A’s power their way past the Angels 6-4 on Saturday to end the losing streak

Semien HR
Semien hits his sixth HR in the top of the sixth inning Photo: @Athletics

by Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Athletics can cross two things off of their to-do list after beating the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 6-4 on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum. First, they needed desperately needed end a four-game losing streak that began last Tuesday. Task completed.

Secondly, the A’s needed to get a win versus an AL West division opponent. They had lost six straight games to AL West teams and 12 of their last 13 games versus the West. The win on Saturday allows the team to check that off their list as well.

The A’s cannot let down after this victory, but it should prove to them that they are very capable of playing and winning in the Western Division.

Manaea looked unstoppable for four innings

Manaea vs LAA
Manaea looked unstoppable for the first four innings Photo: @Athletics

Sean Manaea made the start for the A’s and his slider was really working for him. The lefty set the Angels down in order for the first four innings. He looked unbeatable especially after Chad Pinder hit a home run to stake Manaea to a 1-0 lead.

Then came the top of the fifth inning. Albert Pujols led off the inning with a single. Martin Maldonado followed up with a single to right field. With runners at first and second, that brought Chris Young to bat. Young was the last minute replacement for Justin Upton who was scratched due to a stiff lower back.

Young HR
Young crushes a HR off Manaea Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee

Young hit a no doubt about it home run to over the left field wall to give the Angels a 3-1 lead. Manaea was able to work his way out of trouble to end the inning, but the mood of the team and fans had definitely changed.

The sixth inning was the Angels’ downfall
The Angels had to use LHP John Lamb — who was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake — to make the start. Lamb gave up a home run to Pinder in the fourth inning and then, Marcus Semien hit his sixth round-tripper of the season off Lamb to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. That would be all for Lamb, who exited the game with a 3-2 lead.

Reliever Noe Ramirez entered the game and hit the first batter he faced — Chad Pinder. Jed Lowrie flied out to center for the first out of the inning. DH Khris Davis walked. Rameriez then hit Matt Olson for his second hit-batsmen of the inning. With the bases loaded, Stephen Piscotty hit a blistering single up the middle that drove Davis and Olson home to score. When the inning ended, the A’s led the game 5-3.

Oakland would add one more run in the seventh inning on a Jed Lowrie RBI single.

The top of the ninth inning got a little exciting
Blake Treinen was brought in to close out the game in the top of the ninth. It was his first time on the mound in six games and he looked a little rusty.

The A’s closer gave up a run (earned) on one hit while walking two and striking out one Angels hitter. The situation did not become desperate, but it was not as clean of a close as the team would have liked it to have been.

Bob Melvin’s postgame comments

In the Batter’s Box
Oakland (35-36)

  • Chad Pinder had a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate for the A’s. He was just a double short of posting a cycle on Saturday. Pinder’s home run was his sixth of the season and he recorded his 14th RBI. Pinder hit his first triple of the year in the game.
  • Marcus Semiem hit his sixth HR to pick up his 27th RBI of the year.
  • Stephen Piscotty raised his RBI total to 29.
  • Jed Lowrie now has 43 RBI which is keeping close to the leaders in the majors
  • The A’s scored six runs off six hits and recorded six RBI. Their batters struck out eight times.
  • The A’s left six men on base while going 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

Los Angeles of Anaheim (38-33)

  • No batter for the Angels had a multi-hit game.
  • Chris Young picked up the big hit with his 3-run home run in the fifth inning. That upped his RBI total to 10.
  • Mike Trout and Albert Pujols each recorded a hit.
  • The Angels scored four runs on six hits while striking out six times.
  • The Angels left four men on base and went 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

On the Hill
A’s (Streak: Lost 1 game; 4-6 in last 10)

  • The win went to starting pitcher Sean Manaea, who is now 6-5 on the season. It was his first win since back in May. Manaea worked 6.0-innings giving up three runs (all earned) off four hits. He walked one and struck out four. He did give up one home run.
  • Treinen earned the save (15) but struggled to get there.
  • Petit and Trivino each worked an inning of scorless relief.

Angels (Streak: Lost 1 game; 5-5 in last 10)

  • John Lamb who made the start did not figure into the decision.
  • Noe’ Rameriez (2-3) was charged with the loss.
  • Jake Jewell was used for one inning of relief by the Angels and it was his Major League debut.

Up Next

The Angels and A’s will close out  this three-game series with the “rubber game” of the match on Sunday at 1:05 pm PDT. The Angels will start LHP Andrew Heaney (3-5, 3.68) -who will the third lefthander to start for LA in this series. The A’s will counter with RHP Daniel Mengden (6-6, 3.90).

big foul
Foul territory is tough to cover at the Coliseum Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee

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.

