Oakland A’s podcast with Daniel Dullum: Kaprielian and Piscotty standing shoulder to shoulder trying to get over shoulder pain

Oakland A’s right fielder Stephen Piscotty (left) gets congratulations from Jed Lowrie (right) after belting a two run home run in the 11th inning on Sat Jul 10, 2022 at the Ball Park in Arlington against the Texas Rangers. Piscotty is rehabbing his sore throwing shoulder and hopes to get in the line up soon in Cactus League action in Mesa with the A’s (AP file photo)

On the Oakland A’s podcast with Daniel:

#1 Oakland A’s right fielder Stephen Piscotty says he’s feeling good after receiving a low dose cortisone shot and was in Los Angeles at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute. Piscotty said before the shoulder would have pain for two days following hitting but is hoping after the cortisone he can swing and put the pain behind him.

#2 Piscotty has not played a pre season game yet and worked out on Wednesday at Hohokam Stadium taking on field defensive drills and took batting practice and after putting it to the test Piscotty could be ready to get in one of the Cactus League games.

#3 A’s pitcher James Kaprielian a right hander is having issues with his throwing shoulder. The A’s trainer Nick Paparesta says that Kaprielian has irritation in the AC joint of his should and is scheduled to throw from the mound on Saturday.

#4 A’s manager Mark Kotsay said that Kaprielian will not be in the rotation until after April 5th and at that time Kotsay said he will see live hitting and will throw in various bullpen sessions.

#5 The A’s who added catcher Stephen Vogt on Wednesday and who played for the A’s between 2013-2017 was brought back to bring a veteran presence in the clubhouse. Vogt is expected to be a back up catcher to first stringer Sean Murphy.

Join Daniel for the A’s podcasts Fridays throughout the 2022 season at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Oakland A’s podcast with Barbara Mason: Jefferies out with elbow injury; Bassitt mending very well

Oakland A’s pitcher Daulton Jefferies has been sidelined with right elbow irritation and has been placed on the Injured List as of Sat Sep 18, 2021 (file photo San Francisco Chronicle)

On the A’s podcast with Barbara:

#1 Barbara, you have discussed many times on the program about the pitching and bullpen issues of the A’s. The A’s just recently have shelved pitcher Daulton Jefferies with a right elbow injury ulnar neuritis. Jefferies was showing signs of improvement but was put on the IL on Saturday.

#2 A’s manager Bob Melvin said that Jefferies elbow started bothering him after his last pitching performance on Sep 12. Jefferies relieved against the Texas Rangers and went 3 1/3 innings. Melvin said that Jefferies injury didn’t have anything to do with a ligament but was nerve irritation.

#3 Jefferies was supposed to start Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim but was replaced by James Kaprielian who went six innings and gave up two hits and struck out five in the A’s 3-1 win. Kaprielian really saved the day as the A’s cut the lead in the AL Wild Card race down to two games.

#4 A’s starter Chris Bassitt continued his rehab throwing 30 pitches on Saturday mixing them up with fastballs and a mix of other pitches. Bassitt faced switch hitter Skye Bolt. Bassitt also got to throw between innings simulating warms ups. Melvin said “He looked really good out there today.”

#5 The Seattle Mariners are in Oakland tonight to face the A’s the Mariners starting pitcher Tyler Anderson (6-9 ERA 4.14) and the A’s will go with Sean Manaea (10-9 ERA 3.95) a 6:40 pm PDT at the Oakland Ring Central Coliseum.

Barbara does the Oakland A’s podcasts each Monday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Texas-Sized Problems: A’s bats go quiet at the wrong time in 4-3 loss to the Rangers

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–In a lot of ways, Sunday’s A’s game was lost on Saturday.

The agonizing 4-3 defeat to the Rangers at the Coliseum saw the A’s fall behind 4-0 through four innings, then rally to trail just 4-3 after six. But the final three innings were quiet ones; the A’s went hitless as they failed to even challenge Texas’ slim lead.

