The A’s win for the 97th time, downing the Angels 5-2

LAA Hendriks
Liam Hendriks was the “opener” on Saturday night Photo: @NBCS

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics know what they will be doing next Wednesday night. They will be in the Bronx, New York at Yankee Stadium fighting for their very “baseball lives” in the 2018 American League Wild Card Game. The problem for the A’s is they have to finish the regular season in Anaheim before heading to the East Coast.

The Athletics have two goals for those final games on Saturday and Sunday at the “Big A”:

  1. Don’t get hurt and

Oakland has been a team that has been besieged by injuries this season and they cannot afford to lose any member of this team before heading into the playoffs. Of course, these proud athletes want to win, but staying healthy is more important than winning at this point in the season.

Fortunately, the A’s were able to win and stay healthy on Saturday night. Oakland set the tone of the game in the first inning in a very familiar way. With two out and Matt Chapman on at first base, Khris Davis hit a pitch from Tyler Skaggs over the right field wall for his 48th home run of the season to give the A’s a 2-0 lead. The two RBIs upped Davis’ total to 123 for the season.

The A’s decided to go with the “bullpenning” pitching philosophy in game two of this final series of the regular season. As usual, Liam Hendriks opened the game on the mound working the first for Oakland. Trevor Cahill became the “featured pitcher” taking over in the bottom of the second inning.

Oakland added another run in the top of the third inning when Jed Lowrie hit a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Ramon Laureano to score from third. Laureano hit a double to lead off the inning.

The Angels took advantage of an A’s fielding error, added a stolen base and well-timed RBI single to score their first run of the game in bottom of the fifth inning.

Jim Johnson–yes, that Johnson who pitched for Oakland back in 2014–took over the pitching duties for the Angels. Jed Lowrie stepped in the batter’s box and hit his 23rd homer of the season off Mr. Johnson to up the A’s lead to 4-1.

Fernando Rodney took the ball for the A’s in the bottom of the seventh and he struggled. With the bases loaded and two out, Rodney walked in the Angels second run of the contest. He then had to face Mike Trout with bases loaded. Rodney was able to get Trout to fly out to right field and the A’s were still leading 4-2 after seven full innings.

In the top of the eighth inning, the A’s loaded up the bases with one out. Stephen Piscotty hit a fly ball to right field that was caught by Kole Calhoun. Ramon Laureano tagged up at third and scored the A’s fifth run of the game.

That would be it for scoring in the game and Oakland recorded their 97th win of 2018 with the 5-2 victory.

LAA 5-2
Graphic: @Angels

The “Bullpenning” A’s
Oakland used six pitchers in their win on Saturday night. Hendriks opened while Trevor Cahill filled the role of the featured pitcher going 4.0 innings giving up one run (earned) on one hit. He walked one and struck out one batter.

Shawn Kelley worked one inning walking one and striking out two. Fernando Rodney had very shaky outing as he wound up facing seven batters and giving up an earned run in the seventh inning.

Familia came in to set things up in the eighth inning and Blake Treinen closed it out in the ninth.

Cahill (7-4) was awarded the win while Treinen picked up his 38th save of the year.

Angels’ hurlers
LA starter Tyler Skaggs (8-10) took the loss after giving up the two-run home run to Davis in the first inning. The Angels used six pitchers who did not do a bad job. The gave up five runs off eight hits. They walked four A’s and struck out nine. It was the two home runs that really did the Angels in on Saturday night.

A’s at the plate

LAA Davis
Two guys who love the game Photo: @Athletics
  • Ramon Laureano continues to be amazing. He went 2-for-5 in this game scoring two runs. Yes, he scored each time he reached base.
  • Jed Lowrie does it again with a home run, sacrifice fly, two RBI and a run scored.
  • Khris Davis (yes, they must sign him to a long-term contract) had just another day at the office with a home run, two RBIs and a run scored.
  • Chad Pinder went 2-for-4 in the game.

LA Stars

  • Only four Angels managed to get a hit in the game–Jose Fernandez, Andrelton Simmons, Taylor Ward and Kaleb Cowart.
  • Five LA batters did reach base by way of a walk.
  • Ouch! The Angels left nine men on base.

Up next
Game 162 of the 2018 season will get underway at 12:07 pm PT on Sunday. All MLB games on Sunday will begin in the noon hour in their respective time zones. Brett Anderson (4-5, 4.42) will start for the A’s while Matt Shoemaker (2-2, 4.82) will take the mound for the Halos.

