability to work his way into the line-up 30 times this season despite only nine hits. Reddick will receive every opportunity to regain his role as a starter, likely seeing the majority of starts in the coming days. Melvin, however, shouldn’t feel obligated to continue to pencil no.16 onto his lineup card every day if his offensive woes continue.

If Reddick still looks lost at the plate over the next few series, the best course of action may be another stint at Sacramento. Reddick still has a minor league option left, leaving the best course of action to be riding out Vogt’s hot streak for as long as it will last. By then, perhaps Reddick will rediscover his long ball stroke and return to Oakland with past woes behind him.

Rangers Derail A’s Comeback, Rout Athletics 14-8

By Matthew Harrington

OAKLAND, Calif. — When the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers last met at O.Co Coliseum for a three-game set April 21-23, the visitors scored 12 runs total en route to a sweep. The series marked a tightly-pitched affair after Rangers hurlers stifled the potent A’s offense to just seven runs and three-straight losses. The A’s welcomed Texas back to Alameda County Monday night in a game no one would confuse for a pitchers’ duel. Texas tallied 14 runs while the A’s scored eight runs, both surpassing the team totals from the April set at the Coliseum.

Rangers first baseman Donnie Murphy picked up three RBIs on a pair of home runs, his fourth career multi-homer game while Yoenis Cespedes went 1 for 3 with four runs batted in for the A’s. Brandon Moss also homered for Oakland, but four Texas long balls lifted the Rangers (35-35) passed the Green and Gold 14-8. The loss matches the second-largest margin of defeat the A’s (42-28) have suffered all season, with only last Friday’s 7-0 shutout at the hands of the Yankees marking a worse run differential.

Neither starting pitcher hurled a memorable game but Rangers righty Colby Lewis (5-4, 5.97 ERA) threw well enough to pick up the win. He went 5 1/3 innings allowing fives runs. Pomeranz (5-4, 2.91) struggled to complete 3 2/3 innings, serving up eight Texas runs (seven earned) on eight hits on start removed from a seven inning, one-run performance against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I wasn’t as sharp in the beginning,” said Pomeranz. “I actually felt really good up there. They were patient at the plate. I didn’t make some pitches, they just waited for some mistakes.”
The A’s bullpen yielded six runs, with Ryan Cook , Jeff Francis and Fernando Abad all guilty of surrendering two runs apiece. The A’s committed three errors.

After Pomeranz held the Rangers in check to open the first inning, Coco Crisp had the A’s running right out of the gate. Crisp ripped a 2-2 pitch to left-center for a double, then came around to score on John Jaso’s flare to shallow center. Jaso, one of three catchers in A’s manager Bob Melvin’s line-up, advanced to second base on the throw to the plate. Lewis gifted Jaso third base after bouncing a wild pitch to backstop Robinson Chirinos. The free base allowed Jaso to score easily after Cespedes lofted the 2-1 delivery to left fielder Michael Choice for the sacrifice fly.

“We had some opportunities early,” said Melvin. “We went ahead 2-0. We had some opportunities in the next inning and we didn’t come through. We didn’t play a great game after that. Even though in the later innings we came back and made a game of it, it was just not far enough.”

Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios reached base to open the second, then advanced into scoring position on a Donnie Murphy sacrifice bunt. Chirinos then wrapped a two-run base hit to tie the ballgame after battling Pomeranz in a full count.

Former A’s utility man Donnie Murphy provided the tie-shattering blast in the fourth inning, depositing a no-out, two-run home run over the wall in deep left center. The first basemen entered play amidst a 0-for-14 cold snap at the plate before emphatically turning around his fortunes. The Rangers tacked on four more runs in the inning, highlighted by a two-out, two-run double off the bat of former American League All-star Beltre for a comfortable 8-2 advantage.

Michael Choice, the Rangers haul for shipping Craig Gentry to Oakland in the offseason, burned his former parent club with a two-run shot of his own. The dinger snapped 16 at-bats without a hit for the right-hander, placing Choice amongst Chirinos (3), Beltre (3) and Murphy (3) for Rangers with two RBIs or more Monday night. Chirinos and Murphy would later hit back-to-back homers off Fernando Abad in the ninth inning, the first two extra-base hits the southpaw has allowed this season.