And if Sunday was bad, Saturday was worse, thus the conclusion that the struggling club lost whatever momentum it had in a brutal 8-6 loss in which the Rangers wiped out a four-run deficit in the final two frames as the bullpen again failed to hold a lead.

Instead of a potential five-game win streak to pull the A’s within a game of Boston for the second wild card spot, the A’s have lost 17 of 26 and can’t seem to get over the hump. Losing has a wearing effect, especially for a ballclub not blessed with a great deal of depth, and stuck in a rut with its pitching.

What’s clear is the A’s have been afforded opportunities, including this current stretch of nine games against three clubs with losing records. Along with that, the teams in front of them in the standings have flatlined with the Yankees winning just three of their last 10, and the Red Sox at .500 (5-5).

One issue is the Rangers, a team that stands 26 games below .500 after consecutive wins in Oakland, and has found a way–time and time again–to cool the A’s hitters. The season series between the A’s and Rangers concludes with the A’s holding a slim 10-9 advantage, and five of those nine Rangers’ wins have seen the A’s score three runs or less, including Sunday.

Not that the A’s didn’t do good things against the Rangers, most notably hit 34 homers in the 19 games between the clubs, just one home run off their franchise record for home runs against one club in one season. But often it was homer and little else. On Sunday, Yan Gomes homered in the fifth, and Matt Olson in the sixth, but the remainder of the Oakland output was three singles and a walk. A’s hitters in spots six through nine went hitless, drawing the only walk.

It didn’t help that Matt Chapman was unavailable after fouling a ball off his shin on Saturday, or that Mitch Moreland was in Alabama seeking a second opinion on his injured wrist that has sidelined him for two weeks.

James Kaprelian allowed all four Rangers’ runs, and fell to 7-5 on the season in the process. Kaprelian surrendered eight hits and a walk. He was lifted in the fourth by manager Bob Melvin, who probably couldn’t afford to be patient with the season on the line in these final 20 games.

Taylor Hearn went six innings for the Rangers, allowing the two home runs but little else. The reliever turned starter didn’t walk anybody, but gassed out after 80 pitches, a sign his transformation from reliever to starter isn’t yet complete.

The A’s hit the road for six ballgames starting Tuesday in Kansas City, then on to Anaheim for a weekend meeting with the Angels. Frankie Montas will be looking to pick up his 13th win of the season in the opener.

Texas Reduced to Size: A’s sweep, keep pace in AL Wild Card hunt

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–This may have been the worst Texas Rangers team to visit the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s treated them in the best way they know how… with little or no empathy.

The A’s completed a three-game sweep with a 6-3 win Sunday that extended the Rangers’ road losing streak to 14 games. A bad Rangers’ team might have been only part of Oakland’s motivation, the other part may have been a wild card race that’s heating up fast with the Red Sox flailing and the Blue Jays emerging. Whatever the reason the A’s are playing better–winners of seven of nine–manager Bob Melvin’s not divulging. He knows the final 50 games of a postseason push won’t be defined by any one stretch or a bad opponent.

“There’s a lot of baseball left,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “The main thing you need to do is just focus on yourself. We’re playing better baseball right now.”

The A’s moved to 16 games above .500 for the first time since June 19, and they assumed the lead AL Wild Card position by percentage points over the Red Sox. The Yankees and Blue Jays are within three games of the leaders, and a race that wasn’t a few weeks back during the trade deadline, is now.

Starling Marte stepped into the playoff push right before the trade deadline and immediately made himself comfortable, hitting .425 in his first nine games with Oakland, including four hits on Sunday. Seth Brown, Sean Murphy and Jed Lowrie also drove in runs in a game the A’s took control of early with three runs in the first and a 5-1 lead in the fourth. Marte’s arrival and performance seem almost miracle-like given he’s basically replacing the dynamic Ramon Laureano, who was shelved by an 80-game suspension for use of performance enhancing drugs.

