A’s win season finale, 6-2, host the White Sox on Tuesday in playoff opener

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–Losing five of seven to close the regular season isn’t ideal, but winning the season finale is for the A’s.

“More than anything, it’s been a difficult season on some guys,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s a new, clean slate. You can really make up a lot of ground by having a good postseason.”

Winning or losing the final contest of a pandemic-truncated season prior to the start of an expanded postseason is just one aspect. The crazy world of major league-mandated tie breakers is the other confounding piece of this unique 2020 season.

The AL West champions rebounded from a 2-1 deficit on Sunday to defeat the Mariners, 6-2, and appeared set to host the Astros, a familiar and dangerous opponent, despite their losing record (29-31), the worst of the AL qualifiers.

But 45 minutes after the A’s win, the Twins fell to the Reds in Minneapolis, 5-3 in 10 innings, and that bumped the A’s to the two-seed and a matchup with the Chicago White Sox, the third-place qualifier from the AL Central with a record just one game inferior to the A’s (36-24).

Wait a minute. How’s that? The A’s moved up a seed, but drew a far more accomplished opponent in the process? Well, in the word of Rob Manfred, yes.

The pairings follow a familiar pattern: the eight qualifiers in each league are seeded 1-3 for the first place teams, 4-6 for the second place teams, and 7 and 8 for the best remaining records. What makes the process disjointed is the mixing of two seeding philosophies where the final two qualifiers aren’t the two best, third place clubs with a 60-game schedule that had each club playing just nine of the other 29 big league clubs.

Because of that, only one of the eight, opening series involve clubs that have played each other in the regular season (Blue Jays versus Rays). That leaves a lot of uncertainty, especially in the 48 hours leading up to the wild card openers.

Would the A’s rather see a familiar opponent with a losing record, or one with as good as record as themselves that they haven’t seen since March 3 in spring training?

We’re about to find out. This aspect will be appealing to them: instead of one opportunity in front of 50,000 adoring fans, the A’s will get three shots to win twice in the their stadium with no fans.

The winners of the Astros-Twins series and the White Sox-A’s series will advance to a ALDS pairing at Dodgers Stadium. Again two opponents with no recent familiarity in an unfamiliar ballpark.

The A’s have starting pitching options in Sean Manaea, Mike Fiers, Mike Minor, Jesus Luzardo and Frankie Montas, who enhanced his stature with a career-best 13 strikeouts in six innings on Sunday. Montas had muddied his postseason outlook with an ERA of 10.88 over his previous six starts overlapping the birth of his child and a subsequent paternity leave.

“I was going to take him out after five, but I really needed him one more inning,” Melvin said of Montas. “He came in before I said anything and said, ‘I want one more’ and then struck everybody out. I think that’s going to do wonders for him going forward.”

Chad Pinder returned from the injured list and entered the game as a pinch hitter, than designated hitter getting three at-bats. Pinder last played September 12, and he gives the A’s another option to fill the big shoes of Matt Chapman at third base.

The primary option at the hot corner, Jake Lamb homered leading off the seventh inning to give the A’s the lead for the first time, 3-2. The former Diamondback has 12 hits–seven for extra bases–in 13 games for the A’s.

Lynn, Rangers stymie the A’s, 6-3, in series finale

By Morris Phillips

The A’s are having a great season, but they didn’t have a great afternoon.

Texas’ Lance Lynn had a lot to do with that difference. But the A’s can still envision a triumphant return in October to the Rangers’ new ballpark for an unconventional World Series.

Lynn retired 17 batters in a row an pitched into the seventh inning of the Rangers 6-3 win that earned them a split of the four-game series. Lynn was dominant in spots, fortunate in some others, as he struck out 10, walked two, and allowed just one hit in the first six innings.

“They are a good team,” Lynn said of the A’s. “They have a deep lineup. They make you work for things, and today, I was able to kind of counter what they were doing early and get through seven.”

A pair of one-out base hits in the seventh left Lynn vulnerable, but he recovered, striking out Ramon Laureano, then getting a lunging stab of Jonah Heim’s liner from Isiah Kiner-Falefa to preserve a 4-1 lead.