A’s clean-up hitter Brandon Moss lifted his 17th home run of the season to bring Oakland within seven runs. Moss now has 31 big flys since the 2013 All-Star Break, tied with Edwin Encarnacion for the second most in the Major Leagues during that time. The Lone Star sluggers answered back, scoring on a rare sacrifice fly to third base for their 11th run.

Oakland scratched out a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning after back-to-back doubles from Alberto Callaspo and Coco Crisp to chase Lewis after four runs. Callaspo, returning from paternity leave Monday night, went 4 for 5 while sporting a new uniform number. The A’s second basemen donned a “7” between his shoulder blades Monday night.

Cespedes added three runs on a towering shot later in the inning, his 13th homer of the season, to cut the deficit to 11-7. Callaspo chipped in a run-scoring base hit in the eighth.

Kyle Blanks, who entered the game as a pinch hitter for John Jaso in the sixth, came up to the plate in the eighth representing the tying run with Callaspo at second and Vogt at first. He worked a full count off Neal Cotts but froze on a fastball right at the knees for strike three. In total, the A’s stranded 12 runners.
The Rangers added three more runs over the final two innings while holding the A’s in check despite a two-hit ninth inning rally.

“We scored some runs tonight,” said Melvin. “We’re a club that leads the league in pitching. We’re used to holding teams under four runs. The last couple games we haven’t been able to do that.”

Submariner Ben Rowen finished off the win, coaxing a ground ball out from Blanks to wrap up game one of the series. Tuesday’s match-up won’t be any easier for the A’s, with Texas sending Yu Darvish and his 2.11 ERA to the mound to face Tommy Milone.

A’s win a “laugher” over the O’s 11-1

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics were involved in a wild baseball affair on Sunday in Baltimore. The game featured 12-runs, 16-hits, 15-walks, an overturned grand slam home run, a bench clearing confrontation between the teams and two ejections as the A’s defeated the Orioles 11-1. The win also gave the series victory to Oakland two games to one.

The A’s not only showed off their high-powered offense but they also demonstrated their high-quality pitching. Scott Kazmir worked seven innings of shutout baseball giving up just four-hits while striking out seven hitters and walking just two men. Kazmir threw 96 pitches (62 strikes) en route to his seventh win of the season. Kazmir’s ERA is now a paltry 2.20.

The overriding philosophy of the A’s is to have their hitters “get on base”. They do not care if you get a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch as long as you get on base. On Sunday, the A’s walked more times than they got a hit. Oakland recorded 11 bases-on-balls off Baltimore pitching. Add to that 10-hits and you can see that the A’s had runners on base almost constantly.

The big inning for the A’s came in the top of the third. Derek Norris led off the inning with a walk. Callaspo then walked. Kyle Banks walked to load the bases for John Jaso. Jaso hit a fly ball to deep right-center field that appeared to leave the park and was called a home run by the umpires. The umpires reviewed the play and changed the call to a double. Norris and Callaspo scored but Banks was sent back to third while Jaso returned to second with a two-run double.

With runners at second and third and no outs, Nick Punto walked on four straight pitches from Ubaldo Jimenez. Josh Donaldson hit into a force out at home but the bases remained loaded with one out. Brandon Moss then took the first pitch to him over the center field wall for a grand slam home run with no review required. Moss’ 16th home run of the season gave the A’s a 6-0 lead and sent Jimenez to the showers after just 2.1-innings.

The A’s went on to score a run in the fourth inning, three-runs in the fourth inning and one in the ninth inning for the 11-1 win.

Jaso and Moss finished the game with four-RBI each. Nick Punto posted two-RBI and both came with two outs in the inning. The A’s left only two runners in scoring position with two out.

John Jaso went two for six and a run scored to go with his four-RBI. Punto went two for three with a run and two walks plus his two-RBI. Yoenis Cespedes went two for five on the day. Alberto Callaspo went one for three with two walks and three runs scored.

