#1 Jerry, the A’s are opening the second half of the season with a record of 50-41. They for a good part of the first half were a team in last place in the A.L. West. What were some of the factors that lifted them out of the cellar to second place and just seven games out of first place?
#2 The A’s have been getting some great offensive help, but it’s looking up and down that lineup with some of the key bats and key support that they’ve got that have helped the along the way.
#3 Going into the second half, the A’s will continue to try and figure their nemesis, the Houston Astros. The Astros are chalked with talent up and down their lineup, the A’s face the Astros in a couple of weeks, and when that time comes, the Astros will be an important series.
#4 The A’s are in need to get some starting pitching they won’t get Jharel Cotton is reportedly developing well on his come back while Daniel Mengden, who made a comeback, threw an outstanding game on his return to the A’s.
#5 Second half of the season getting ready to get started the A’s are opening things up hosting the Chicago White Sox on Friday night. For the Sox, Ivan Nova (4-7, 5.58 ERA), and for Oakland, Mike Fiers (8-3, 3.87 ERA).
#1 Jerry talks about the progress of A’s pitchers Jharel Cotton and A.J. Puk. After both pitchers had surgery, how ready are they to come back this season?
#2 A’s pitcher Jesus Luzardo has been impressive in spring training on Thursday. He struck out three batters and didn’t give up a hit in two innings. Do you see him winning a starting spot and what role will manager Bob Melvin use him in?
#3 A’s pitcher Daniel Mengden got rattled in facing his first three hitters and got behind 2-0, but recovered — not giving up a run for two more innings. Jerry talks about Mengden’s spring.
#4 A’s pitches Blake Treinnen and Lou Trivino both threw two perfect innings striking out two batters. With their experience and what they got in the tank, what kind of spring training have they had?
#5 With the A’s starting rotation turned over from last season, will they struggle to keep guys healthy this season? Their pitching looks very sharp this spring.
#1 The San Francisco Giants had a second meeting with free agent superstar Bryce Harper. Does that look like an indication that Harper likes what the Giants organization is all about and what they have to offer?
#2 Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was released by the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes for violations of his contract. The Alouettes further informed the other eight teams in the CFL of Manziel’s release. The Alouettes did not give a reason why he was being released. But sources say Manziel violated his confidentiality agreement. It was reported that the CFL ordered his release.
#3 The Golden State Warriors have lost three of their last four games and have showed signs of tiring. They trailed the Miami Heat in Wednesday night’s game and talk has it that besides Kevin Durant who could go shopping after this season Draymond Green could announce for free agency after next season as well.
#4 The Sacramento Kings are coming off a tough loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night and hosted the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night and lost 141-140. The Kings–even when they lose–still make it interesting right until the end of the game.
#5 How concerned should the Oakland A’s be about their starting rotation now that pitchers Jharel Cotton and A.J. Puk are returning from surgery from last season? Can the A’s rotation stay healthy this season?
By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Thursday, March 22, 2018
MESA, Ariz. – Following through on a previously reported diagnosis, Oakland Athletics’ right-hander Jharel Cotton underwent successful ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (Tommy John) surgery at a hospital in Arlington, Tex.
The A’s said Cotton will remain in Arlington until Saturday, then return to Oakland on Sunday to begin the rehabilitation process.
Cotton was projected to be in the A’s rotation in 2018. He was 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four Cactus League games, while holding opponents to a .195 batting average.
Cotton was 9-10 in 24 starts over two stints with the A’s last season.
Elsewhere, the A’s optioned catcher Dustin Garneau to Triple-A Nashville. This leaves the Athletics with 35 active players in camp, including 32 on the 40-man roster and three non-roster invitees.
Colorado led early and hung on to beat Oakland 4-2 in the Athletics’ next-to-last Cactus League game before a crowd of 7,356 at Hohokam Stadium. It was the A’s fourth Cactus League loss in a row.
Charlie Blackmon liked what he saw in the game’s first at-bat, belting a home run off A’s starter Andrew Triggs. In the second inning, Ian Desmond’s RBI single made it 2-0. Desmond drove in Trevor Story, who reached on an error and stole second.
Chris Iannetta hit a solo home run in the top of the fifth off Triggs, extending the Rockies’ lead to 3-0. Oakland’s Marcus Siemen hit a two-run shot off Chad Bettis, pulling the Athletics to within 3-2.
Iannetta’s RBI double in the seventh – after Gerardo Parra – put the Rox up 4-2.