“Acquired Taste” Upsets A’s Appetite For Scoring

By Matthew Harrington

OAKLAND, Calif. – Monday night marked a pitching matchup of eerily similar pitcher profiles. Two players amid career renaissances met in a showdown that would have stolen the Sportscenter spotlight just six or seven years ago by now over a half-decade later proved to be a showdown between starters just now rediscovering the promise of their abilities. In the end the outcome was just as unexpected as the winning pitcher’s ability to find a way to win.

The Seattle Mariners (15-15) bested the Oakland Athletics in the battle of the unbeaten starters, with lanky right hander Chris Young topping fellow former All-Star Scott Kazmir on a Monday evening match-up at O.Co Coliseum. Oakland got a two run home run from Brandon Moss but M’s outfielder’s Stefan Romero’s first career long ball proved the difference-maker as Young and the Seattle bullpen held the Swinging A’s to just four hits in a 4-2 Mariners win.

“You don’t see him a lot,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “He’s an acquired taste. He’s unique in what he does. You look at the gun, he’s throwing 85 miles per hour throwing balls by you.”

Young (2-0, 3.03 ERA) baffled A’s hitters despite boasting a fastball that could be measured in miles per day, not hour. Young’s “heater” sat comfortably in the mid-to-low eighties on the radar gone throughout the evening, a speed that’d usually make any pro hitter’s eyes light up. Despite the shortcomings in velocity, the towering 6-foot-10 righty pitched six innings, holding the A’s (19-13) to just three hits while striking out and walking a pair each.

“It’s just different than a lot of guys you face,” said Moss of facing Young. “Obviously it looks like he’s throwing soft and the radar gun says he’s throwing soft but the way he pitches up and down makes it tough. It’s so rare that you see something like that. With that arm angle and that height it looks like he’s throwing out of the sky.”

Young did not pitch in the MLB at all during 2013 and pitched a combined 159 innings with the New York Mets and San Diego Padres since 2010. Like pitching foe Kazmir, Young appeared on the track to superstardom after earning an All-Star spot in 2007 with the Padres but had injuries derail a promising career. Young picked up the loss in the game, saw his ERA balloon from 3.12 in 2007 to 3.96 in 2008 before bloating to 5.21 in 2009. He now appears on track to becoming a valuable contributor to an MLB team after being released by the Washington Nationals earlier in the Spring.

“He’s not a guy that some team just runs out there,” echoed Moss. “He knows what he’s doing. He knows how to pitch. He knows how to get outs when he needs them. People see velocity and they want to judge people on that, but he can pitch.”

Young’s over-the-top delivery baffled Oakland batters for three and 1/3 no-hit innings to open play before shortstop Jed Lowrie broke through with his fourth-inning, no-out single. Left fielder Moss plated Lowrie with his two-run blast to right center on a belt-high 86 mph fastball, his fifth round-tripper of the season. The dinger marks the 10th all-time round-tripper against Seattle for Moss, the most he’s hit against one team.

“It was a mistake,” said Moss of the pitch he hammered over the wall. “He had thrown me one there earlier in the at-bat and I was in front of it. The more pitches I saw, the better my timing got. He’s a tough guy to face.”

Moss’ four-bagger pulled Oakland even after the Mariners capitalized early on an off-night from Kazmir (4-1, 2.64) by pushing two runs across in the first inning. Leadoff man Michael Saunders and Stefan Romero greeted the southpaw with back-to-back singles just out of reach of A’s infielders to open the game. Big offseason acquisition Robinson Cano struck out looking but designated hitter Corey Hart drove a single through the right side of the infield to bring Saunders around from second.

“That’s baseball,” said Kazmir. “I just had to focus on the stuff that I can control. With Saunders I ended up getting two strikes on him. I tried throwing him a fastball outside but it ended up being right over the middle of the plate and up and he was able to handle it. Then there was the changeup hit into the hole (by Romero). That’s something where, if maybe I pitched a little better there’d be a different outcome. After that first inning I just tried to get as deep as I could into the game.”

Romero advanced to third on the play as well, though if Craig Gentry weren’t subbing in in right field due to Josh Reddick’s ankle injury sustained Sunday in Boston, a play at the plate or third base could have been a possibility. Romero instead came around to score on Kyle Seager’s groundout for a 2-0 M’s lead with a half inning in the books. Romero also touched Kazmir for another run in the fifth, turning around a Kazmir 0-1 delivery to left field for his first homer in the Major Leagues.