James Kaprelian returned from the injury list, and didn’t miss a beat, pitching six innings and allowing two earned runs to gain his sixth victory of the season. Meanwhile, Jordan Lyles, who was undefeated in his previous appearances at the Coliseum, fell to 0-4 since the All-Star break, allowing all six A’s runs and walking four batters in the process. At one point, Kaprelian retired 11 straight batters before walking Brock Holt in the fifth.

He gives us six innings, only three hits, gets swings and misses, real efficient,” Melvin said of Kaprelian. “After having a little bit of time off, he didn’t miss a beat. He pitched in the fashion that he basically has been all year.”

“I was pretty tough on myself,” Kaprelian said. “It’s the in-game stuff. The not getting ahead with the fastball, the not throwing enough strikes. The four straight balls to walk (Brock) Holt. Obviously the bats were going today and things were on our side. But, maybe in another situation if I do that, I might not be in the game anymore. So I need to clean that up and I was disappointed in myself for that.”

The A’s outscored Texas 22-7 in the three-game sweep, and they trailed for only two innings all weekend. The Rangers had a lot to do with the lopsided nature of the games, but they simply haven’t ever been in this poor of shape. They’ve lost six, consecutive games, and their road losing streak is only two away from the franchise record. If things continue to be this bad on the road, they could win as few as 22 road games this season, which is almost unheard of.

“We’ve been playing our best, but just trying too hard,” Isiah Kiner-Falefa said. “I think everybody realizes what’s at stake, and instead of seizing the opportunity, it’s almost like (we’re) scared to mess up because you know what could happen if you don’t start producing.”

The A’s have six games remaining with Texas, and Seattle and the Yankees will see the Rangers as well in the final month plus of the season. How unkind the contenders are to the struggling Rangers could be a key factor in the race for the postseason.

The A’s travel to Cleveland, where they open a series on Tuesday with Sean Manaea facing Triston McKenzie in the opener.

Fireworks Cancelled: A’s shutout by Red Sox 1-0, face questions and the Astros next

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–Envision Nelson Cruz or Kyle Seager in an A’s uniform. After a listless 1-0 loss at the Coliseum, the Oakland offense could use some pop.

“We’re down some guys,” said manager Bob Melvin, trying to make sense of his 49-win club going through a stretch of 10 losses in 15 games. “Mitch is out and Canha is out, too. We’re going to have to dig a little deeper. But I think every day we have a chance to break out of it. Obviously didn’t look good today with four hits, but I think it was just as much about them pitching well today.”

Nick Pivetta took control from the start, allowing two hits in seven innings of dominant work. The Red Sox starter didn’t win in June, going 0-3 with three no-decisions. The stretch was so tough, members of the Boston media in the press box tried to anticipate the juncture the hyped up pitcher would show his temper in a such a close, competitive game. But this time, Pivetta had all the answers, especially when the A’s tried to mount rallies in the first and seventh inning. Instead of being grumpy Pivetta, the pitcher instead talked afterwards of his ability to inspire his teammates.

“I really care about everybody on this team, I really want to do good for them, every single day I want to show up for them,” Pivetta said. “And I want to pump them up, too. I want to be energetic and I want us to have fun, and I want us to go out there and show ourselves every single night.”

James Kaprelian virtually matched Pivetta pitch for pitch in seven innings for Oakland. Kaprelian allowed just one run (on a non-RBI, double play ball), struck out 10 and scattered five hits. Like Pivetta, he was determined to keep the ball in the park as both pitchers had been hurt by long balls in recent starts. So when the Red Sox tensed up, Kaprelian eased up, leaning heavily on his changeup that had the Boston lineup flailing.

But ultimately the A’s offense was absent. After Pivetta departed, the A’s tried to cobble something together on the strength of a base hit in the eighth, and an infield single in the ninth. Neither effort struck gold, and they fell 3 1/2 games behind the Astros with a critical series against their rivals set to begin on Tuesday.