The Athletics went six for 10 with runners in scoring position.

In a lineup oddity, the A’s used three catchers in the game but only two worked behind the plate. Jaso was the DH, Vogt played right field and Derek Norris was the starting catcher. In the bottom of the sixth-inning, Manny Machado hit Norris with his back-swing and Norris was taken out of the game as a precaution. Vogt came in from right field to take over the catching duties.

In the bottom of the eighth-inning, Machado came to bat with two out. Machado thought a 1-1 pitch from Abad was deliberately thrown at his knees. On the next pitch, Machado swung and let the bat fly down the third base line. There was little doubt that he intended the bat to fly at Abad. Both benches cleared their dugouts and the pitchers emptied the bullpens. There were a few shoves and some yelling but it was a “nothing to see here” situation. The umpires ejected Machado and Abad once calm was restored.

Machado was also the instigator of the benches clearing brawl in the Friday night game. Machado can expect a less than warm welcome from A’s fans when Baltimore comes to Oakland in July.

The A’s are four for six on the road trip and now head to Los Angeles for a three-game series with the Angels.

Athletics Call-up for Vogt a Requirement, Reward

By Matthew Harrington

When the Oakland Athletics broke camp in March, they did so leaving behind third-string catcher Stephen Vogt. The omission of Vogt came as no surprise. It was a difficult decision, and Vogt may well have been the last player left off the roster, but he feel victim to the numbers crunch. In the offseason, General manager Billy Beane acquired left-handed hitting John Jaso to compliment righty Derek Norris. Jaso, a prototypical Athletic if ever there was one, gets on base, works well inserted in and out of the line-up and provides some sock of the bench. His arrival rendered Vogt, a lefty himself, superfluous despite any goodwill the unlikely hero earned by hitting a walk-off single in game two of the ALDS against Detroit last season. No, not even Vogt’s strong Spring campaign capped by a .364 batting average and three long balls could earn a spot over a player like Daric Barton or Sam Fuld when March turned to April and the dozens of players in big league camp were whittled down to 25 Athletics.

Fast forward to June 1st and you’ll see the name of a baseball battler penciled into the sixth spot on Bob Melvin’s line-up card in what would be a 6-3 Oakland win. Vogt, a veteran of eight minor league seasons, went 0-for-4 for the green but despite a rocky 2014 debut, the 29-year-old backstop returns to the A’s with confidence.

Certainly, Vogt’s promotion from Triple A came out of necessity. AL West-leading Oakland opens a three-game set at Yankee Stadium with question marks surrounding the health of starting right fielder Josh Reddick (hyperextended right knee) and clean-up hitter Brandon Moss (strained right calf). Vogt’s presence allows Jaso to split time at designated hitter in Moss’ stead while not surrendering the platoon advantage against right-handers (of which Oakland will see in two-of-three games in the Bronx). Vogt, a veteran with over 50 games of experience at first, catcher and left field, also provides some depth in the outfield and first base while granting Derek Norris some relief behind the dish.

The call-up, as brief or as long as it can be, also serves as the carrot on a string, the reward for Vogt’s impressive start with the River Cats. At the time of his promotion, Vogt had an impressive .364/.412/.602 line (including a .413 average against right-handers) with Sacramento, building on his 2013 Pacific Coast League All-star campaign in which he hit .324 with 13 home runs. For a baseball lifer, a nomad who has toiled away in baseball outposts like Durham, Hudson Valley and Charlotte, a taste of the Show every now and then is enough to labor away on the long bus rides for months on end.

The A’s are expected to activate reliever Ryan Cook from the disabled list, possibly as early as Tuesday, meaning a corresponding roster move must be made. Depending on the long-term outlook for Reddick, Vogt could be optioned back down to Sacramento to make room for the reliever. If he’s a casualty once again of the numbers game, he’ll at least take with him a peace of mind that his performance won’t go unnoticed. If Vogt continues to hit Pacific League pitching, the Oakland brass will almost undoubtedly beckon him back to the bright lights of the Bigs before season’s end.