“His velocity was down,” said batterymate Jaso. “He left a couple off-speed pitches in the zone. The homer was on a changeup and it was on a guy who swings and misses on changeups but location is key. When he got hurt it was just location.”

Kazmir opened the sixth inning by surrendering a 1-2 count single to Cole Gillespie, then watched him advance to second on a wild pitch to Brad Miller. The Seattle shortstop connected on the run-scoring base hit after lifting a fly ball to left field. Moss original charged the ball and appeared to have a chance to make a routine catch, but he put up a hand to his face as the ball dropped in front of him for the hit.

“As soon as it went up it went in the lights,” said Moss, primarily a first basemen by trade. “I was hoping it would come out of it but I could tell that it wasn’t going to. I tried to back up and keep it in front of me. I wanted to keep the runner from second from scoring and keep the other guy on first. I backed up and tried to get it in to (Donaldson) as quick as possible. Sometimes those plays feel worse than errors. At least when you make an error, you know it’s your fault. You can take ownership for it. When something like that happens, that’s tough. You want to make plays for your guys.”

Miller swiped second and third off Kazmir with catcher Mike Zunino at the plate, but third basemen Josh Donaldson cut a greey Miller down at the plate after he tried to score on a tapper down the line. Catcher John Jaso applied the tag for the easy out.

Seattle ran into the third out of the inning as well when Moss caught Zunino trying to go first-to-third on a Saunders single in the gap to left center. Moss atoned for his early miscue after his throw beat Zunino to the bag for the tag by Donaldson.

Kazmir departed the game after the inning, allowing four runs on eight hits with only three punchouts and a pair of walks. Kazmir also plunked Hart for the lone hit-by-pitch of the game and fired one wild pitch in a night where his best stuff and usual velocity eluded him.

“They just got to him early,” said Melvin of his veteran hurler. “They got him out of his rhythm early on. He recovered some, he battled. It probably wasn’t the best stuff we’ve seen this year. The velocity was down a little bit. You’re going to have days like that but he still kept us in the game.”

The A’s put the leadoff batter on just once all night after Donaldson singled up the middle in the bottom of the seventh, reaching base in the 27th-straight contest. The next batter Moss fell behind 0-2 before drawing the walk in a 12 pitch battle against Young. Manager Lloyd McClendon saw enough out of his starter, lifting him for lefty Charlie Furbush to face designated hitter Alberto Callaspo.

Callaspo entered play Monday night hitting .308 with runners on base. The switch-hitter also came having hit into six double plays, “good” for second in the American League. Callaspo added to that total, bouncing into the 6-4-3 twin killing.

“He hits it hard,” said Melvin of Callaspo’s grounder. “He just hit it right at the shortstop. (Callaspo) is a guy we feel good about in those situations. He’s gotten big hits for us all year. Sometimes you just square it up and hit it right at someone. It was a bit of a momentum changer.”

Pinch hitter Derek Norris walked off newly-inserted reliever Dominic Leone to keep the A’s threat. A’s manager Bob Melvin sent Reddick to the plate for Gentry, but ended up burning the outfielder’s availability after McClendon countered by calling on Joe Beimel for the lefty-lefty match-up. Melvin sent Yoenis Cespedes, another ailing Athletics outfielder, to the plate in Reddick’s stead, but the 2013 Home Run Derby champion popped out to Cano at second to end the rally.

“He was good enough to swing the bat,” said Melvin when asked after the game if he’d send a hampered Reddick to the plate. “He was good enough to potentially stay with it.”

In total, Seattle used five relievers with set-up man Yoervis Medina picking up his seventh hold and Fernando Rodney completed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his eighth save on the campaign. Fernando Abad pitched a dominant seventh inning for Oakland and Ryan Cook pitched two innings to avoid taxing a green and gold bullpen that pitched four innings in a 3-2 extra innings win at Boston Sunday.

The A’s have now dropped three of their last four after exploding for 12 runs Wednesday to complete a sweep of the Texas Rangers. The A’s have scored just eight runs in the quartet of contests since. They’ll look to regain the scoring touch against Roenis Elias in game two of the four-game set Tuesday night. Oakland will counter with the surprise player of the season, Jesse Chavez.

“That’s just how it goes,” said Jaso. “There are ups and downs throughout the year. Maybe tomorrow we’ll come out and score ten, maybe we’ll win a 1-0 ballgame. You never know, that’s just how it works.”