Triggs surrendered six hits and two earned runs – both on home runs – while striking out three in 5 1/3 innings. Emilio Pagan, Frankie Montas and Trevor Cahill – the free agent who was recently signed to a one-year contract – threw in relief for Oakland.
Bettis was the winning pitcher (2-0), logging four strikeouts, two walks and two earned runs. Austin House worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his second CL save.
Siemen wound up 2-for-4. Jed Lowrie, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Chapman and Bruce Maxwell had the other Oakland hits.
The Athletics host Milwaukee on Saturday before heading back to Oakland on March 25 for the opening game of the annual Bay Bridge Series.
Oakland Athletics,Cactus League,Sports Radio Service
#1 Oakland A’s starter Jharel Cotton has been sent back to the Bay Area to have his elbow looked at and is going to have an MRI.
#2 If Cotton is out for a significant amount of time, the A’s are going with a rotation of Andrew Triggs, Daniel Gossett, Daniel Mengden, and Paul Blackburn. AJ Puk whose looked the best in the rotation could wind up the one pitcher on the A’s.
#3 The A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano has a broken finger after Giants pitcher Roberto Gomez threw in on his hands. Laureano will be out several weeks and will rejoin the A’s minor league club, the Nashville Sounds.
#4 Calling him long shot to make the A’s opening day roster, Ryan Dull, is suffering from shoulder soreness and recently has thrown a 20-pitch bull session.
#5 A’s pitcher Kendall Graveman allowed five hits and four runs in three-plus innings. When Kendall pitched to the Royals, he had given up a smash hit and a walk that started off the Royals’ fourth inning rally on Tuesday.
OAKLAND–For a last place club, the A’s sure have a way about themselves. Maybe, that’s because they’re not going to be a last place club much longer.
Winning 14 of 17 in September has the A’s within striking distance of the fourth place Mariners, who visit the Coliseum for the final three home games starting Monday. The A’s have been stuck in the AL West cellar since May 30, and haven’t had a winning month in well over a year. The monthly streak is likely to end, while catching the Mariners will be significantly trickier. But either way, the A’s biggest winning roll since 2013 portends better days ahead.
With a youthful club stripped of almost all of its veteran presence, the A’s haven’t stepped back, they’ve stepped forward, sweeping the Rangers with a 8-1 win Sunday to backup a rare, succesful road trip. Manager Bob Melvin’s list of needed improvements wasn’t short or easily achievable, but his club made all the checkmarks anyway.
“We needed to play better against Houston and we swept them,” Melvin recounted. “Second was we had to play better on the road, and we had a good road trip. And then we want to finish up here and play well within our division because we have not played well within our division this year.”
In a season where the norms for winning big league ballgames has shifted dramatically, the A’s have been ahead of the curve. Scoring is up slightly, home runs are being hit at a record pace, and the percentage of at-bats that end with either a strikeout, a walk or a home run has never been higher.
Wait for the big inning then pounce? You could term it that. It’s definitely not Moneyball, but maybe Moneyball 2.0. Whatever you call it, the A’s are good at it, with Sunday’s five-run fifth the latest example.
With Rangers’ starter Martin Perez softened up by being forced to throw 71 pitches through four innings, the pitcher reached the breaking point in the fifth by allowing singles to Josh Phlegley and Jake Smolinsky.
Marcus Semien then popped out trying to advance the runners with a bunt. Martin’s next pitch was roped by Matt Chapman for an RBI double, then four pitches after that, Jed Lowrie contributed a two-run double. That chased Perez before he could finish five innings, and qualify for a win.
Capping the inning, Khris Davis greeted effective reliever Tony Barnette with a 445-foot bomb with a man aboard, and the A’s led 5-0. Davis has now homered 40 times in consecutive seasons, a first for an Oakland Athletic.
The A’s would add two in the sixth, and one more in the eight and the rout was on.
Currently, the A’s rank in the top five in the American League in homers, walks and strikeouts. While Melvin and the A’s would love to see the strikeouts reduced (the A’s average more than nine a game) the additional pitches extracted from the opposing pitcher have the desired effect of elevating pitch counts as Perez’ number grew burdensome on Sunday.
Jharel Cotton was the beneficiary of the runs against Texas, pitching five innings to earn the win, his ninth.
For the A’s on Sunday, that’s hitting, pitching, and defense as the club committed no errors, and turned a nifty double play. Check, check and check.
“Let the teams in our division know we’re on our way back,” Melvin said. “This three-year period we’ve gone through is hopefully over.”