A’s can’t survive a night of bullpenning and home runs; Rays win 7-5

Tampa Bay Jake Bauers
Jake Bauers hit the game-winning 3-run home run for the Rays Photo: @RaysBaseball

By Charlie O. Mallonee

If the Tampa Bay Rays were in the National League, they would be in the fight for a spot in the Wild Card game. They are not a walkover team anymore. The Rays have an 81-66 record this season. Unfortunately for the Rays and their fans, they play in the American League East where the Boston Red Sox have clinched the division with a 102-47 record to date, and the Yankees are in second place with a 91-57 record.

The Rays brought their “A game” on Saturday night as they handed the A’s their second loss on this six-game road trip 7-5. The game featured 21 hits, 4 home runs, 14 runners left on base, 15 strikeouts and 12 pitching changes over 3 hours and 19 minutes.

The loss was very costly for the A’s in their chase for the AL West crown and the home field advantage in AL Wild Card Game. The Astros beat the D-Backs 10-4 on Saturday and increased their lead over the A’s to 3.5 games. The A’s elimination number is now 11.

The A’s (90-59) had the opportunity to move within a half-game of the Yanks for the top Wild Card slot because the Bombers lost to the Blue Jays 8-7 on Saturday. Because Oakland lost, they remain 1.5 games behind New York in the second Wild Card spot.

More Bullpening
It was another bullpenning game for the A’s. Liam Hendriks was “the opener” on the mound for Oakland. He pitched one inning, allowing one hit and striking out one.

Dean Kiekhefer took over in the second inning and things did not go well for him. He gave up two runs (both earned) on three hits. The big blow came when Brandon Lowe hit a two-run homer with one on and no outs. Ryan Dull had to come in to close out the inning.

Chris Bassitt was the “featured pitcher” of the game. He worked 3.0 innings giving up one run (earned) off two hits. He struck out three Rays and walked two.

Yusmeiro Petit was the next man up. Petit gave up a run (earned) off one hit.

The brightest spot of the night for the A’s may have been the performance of reliever Fernando Rodney in the seventh inning of the game. Rodney has really struggled recently but not in this game. Rodney gave up no runs while he struck out one and walked one.

Jeurys Familia would have rather stayed in the hotel. Familia was brought in to pitch the eighth inning. He only gave up one hit, but it was a go-ahead three-run homer by Jake Bauers that ultimately proved to be the game-winning hit. Familia (8-6) was tagged with the loss.

A’s with the bat

  • Matt Chapman went 3-for-5 and hit his 23rd home run of the season in the ninth inning off Sergio Romo.
  • The other Matt (Olson) had a 2-for-3 night at the plate and he hit his 27th homer of the year in this game.
  • Marcus Semien had a 2-for-4 night including a run scored. He was also involved in an incident with the home plate umpire that eventually caused A’s manager Bob Melvin to get ejected.

Rays’ notes

Tampa Bay Kelvin Kiermeier
The Rays Kevin Kiermaier hit a key triple in the game Photo: @RaysBaseball
  • The Rays went bullpening as well on Saturday. Ryne Stanek was the opener and then Yonny Chirinos was “the featured pitcher.” He lasted 5.1 innings.
  • Andrew Kittredge (2-2) was the eventual winner of the game.
  • Bauers not only hit a home run, he recorded four RBIs in the game.
  • Brandon Lowe had two RBIs, two runs scored in addition to his home run.
  • Kevin Kiermaier hit a triple and posted two RBIs

Up next

The A’s will send RHP Mike Fiers (12-6, 3.29 ERA) to the mound to face the Rays’ RHP Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.31 ERA) in the Sunday finale at 10:10 AM PDT.

15 runs, 18 hits, 14 pitchers–September baseball is here! M’s down A’s 8-7 on Saturday night


By Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND — If you are planning to come to the ballpark between now and the end of the season, bring seat cushion with you. Every team in the Major Leagues could expand their roster on Saturday. The A’s added eight players to their active roster, bringing their total of available players to 33.

A’s manager Bob Melvin talked about how much the club was looking forward to having the extra help down the stretch in September. After 136 games, a team is tired, bruised and battered from the rigors of playing every day. Melvin was also looking forward to having extra help in the bullpen.

