Not enough runs or hits, too many errors lead to 2-1 A’s loss

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sean Manaea Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Heading into the game on Sunday with the Astros, the Oakland Athletics had gone 15 consecutive games without committing an error – a franchise record. On Sunday, the A’s committed four errors and one of those errors literally cost them the game as they lost the series finale 2-1 in 10 innings to the Astros in Houston.

In the bottom of the 10th inning with two out and runners at the corners, Carlos Correa hit a hard grounder down the third base line that Danny Valencia fielded 10 feet behind the bag. Valencia’s throw pulled first baseman Yonder Alonso off the base allowing Carlos Correa to reach safely. The Astros Jake Marisnick took off from third with the crack of the bat and he scored easily to give Houston its second walk-off victory of the four-game series.

The win gave the Astros a 2-2 split in the final series before the All-Star Break. The A’s finish their seven-game road trip with 3-4 record. Oakland finishes “the unofficial first-half of the season” with a record of 38-51 in fourth place in the American League West 15.5 games behind division leading Texas.

Beyond the tragedy of losing an extra-inning game on an error, the A’s wasted a great outing by rookie starting pitcher Sean Manaea. Manaea who was roughed up in his last start really rebounded on Sunday. He worked 7.0 innings on Sunday giving up no runs on just five hits. Manaea walked none and struck out six Astro batters. He threw 106 pitches (72 strikes) in his seven innings of work. Manaea wound up with a no decision for his start on Sunday.

On the Bump

The A’s used a total of four pitchers on Sunday. John Axford pitched one scoreless inning and struck out two taking over for Manaea in the eighth inning. Ryan Madson was brought in to close out the game out in the ninth inning. Madson gave up a one-out infield single to Carlos Gomez who then advanced to second on a stolen base. With two out, Evan Gattis lined a double to left that drove Gomez home to tie the game at 1-1. It was Madson’s second blown save of the series and his fifth of the season.

Liam Hendricks was on the mound in the bottom of the 10th when the winning run crossed the plate so he is hung with the loss and his record falls to 0-2.

Dallas Keuchel started the game for Houston. Last year’s Cy Young Award winner has really struggled this season. He worked seven innings against the A’s giving up one run (earned) on four hits. Keuchel struck out five and walked two. Keuchel (6-9, 4.80) ended up with a no decision despite turning in one of his better performances of the seasons.

Astros reliever Will Harris gets the win as he was pitcher of record in the 10th inning.

In the Batter’s Box

There are not many highlights to talk about for the A’s at the plate. The Athletics managed to accumulate just four hits on Sunday afternoon. All of their hits were singles.

The A’s scored their lone run by putting two of those singles together in the sixth inning. Catcher Matt McBride led the inning off with a grounder to left field. McBride moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Coco Crisp. Marcus Semien then hit a sharp line drive to left that allowed McBride to score from second.

Oakland went 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left four runners on base.

The Astros strung together eight hits in the game. The RBI-double by Evan Gattis in the ninth was the only extra-base hit of the game for either side. Gattis also had the only multi-hit day going 2-for-4 at the plate.

Houston left nine men on base and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Defense (or lack there of)

Danny Valencia not only had to deal with the anguish of giving up the winning run on error producing throw in the bottom of the 10th inning, he had to deal with the fact it was his second error of the game. He had a fielding error earlier in the contest. Valencia has now committed 13 errors on the season.

Marcus Semien committed his ninth error of the year in the bottom of the sixth inning when he had trouble fielding a ball off the bat of Marwin Gonzalez.

Coco Crisp committed his second error of the season in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The A’s have now committed 57 errors on the season – fourth most in the American League.

Up Next

For most of the A’s the next few days mean some much needed rest and escape from the pressures of a season gone awry. Only Stephen Vogt is heading to San Diego for the All-Star festivities.

For the A’s management and coaching staff, the four days are going to have to be ones of real reflection, honest evaluation and decision making about the future.