Oakland – The Athletics have now won seven games in a row after sweeping a three-game series from the Wild Card contending Texas Rangers. The A’s completed the sweep with an 8-1 win on Sunday in front of 18,706 fans at the Coliseum on “Hecho en Oakland” Day.
This was also the second consecutive series sweep for the Athletics who took a three-game series from the Tigers in Detroit to wrap up a nine-game road trip. Oakland has now won seven consecutive games. That is their longest winning streak of the season.
The Athletics (72-83) have won 14 games in September – the most in any month this year.
Many experts will tell you not to fall in love with “September baseball”. There is some great wisdom in that statement. Rosters have been expanded. Players may be playing over their heads as they try to impress the front offices. Some veterans are just going through the motions. It is not a true barometer of what is going to happen in the future.
In the case of the Athletics, two very important things have happened in September that are worth noting for the future:
This young Oakland roster has learned to win on the road. The A’s have been tough at home all season but have been terrible away from the Coliseum. This newly constituted roster of “young guns” has taken on the challenge from Bob Melvin and learned how to win on the road. That is a lesson that can carry over into April of next year.
The Athletics also became a team that plays their division opponents tough. The A’s swept a four-game series from the Astros in September. Now they have swept the Rangers. Taking care of business with the teams in your division is the key to becoming competitive and moving toward becoming a playoff contender.
Pitching was a real key for the A’s
Jharel Cotton started the game for Oakland. He had to be scratched from his scheduled started start in Detroit due a strained groin. He showed no signs of having any problems with that issue during the game on Sunday.
Cotton threw his fastball at speeds of up to 95 mph and then would stop-down the change-up by as much as 15 mph. The Rangers hitters were just completely off-balance.
Cotton worked 5.0 – innings allowing no runs on just one hit. He walked one Texas batter while striking out six. Cotton threw 77 pitches (51 strikes).
Cotton set the side down in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
After the game, Cotton had nothing but compliments for the way his teammates played in the game.
Cotton is now 9-10 on the season and has the most wins for any rookie pitcher in the American League.
It was revealed after the game that Cotton experienced some tightness in his throwing elbow and that is why he did not continue after the fifth inning. He appeared to be fine in the clubhouse after the game.
Oakland exploded for five runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and added one in the eighth
The Athletics insured the win for Cotton by posting five runs off Texas starter Martin Perez (12-12) in the home half of the fifth inning. Catcher Josh Phegley led the inning off with a base hit and eventually eight batters would come to the plate.
The big hit of the inning came off the bat of Khris – yes you can call me “Krush” – Davis who hit his 41st home run of the year off Perez. It was a two-run shot that hit off the concrete wall just under the windows of the suites in straightaway center field.
Athletics in the batter’s box
As a team: 8 runs on 10 hits, six men left on base, 5-for-13 with Runners In Scoring Position
Phegley 2-for-3 with a double (11) and an RBI (10)
Chapman 2-for-5 including two doubles (21) and two RBI (36)
Khris Davis also recorded his 105th RBI
Oakland relief pitching
The relievers did not have a perfect outing as all four were not able to post “Goose Eggs” in the run column. Simon Castro – who worked 1.2-innings of relief – did give up one run on a solo home run to Normar Mazara (20). That was the only run the Rangers would score.
Daniel Coulombe, Santiago Casilla and Liam Hendriks combined to work 2.1-innings of scoreless relief for the A’s and preserve the victory.
A’s manager Bob Melvin was pleased with his team after the game
There has not been much mention of the Rangers in this article because for all intensive purposes their season came to an end today. They came into this weekend series still contending for a potential spot as a Wild Card team in the American League Playoffs. After the loss on Sunday, the Rangers are 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot with seven games remaining to play.
The Rangers final seven games are all home games. They have a three-game series with the Astros that begins on Monday and a four-game series with the A’s that begins on Thursday.
The Twins are on a four-game winning streak.
The A’s begin their final three-game home series of the season on Monday night with Seattle Mariners. RHP Daniel Gossett (4-9,5.38) will start for Oakland while Seattle will send “King” Felix Hernandez (5-5,4.57) to the hill.
OAKLAND–Dallas Kuechel’s post game comments weren’t meant to be a slight to the A’s nor were they necessarily disingenuous. But they definitely needed a disclaimer, that being the pitcher speaking was responsible for runs 31 through 35 of Oakland’s weekend-long, 41-run onslaught that lead to the most unlikely sweep of any in baseball this season.