Oakland lost the services of two starters last week. Sean Manaea was diagnosed with rotator cuff tendonitis and may not be available for the remainder of the season. Brett Anderson went down with a strained left forearm and is eligible to come off the disabled list on September 7. The A’s chose not to go out on the waiver trade market for a starter and instead bolstered their bullpen.

Saturday night was the beginning of a new experiment


The Tampa Bay Rays shocked the baseball world earlier this season when they began using an “opener” instead of a starting pitcher in their games. Former Giants reliever Sergio Romo made headlines when he “opened” the game pitching one inning then turning it over to what would have been the starting pitching who was now a long relief pitcher. Confused?

There is a method behind the madness. First, the Rays really believe in the strength of their bullpen. Secondly, the Rays are adhering to the concept of limiting the number times hitters are allowed to see a “starting pitcher.” The prevailing thought is that batter should only see a pitcher twice because the hitters become too effective in the third time at bat.

The A’s decided to go with the same philosophy on Saturday night. Reliever Liam Hendricks was put into the role of “opener.”  He lasted 1.2 innings, giving up two runs off two hits. He gave up both runs in the second inning. Danny Coulombe came on to relieve Hendricks and gave up an RBI double to the only batter he faced. Emilio Pagan then took over from Coulombe and ended the second inning by getting Haniger to fly out in foul territory. That second inning set the tone for the rest of the game.

“Starter” Daniel Mengden entered the game in the top of the third inning and lasted 2.0 innings. He gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits. Mengden walked one and struck out one Mariner. You will want to listen to Melvin’s comments about Mengden’s performance.

The A’s newest pitcher–reliever Cory Gearrin–made his Oakland debut in the game in the fifth inning, and it was less than a stellar beginning. Melvin said that Gearrin is not used to pitching from behind (the A’s were down 8-1 at that point). Gearrin allowed two runs (both earned) on three hits. Melvin said Gearrin just needs to get his feet on the ground and he will be fine.

The A’s also used Hatcher, Buchter, Wendelken, and Familia as relievers in the game. For those of you scoring at home, that is a total of nine pitchers used by the A’s in nine innings.

Those nine pitchers gave up 8 runs (7 earned) off 12 hits. They struck out five M’s batters and walked two.

The M’s used six pitchers in the game even though their starting pitcher (who was a traditional starting pitcher) James Paxton lasted 5.0 innings. Seattle pitching gave up 7 runs (6 earned) on six hits. They walked six and struck out 18 Oakland batters. Paxton struck out 10.

Oh, you would like to know who won the game


I am sorry. I am so tired from the length of the game (3 hours and 33 minutes) that I forgot to mention the Mariners won the game 8-7. Paxton was the winner and is now 11-5 on the year. “Opener” Liam Hendricks took the loss and is now 0-1 for the season.

The M’s (76-60) now lead the four-game series 2-1. The Astros (83-53) beat the Angels Saturday night, so the A’s (81-56) are now 2.5 games back of Houston for first-place in the AL West. The win moves Seattle within 4.5 games of the A’s for second-place and for the second Wild Card slot.

Just when you thought it was over–it wasn’t

The A’s were trailing 8-2 as they came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning. If it had not been a fireworks night, a good portion of the 28,760 fans in the crowd would have already been on the freeway headed home. Instead, the fans were still in their seats after three-plus hours and were ready to see their team make some fireworks of their own.

Alex Colome came out of the bullpen to take over the pitching duties for Seattle. The first batter he faced was Khris Davis who promptly dispatched a 2-1 pitch into the right field seats for his 40th home run of the season. The crowd came to life and this reporter got his focus back because the A’s are team of late-inning miracles.

Stephen Piscotty followed up the home run with a single. Matt Olson struck out pinch hitting for Pinder. Ramon Laureano singled up the middle and Piscotty moved up to second base. Mark Canha walked to load the bases with one out. Dustin Fowler entered the game as a pinch hitter and struck out.

That brought a pitching change by Seattle, who sent Edwin Diaz to the mound and Colome to the showers. Marcus Semien hit a double to left-center field that cleared the bases with the help of a fielding error charged to Denard Span and made the score 8-7. Matt Chapman struck out to end the inning.

Another wild ninth inning
In the top of the ninth, Jeurys Familia took the hill to stop the Mariners from scoring additional runs. Familia set the side down in order giving the A’s a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth.