On the field, only one goal makes any sense right now and that is getting to .500. Being 13 games under .500 at the All-Star Break creates an incredible uphill climb for the A’s. Getting to .500 will take a Herculean effort and then it may be too late to contend even for a Wild Card spot. But getting to .500 is the only goal that makes sense for A’s on the field right now.

In the front offices, the questions are all about what does the team do between now and the August 1st trade deadline. Oakland has some players that contenders have to be interested in for the stretch run to the postseason. Hitters like Valencia, Davis and Reddick will always be in demand. A veteran utility guy like Jed Lowrie who comes with a decent bat is a desired piece in the postseason. Teams cannot have enough pitching so Rich Hill, Ryan Madson, John Axford, Sean Doolittle (if healthy) and even Sonny Gray may be players being sought after by contending clubs.

What will the A’s want in return? Prospects is what it will be all about. Think Manea, Mengden and there are more players in Triple-A and Double-A from recent trades that are showing true potential to be big league material.

The one thing that is a given for A’s fans in the second half is it will not be boring. It never is.

The losing streak is over, A’s beat Reds 6-1

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Cincinnati Reds
Marcus Semien hits a two-run home run Photo Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics went into the game on Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds needing a win in the worst way. Losers of seven consecutive games, the A’s were in danger of going 0-8 on an eight game road trip. The psychological damage to the team by going winless on the road trip could have devastating effects for the rest of the season.

Not only did the A’s have to battle a losing streak, they had to battle the weather. The Midwestern summer has come early and it was 89-degrees with 55-percent humidity at game time. That made it feel like the temperature was 96-degrees. The Athletics are not used to playing in those conditions.

The A’s found their power and used the long ball with men on base to take an early lead that they never relinquished but only added to as the game progressed. Oakland had to pitch by committee due to the weather and because they were playing an Inter-league game in a National League park where the pitchers had to bat. They played the game like a team that knew they had to win the game.

In the batter’s box

Marcus Semien started off the scoring for the A’s in the top of the second inning when he hit a 3-1 pitch from John Lamb over the left field wall with Billy Butler on base to give Oakland a 2-0 lead. It was Semien’s 12th home run of the season. He finished the day going 2-for-4 with two RBI and one run scored.

The A’s scored two more runs in the second inning when Jake Smolinski hit his second home run of the year off Lamb with Josh Phegley on base. Smolinski’s home run gave the A’s a 4-0 lead at the time.

Danny Valencia joined the home run derby when he hit a solo shot into the left field seats in the top of the eighth inning off reliever A.J. Morris to give the A’s a 5-1 lead.

The A’s manufactured a run in the top of the ninth when Khris Davis hit a line drive single to center that allowed Coco Crisp to score the sixth run from second base.

Khris Davis had a 2-for-5 game with the insurance RBI.

Billy Butler continued to be productive at the plate going 3-for-3 with a run scored. The A’s have been waiting all season for Butler to catch fire.

Jed Lowrie stayed hot with the bat going 3-for-5 in the game. Lowrie’s average now stands at .303.

The A’s scored six runs on 15 hits with eight runners left on base.

The Reds only run came in the bottom of the second inning when outfielder Steve Selsky scored off catcher Ramon Cabrera’s double to left field. Kendall Graveman was on the mound for the A’s.

The Reds scored one run on seven hits and left six men on base despite the A’s having to use five different pitchers in the game.

On the Mound

Kendall Graveman started the game for Oakland on Sunday. Graveman entered the game with a 2-6 record and had really been struggling in last several starts. Graveman pitched well but succumbed to the weather very quickly. Graveman pitched to one batter in the fifth inning but had to come out of the game. He worked 4.0 innings giving up one run (earned) on seven hits while striking out five and walking two batters. Because Graveman did not work five innings it was up to the official scorer to assign the win and Graveman was given a no decision for his 4-plus innings of work.

Fernando Rodriguez came on in the top of the fifth for Graveman and pitched two perfect innings of baseball in relief. For his efforts, Rodriguez was credited with his second win of the season.

John Axford, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson each worked a perfect inning of relief for Oakland on Sunday. Axford and Doolittle were impressive as they were throwing pitches in the high 90’s. For Madson, it was his first work on the mound since his appearance in Houston seven days ago.