“If that sneaks through, (Lynn’s) potentially out of the game,” manager Bob Melvin said. “That was a key play in the game.”

Jeff Mathis’ two-run homer off Lou Trivino in the bottom of the inning put the game out of reach. The A’s created a bit of uncertainty with single runs in the eighth and ninth, but ultimately couldn’t generate enough offense with only six hits, including Tommy La Stella’s solo shot with the A’s trailing by five.

The Rangers played the 26th game in their new ballpark–winning for just the 13th time–and homered three times in a game there for the first time. While the last place Rangers have broken even at home, their season has self-destructed due to 17 losses in their 21 road contests thus far.

The A’s lead over the second-place Astros is six games with 14 remaining, pending the result of the Astros-Dodgers game Sunday night. And while that might be cause for comfort, the A’s schedule is not. They split a doubleheader on Saturday, and will travel to Seattle for a makeup twinbill on Monday, before they start a two-game set at Colorado on Tuesday. In all the A’s will play 10 games in seven days, their busiest stretch since June 1966.

“It’s all on the road. It’s all lumped together. And not much time, and we’re traveling all over the place to do it. But other teams have done it too,” Melvin said.

Frankie Montas pitched into the sixth inning, but allowed seven hits and four runs, all coming on homers by Derek Dietrich and Rougned Odor. Montas will travel home for the birth of his child before rejoining the team later in the week.

Hopefully, the child birth serves as a reset for Montas, who has seen his ERA balloon from 1.57 to 5.86 since August 8. Montas is next scheduled to face the Giants at the Coliseum over the weekend.

The A’s received some sense of what their postseason will look pending the players association’s approval of the league’s proposal for an expanded playoffs. As the AL West champion, the A’s would host a best-of-three opening round with all three games at the Coliseum. While not the crapshoot of a single wild card game, the brief series likely would be against an experienced playoff opponent in the Indians or Yankees.

If the A’s survive, they would advance to an ALDS in either Los Angeles (Dodgers Stadium) or San Diego (Petco Park) and then an ALCS in Los Angeles.

The League winners would then gather in Arlington for a single site World Series at the brand new Globe Life Field. That series would end no later than October 30.

A’s walk-off wonders once again in 5-4 win over the Angels

By Morris Phillips

The A’s game notes made it very clear: the Angels weren’t likely to prevail despite being locked up with Oakland, tied 4-4 in the late innings on Sunday.

And all that statistical momentum built up by the first-place A’s didn’t even take account how poor the Angels have been in close games this season. Accordingly, Mark Canha’s sacrifice fly in the 10th inning chased home Franklin Barreto in the A’s 5-4 win at the Coliseum.

“We’ve lost that game five times this year, maybe six,” said Angels’ manager Joe Maddon. “We’ve had leads and gave them up. And I am not banging on the pitching. Overall, we pitched pretty well today. It sticks in my mind losing some games with leads late. We just have to be better at that.”

The A’s became the first American League team to 20 wins, and at 20-9, their 4 1/2 game lead over the Astros in the division looms large in a shortened, 60-game regular season. The visitors fell to 9-20, as 2020 is trending toward a major disappointment for the high-priced Angels.

The game notes produced by the perpetually tuned-in Mike Selleck before each A’s game are always filled with statistics, numerical trends and historical perspective. But when the A’s are cooking, as they are now with the second-best record in baseball, the notes can be downright intimidating for advance scouts and opposing managers.

The A’s are experiencing one of their five best starts to a season in their East Bay history, and late game proficiency and heroics are at the root of it all. The A’s are 5-0 in extra innings after Sunday, and they’ve hit 15 homers in the seventh inning or later, third best in MLB. Add to that, the Oakland bullpen, with the trio of Jake Diekman, Joakim Soria and Liam Hendriks leading the way, has 10 saves so far this month, already their largest total in August in the last 15 seasons.

Want more? The A’s are 13-4 in their home ballpark, and one of two teams (Braves) that haven’t lost this season on a Sunday, a record that improved to 5-0 on Sunday.

