A’s get back into the win column by beating the Royals 2-1 on Tuesday night

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Graphic: @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland A’s got back into the win column on Tuesday night as they downed the Kansas City Royals 2-1 at the Coliseum. The A’s were down 1-0 going into the bottom of the seventh inning when they bit back at the upstart Royals.

Matt Olson hit a 450-foot home run into the center-field stands off a 2-1 pitch from the Royals starting pitcher Jorge Lopez. Lopez then had the most logical response to Olson’s home run — he hit Mark Canha with a pitch. No, Canha was not pleased.

With Canha at first, Seth Brown doubled to left-center field and drove Canha home to score what would prove to be the winning run of the game. Brown, who has been “clutch” for Oakland since being called up to the majors, made Lopez pay for his stupidity of hitting the next batter after Olson hit his home run. Lopez should have been ejected from the contest.

Focus on the A’s

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Photo: @Athletics
  • Oakland is now 24-8 (.750) versus the AL Central Division this season.
  • Liam Hendriks, who picked up his 23rd save of the season, has struck out 116 batters as a relief pitcher to set a franchise record. The old record was 115 and was set by Rollie Fingers in 1975.
  • A.J. Puk earned his second career win in this game. He has pitched 2.0 scoreless innings in each of his last outings. He gave up one hit and struck out two batters on Tuesday night.
  • Matt Olson now leads the A’s and American League first basemen with 35 home runs (that is after missing the first six weeks of the season due to injury).
  • Mark Canha has now been hit by a pitch 17 times this season. That ties him with Shin-soo Choo for the most HBP in the American League.
  • Relief pitcher Joakim Soria has not allowed a run in his last five appearances.
  • The A’s are now in Wild Card Slot #1 with a two-game lead over Tampa Bay, who is in Wild Card Slot #2. Cleveland is 1/2 game behind Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card spot.

Spotlight on the Royals

  • Royals starting pitcher Jorge Lopez has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his last three starts.
  • Cheslor Cuthbert recorded his first multi-hit game since August 8th in Detroit. He is hitting .341 with three doubles and one HR versus AL West teams this season.
  • Hunter Dozier is batting .345 with four doubles, a triple and seven RBI in the month of September.

Up next

The Royals and A’s meet in a getaway day game tomorrow that will get underway at 12:37 PM PDT. The Royals will send LHP Danny Duffy to the mound. He has a 6-6 record on the season with a 4.55 ERA. He had a no-decision in his last start in Houston.

The A’s will start RHP Homer Bailey, who they obtained from the Royals, on Wednesday afternoon. Bailey is 13-8 on the year with a 4.76 ERA. He won his last start versus the Astros in Houston.

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Photo/Graphic: @Astros

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Coming home to the Oakland Coliseum has not been a good thing for the Oakland Athletics. After winning 11 consecutive games, the A’s have now lost four games in a row at home. They have also lost a second consecutive series at home.

The first-place Houston Astros downed the A’s 5-1 on Saturday night at the Coliseum behind the “lights out” pitching of Justin Verlander (9-2, 2.27 ERA). The perennial All-Star pitcher worked 8.0-innings allowing just one run (earned) off four hits. Verlander struck out eight Oakland hitters while walking just two.

The A’s only run of the game came in the second inning when Stephen Piscotty hit the first pitch from Verlander over the wall in right field for his seventh home run of the season.

Brett Anderson (6-4, 3.95 ERA) made the start for Oakland. He worked 5.1-innings giving up three runs (all earned) on eight hits. Anderson struck out two and walked two.

The A’s used two relief pitchers in the contest. Yusmeiro Petit pitched 2.2-innings of perfect baseball while striking out two Astros. Joakim Soria closed out the game pitching the ninth inning and giving up two runs off two hits (1 HR).

A’s Spotlight

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Marcus Semien ejected Photo: @Athletics
  • Anderson has allowed five home runs in his last four starts after he gave up just one homer in his previous eight starts.
  • Ramon Laureano recorded his sixth assist of the year on Saturday. The center fielder threw Robinson Chirinos out as he attempted to advance to second base in the fourth inning.
  • Speaking of Laureano, he extended his career-long hitting streak to 14 games when he singled off Verlander in the fifth inning.
  • Marcus Semien was ejected in the fifth inning of the game. It was the first time Semien has been ejected from a game in his career.
  • Stephen Piscotty has possessed the hot bat for the A’s during this homestand. He went 2-for-4 on Saturday and he is batting .417 (10-for-24) with five runs, two doubles, two home runs, and four RBI in the eight games.

