Olson provides the big blow in A’s 5-1 win over the Royals

By Morris Phillips

The Royals had a guy who normally settles for singles, hit a long home run. The A’s had a guy who needs to prove that he can navigate big league hitters without allowing home runs, give up that long home run.

But late in the ballgame with the outcome in the balance, the A’s had another guy who’s being groomed to hit big home runs, hit one, and off they went to a 5-1 win on getaway day in Kansas City.

Matt Olson’s three-run shot highlighted an eighth inning rally and stood as the difference maker as the A’s captured a series on the road, after dropping their previous series against the Rays at home.

“3-0 any chance you get is one of the best fastball counts nowadays. He threw one over the plate and I was ready for it,” Olson said of reliever Burch Smith’s offering which traveled an estimated 454 feet off the A’s first baseman’s bat.

Olson’s home run was his fourth in the last four games, and proof that the A’s patience in the young slugger is paying off. Olson hit 24 home runs in an abbreviated 2017, and now he’s hit 12 this season, which ranks him behind only Khris Davis on the A’s. Despite a rough 20-game stretch beginning in April, and finishing in May, Olson is settling into his roles as a slugger and an everyday first baseman.

“You look at his numbers right now, he’s on a pretty good pace even though he might’ve got off to a little bit of a slower start than maybe he would’ve imagined,” manager Bob Melvin said of Olson.

While Jed Lowrie was credited with knocking in the game-winning run with his RBI single ahead of Olson’s blast, the first baseman drew all the attention. Like the team, Olson’s heating up.

The A’s scored 24 runs in three games in Kansas City, after they scored just 15 runs in the first nine games of the just completed home stand. Attribute the better play on the road to warmer weather, bigger crowds, increased focus, or none of the above, the A’s have won six of seven away from the Coliseum.

A’s starter Daniel Gossett went five innings, allowing two hits and a run. But after he exhibited some discomfort on the mound in the fifth, the decision was made to lift the right-handed due to elbow tightness. Gossett threw just 63 pitches, but that’s still an impressive outing for a guy who was 4-11 in 2017, and 0-3 this season.

The rail-thin Gossett allowed three, consecutive home runs in his previous start at the Coliseum against Tampa Bay. In his big league career now spanning 115 innings, he’s allowed 26 round-trippers while striking out just 84. So while Gossett can rush the ball to the plate at 92 mph on the average, he needs to prove that he can thrive in today’s MLB heavily weighted on limiting home runs and piling up strikeouts.

So how did Gossett do in that regard on Sunday?

Despite allowing just two hits, Kansas City’s John Jay took Gossett yard, the blast traveling 414 feet in the third to tie the game, 1-1. With that homer, Jay snapped a streak of 442 at-bats without a home run, the lengthiest such streak among all major leaguers who aren’t pitchers.

Not quite a good sign for Gossett. Or Jay. The former Cardinal leads the struggling Royals with a .305 batting average, and his 58 singles ranks second among major leaguers this season. But while Jay put up player-of the-month numbers in May, hitting .368 with 43 hits, the power was missing, and the Royals went 12-15.

So in regards to the newfangled, power game, Sunday was thumbs up for Olson, and thumbs down for Jay and Gossett. Funny how that works.

On Tuesday, the A’s resume their trip in Texas with Sean Manaea (1-4 in his last five starts) facing former Giant Matt Moore (1-5 in 10 appearances).



Baseball is back in the Bay; Giants down the A’s 5-1 on Sunday

baseball AZ

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Baseball returned to the Bay Area on Sunday afternoon as the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics played the first of three annual Bay Bridge Exhibition Series games at the Coliseum in Oakland. The G-Men came out on top in game of one as they downed the A’s 5-1 before 21,229 fans on very chilly day.

Johnny Cueto made the start for the Giants and Daniel Gossett took the hill for the A’s. If you are a Giants fan you are very happy with the way Cueto pitched especially with the loss of Bumgarner. The big righthander pitched 5.2-innings giving up just one run (earned) on five hits. He struck out six and walked just one batter. Cueto threw 82 pitches (57 strikes). He looks ready to go for the regular season.

The Athletics  Daniel Gossett looked good for the first two innings and then ran into some real trouble in the top of the third inning. Gossett gave up three runs off three three hits with the real damage coming from a Buster Posey two-run double that slammed off the center field wall. He would give up a solo run in the fourth inning.