The M’s brought in their closer Edwin Diaz to stop any thoughts the A’s had of winning the game. Jed Lowrie led off the ninth with a base-on-balls. Khris Davis went down swinging. Stephen Piscotty also struck out, so it all came down to Matt Olson with Lowrie at first. Olson also became a strikeout victim and Diaz notched his 51st save of the season.

Back to the need for a seat cushion
This game featured 15 runs, 18 hits, and 13 pitching changes. That required 3 hours and 33 minutes to complete. Trust me, you will want a seat cushion for any game that goes that long. Plus, get seats close to a restroom.

Up next
The A’s and M’s wrap up this four-game series on Sunday at 1:05 PM PDT.

Seattle will send RHP “King” Felix Hernandez (8-12, 5.49) to the mound to make his 401st MLB start. The A’s will return to using a traditional starting pitcher by sending RHP Edwin Jackson (4-3, 3.03) to the hill.

It’s the bullpen to the rescue! A’s beat the Mariners 7-5 on Friday night

Photo: @NBCSCA

By Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics scored five runs off five hits in the bottom of the first inning to take a 5-0 lead on the Seattle Mariners. Matt Chapman hit his 22nd home run of the season off of M’s starter Mike Leake. Stephen Piscotty hit a two-run home run (19) off Leake. Matt Olson and Marcus Semien each hit an RBI double. Everyone in the Coliseum knew that this game was going into the “W” column for the A’s.

Everybody in the Coliseum knew that the game belonged to the A’s except the 25 guys in blue uniforms from Seattle. The M’s put up a run in the top of the second inning and then came back for more in the top of the fourth inning. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz hit back-to-back home runs off A’s starter Mike Fiers who did have his best stuff on Friday night. Then, Ryon Healy–the former Athletic–hit a two-run home run to tie the game at 5-5. Everything changed.

The A’s bullpen took over for Fiers and gave their team a chance to get it together.

Chapman rounds third after hitting his 22nd HR of the year Photo: @Athletics

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Oakland retook the lead when rookie outfielder Ramon Laureano delivered a sacrifice fly that allowed Matt Olson to score the go-ahead run. The A’s then added some cushion when Jed Lowrie hit a one-out double and then scored on a Khris Davis RBI single.

The bullpen held on to that 7-5 lead to get the A’s (81-55) the win.

This critical four-game AL West series is now tied at one game apiece.

The win was awarded to Yusmeiro Petit (6-3) who relieved Fiers and was the pitcher of record when Olson scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning. Blake Treinen picked up his 34th save of the season. Treinen now sports a 0.94 ERA.

Mike Leake (8-9) was hung with the loss for Seattle (75-60).

This is how the A’s pitching line is going to look the rest of the season
Mike Fiers only lasted 3.2 innings in his start on Friday night. A’s manager Bob Melvin certainly wants his starting pitchers to go at least five innings per start, but five innings are all that may be required from the starters for the A’s to be successful. The 2018 A’s are all about the bullpen.

In the win 7-5 win over Seattle on Friday night, Oakland used 5 relief pitchers. It was a parade of fresh arms stepping up on the rubber to deliver a devastating variety of pitches designed to stop opposing hitters in their tracks.

Yusmeiro Petit, Lou Trivino, Fernando Rodney, Jeurys Familia and Blake Treinen combined to pitch 5.1 innings of shutout baseball. They allowed the M’s just two hits while walking just two batters and striking out seven. They slammed the door on the Seattle offense to give their A’s the chance to win the game, which they did 7-5.

Every game will not feature five relievers, but you can expect to see games that feature three men out of the bullpen on a regular basis. The help that is coming with the expanded September rosters is going to be most welcome.

The standings are shaken up again
This A’s win really changed the standings in the AL West. The Astros lost, the A’s won and the M’s lost. Oakland is now just 1.5 games behind Houston for first place in the West. Seattle falls 5.5 games back of the A’s in the West and 7.0 games behind Houston.

By losing, the M’s also are now 5.5 games down to the A’s in the Wild Card race. These head-to-head division matchups are critical to a team’s standing when fighting for a post-season slot.