How alarming is all of this? Well, the A’s are 49-37, that’s as good a start to a season as the club has had in all but one of the last 31 seasons. But they haven’t been this far from first place since April 10, two games into their 13-game win streak that turned things around. And while they get bold checkmarks for pitching and defense, their offense is noticeably thin. With catalyst Mark Canha and Mitch Moreland currently on the injured list, they could use some help. Could they find it in the trade market?

Sure.

Well, the A’s aren’t known for spending but with such a glaring hole in their lineup, and the exemplary performance of the club to this point, they’re too smart to try to do without. And there’s that issue of home attendance as well. The A’s had their first opportunity to fill the Coliseum with COVID restrictions lifted and they failed miserably. Sunday’s attendance was a mere 13,000 plus. They won’t want that to happen again, especially with the pernicious timing of the holiday weekend not a factor going forward. So look for a bold move.

The A’s open a three-game set in Houston on Tuesday with Chris Bassitt facing Framber Valdez. Look for a performance statement from Bassitt, who was an All-Star snub despite a 9-2 record. Also, an All-Star statement could be issued by Matt Olson, who received his first mid-summer nod on Sunday and will be part of the AL’s first base rotation.

Lazy A’s Days: Rockies stand up, shut down A’s 3-1 on getaway day

By Morris Phillips

Beleaguered opponents are showing up on the A’s schedule at just the right time.

In Denver, this weekend, the A’s cruised Friday and Saturday, holding a lead after each of the 18 innings on their way to a pair of crucial wins that kept them atop the AL West.

But on Sunday, the Colorado Rockies decided they weren’t the A’s stomping post anymore.

German Marquez found his groove, navigating traffic on the bases beautifully, as he kept the A’s scoreless for the first five innings, the centerpiece to the Rockies 3-1 at Coors Field. Marquez went six innings, allowing four hits and a run in the sixth, good enough to remind the A’s that their offense isn’t where they would prefer at this stage of the season.

“I have been working a lot on my mechanics to get my tempo back and now I’m getting the results,” Marquez said in explaining his effort to extricate himself from an iffy 4-5 start to the season. “I feel really happy about it.”

The A’s left Oakland limping last Sunday after suffering a pair of losses to the Angels in which their offense completely disappeared. The road trip to Seattle and Denver was just what they needed, going 4-2 while hitting .297 and hitting seven homers in the six games. But Sunday wasn’t part of the offensive uptick, with Sean Murphy’s RBI single in the sixth all the A’s could muster to talk about.

“All around, it was a great road trip,” Elvis Andrus said. “We won all series. So that’s what you’re looking for, continue to win series and maintain first place.”

The A’s fell to 35-26, one game ahead of the Astros, and kept the fourth best record in the American League. They’re not where they want to be–hitting on all cylinders–but opponents like the Mariners, Rockies and on Tuesday back in Oakland, the Diamondbacks, give the A’s an opportunity to pick up steam without key performers Ramon Laureano and closer Trevor Rosenthal, who’s status will be updated soon.

Kaprielian has made five starts now as one of those stop gap guys, and overall he’s been a success. Even on Sunday, as a muddled through with too many pitches too early in the ballgame, he kept the A’s competitive. Kaprielian went five innings, allowed two runs, and suffered his first loss of the season. Most importantly, he showed that he’s ready for start number six later this week, as manager Bob Melvin continues to lean on the rookie.

“You give up two runs when you score five, you look like you pitched a really good game,: Melvin said. “You give up two runs when you only score one, and you take a loss. But in this place, I’d take it.”

The A’s travel back to the Bay Area and get their second look at Arizona with Chris Bassitt pitching the opener in a matchup with Jon Duplantier. The A’s swept the two-game set at Chase Field in Phoenix earlier in the season.