Gossett worked 3.2 innings giving up those four runs (all earned) on five hits. He struck out two and walked one. Gossett threw 78 pitches (47 strikes).

“I thought his stuff was good. Similar to what we saw during regular Spring Training. He just did’t throw enough strikes,”said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “He got himself in a jam and Posey got a big hit … they scored some runs off of it. He has to be a little more efficient with his strikes and get ahead in the count.”

The A’s used six pitchers in the contest:

  • Yusmeiro Petit worked 1.1 scoreless innings giving up no hits.
  • Daniel Coulombe struck one and walked one but did not give up a hit in his one inning on the mound.
  • Liam Hendricks posted all zeros in his inning on the hill. Melvin said it was his best outing of the training season.
  • Raul Alcantara struggled in his one inning giving up one run on one hit. The hit was a home run to the Panda – Pablo Sandoval. Melvin indicated Alcantara has to start throwing his breaking ball for strikes.
  • Simon Castro closed out the game by giving up no runs on no hits while striking out two and walking one.

There were not the many highlights on offense. The A’s only run came in the bottom of third inning when Dustin Fowler led off the inning with base hit. After Joyce came close to hitting one of out the park to deep center field, Semien grounded out to short and that moved Fowler into scoring position at second base. Jed Lowrie then hit a single up the middle and the speedy Fowler raced home to score the only run of the game for the Athletics.

The totals in game for the Giants were five runs, seven hits and no errors while the A’s posted one run, six hits and two errors. San Francisco is now 14-15 for the spring and Oakland falls to 13-15.

The two meet in San Francisco on Monday night.

Athletics Current Roster

Khris Davis
Khris Davis is ready for the season to begin Photo: @Athletics

The A’s have 17 pitchers, seven infielders, seven outfielders and three catchers for a total of 34 players. That number must be cut to 25 by Thursday. Look for Oakland to keep 13 pitchers, 10 position players and 2 catchers.

Due to injuries, the A’s are down to five starting pitchers by default. It appears the bullpen will receive maximum usage this season. The team did work at upgrading the relief corps in the off-season and now it appears it is a good thing they did with the injuries to the starters.

Who will play center field?

The battle is between Dustin Fowler, Boog Powell and Jeff Smolinski. Powell saw action with the A’s in 2017 playing in 29 games and hitting .282 including three home runs. He also played in 23 games for the Seattle Mariners before being traded to Oakland. Smolinski appeared in 16 games for the Athletics batting .259 with an OPS .607.

The Athletics acquired Fowler from the New York Yankees in the Sonny Gray trade. Fowler appeared in one game for the Yankees which is the total of his MLB experience. When Fowler was traded, he was on the disabled list with a ruptured right patellar tendon. He came off the DL last November.

Powell is hitting .250 for the spring with an OPS of .665. He has hit two home runs and two stolen bases. Fowler is batting .195 in 41 trips to the plate this spring. He has not hit a home run but has recorded four RBI and has three stolen bases. His OPS is .471.

Smolinski has hit .289 this spring with an OPS of 1.003. He has hit four home runs and recorded 13 RBI. Those are some numbers that may be hard to ignore

This appears to be a battle between power and speed. The advantage that Fowler possesses is his speed which can be a real asset on defense and could be a real help on offense if he could use that speed to get into scoring position. The problem is the on-base-percentage of .227. If that OBP is over .350, now that speed becomes a weapon.

The fact is the experience and offensive production of Powell and Smolinski gives them a real advantage in staying with the “big club” on Thursday and beyond. The A’s need Fowler to develop into a leadoff hitter who can get on base by the base hit, bunt or base-on-balls. He probably needs some time at Triple-A to work on those skills.

After the game on Sunday, Bob Melvin had this to say about Fowler, “He’s doing a nice job and he’s starting to swing the bat better. He’s starting to hit the ball the other way which means he’s getting on top of the ball and more on track. Early in the spring that wasn’t the case. His bats are getting better and better.”

A’s struggle on Saturday night losing 8-4 to the Rangers

A's gossett teexas

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Daniel Gossett intended to pitch longer than 1.2-innings when he started the game for the Athletics in Texas on Saturday night but that was not to be the case. Gossett set the Rangers down in order in the first inning but would not survive the bottom of the second inning.