Houston Notes

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Graphic: @Astros
  • Justin Verlander passed Cy Young for 21st on the all-time strikeout list (that’s impressive). Verlander is now for tied for the most wins in the Major Leagues with nine victories.
  • Josh Reddick is happy to back in the Coliseum. He has hit home runs in consecutive games for the first time since September 15 and 16, 2018. Reddick is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with three home runs and five RBI in four games in the Coliseum this season.
  • Michael Brantley now leads the MLB in multi-hit games after going 2-for-3 with a walk on Saturday. He has posted 27 multi-hit games. Brantley has recorded 72 hits already this season and is tied for first in the American League.

Up Next

The Astros and A’s will wrap up their series on Sunday at 1:07 PM PDT. Houston will send RHP Gerrit Cole (5-5, 4.04 ERA) to the mound to try and make it a sweep over Oakland. The A’s will counter with RHP Chris Bassitt (3-1, 3.27 ERA) in order to try and stop their losing streak.

Finishing Blow Elusive as A’s Strand 10 Against Darvish, Rangers

By Matthew Harrington

OAKLAND, Calif. –Few teams can say they own All-World talent Yu Darvish, staff ace for the Texas Rangers. The Oakland Athletics can stake claim to that distinction, sporting a 6-1 lifetime record against the Japanese import including a sterling 2-0 record against the international sensation at O.Co Coliseum. Though Darvish didn’t manage his first win in his career in the confines of Alameda County Monday evening, his Rangers outlasted the Oakland A’s (13-6), erasing a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 victory.

“It was a very competitive game,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “It was about as close as you can get. They had their ace on the mound. We had them on the run early but recovered well enough to keep him in the game and go to their key bullpen guys.”

Neal Cotts (1-1, 3.38 ERA) picked up the win in relief, Shin-Soo Choo homered for the Rangers (12-8) and former Oakland middle infielder Donnie Murphy singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to lead the Rangers to a come-from-behind triumph over the American League West leaders. Brandon Moss hit his fourth round tripper of the season and Coco Crisp moved into sole possession of fourth place on the A’s career stolen base list, swiping two bags to move past Carney Lansford with 147 pilferings in his time in green and gold.  Crisp also made an incredible leaping catch in center with his back to home plate, but came up lame clutching his ribs on a diving attempt later in the game.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” said Melvin. “It’s the second time he’s dove and knicked that area up a little bit.”

Dan Straily battled Darvish pitch-for-pitch before relinquishing a tied game to his bullpen in the sixth inning. Texas saddled reliever Sean Doolittle (0-1, 3.38 ERA) with the loss after the lefty struggled in the eighth to snuff out a Ranger rally. Jason Frasor, Cotts, Alexi Ogando and Joakim Soria held the A’s scoreless over three innings of relief.

Choo greeted Straily with his 12th career leadoff homerun, launching a liner to right for his second long ball of the season and a 1-0 Rangers Lead. Choo later left the game in the seventh inning after suffering left leg tightness when he grounded out on a slow roller to third. Josh Donaldson barehanded the ball for the bang-bang play at first with Choo originally being called safe by first base umpire Adrian Johnson. Melvin challenged the play and, after the replay was reviewed, the call of safe on the field was overturned by crew chief Larry Vanover.

“I heard that he was out,” said Melvin. “Based on the replay I was seeing, I wasn’t sure about it. At that point in time I’m going to challenge it anyway. After the seventh inning the umpires get together, so that was one I would probably challenge either way.”

Moss answered Choo’s dinger with a solo shot of his own in the home half of second, depositing a Darvish delivery just inside the foul pole and beyond the fence. For Moss, the four-bagger marks his fourth of the season and fourth-career off Darvish. Moss accounts for 4 of 41 total career round-trippers for Darvish, nearly ten percent.

The Athletics rally continued when a two-out single to left by Crisp brought Josh Reddick and Eric Sogard around for a two-run edge. It would complete all the scoring Oakland mustered off Darvish, who saw his string of consecutive seven-plus innings starts snapped at three 2014 appearances.

“When he’s out there, we know it’s going to be a pretty low-scoring game,” said Donaldson of Darvish. “We jumped out pretty early. Early on he was coming at us, throwing harder. He ran it up to 96 (miles per hour) then once he got settled in, he started changing speeds which is what he does best.”

The 56-million-dollar man came into play Monday with a 0.82 ERA after allowing two runs in 22 innings on the campaign, but the A’s nearly doubled his ERA to a still-miniscule 1.61 with their three earned runs over six innings. Monday also marked the first time in nine-straight starts that an opposing team scored more than two runs on last season’s batting-average-against leader. Darvish collected six punch-outs in the no-decision, firing a laboring 116 pitches.