So when the A’s rid themselves of Angels’ starter Dylan Bundy, trailing just 4-3 in the sixth, things figured to get better in a hurry. Against the beleaguered Angels bullpen, they did.

Two pitches in, Stephen Piscotty’s RBI single off reliever Mike Mayers pulled the A’s even.

Earlier the Angels got a big three-run homer from Shohei Ohtani, who has struggled with his bat ever since he was shut down earlier this month from pitching due to forearm tightness. But their 4-2 lead would stagnant as Mike Trout, whom Angels beat writers tweeted hasn’t looked like himself lately, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts while leadoff hitter David Fletcher and rookie number seven-hitter Jo Adell went 0 for 4 and 0 for 5 with three strikeouts respectively.

The A’s bullpen shut the door with 5 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Frankie Montas as J.B. Wendelken, followed by the previously mentioned trio, allowed just two singles.

Hendriks managed the greater degree of difficulty in the 10th, retiring Jason Castro, Andrelton Simmons and Fletcher without letting placed baserunner Adell advance.

“They keep shutting the door with that new extra-inning rule,” Canha said of the bullpen. “When you do that, it’s huge. Going into the bottom half just having to score one takes pressure off the offense and makes the job a little bit easier.”

The A’s won for the first time without the benefit of a home run. They had homered at least once in 23 of their first 28 games. Instead, they went small–and clutch–with four, two-out RBI and five knocks with a runner in scoring position.

The A’s open a four-game set in Texas on Monday, the first leg of a 10-game trip that continues through Houston and Seattle.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast: Sports community still processing Kobe’s death; A’s Fan Fest brought out a lot of baseball people; plus more

sfgate.com file photo: The Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry (30) gets a hug from the Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant on March 6, 2016 at Staples Center in Los Angeles

On That’s Amaury’s podcast:

#1 Breaking: The Houston Astros have signed Dusty Baker as manager

#2 The shock of learning of the sudden death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter and seven other passengers was surreal for many people to process

#3 The Oakland A’s held Fan Fest on Saturday, you had a chance to work with your broadcast partner Mauricio Segura and Oakland A’s pitcher Frankie Montas at Jack London Square.

#4 Spring Training is just around the corner. How much will the sign stealing scandal dominate coverage in this upcoming pre season?

#5 For the Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun announced that this will be his last season. This is also the last year of his five year contract with the Brewers. Will his PED use in 2013 have an impact in his Hall of Fame candidacy?

#6 Kobe was called a renaissance man spoke three different languages, was involved in many different businesses and community efforts if you had to think of anyone else who was close to a Kobe Bryant persona would you say Stephen Curry of Golden State was a little like that?

Join Amaury for all the Oakland A’s home radio broadcasts in Spanish at KIQI 1010 and News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Athletics Pitcher Frankie Montas, Exclusive Interview

2020 Topps baseball card of Oakland A’s pitcher Frankie Montas

Athletics Pitcher Frankie Montas, Exclusive Interview

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Amaury Pi-González

OAKLAND– In a overcast day/afternoon, but without rain,as thousands of fans visited and mingled with A’s players during the 2020 A’s Fanfest at Jack London Square young Danay García, Special Events Assistant for the A’s brought to our kiosk at The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame, A’s starting pitcher Frankie Montas.

Frankie ended his 2019 season with a 9-2 record with a 2.63 earned run average in 16 games he started. Smiling and followed by a bunch of fans with ball and pen in hand they were lining-up to get this autograph, he sat next to me as he signed for roughly 20 to 30 minutes, once in a while standing up to pose with fans in selfies as well as group/family shots.

Montas dropped by with his wife Nicolette and son Michael. The young Dominican hurler seems very happy posing with fans signing one autograph after another. I conducted the interview in Spanish and here it is translated. Montas pitched this winter for the Leones del Escogido or Escogido Lions) in the Dominican Republic professional baseball league.

He said he pitched a little bit more this season. That makes sense because he only started basically half of the 2019 for the Athletics. I didn’t wanted to dwell on why he was suspended that was not the main goal, specially at this time in history when baseball is under heavy scrutiny because of the sign-stealing scandal. This is not the place anyway, this was a Fanfest, where positivism was in the air. The last thing I wanted to ask him was about his suspension and I did not.