Gossett gave up four runs (all earned) off five hits including one home run in that fateful second inning. Joey Gallo hit his 40th home run of the season off Gossett with Nomar Mazara on base to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Gossett would never recover and would be replaced by Simon Castro.

Gossett would be tagged with the loss and will finish the season with a 4-11 record.

A’s bullpen could not post “Goose Eggs”

The Athletics needed their bullpen to put up “Goose Eggs” in the runs column but that did not happen. Six A’s relievers gave up four runs on eight hits. They walked four and struck out five.

Some nights the bullpen just cannot stop the momentum of the other team.

Texas feasted on A’s pitching

a's download (1)

Every Rangers starting player recorded at least one hit. Texas scored eight runs on 13 hits while leaving seven men on base. They went 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Joey Gallo went 2-for-2 at the plate with both hits being home runs. He has now hit 41 round-trippers in 2017. Gallo scored three runs and recorded three RBI to up his season total to 80.

Rougned Odor had a 3-for-4 day with the bat. He hit his 21st double and posted his 75th RBI. Odor also recorded his 15th stolen base of the year.

Rangers on the hill

Andrew Cashner evened his record at 11-11 after being awarded the win on Saturday over the Athletics. He pitched 6.0-innings allowing two runs (both earned) off five hits. Cashner walked two and struck out two.

The Texas bullpen worked the final three innings and tried to let the Athletics back into the game. Matt Bush gave up a run in the eighth inning including a home run to Matt Joyce. Paolo Espino allowed a run in the ninth inning when Marcus Semien hit his ninth home run of the season.

Despite the late show of power, the Athletics came up four runs short on Saturday night.

Oakland in the batter’s box

a's vs rangers

The A’s scored four runs on eight hits while leaving seven runners on base. They went just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Marcus Semien went 2-for-5 in the game. He hit his ninth home run and recorded his 40th RBI.

Matt Joyce had a 2-for-4 night at the plate including two runs scored and one RBI. He hit his 25th home run and posted his 68th RBI.

Khris Davis hit as the DH on Saturday night and went 2-for-3. He hit his 23rd double while adding his 109th RBI of the season.

Western Division Standings

Texas is now 78-83 for 2017 and is tied with Seattle for third in the west. The A’s record stands at 74-87 and they are alone in last place.

Starters for game 162

RHP Daniel Mengden (2-2, 3.75) will start for the A’s on Sunday in the season finale. He lost his last start to Seattle on Tuesday, September 26th 6-3.

The Rangers will counter with LHP Cole Hamels (11-5, 4.10). Hamels 4.10 ERA is his highest since the 2009 season.

The final game of the season gets underway at 12:05 p.m. PDT.

Let’s Play Two Day in Oakland: Game One Athletics crush the Astros 11-1

Khris Davis hits 100th Rbi of 2017 Photo: Jordan Chapin Sports Radio Service

by Charlie O. Mallonee and Jordan Chapin

“Let’s play two” is the baseball quote made famous by the late, great Ernie Banks. The problem is for most baseball fans is they really have no idea what Banks was referring to when he made that famous statement.

Sure, most baseball fans have heard about day-night doubleheaders where one game is played in the afternoon then the stadium is cleared and the second game is played several hours later as a night game. Of course separate tickets are required for each game.

On Saturday, the Astros and Athletics scheduled a “twin bill” the old fashion way. The first game started at 1:05 p.m. and the second is scheduled to start approximately 45-minutes after game one is over. And, only one ticket is required to see both games.

As Bill King would say, “Holy Toledo!”

Game One

The Athletics needed a strong pitching performance from their starter Daniel Gossett because the pitching staff would be taxed playing a minimum of 18 innings on Saturday. Gossett was trying to bounce back from a less than stellar start last Sunday in Seattle that lasted just 3.2-innings and resulted in Gossett recording his eighth loss of the season.

The problem for Gossett has been the way opponents hit off him after they see him one time through the order. The batting average against Gossett the first time through the order is just .211. The batting average against Gossett jumps to .356 after that first time look at his pitches.

Gossett struck out four Astro hitters and gave up no runs on two hits in the first two innings. In the top of the third, Gossett issued back-to-back walks and the A’s dugout began holding their breath. Gossett then retired Bregman, Altuve and Correa to get out of the inning.

