#1 How important was this win in the World Cup women’s soccer final for the U.S. team?
#2 The television ratings for the finals were through the roof with 14.3 million viewers watching the US vs. the Netherlands in a 2-0 shutout.
#3 In Major League Baseball Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander says he blames baseball for the juiced ball and that it could travel as far as it could and it hurts pitchers.
#4 Verlander at the MLB All Star Game this week said that the balls are 100% juiced and a testimony of that is Verlander whose one of the big leagues best pitchers has given up 26 home runs this season.
#5 St Louis Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina dropped a few words that can’t be used here in regards to Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy who got hammered at the plate by Houston Astros runner Jake Marisnick who laid Lucroy out after knocking him over on a bang bang play at the plate. Molina basically said something needs to be done about runners taking out the catcher.
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
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
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.
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).
OAKLAND — Game five of the 2018 Bay Bridge Series – the second of three to be played in Oakland – was played before the largest crowd to witness a Major League Baseball this season. The A’s (56-43) decided to take the tarps off the seats in the upper deck known as “Mount Davis” for the first time since 2006. The result was 56,310 Bay Area baseball fans were treated to a “wild and woolly” affair.
The top the ninth arrived at the Oakland Coliseum, and as usual, it was Treinen time. The A’s held a slim 3-2 lead over the Giants, but the A’s have been the masters of winning one-run games (15-8) in 2018. Treinen retired the first two batters — Posey and Sandoval on groundouts. The third hitter of the inning – Alen Hanson – struck out, but the strike three pitch was wild, got by the catcher and Hanson wound up safe at first (this is now the first paragraph of a Stephen King novel).
Hunter Pence then hit a pitch into right field that rolled into foul territory and into the Giants bullpen for a double, and Alen Hanson scored on the play. As right fielder Stephen Piscotty charged the ball, a member of the Giants bullpen picked up a chair and made contact with the outfielder. The Athletics contended that it should have been a “dead ball” at that point which would have kept the run from scoring. There is no rule that umpires could invoke, so the A’s challenged the play on a boundary call. A video review of the play upheld the call on the field. When the top of the ninth inning was over, the game was tied at 3-3.
The A’s were unable to score in the bottom of the ninth, so it was on to extra innings.
There was no scoring in the 10th inning and the Giants (51-49) failed to produce any runs in the top of the 11th frame.
The A’s are late inning battlers
Teams are learning that they cannot let the A’s hang around late in games and continue to have chances to score – because they will. That is exactly what happened on Saturday night.
In the bottom of the 11th inning, the Giants put LHP Will Smith on the mound. Piscotty grounded out to lead off the inning for Oakland. Dustin Fowler was then robbed of a hit when he lifted a “flare” to shallow right-center and shortstop Brandon Crawford made an outstanding sliding catch beyond the bag at second.
With two out, Matt Chapman picked up his third hit of the game with a single up the middle. Chad Pinder followed up with a single to left-center that moved Chapman up to second. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy – who did not enter the game until the 10th inning – singled to right-center field and Chapman never had any thoughts of doing anything but crossing home plate to score the winning run which he did.
The A’s won the game 4-3 to even the series in Oakland at 1-1 and to take a 3-2 lead in the six-game series after five games.
The walk off single was Lucroy’s second of the season. The Athletics are now 7-4 in extra inning games for the season and improved to 14-6 in games decided in the last at bat.
On the Hill
The Giants started their one-time superstar – LHP Madison Bumgarner – who has struggled since coming back from a broken finger on his pitching hand. “MadBum” looked strong in the opening four innings, but the A’s hitters got patient and things went south for Bumgarner in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Bumgarner loaded the bases and walked two runs in to give the A’s the lead 2-1 which ended his night. Sam Dyson came in to relieve Bumgarner and induced Mark Canha to hit into a double play but Chad Pinder scored the A’s third run on the play.
Bumgarner worked 4.0-plus innings giving up three runs (earned). He walked six and struck out five.
Will Smith (0-1) took the loss.
Trevor Cahill started the game for Oakland. It was his second start since coming off the disabled list. He worked 5.2-innings and gave up one run (earned) on a home run to Brandon Belt. Cahill struck out five and walked three.
Blake Treinen was charged with his fourth blown save of the season as he gave up the tying run when Hunter Pence hit the RBI-double into the bullpen along the right field line.
Yusmeiro Petit picks up his fifth win of the year as he was the pitcher of record after working a perfect top of the 11th inning for the A’s.
At the Plate
Matt Chapman went 3-for-5 with two runs scored to lead the A’s with the bat. He is now hitting at a .253 clip.