Texas cut the deficit in half off Straily after Prince Fielder opened the fourth inning with a double to the corner in left followed by a RBI single by Ex-Athletic Kevin Kouzmanoff. Straily settled down to retire the next three batters in order. Kouzmanoff, the reigning American League Player of the Week for his 10-for-29 performance with two home runs and eight RBIs, finished the day with two hits, an RBI and scored the game-winning run.

A two-out rally in the visiting portion of the fifth inning led to the game-tying run. Fielder hit the third of three consecutive singles to plate Elvis Andrus. Straily then threw a wild pitch to put Alex Rios, the second single of the trio, and Fielder in scoring position, but got Kouzmanoff to chase a 1-2 slider to end the inning and close the book on his day.

“He was spotty at times,” said Melvin on his starting pitcher. “He recovered nicely from the first batter in the game hitting a home run. He had two outs in the fifth and tried to finish that one off, couldn’t do it. At times I thought he threw the ball well, there were times he was maybe a little bit off his command.”

Straily’s pitching line including five innings of work with three runs, all earned on 84 pitches. He struck out six and walked only two but turned the game over to Ryan Cook with no chance at being named the winning pitcher.

“Tonight I was pretty proud of myself,” said Straily. “I never really felt like I was out of any at-bats except having to work my way back into it early. I don’t really feel too down on myself. My first-pitch command was just terrible tonight. That’s something you can’t have out there. I gave it everything I had, I just wasn’t able to get it done there in the fifth.”

Oakland looked poised to add a cushion to its lead after Daric Barton singled to center on a soft liner, marking the fourth-straight inning the A’s leadoff man reached base. Sogard bounced into the momentum-sapping double play but Crisp and catcher John Jaso reached base then stole third and second respectively with Jed Lowrie at the plate. Lowrie coaxed a two-out walk to load the bases for Josh Donaldson, but the “Bringer of Rain” continued an A’s drought with runners in scoring position on the night. Donaldson went around on a check-swing for the third strike on a ball low in the strike zone.

“It’s just one of those things,” said Donaldson. “He’s a good pitcher. He started to bear down on us a little bit. We came up there with the bases loaded and he came in there with a pretty good slider for strike three. The guy’s good. He’s not just your run-of –the-mill guy.”

Donaldson represented one one of seven A’s outs in 10 opportunities with runners on second or third. The A’s left 10 men on base Monday.

“The goal is to get guys on base,” said Donaldson. “We were able to do that. More times than not when we’re going to come through in those situations. Tonight was one of those days where it didn’t happen.”

Ryan Cook and Fernando Abad combined to pitch a scoreless inning apiece before turning the game over to heir-apparent to the closer role, Sean Doolittle, in the eighth inning. Doolittle recently received a five-year extension with the A’s that many suspect puts him in line to take over the ninth inning role at some point in his career. Oakland fans hope Monday doesn’t represent a harbinger of things to come from the bearded southpaw.

Texas opened Doolittle’s frame with Kouzmanoff rocketing a ball to right center that Reddick couldn’t snag on a leap at the wall. Designated hitter Mitch Moreland advanced Kouzmanoff to third on a sacrifice bunt then Kouzmanoff scored on a Murphy bouncer up the middle, the game-winning base knock. Doolittle got Leonys Martin to fly out for the second out before being lifted for Dan Otero. Otero finished off the inning, then pitched a scoreless ninth to keep Oakland within one.

“After they got the bunt down, I snuck one past Murphy,” said Doolittle. “I thought I was going to find a way to get him out. I was doing a good job of staying short. I thought I made a good pitch. The pitch to Kouzmanoff was not a good pitch. The pitch to Murphy was well-executed. He just did a good job of smoking it back up the middle.”

Rangers manager Ron Washington, a former infield coach with the A’s, called on his closer Soria to shut the door on the A’s in the ninth. Soria got Jaso to strike out for the fourth time Monday night before Lowrie reached base then advanced to second on an error at short by Andrus. Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes, who nearly tied the game on a deep drive in a pinch-hit pop-out in the seventh, lifted fly balls for the final two outs and Soria’s fourth save of the season.

“I thought when he hit it, it was out,” said Melvin of Cespedes’ loud out in the seventh. “I know on a cold night it’s difficult here, especially in the big part of the ball park. He hits one good and it normally goes out.”

The A’s will look to get on track again in Tuesday night’s tilt which will feature Tommy Milone opposing Rangers right-hander Nick Martinez before a finale between young pitching sensations Sonny Gray and Martin Perez Wednesday afternoon. The Rangers will look to hand Oakland its first loss of more than two runs this season.