Gossett was able to come out to start the top of the seventh inning but he walked the first batter and Bob Melvin came to the mound to take him out the game. Melvin no doubt had some words of praise for his starter as well. Gossett (4-8,5.02) pitched 6.0-innings giving up just one run (earned) off five hits. He struck out seven and walked just three. The 99-pitch effort by Gossett was most definitely a “quality start”.

Daniel Gossett exits the game in the 7th inning Photo: Jordan Chapin Sports Radio Service

The Athletics also exploded for 11 runs against the Astros. Houston starter Charlie Morton (11-7, 3.86) was expected to be a real problem for the A’s hitters on Saturday. Morton gave up a double to the Athletics leadoff batter Marcus Semien in the first inning and then proceeded to record three consecutive strikeouts. It looked like it might be a long day for the A’s.

The Athletics (61-80) broke through for three runs off Morton in the second inning and never looked back in the game. The A’s put three more runs up on the board in the sixth inning and then broke the bank with a five-run eighth inning that forced the Astros to use J.D. Davis — an infielder — to close out the game on the mound.

The powerful Astros (86-55) were not able to generate anything on offense. The scored only one run off their five hits.

On the hill


  • The A’s relievers did their job in game one holding up their starter Gossett by putting up the coveted “Goose Eggs” in their three innings of work.
  • Ryan Dull and Simon Castro not only allow zero (Goose Eggs) runs in three innings of relief but they allowed not no hits and just one base runner via a walk. That is the perfect scenario for a bullpen to preserve a win.


  • The Astros pitchers were their own worst enemies in game one of the doubleheader. As a staff they issued 13 base-on-balls and struck out 12.
  • Houston pitchers walked in five of the 11 runs they gave up to the Athletics in game. That will give managers and pitching coaches ulcers and nightmares.
  • The Astros gave up 11 runs on just 11 hits to Oakland

In the batter’s box


  • The “2 Matts” had another big game for the A’s. Matt Olson 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and two runs scored. Matt Chapman was 1-for-4 with two runs, one Rbi, one walk and one triple.
  • Boog Powell enjoyed his day with the bat going 2-for-4 posting two Rbi to go with three runs scored.
  • Khris Davis posted his 100th Rbi to become the first Athletic to have back-to-back 100-plus Rbi seasons since Miguel Tejada accomplished that feat in 2002-03.
  • A’s batters walked 13 times in the game and struck out 12 times — that is bat control.


  • Frankly there are not many highlights for Houston. They were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Houston left six men on base.
  • The big blow for the ‘Stros was Alex Bregman’s double in the fifth inning that drove home the only run for Houston.
Marisnick goes down on the back end of a 5-4-3 double play Photo: Jordan Chapin Sports Radio Service

Postgame note

Astros catcher Juan Centeno started the game but had to leave the contest in second inning when he took a bat off the back of the head from a hard swing by Matt Joyce. He is being evaluated for a possible concussion.

Seattle Mariners sweep A’s out of Seattle with a 10-2 victory on Sunday

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Mariners Celebrate sweep
Mariners celebrate sweep of Oakland*

The Oakland Athletics have a major problem to solve between now and the beginning of the 2018 season. They have to figure out how to win games on the road.

Winning at home has been a positive for the 2017 Athletics. They have posted a 37-31 record at the Coliseum this season. The Mariners who swept them this weekend have 37-32 record at home this year. The Athletics home record would make them competitive in any division in baseball.

The Athletics road record is where the team hits the wall at 100 miles per hour. With the loss on Sunday, Oakland is now 21-47 on the road which is the worst record in the MLB. Turning that trend around will not be easy with a team that is as young and inexperienced as the Athletics. They will have to learn the art of winning on the road.

That is all a part of the rebuilding process. If an organization commits to a true rebuilding plan, it involves pain. No one likes pain — owners, executives, coaches, players or fans. But simply put … there will be pain.

Seattle took charge early on Sunday

Mariners Haniger
Mitch Haniger had a 4-for-5 day at the plate*

The Mariners jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back. Seattle added another run in fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead.

While the Mariners were scoring runs, their starting pitcher Andrew Albers was shutting the Athletics down. He allowed the A’s just one hit over the six innings he pitched. Matt Olson hit his 12th home run of the season off the first pitch Albers delivered to him in the sixth inning.

The M’s came right back and scored solo runs in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings. The A’s added their second and final run in the top of the eighth when Matt Olson hit a single that drove Mark Canha home to make it a 5-2 game in favor of the Mariners.