“It just so happened that they hit some mistake pitches,” Kuechel explained. “They weren’t hitting quality, quality pitches. When we were making quality pitches, that’s when we were getting outs. But when you throw the ball down the middle or hang a breaking ball, major league hitters are going to do that.”
“It’s just a combination of a bunch of things and whether they’re a lot of little small things or just one big thing, they can get you in a hurry, just like today.”
Today, and Saturday–in both ends of a doubleheader–and in the later innings on Friday. In other words, Kuechel may have relayed his part of the story, but after four wins, 41 runs, 13 extra-base hits in Saturday’s doubleheader, four home runs on Sunday, Kuechel probably only has a limited grasp of what went on.
For starters, the Astros have owned the A’s and had a fleeting shot at sweeping all 10 games at the Coliseum between the clubs this season when they arrived on Friday. Then after the Astros built a 7-3 lead in the opener, the A’s tied it in the eighth, and won it in the ninth.
That broke Houston’s seven-game win streak, one day after the A’s ended an eight-game slide. Then all counterintuitve hell broke lose on Saturday.
The A’s sent shots all over the place, the Astros hurlers couldn’t find the plate, issuing five–yes, five–bases-loaded walks. Suddenly, after losing 12 of 15 to their least-preferred opponent, the A’s whipped the Astros three straight.
But four straight? Kuechel’s mastery over the A’s this season was rare and complete, with the Astros’ ace sporting a 3-0, 0.83 ERA record. Faced with the path of more of the same from Kuechel, or more hits and runs to cap the weekend, the A’s boldly chose the latter, scoring in double figures for a third straight game and winning the finale, 10-2.
“I’m not saying it was unexpected, but the fashion we did it in was pretty impressive,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
“These are all things that define these young guys,” said starter Kendall Graveman, who allowed one run on five hits in six innings, and got the win. “And in a sense, they don’t know no better. It’s, ‘let’s go play ball and give it our best effort.'”
The Oakland Athletics lost their fifth game in a row as they dropped a 7-6 decision to the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night at Safeco Field. The A’s (58-77) have lost the first two games of the three game series in Seattle to the Mariners (68-68).
The game was tied 6-6 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. The A’s sent Blake Treinen to the hill to hold the game at 6-6 and to take it into extra innings. That plan did not work out as intended.
Jean Segura led off the ninth inning for the Mariners and reached base safely on a fielding error by Matt Olson. Former Athletic Yonder Alonso then singled to right field which allowed Segura to move to third base. The A’s then decided to intentionally walk Robinson Cano to load the bases with no outs.
The M’s Nelson Cruz went down on strikes and the A’s followed that with a defensive substitution moving Matt Joyce to left field and inserting Boog Powell into center field while having Khris Davis exit the game.
Kyle Seager then flied out to left field for the second out of the inning. That left everything up to the Mariners Mitch Haniger. With the count at 1-1 to Haniger, Treinen threw a wild pitch that allowed Segura to scamper home giving Seattle the walk-off win 7-6.
A’s manager Bob Melvin did not see the pitch as a wild pitch in a quote given to Reuters. “He (Treinen) gets himself a position to get out of it, we don’t handle the ball behind the plate and it costs us the game,” said Melvin.
Oakland blows a big lead
The A’s let another solid lead be eroded on Saturday night. Oakland scored individual runs in the second and third innings to take a 2-0 lead. Seattle came back and scored two runs in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at 2-2.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners made a pitching change. Seattle pulled their starter Yovani Gallardo and sent Casey Lawrence to the mound. The A’s capitalized on that change.
Matt Chapman led off the inning by grounding out to first. Bruce Maxwell then drew a walk. Marcus Semien then hit his 13th double of the season off Lawrence that moved Maxwell up to third base.
Matt Joyce came to bat with runners at second and third. He hit a three-run home run (21) off Lawrence to give the A’s a 5-2 lead.
Jed Lowrie was the next hitter and he drew a walk. After a visit to the mound by the pitching coach, Khris Davis stepped into the batter’s box and hit a double (24) to left field and moved Lowrie up to third base. That would be the end of the game for Lawrence as he was removed and replaced by reliever Ryan Garton.
Ryon Healy was the first Athletic to face Garton. He hit a fly ball to center field that would be caught by Jarrod Dyson but Lowrie was able to tag up and score the A’s sixth run of the game. Davis was able to advance to third base on Healy’s sacrifice fly.