Montas is about 6 feet 2 inches tall,at 240 pounds with a strong powerful right arm.

Q: Welcome to Oakland. Ready for Spring Training?

A: “Yes, I am happy to be here, and ready to go to Arizona”

Q:You live in Arizona, so basically you are going back home.

A: Absolutely,should be fun…and I am really looking forward this season.

Q. Do you consider yourself a fastball pitcher (you throw around 97 mph).?

A: Yes, I do, that is my best pitch, but I can also come at a hitter with other pitches, but yes, I think you can consider me a “power pitcher”.

ThIs will be his sixth season in the major leagues and fourth with the A’s,the Dominican pitcher will be 27 years of age next month. During his abbreviated 2019 season,he recorded 103 strike-outs in 96 innings of labor and was on a pace to win 18 to 20 and throw over 200 strike outs.

Q: Many people (including me) like to know, which player is the toughest for you to get out.

A: Joe Mauer of Minnesota, I cannot get him out. Mauer has played 15 years with the Twins and is the only catcher in MLB history to win three batting titles. The veteran has been a tough out for many pitchers, last week in a ceremony at Target Field,the Twins retired his famous number 7..

Q: Now that you have been in the majors for a few years, what is the one thing that has impressed you the most?

A: The discipline here, everything is done professionally,we have a schedule for everything, the speed of the game is another thing..

Q: Oakland Coliseum is the most spacious MLB park, with all kinds of foul territory,that benefits pitchers. Aside from here in Oakland,which parks are the favorites for you to pitch, favorites for you, not necessarily because you can get more outs,but because you like those places.

A: Kansas City…Anaheim and Houston, I would say those three.

Q:Luis Rojas was just named the new manager of the New York Mets, a fellow Dominican one of the sons of Felipe Alou, your opinion?

A; Great, I know him, he is a great guy, happy for that.

Photos and selfies all over the place with the very affable Frankie Montas,as his wife and son patiently waited on the sidelines, he was just getting to the end of his signing duties at our kiosk. We also took some pictures, he signed a few Topps baseball Cards for The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum, which someday (hopeful sooner than later) we’ll have a place inside the proposed new A’s Ballpark at Howard Terminal.

My last question.

Q:When you were a little boy like this kid that was taking a picture with you here. Who was your idol?

A; :”Pedro Martínez” Not surprisingly from a young pitcher to name the great Dominican Hall of Famer Martínez

The Oakland Athletics pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to their Spring Training home February 12.

We shook hands,as I told him,next time we talk will be at Mesa, during Spring Training. which he said Okay!

Good Luck Frankie!

Oakland A’s podcast with Jerry Feitelberg: Chapman saves the A’s bacon with 2-run bomb; A’s stay 1/2 game up in wild card

Photo credit: halosheaven.com

On the A’s podcast with Jerry Feitelberg:

#1 The A’s dropped two crucial games — one against Texas last Sunday at the Coliseum and another on Tuesday night in Anaheim. The A’s in never give up style, down 2-1 on Wednesday night in the top of the ninth, got a two-run jack from Matt Chapman his 34th to get the A’s a 3-2 one-run win.

#2 You look at that score last night in Anaheim 2-1 going to the ninth, manager Bob Melvin just had to have that bad feel in his stomach that the club was going to go down three in a row, but these never give up A’s have a hero every night when they win a game.

#3 Talk about A’s starter Frankie Montas’ return back in the rotation. He misses 60 games and he comes back pitches six innings and gives up four hits and an earned run, two walks and six strikeouts.

#4 Jerry talk about the relievers the A’s used four relief pitchers and they held it together to beat the Angels in the Big A. Everybody is up to beat the A’s in the wild card drive and the A’s are doing everything to stay at the top.

#5 A’s are headed for Seattle to open up a four-game series with the Mariners on Thursday, who can be tough customers in their own right. The Mariners, who got two hits and shutout 3-0 on Wednesday night by the Houston Astros, are not too happy and are looking to take things out on the A’s, but the A’s will scratch and claw to try to keep their heads above water in the AL wild card race.