John Lamb (1-4, 5.14) took the loss for the Reds even though he only pitched four innings. Cincinnati used four pitchers in their losing effort.

Defense

The key on defense for the Oakland Athletics was the fact they did not commit an error in the game. Not only did they play errorless baseball, the A’s turned three double plays that all killed potential scoring opportunities for the Reds.

The Reds did not commit an error in the game.

Up next

The A’s will have no time to rest and celebrate their victory. Oakland heads back into action on Monday night as they open a four-game home series with the Western Division leading Texas Rangers. The Rangers are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have won two games in a row.

LHP Sean Manaea (2-4, 6.20) will take the mound for Oakland. The Rangers have yet to officially name their starter although speculation centers on LHP Cesar Ramos who is a long reliever and spot starter.

 

The A’s outlast the Twins, win their fourth in a row.

by Jerry Feitelberg

AP photo: Billy Burns left and Jed Lowrie celebrate after scoring on the Minnesota Twins in the eighth inning of Tuesday nigh’ts game at the Oakland Coliseum

OAKLAND–The Oakland A’s won their fourth consecutive game in a row by beating the Minnesota Twins 7-4 in a game that seemed to go on forever. Time of game was three hours and fourteen minutes. The A’s starter, Eric Surkamp lasted just 4 and 2/3rds innings. The A’s used four relievers to secure the win. Ryan Dull received credit for his first win of the season. The Twins starter, Tyler Duffey also went 4 and 2/3rd innings and took the loss. Duffey’s record is 2-4 for the year. Every time the Twins scored in an inning, the A’s responded by scoring in their half of the frame. The Twins did not have a shutdown inning in the game

The Twins struck first in the top of the second. Surkamp retired the first two hitters he faced to start the frame. Twins left-fielder hit a flyball down the right-field line that landed on the chalk for a double. The next hitter, Byung Ho Park, followed with a double to right to drive in Grossman with the first run of the game. The A’s tied the game in their half of the inning. Marcus Semien led off with a single. Chris Coughlan hit a ground ball to first. Joe Maurer threw to second to record the force out on Semien. However, the throw back to first from Twins’ shortstop Eduardo Nunez was wild, and Coughlan reached second on the error. Billy Burns tripled to drive in Coughlan and was at third with just one out. Twins’ pitcher Trevor Duffey struck out Coco for the second out and got Jed Lowrie to ground out to end the inning.

The Twins regained the lead in the third. With one out, Nunez singled to get things going. Surkamp hit Brian Dozier with a pitch to put men on at first and second. Joe Maurer followed with a single to left to load the bases. Miguel Sano hit into a fielder’s choice driving in Dozier with the Twins second run of the game. Sano appeared to injure his left hamstring beating the throw to first and had to leave the game.  The A’s scored two runs in the bottom of the third. Stephen Vogt led off with a single. He scored when Danny Valencia took a 3-1 pitch to the opposite field for his eighth tater of the season. A’s lead 3-2 after three complete.

The Twins tied the game at three in the top of the fifth. Eric Surkamp retired the first two hitters he faced. However, he could not close out the inning. Trevor Plouffe singled and scored on a double by Robbie Grossman. A’s manager Bob Melvin removed Surkamp from the game and replaced him with Ryan Dull. Surkamp’s line was 4.2 innings pitched, and he allowed eight hits and three runs allowed. Dull struck out Park to end the Twins threat. The A’s scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead. Stephen Vogt led off the inning with a single. Danny Valencia doubled to drive Vogt in with the fourth run of the game. Valencia has driven in three runs so far. Duffey retired Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso. However, he could not get past Marcus Semien. Semien blasted a double to left to drive in Valencia. Twins’ manager Paul Molitor removed Duffey from the game. The new pitcher, Buddy Broshers, retired Jake Smolinski to end the inning. A’s lead 5-3.