Then came the disastrous bottom of the eighth inning. The A’s sent Michael Brady to the mound to hold the Mariners at five runs. Carlos Ruiz led off with a double to center field and Gordon Beckham was sent in as a pinch-runner. Jean Segura — who was on fire at the plate the entire series — bunted his way on base and Beckham moved up to third.

With the infield drawn in, Yonder Alonso (yes, another former Athletic) hit a single through the shortstop position as Semien moved toward second to cover the base runner. Beckham scored and Segura stopped at third.

Robinson Cano singled to right field which drove Segura home and moved Alonso up to second. Nelson Cruz singled to left which allowed Alonso to score and sent Cano to second base.

Pitching coach Scott Emerson made a visit to the mound to explain to Brady that no help was coming from the bullpen. The A’s have an afternoon game on Labor Day so they were not going deep into the pen when they were six runs down and there were no outs in the inning.

Kyle Seager singled to left field which allowed Cano and Cruz to advance 90 feet. Mitch Haniger grounded into a force out that erased Seager at second base but Cano scored and the bases remained loaded.

Ben Gamel grounded into a force out that allowed Nelson Cruz to score the fifth and final run of the inning for the Mariners. When the dust settled, Seattle held a commanding 10-2 lead which led them to their third consecutive victory.

Seattle is now just 2.5 games out of being a Wild Card team in the American League.

On the mound


Mariners Gossett
Daniel Gossett struggled in his start on Sunday*
  • Daniel Gossett made the start for Oakland and never was able to take control of the game. He worked 3.2-innings giving up three runs (all earned) off seven hits (one home run). Gossett walked five and struck five. He threw 89 pitches (49 strikes) to the 22 batters he faced. Gossett was tagged with the loss and now has a record of 3-8 for the season.
  • Liam Hendriks was strong in his 1.1-innings of relief work. He faced just four hitters allowing no runs on one hit and striking out one.
  • The rest of the A’s relievers broke the rule “Goose Eggs” in their three innings of work. All three relievers gave up at least one run when the goal is to give up no runs — a “Goose Egg”. Cassilla gave up one run, Moll allowed a run and Brady had five runs scored during his one inning on the hill. All seven of the runs allowed by the relievers were earned runs.


Mariners Albers
Andrew Albers pitched six strong innings on Sunday
  • Andrew Albers did everything the Mariners hoped their starter would do on Sunday. He pitched 6.0-innings to make it a quality start allowing the A’s just one run (earned) on one hit (one home run). He walked one and struck five. Albers was credited with his third win of the year to go with just one loss.
  • Emilio Pagan relieved Albers and was credited with 1.0-inning of work. He did face one hitter in the top of the eighth. Pagan allowed one run on two hits but was credited with a hold (5).
  • Marc Rzepczynski took over for Pagan in the eighth and faced two batters giving up one hit.
  • Then it was “Goose Egg” time for the Seattle bullpen. Nick Vincent took over for Rzepczynski and shut the A’s down posting all zeros. Vincent was credited with his 26th hold of the season.
  • Shae Simmons worked the ninth in a non-save situation allowing no runs on one hit and striking out two Athletics.

In the batter’s box

Mariners Olson hits HR
Matt Olson hit his 12th HR of the year Sunday


  • Matt Olson was the real story at the plate for Oakland on Sunday as he went 2-for-3 with two Rbi and a run scored. He hit his 12th home run and upped his Rbi total to 26.
  • The A’s had just five hits in the game. They had just one hit — Olson’s home run — in the first six innings.
  • The Athletics were 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position (notice the lack of opportunity) and left four runners on base.


  • Robinson Cano was the man of the day with the bat going 4-for-5 with four Rbi and scoring two runs. He hit his 21st home run of the season — a two-run shot in the first inning — off Gossett.
  • Mitch Haniger also had a 4-for-5 day that included two Rbi and run scored. He hit his 10th home run and his 18th double of the year in the contest.
  • Jean Segura had a 3-for-4 day scoring three runs. He upped his doubles total to 27 and upped his stolen base total to 20.
  • The M’s scored 10 runs on 17 hits and left 10 men on base.
  • Seattle went 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

The Mariners and Athletics have three games left to play against each other in Oakland on September 25, 26 and 27.

Up next

The A’s come home for Labor Day to play a day game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at 1:05 p.m. Rookie RHP Parker Birdwell (7-2, 3.52) will start for the Angels while the Athletics will counter with RHP Chris Smith (0-4, 6.27) who is still seeking his first victory of the year.