Matt Olson flied out to left fielder Ben Gamel in foul ground to end the inning.
That would be the end of the scoring for the Athletics in the game. Seattle would add two runs in the fifth inning, one in the sixth, one in the eighth and then the final winning one in the bottom of the ninth.
It is tough to win when you allow your opponent to score five unanswered runs and take away your four-run lead.
On the mound
Jharel Cotton started the game for the A’s and lasted four innings. It was the long-ball that did him in on Saturday night. Cotton gave up three home runs in his four innings of work which resulted in four Seattle runs (all earned). He gave up seven hits, walked two and struck out one.
The Athletics used six relievers to finish the final five innings. Combined they gave up three runs (one earned) off three hits while walking two and striking out five. They also gave up one home run. It was not a picture perfect “Goose Egg” night by any means.
Treinen was charged with loss and his record fell to 1-4 for the season.
Yovani Gallardo did not have a quality start for the Mariners. He lasted just three innings on Saturday night giving up two runs (all earned) off five hits. Gallardo walked two, struck out two and gave up two home runs.
The Mariners relief corps had an odd night. Lawrence lasted just 0.1-inning while giving up four earned runs of three hits. After he left the game, the Seattle bullpen settled down and did its job.
The Mariners final three relievers did their job almost to perfection. They posted the coveted “Goose Eggs”. They gave up 0-runs. Over those final 5.2-innings, the three Seattle relievers allowed just three Athletics to reach base.
In the batter’s box
The A’s hit three home runs in the game. Bruce Maxwell (3) and Khris Davis (37) each hit solo shots. Matt Joyce (21) hit a three-run blast in the fourth inning.
Two A’s went 2-for-5 in the game — Marcus Semien and Khris Davis. They both scored a run and Davis had an Rbi.
Matt Joyce went 1-for-3 in the game with two walks, a run scored and three Rbi. His one hit was a home run.
The glaring stats of the night for Athletics offense has to be that they were just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and that they left nine men on base in the game.
Shortstop Jean Segura led the way for Seattle against the A’s on Saturday night. He went 3-for-5 in the game with two Rbi and two runs scored.
Former Athletic Yonder Alonso had a nice against his old mates as he went 2-for-4. He scored two runs, had two hits and had one Rbi in the game.
The M’s catcher Mike Zunino also had a good night with the bat. Zunino went 2-for-3 scoring two runs and adding one Rbi.
Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 at the plate posting two Rbi and scoring one run.
The Athletics and Mariners will close out this three-game series on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. PDT.
The A’s will send rookie RHP Daniel Gossett (3-7, 5.21) to the hill. Gossett took the loss last Monday night in Anaheim against the Angels.
The Mariners will counter with LHP Andrew Albers (2-1, 4.20). Albers came to Seattle from the Braves in a trade last month.
OAKLAND–Players Weekend was a resounding success for the Oakland A’s.
From the colorful uniforms and socks to the not always brilliantly inventive nicknames, and the familiar v-necks, the A’s made the three-day run their own with three, impressive wins over the Rangers, a team in the playoff hunt intent on using the Athletics as a stepping stone.
But it was the A’s that pitched and muscled their way through the weekend, and their youthful trade acquisitions and call-ups led the way.
The A’s are always looking for something to build on, and this was undoubtedly it. The team came in struggling through August, long presumed to become their team-record, tenth consecutive month with a losing record.
But with their first three-game win streak in almost a month, that losing record is no longer a certainty.
Jharel Cotton pitched six innings and struck out a career-best nine batters, and Matt Chapman had a career-best three hit game, a home run, and the game’s key play defensively as the A’s turned a close game into a 8-3 win.
Cotton’s second quality start in a row alone was good news for the A’s, who have been patient with their acquisition from the Dodgers in the Josh Riddick, Rich Hill trade through a season of ups and downs. That Cotton performed at the Coliseum was significant since his stats at home were among the worst among AL starters coming in.
“I’ve just been going game by game, trying to get better,” Cotton said. “I’ve found how to get better and better myself, and I’m doing that right now. It feels really good.”
Sporting the nickname “Squeaky,” a nod to Cotton’s overly noticeable bicycle of his youth, the 25-year old pitched hitters away on Sunday, a move born out of stubbornness aimed at reducing the numbers of home runs he’s allowed. But more importantly, according to manager Bob Melvin, Cotton expertly kept the difference between his heater and his changeup at or in excess of 10 mph, creating a conundrum for opposing hitters.