The Twins scored a run to cut the deficit to one in the eighth inning. Robbie Grossman led off the inning with a double. For Grossman, it was his third double of the game. Grossman advanced to third when Byung Ho Park flew out to deep centerfield. Former A’s catcher, Kurt Suzuki singled to drive in Grossman with the Twins’ fourth run of the game. The A’s came back again in their half of the frame to score two more runs and increased the lead to three. The big blow was delivered by Stephen Vogt. Vogt doubled to drive in Billy Burns and Jed Lowrie to give the A’s the lead 7-4 after eight.

Game Notes.Stephen Vogt and Danny Valencia were the hitting stars for the A’s. Vogt had two singles, a double and two RBIs. Valencia had a homer and a double and knocked in three. The A’s improved their record to 24-29 while Minnesota drops to 15-36.

The final game of the three-game series will be Wednesday afternoon at the Coliseum at 12:35 PM as the A’s go for the sweep. It will be a battle between two lefties. Sean Manaea (1-3,7.03) will pitch for Oakland and Minnesota will send Pat Dean (1-1, 3.43)  out to handle the pitching chores.

12,767 A’s faithful watched their heroes triumph on a very lovely night in Oakland.

 

 

 

A’s break out, hit three homers in 12-3 rout of the Tigers

By Morris Phillips

In a typical big-league dugout, where guys are either locked in or tuned out, it’s hard to get anyone’s rapt attention.  But there Danny Valencia was, surrounded by Oakland teammates, recounting his swing on what became the second longest home run of his career, a 450-foot bomb that bounded off the center field hitter’s background, just below the suites level.

Valencia, facing the Tigers’ Matt Boyd, swung almost comically at ball up and outside, nowhere near the strike zone, a tomahawk with conviction that left his bat traveling 105 mph.  With Josh Phegley behind him and three other teammates in front of him, Valencia demonstrated where his hands where and how he started his swing, surprising everyone with how high his hands where.  Phegley, wide-eyed, marveled at the positioning of Valencia’s hands near his head.

Call it the beginning of a revolution, a call for unbridled aggression, or something else entirely, as Valencia’s homer gave the A’s a 2-0 lead in Saturday’s game they would go on to win 12-3 over Detroit, establishing a season high in runs scored and hits with 17.

The A’s got home runs from Valencia and Billy Butler—also a bomb—to establish a 3-1 lead.  But Victor Martinez’ two-run shot in the sixth got the Tigers even, before the A’s broke it open with five runs in their half of the sixth, and four more in the seventh.  Throughout, the warm air and the inexperience in the pitchers both teams used, inspired a hit fest, as 11 extra-base hits by both teams were sprayed over the eight plus innings of action.

“Hopefully, this is going to be a huge momentum carrier for us,” starting pitcher Jesse Hahn said.  “We’re pretty excited about it right now, and I think this is going to be the win that’s going to kind of take off our season for us.”

The A’s had been anything but an offensive, highlight factory coming in, having scored just one run in three of their seven losses in the previous eight games.  Along with the frustration in the dugout, that meant a lot of fans at the Coliseum sitting on their hands. 

Seven A’s produced multi-hit games, including Valencia and Phegley with three each.  Phegley proved his knee injury that landed him on the disabled list is thing of the past by spelling Stephen Vogt, catching the entire, lengthy game, and coming off with three knocks as well.  Billy Butler, starting at first base in a rare start, didn’t waste time.  “Country Breakfast” saw just seven pitches in three at-bats, but he homered to give the A’s a 1-0 lead in the second, and then with the game tied in the sixth, knocked in a pair of runs with a base hit. 

Khris Davis hit a three-run shot in the seventh to increase the A’s lead to 11-3.  Davis’ homer was his American League-best 11th in the month of May. 

The A’s (21-29) remain in a last place-tie with the Astros in the AL West, but Houston and Oakland wins on Saturday allowed both teams to shave their deficit behind the division-leading Mariners to eight games.

On Sunday, Rich Hill gets the call as the A’s close their three game-set with the Tigers.  Detroit’s Mike Pelfrey will make his 10th start, but is still looking for his first win.  Pelfrey is 0-4 with a 5.55 ERA and hasn’t enjoyed a quality start in any of his last seven starts.

 

 

 

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.

Defense

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.