Jerry does the A’s podcasts at http://www.sportsradioservice.com each Thursday

MLB podcast with Daniel Dullum: Dickerson inspiring Giants with a hot bat; Twins have not lost 3 straight this season; plus more

San Francisco Giants’ Alex Dickerson follow through on a two-run double against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 22, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

On the MLB podcast with Daniel Dullum:

1 A’s pitcher Frankie Montas gets 80-game suspension from MLB for PED policy violation

2 Report: Rays could start splitting seasons between Tampa Bay and Montreal

3 Giants’ OF Dickerson swinging hot bat after call up from Sacramento

4 Twins have still not lost three straight games this season; sign reliever Cody Allen to minor league deal

5 Nomar Mazara of Texas hits 505-foot dinger

6 Wilkin Castillo’s first major league hit in 10 years a game-winner for the Marlins

MLB podcast with Daniel is heard Sundays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Montas suspended for 80 games

Photo credit: @NBCSAthletics

By: Lewis Rubman

OAKLAND — If last night’s walk off A’s win against the Rays was gut wrenching, what MLB announced at 2:02 this afternoon was a kick in the gut. Frankie Montás, the most effective and consistent of the A’s pitchers, has been suspended for 80 games, effective immediately, because the performance enhancing drug Ostarine has been detected in his system.

Barring a successful appeal, he next will be eligible to play in the September 24 game against the Angels in Anaheim. Montás will be ineligible to participate in the post season, if the A’s should manage to go that far. For the moment, that seems unlikely unless Jesús Luzardo and AJ Puk recover rapidly and completely to help the team pull off another miracle.

The A’s front office issued a brief statement that read in its entirety, “The A’s were disappointed upon learning of this suspension. We fully support MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and we will welcome Frankie back after the discipline has been served.”

A’s come alive in an 11-2 rout of the Mariners on Saturday night

A's Canha Hood
Mark Canha was ready for the cold temperatures Photo @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND — After losing the opening contest of this 10-game homestand, the Athletics (36-35) were intent on getting back into the win column on Saturday night against the last-place Seattle Mariners (30-44). The A’s jumped on the Mariners early scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning, and they never looked back en route to an 11-2 win over Seattle.

The A’s had their good luck piece in Frankie Montas on the mound for them in the game. On June 4, Montas put an end to a five-game losing streak when he beat the Angels in Anaheim 4-2. Montas picked his club up again on June 9 when he helped to put them back into the win column after a demoralizing doubleheader loss in Texas.

Montas picked his club up again as he pitched 6.0-innings allowing just two runs (earned) off six hits. Montas struck out nine Mariners and walked just one. He threw 93 pitches (60 strikes). Montas upped his record to 9-2 for the season which has to put him into consideration for the All-Star team.

If Montas continues to pick his club up as he has done in his last three starts, his new nickname will have to be “the fixer”.

A's Montas Line
Montas Line Graphic: @Athletics

An Important Western Division Win

Oakland entered the game with a 16-19 record versus teams in the Western Division of the American League. In fact, only one team in their division has a winning record inside the Western Division. Houston is 21-6 while the other four teams have losing records. The A’s can help themselves by beating the teams they play the most over the course of the season.

By the way, the A’s are the best versus the America League Central where they have won eight games and lost only once.

Focus on the A’s

A's Semien
Semien had a big night with the bat Photo @Athletics

  • Marcus Semien went 3-for-4 in the game. He hit his 10th home of the season on a 2-1 count off Wade LeBlanc. Semien now has a 12-game hitting streak.
  • Jurickson Profar also went 3-for-4 and posted four RBI. He leads the team with 39 runs batted in. Profar is batting .333 for the month of June.
  • Matt Chapman had a 2-for-4 game with an RBI and two runs scored.
  • Mark Canha hit his fifth double of the season and scored three runs.