*Photos by USA Today Sports



Three the hard way: Trio of solo shots holds up, A’s avoid the sweep in New York

Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell, left, congratulates Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Santiago Casilla (46) after Casilla earned a save by closing out the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Sunday, July 23, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

By Morris Phillips

You do what you can do, right?

The A’s don’t score many runs, don’t get a lot of hits, and they don’t do any better when the odds are supposedly stacked in their favor with runners on base poised to score.

For that matter, the A’s strike out too much, commit too many errors, and don’t like facing lefties, National Leaguers, or playing day games. But for the most part, all that stuff is actually part of a different story.

For this story, the A’s needed to overcome their run-scoring limitations and find a way to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Mets on Sunday. And they did just that by relying on something that they do well: hitting home runs with the bases empty.

Oakland got solo shots from Marcus Semien, Khris Davis and the game-winner from Matt Chapman in the seventh to edge the Mets, 3-2 at Citi Field in New York. The A’s avoided the sweep and improved their American League-worst road victory total to 16.

But by winning by the narrowest of margins, the A’s also buried a weekend of demons in which they were narrowly defeated Friday and on Saturday, after their 5-0 lead evaporated in the final, four innings.

“We’ve gotten worn down here a little bit these first two games here where we had some leads and they came back, so it was good the guys kept grinding and kept responding,” manager Bob Melvin admitted.

This time, the A’s worked through an hour-long rain delay, and the loss of 1-0 and 2-1 leads. And with the game on the line, reliever Santiago Casilla retired three of the four Mets he faced to earn his 16th save.

The A’s have battled their youth and inexperience all season as reflected in their below-standard positioning in numerous, statistical categories. But hitting homers is one thing this club does well, hitting 134 of them in 98 games. Mets starter Rafael Montero had to be aware of the A’s proficiency with the long ball coming in, but not overly concerned. Montero had allowed just two home runs in his 45 innings pitched this season.

All that concern for Montero was heightened two batters into Sunday’s game. First, Semien launched Montero’s elevated offering into the left field seats. Then in the fourth, Davis hit his team-leading 28th home run to give the A’s a 2-1 lead. After the first two round trippers, 59 percent (80 of 136) of the A’s homers had come with the bases empty.

“Those home runs, when they occurred, that’s because I kept the ball too high,” Montero conceded.

A’s starter Daniel Gossett came in with just one win on the season–like Montero–but unlike his Mets’ counterpart, he was able to change his storyline on Sunday.  Gossett allowed five hits and two runs in his six innings of work to earn the win. Gossett addressed his won-loss record and his personal safety in the fifth when he stabbed Curtis Granderson’s liner through the box to end the inning.

The A’s open a four-game set in Toronto on Monday night. Chris Smith goes for his first, big league win in a matchup with Francisco Liriano at 4:07pm.

Still the King: Mariners Hernandez brings A’s first half to a quiet end

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez turns and lets out a yell after striking out Oakland Athletics’ Jed Lowrie to end the top of the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

By Morris Phillips

One of the worst pre-All Star break runs in Oakland A’s history wouldn’t be complete without a contribution from King Felix.

Consider the A’s first half complete.

The 31-year old Felix Hernandez has maintained a hex on the A’s for more than a decade, winning 24 times in 45 career starts, a roll that continued on Sunday with the Mariners 4-0 win in which Hernandez and four relievers shut down the A’s, allowing just two hits.

The A’s concluded the first half with a 39-50 record, the ninth-worst record at the break in the team’s Oakland history. Despite winning four of five coming in, and Hernandez attempting to reinvent himself after a string of injuries, the A’s and their nemesis experienced deja vu once Hernandez took the mound on Sunday.

Hernandez walked three, struck out a season-best eight, and threw 100 pitches in subduing the A’s for six innings. It mattered little that Hernandez has struggled this season, spending nearly two months inactive due to shoulder bursitis. In just his fourth start since coming off the disabled list, Hernandez pitched as if it were old times.

“That’s absolutely the best we’ve seen him all year,” Mariners’ manager Scott Servais said. “He was locked in, had all his pitches working. He just had a different look about him today and that’s what guys that have had the career he’s had, they can turn up the dial a little bit.”