Stephen Piscotty hit his 26th double of the year off Bumgarner.
Phegley (10), Semien (34) and Lucroy (28) all recorded RBI for the A’s.
Oakland went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.
Hunter Pence likes being a DH. He went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI as the Giants DH Saturday night.
The Giants also went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left 8 men on base.
Let the buying begin
The question has been answered. The A’s are going to be buyers as the non-wavier trade deadline approaches. Oakland has acquired RHP relief pitcher Jeurys Familia from the New York Mets for two minor leaguers and $1-million in international slot money. Familia appeared in 40 games for NYM posting a 2.88 ERA with a 1.230 WHIP. He has struck out 43 in 40.2-innings and walked just 14. Familia has given up just one home run. He will be a free agent at the end of the 2018 season.
Get those suitcases packed
The A’s will head out on the road after the game on Sunday for a seven-game, two-city road trip. They will play four games in hot, humid Arlington, Texas versus the Rangers. All four games are night contests. There is no thought of day baseball this time of year in the Metroplex. After the four games in Texas, Oakland heads to Denver to play three games at Coors Field with the Colorado Rockies. The power hitting Athletics may find batting at a mile-high just to their liking.
Lonnnnng homestand coming
The A’s will return home from their road trip on Monday, July 30 to begin a stretch where 17 of their next 20 games will be played in Oakland. The only break in the homestand is three games in Anaheim with the Angels. Oakland will host the Blue Jays, Tigers, Dodgers, Mariners, Astros and Rangers in those 17 home games.
A belated parade for the 1989 World Champions
The 1989 World Champion Oakland Athletics were honored with long overdue parade to celebrate their 1989 World Series sweep of the San Francisco Giants. The team did not receive the parade because they did not want to show disrespect to those who lost loved ones in the tragic earthquake that disrupted the series. The celebration before the game was very nice. The one sad thing was there are several players that have passed on who could be there to be a part of the pregame honor.
The sixth and final game of the 2018 Bay Bridge Series will be played on Sunday at the Coliseum at 1:05 PM. The Giants will send RHP Johnny Cueto to the mound for his third start since coming off the disabled list on July 5th. He is 3-1 on the year with a 2.36 ERA. Cueto is 2-0 in Interleague games this season.
The A’s will counter with LHP Sean Manaea who 4-0 with a 3.14 ERA in eight starts since the beginning of June. His overall record this season is 9-6 with a 3.42 ERA. Manaea has an 11-game winning streak when pitching in day games that dates back to May 20, 2017. He is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three career starts versus the Giants.
OAKLAND–If this is the path you travel to establish yourself at Major League level, then don’t try this at home.
Frankie Montas’ winding, professional run starting with the Red Sox organization in 2012 as a teenager, followed by trades to three, new clubs, the last a multiplayer deal where the Dominican righthander went from the Dodgers to the A’s isn’t unique, but Montas’ oddysey has rarely provided moments to suggest he could find a role and stick with a big league club.
But Sunday at the Coliseum in the A’s 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks, Montas may have come up with the performance that finally gets him over the hump.
In his first ever start for the A’s after two hands full of forgettable, relief appearances in 2017, Montas was nearly flawless. Throwing his usual smoke–with new and improved, secondary pitches mixed in–he controlled the Diamondbacks, allowing no hits through five innings, before three singles and a run in the sixth. Those three would be the only hits for Arizona the entire game.
“I thought his two-seamer was really good today, which is what he’s been working on. And then his offspeed stuff mixed in to keep them off-balance and make his fastball play that much better,” manager Bob Melvin said in summarizing his pitcher’s appearance.
Montas served up fastballs at 95 plus in the early innings, then liberally mixed in his deceptive stuff, a stew that kept the struggling D’Backs flummoxed. And he worked himself out of a pair of jams: in the fourth, when he allowed both his walks, and the sixth when the three singles lead to Jake Lamb’s run-scoring sacrifice fly and nothing more.
“I feel really comfortable as a starter,” Montas said with the help of interpreter Juan Dorado. “It’s something I’ve done my whole career and it’s something that I want to do. And now that I’m commanding my fastball a little better, it’s something that I’m working hard on.”
Work was demanded of Montas when he was demoted in July, after he allowed 39 hits in 32 innings of work across 23 relief appearances, including 20 walks and 10 home runs. Those ragged numbers placed Montas as arguably the second-worst among Oakland relievers for one season all-time, and created the possibility the then 24-year old might not get a second chance.
But boldly, he pleaded to be groomed for a starter’s role.