Seattle Notes

  • The M’s committed four errors in the game. It was the third time this season Seattle has made four miscues in a game.
  • “The Opener” — Gerson Bautista (0-1) took the loss as he gave up three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
  • Domingo Santana went 2-for-4 in the game. He is batting .354 (17-for-48) with nine walks, one double, three home runs, seven RBI, and four walks over last 11 games.
  • Mallex Smith went hitless and snapped a career-high 13-game hitting streak.
  • Factoid: There has been at least one home run hit in all 74 games that the Mariners have played this season. That is the longest streak in a single season in MLB history.

Mariners skipper watched the game on TV

Seattle manager Scott Servais was sent to the showers in the fourth inning after arguing a called third strike with home plate umpire Carlos Torres. Kyle Seager was called out and began arguing with Torres. Servais came out to protect his player. Torres showed a great deal of patience with the Mariners manager, but finally, he had enough. It was the second ejection of the season for Servais.

Mariners, Yankees make a trade

The M’s made the official announcement that American League home run leader Edwin Encarnacion has been sent to the New York Yankees along with a large amount of cash to help cover the slugger’s contract option or buyout. The Yankees are sending minor league pitcher – Juan Then – to Seattle. Ironically, the Yankees acquired from the M’s in 2017.

On Deck for the A’s

The M’s and A’s will wrap up this three-game series on Sunday with the first pitch scheduled for 1:07 PM on Father’s Day. The A’s will send RHP Tanner Anderson (0-1, 3.18) to the mound to face off against the M’s RHP Mike Leake (5-6, 4.26). The A’s will then be done with Seattle until July 5 when they will begin a three-game series in the Northwest.

Charlie O on Twitter: @Charlieo1320

Montas, Laureano help A’s snap 5-game losing streak

By Jerry Feitelberg

The A’s snapped their five-game losing streak Tuesday night as the beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-2. It was also the start of a nine-game road trip. Frankie Montas, who has pitched very well for Oakland this season, had another outstanding outing as he went six innings and allowed four hits and two runs while improving his record to 7-2. He was cruising along until the bottom of the sixth. With one out, he had a 13-pitch battle with the Angels’ superstar, Mike Trout. Trout refused to strike out. He fouled off seven or eight pitches. With the count at 3-2, Montas drilled Trout on his left elbow. It seemed that Montas was a bit rattled by the battle that he had with Trout. He had to face Angels’ DH Shohei Ohtani, and Montas lost that battle as Ohtani blasted his fourth homer of the year to cut the deficit to two 4-2

The Angels’ starter Griffin Channing, who pitched well against Oakland last week at the Coliseum, did well except for two innings. The A’s were able to put two on the board in the second inning. With one out, Matt Chapman singled. Matt Olson walked to put men on at first and second. Khris Davis, the A’s DH, smoked a double over the head of Mike Trout that went for a double. Chapman scored. Stephen Piscotty hit a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in Olson with the A’s second run.

The A’s made in 4-0 in the top of the sixth. Robbie Grossman singled with one out. Ramon Laureano homered into the left-field seats. The blast was measured at 403 feet. The Angels, as mentioned above, scored twice in their half of the inning.

The A’s manager Bob Melvin had Yusmeiro Petit pitch the seventh, Liam Hendriks, the eighth, and Blake Treinen the ninth. The A’s relievers did the job. They did not allow a hit in the last three innings of the game. Treinen set the Angels down in order in the ninth, and he earned his 12th save of the year.

Game Notes – With the win, the A’s improved to 30-30 while the Angels fell to 29-32. The A’s are in third place in the AL West. The A’s trail the Texas Rangers by one game in the race for second place in the division.

Ramon Laureano was the hitting star for Oakland, He had a double and home run in the game, and that extended his hitting streak to sixteen games.

The line score for Oakland was four runs, eight hits, and no errors. The Angels’ line was two runs, four hits, and no errors.

Time of game was three hours and four minutes and over 36,000 fans were on hand to see the A’s take the first game of the three-game series.

Game Two will be played Wednesday night in Anaheim. The A’s will send Daniel Mengden to the mound, and Felix Pena will go for the Angels. The Angels may use an “opener’ and then have Pena come in to pitch in the second inning.

The game will start at 7:07 pm.