The A’s were limited to Matt Joyce’s double in the third inning, and Jaycob Brugman’s single in the fifth while facing Hernandez. The quartet of relievers following the King were even more stingy, gifting the A’s with a pair of walks, and no hits.

The A’s came into the first half finale, hitting just .197 in their previous 10 games, a stretch hardly masked by the perfume of four wins in their previous five games.


A’s explode for 10 runs to win second in a row over the White Sox in Chicago

CWS graphic

by Charlie O. Mallonee

No, you did not read the headline wrong. The Oakland Athletics beat the White Sox 10-2 on Saturday and have now won back-to-back games on the road in Chicago. This A’s team had won just nine game on the road this season going into the series with the Chisox. They are now 11-25 on the road after winning on Friday and Saturday. Winning on the road is key for the A’s to even their record at .500 which is the most important goal for this team right now.

This was a game of record setting first

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox
Rookie Franklin Barreto celebrates his first home run*
  • Three Oakland A’s rookies hit their first major league home run in this game. That had never happened in Major League history.
  • Matt Olson hit his first career home run in the top of the first inning off the very tough veteran pitcher James Shields. Matt Joyce was on base so the HR was a two-run shot. Olson was not done. He hit another two-run round-tripper in the top of the seventh off Jake Petricka. Olson finished the game going 2-for-3 with four RBI and two walks.
  • Rookie center fielder Jaycob Brugman stepped in the batter’s box to face Shields in the top of the second inning with one out and the bases empty. Brugman hit the ball over the wall in right center field for his first career home.
  • Franklin Barreto — the A’s number one rated minor league prospect — played for the Nashville Sounds in Oklahoma City on Friday night. After the game, he was told to report to the big club in Chicago. Barreto was initially told he would not play on Saturday. That situation changed and he was inserted into the starting lineup. In the third inning Barreto hit a one out, two-run home run off James Shields for his first major league hit and home run. Barreto finished the day going 2-for-5.
  • There was one more first in the game. Starting pitcher Daniel Gossett recorded the first win of his career in the contest. Gossett (1-2) pitched 6.0-innings giving up two runs (no earned runs). He struck five while walking just one White Sox batter. He threw 93 pitches — 64 strikes.
MLB: Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox
Daniel Gossett recorded his first win of the season*

Every batter in the A’s lineup recorded a hit

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox
Rosales had a 2-for-5 game*

The A’s pulled off a rare feat on Saturday when every player in the lineup picked up a hit. They scored 10 runs on 15 hits that included four home runs (all hit by rookies) and one double. They drew six walks. Oakland left 13 runners on base and was 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position as a team.

Catcher Bruce Maxwell who was called back to the majors when Stephen Vogt was DFA’d went 3-for-5 and scored two runs in the game. He also did another fine job in handling the pitchers in the game.

The number nine hitter — Adam Rosales — had a big day at the plate. Rosales went 2-for-5, scored two runs and had one RBI for the A’s.

Oakland relievers do their job

A trio of A’s relievers each worked one inning after Gossett was done for the day. Daniel Coulombe, John Axford and Michael Brady combined to hold the Chisox to no runs on no hits in final three frames. In fact, they did not allow a base runner in their relief efforts.

There was a negative — three Oakland errors

The A’s did commit three errors in the game. They were very fortunate that they happened in a game where they scored 10 runs and could compensate for them.

Errors were charged to Barreto (1, fielding), Rosales (6, fielding) and Healy (13, throwing).

The White Sox committed two miscues of their own on defense.

Chicago notes

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox
Rick Renteria watched the end of the game from the locker room*

James Shields took the loss and his record drops to 1-1.

Alen Hanson had the only multi-hit game for the White Sox going 2-for-4.

Todd Frazier and manager Rick Renteria were ejected from the game in the seventh inning for arguing with the umpires after a video review went against the Sox. It was the first ejection Frazier’s career.

A’s go for the sweep on Sunday

Sonny Gray (2-3, 4.84) will take the ball for A’s on Sunday. Gray lost his last start on Wednesday when he gave up five runs on seven hits to the red hot Houston Astros.

LHP Derek Holland (5-7, 4.48) will go to the hill for the White Sox. Holland also made his last start on Wednesday and he lost that game to the Minnesota Twins. The Twins roughed him up for seven runs on nine hit in just 2.2-innings.

First pitch is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. PDT.

*Photos by Patrick Gorski of USA Today Sports