Montas went winless in eight starts at Triple-A Nashville, then a oblique injury ended his frustrating 2017 season. Then this season he wasn’t obviously new-and-improved at 1-5 with an 3.24 ERA for Nashville, but he had some, positive stretches and became accustomed to the rhythm and length of starting.
When Oakland’s rotation continued to take hits, the latest injuries to Brett Anderson and Andrew Triggs, Montas–with his signature fastball still creating intrigue–got another shot.
And he delivered.
Jonathan Lucroy homered–his first as an Athletic–in support of Montas. After the Diamondbacks tied it in the sixth, Matt Chapman delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the inning. Chapman’s single scored Matt Olson to put the A’s up 2-1.
Relievers Yusmeiro Petit, Lou Trivino and closer Blake Treinen finished the Diamondbacks in short order. The trio expended just 32 pitches in retiring the final nine Arizona batters consecutively, while striking out four.
The quiet, abrupt end to the game shed light on the depth of Arizona’s woes. After losing Saturday and Sunday, the D’Backs have lost 15 of 17 while scoring just 34 runs total. Amazingly, seven of those 34 came in Friday’s win, vividly illustrating how stark their offense has been since they started the season 24-11, the best 35-game start in the Diamondbacks franchise’s history.
“It’s just not going the way we want it to right now, but we have to keep together,” said Arizona’s David Peralta. “We just have to keep together, we have to keep fighting every day and we have to play with the same mentality–positive–and things are going to turn.”
The A’s have won nine of 13, and gained ground for a second straight day in the AL West. They are now 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Astros.
The A’s open a four-game set with the Rays on Monday with Trevor Cahill facing the Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer at 1:05pm.
AP photo: Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish looks at the plate from the mound in the seventh had command over the Oakland A’s on Wednesday night at the Ball Park in Arlington
Arlington, Texas- The Texas Rangers, behind a terrific pitching performance by Yu Darvish and clutch hitting by Ian Desmond and Jonathan Lucroy, beat the A’s 6-2 to sweep the three-game series. Darvish earned his second win ever over the A’s. The A’s, in the past, owned Darvish. Darvish won his first start against the A’s in a rookie season and was 0-8 against them until Wednesday night. The A’s rookie lefty, Sean Manaea, pitched well for four innings. The Rangers scored twice in the fifth and three in the seventh. Manaea absorbed his eighth loss of the year. He went six-plus innings and allowed nine hits and five runs.
The A’s got off to a good start in the first inning. Coco Crisp hit a solo homer on just the second pitch of the game. It was his eleventh homer of the year. The Rangers tied the game in the bottom of then fourth when Jonathan Lucroy slammed a pitch into the left-field seats. Lucroy, an All-Star in Milwaukee, is thriving in Texas since his arrival at the trade deadline. The game is even at one after four innings of play.
The A’s regained the lead in the fifth. Jake Smolinski hit his seventh homer of the year leading off the inning. The lead didn’t last long as the Rangers scored two in their half of the fifth. Ranger shortstop, Elvis Andrus, led off with a single. With one out, Delino DeShields doubled to put men on at second and third with one out. Ian Desmond followed with a single to put the Rangers in the lead 3-2.
The Rangers score three more in the seventh. Ian Desmond had a single with the bases loaded to drive in the Rangers’ fourth run. Carlos Beltran hit into a 4-2-3 double play. The A’s issued a free pass to Adrian Beltre to load the bases for the second time in the inning. Lucroy doubled down the right field line to drive in the final two runs of the game. The Ranger bullpen shut the A’s down in the eighth and ninth to secure the win for Texas.
Game Notes- The hitting stars for Texas were Jonathan Lucroy and Ian Desmond. Lucroy had a homer and double and knocked in three.Desmond had two singles, and he also had three ribbies.Yu Darvish improved to 4-3. Darvish pitched seven-plus innings and allowed eight hits and two runs.
The A’s have lost five straight and six of the last seven. The A’s were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and 2-for- 23 in the last two games. The A’s are now 52-69 and are seventeen games under .500.
The A’s made some roster moves Wednesday.The A’s called up Chad Pinder from Triple-A Nashville. Pinder can fill in at either shortstop or second base. The A’s placedTyler Ladendorf on the 15-day DL with a sprained wrist and Jed Lowrie was moved to the 60-day DL.
The A’s are off on Thursday and will face the Chicago White Sox in Chicago for three games in Chicago.
Time of game was two hours and fifty-four minutes, and 26,743 people were on hand to see the Rangers complete the sweep.