Food for your brain

  • Matt Chapman hit a home run and a double to give him a major league leading 22 extra-base hits in August. Those 22 extra-base hits also tied a franchise record.
  • Stephen Piscotty’s home run was just his fourth round-tripper hit in Oakland this season. He has hit 19.
  • Mike Fiers worked only 3.2 innings which was his shortest outing for the A’s.
  • Khris Davis ended a 0-for-19 streak with his RBI-single in the sixth inning.
  • The A’s are 57-0 when leading after seven innings.
  • The M’s Mike Leake has not won a game since June 23rd in Boston.
  • Nelson Cruz hit his 16th career home run at the Coliseum on Friday night which is the most among active players.
  • Dee Gordon now leads the American League with 30 stolen bases.
Ramon vs Sea
Laureano scores in the 1st inning vs Seattle Photo: @Athletics

 Up Next
The A’s and Mariners will play game three of this crucial four-game series on Saturday night at 6:05 PM PDT.

The M’s will send LHP James Paxton to the mound. Paxton is 10-5 on the season and will be making his 25th start of the year. He has a 3.68 ERA.

The A’s will counter with RHP Daniel Mengden, who was recalled from Triple-A Nashville last Monday. This is Mengden’s second tour of duty with the big club. Mengden has a 6-6 record on the year with a 4.28 ERA.

A’s beat the Twins 6-2 on Saturday night as Fiers and Lucroy star

13000 HR
Graphic: @Athletics

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics took a 2-1 lead in their four-game series with Minnesota by downing the Twins 6-2 in game three on Saturday night in the Twin Cities. The A’s won the game using their typical formula of strong starting pitching, consistent bullpen relief  and power production at the plate.

The Athletics have found themselves in a must win situation in each of the games in Minnesota. The first place Houston Astros have been on a tear winning four consecutive games forcing Oakland to win just to stay 1.5 games back in second place in the American League West.

The Seattle Mariners have also been applying pressure on the A’s as they have won two games in a row to stay just 4.0 games behind Oakland in third place. Many have tried to write the Mariners out of the playoff hunt but someone forgot to tell Seattle they’re done for the season. With six games left to play against the A’s and three versus the Astros, the M’s can erase a four game deficit very quickly.

Fiers comes through again

Photo: @Athletics

Mike Fiers (10-6) started the game for the A’s and once again showed why the team had focused on adding him to the roster. Fiers worked 5.2 innings giving up just one run (earned) on five hits. He struck out seven Twins and walked just two. Fiers threw 100 pitches (63 strikes).

The one run Fiers gave up was spectacular. In the bottom of the fourth inning, he tried to throw a 3-2 fastball past Miguel Sano but was unsuccessful. Sano crushed the ball 455 feet into the third deck in left center field for his 12th home run of the season.

Fiers did get credit for the win.

A’s bullpen does its job again

Lou Trivino was brought in to relieve Fiers and ended the bottom of the sixth inning. “Sweet Lou” ran into some trouble in the seventh when he gave up a home run to Tyler Austin and then hit Willians Astudillo with a pitch. Ryan Buchter entered the game but was unable to get an out, so the call went to Jeurys Familia who shut the Twins down.

Familia worked the eighth inning to set it up Blake Treinen in a non-save situation. Treinen needed the work so that is why he was used in the game. He pitched a perfect ninth and the A’s won their 78th game of 2018.

Lucroy had an amazing night with the bat

Lucroy get high fives after hitting the 13,000th home run in Athletics history Photo: @Athletics

The A’s backstop went 2-for-4 in the game with a home run and recorded four RBI. Lucroy drove in the A’s first run of the contest in the top of the second inning when he singled to left driving home Chad Pinder. It was the 500th RBI of his career.

Lucroy was just getting started. In the top of the fourth inning, he clubbed a home run to left center field that plated Mark Canha and Ramon Laureano ahead of him. It was the third home run of the season for Lucroy, but more importantly, it was 13,000th in Athletics’ (Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland) history. Lucroy will now be in the A’s milestone record book forever more.

Chad Pinder had a good night with the bat. He went 3-for-4 and scored two runs. In the meantime, Matt Chapman had an odd night. He also went 3-for-4 at the plate but scored no runs and produced no RBI. It is very unusual for a hitter have a .750 night with the bat and walk away with no run production.

Up Next

The Athletics will play the final game of the series on Sunday at 11:10 AM PDT. Chris Bassitt (2-3, 3.38) will start for Oakland while the Twins will counter with All-Star Jose Berrios (11-6, 3.69).