Panik’s walk-off gives Giants huge 4-3 win

Orovillemr.com photo: San Francisco Giants’ Joe Panik watches his two-run single in front of Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann during the ninth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The Giants won 4-3.

By Jeremy Kahn

SAN FRANCISCO — Down to his last strike on multiple occasions, Joe Panik came up huge in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Panik slapped a single to right field off of Luke Jackson that scored Kevin Pillar and Mac Williamson, as the San Francisco Giants came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 before a crowd of just 28,030 at Oracle Park.

This was the second walk-off of the season for the Giants, and the second this month, as Buster Posey hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 1.

As for Panik, this was his second career walk-off hit and first since May 1, 2015 against the Los Angeles Angels.

Jackson came on in the bottom of the ninth inning, as he looked for his team-high seventh save of the season; however, in the end it did not happen.

The closer got Evan Longoria to ground out for the first out of the inning, but Brandon Crawford singled to left, then Jackson got Steven Duggar to strike out for the second out of the inning and then Crawford advanced an additional 90 feet on defensive indifference.

Pillar then cut the Braves lead down to one, as he singled in Crawford and then Pablo Sandoval came to the plate. Pillar then stole second to get into scoring position that setup Sandoval for the possible game-tying hit.

Sandoval hit a ball into the hole at third base that Josh Donaldson dove and kept the ball from going into left field that would have tied up the game, and Pillar stayed at third base. Williamson came on to pinch run for Sandoval, and stole second that setup Paniks heroics.

Panik fell behind 0-2 and then the count went to 3-2, and finally on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Panik hit a 95 mile per hour into right field that scored both Pillar and Williamson to give the Giants an improbable victory.

The Braves got on the board in the first inning, as Dansby Swanson singled and eventually scored on a Nick Markakis double to left field.

Panik got the Giants rally started in the bottom of the first inning, as he singled off of Braves starter Julio Teheran, he went to second on a Buster Posey single and then over to third on a Brandon Belt fly ball to left field. Evan Longoria then tied up the game, as he doubled to left field to easily score Panik from third base; however, the rally ended, when Crawford struck out to end the inning.

Both Teheran and rookie Shawn Anderson matched each other inning for inning until the Braves finally got to Anderson in the top of the sixth inning and chased the rookie, who was making just his second major league start.

Donaldson and Markakis ended Andersons night, as they hit back-to-back singles in the top of the sixth inning and that brought on Reyes Moronta, who got Austin Riley to fly out to Duggar in centerfield; however, both Donaldson and Markakis advanced an additional 90 feet. Brian McCann broke up the tie, as he hit a sacrifice fly to Stephen Vogt in left field.

Freddie Freeman extended the Braves up to two runs in the top of the seventh inning, as he hit an opposite field single that scored Ronald Acuna, Jr., who walked with one out in the inning and went to second on a Swanson walk.

Acuna made a huge defensive play in the bottom of the third inning, as he robbed Brandon Belt of a solo home run.

If people that thought Acunas plat was huge, Crawford also came up with two huge defensive plays of his own.

The shortstop snared a Freeman line drive in the top of the third inning that looked like it was going into left field, but Crawford caught the ball to rob Freeman of a base hit.

Crawford came up huge on the defense again in the top of the ninth inning, as Acuna attempted to steal second base and was originally called safe; however, replays showed that Crawford applied the tag on the foot and the umpires went to replay and after a 44-second review, it was determined that Acuna was indeed out.

Paniks two-run walk-off base hit gave the win to Trevor Gott, who is 2-0 on the season, while Jackson falls to 2-1.

Anderson, who was making his second start of his career, went five innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, not walking a batter and striking out three, as he did not fare in the decision.

The veteran Teheran went 5.2 innings, allowing just one run on three hits, walking three and striking out six.

Once again, the Giants helped out, as they went the final four innings, allowing one run on three hits, walking three and striking out two.

NOTES: Vogt started in left for just the second time in his major-league career, and it was his fifth appearance in left field and 17 in right field. Vogt last played in the outfield in 2017.

Sandoval picked up his 10th pinch-hit of the season, and is now 10-for-25 as a pinch-hitter this season.
In 16 career games against the Giants, Donaldson is 21-for-60, a .350 clip with seven extra base hits.

Acuna, who hit two home runs in the series opener on Monday night, has reached base in seven of his 10 plate appearances in the series, as he has walked twice and picked up five hits.

UP NEXT: Jeff Samardzija looks for his third win of the season, as he takes the mound on Wednesday night for the Giants, while left-hander Max Fried looks to raise his record to 7-2 on the season, as he toes the rubber for the Braves.

Blue Jays beat the A’s 5-3 in a strange game

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Oakland Athletics
Marcus Semien hits his 20th home run of the season. Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics lost the final game of the three-game series to the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Sunday afternoon, but the A’s still won the series two games to one.

The Sunday game had “weird” painted all over it right from the beginning. Rich Hill started the game for Oakland and the speculation was that it would be his final start as an Athletic because of his trade value. Hill threw five pitches and called the trainer to the mound. A piece of skin came off where he had a blister that caused him to miss a start, and that was it for Hill. His day was over.

The A’s would use seven pitchers in the game but the real surprise was the appearance of starting pitcher Sean Manaea in the second inning of the game. The rookie left-hander was scheduled to start the game on Tuesday versus the Astros. After it was determined that reliever Andrew Triggs could not continue after being hit in the calf with a batted ball, manager Bob Melvin called on Manaea.

Melvin talked about how tough it was to ask Manaea to respond so quickly. “It’s tough to ask the kid to do something like that too. We were going to limit his pitches but we just didn’t have enough bullpen wise to get through the game if we didn’t use him. He responded really well. I’m sure he didn’t come to the ballpark thinking I might pitch today.”

Manaea worked five innings giving up two runs (both earned) on three hits. He struck out four Blue Jay hitters. Manaea did give up a two-run home run to Troy Tulowitzki in the top of the fourth inning. Tulowitzki hit his 16th home run of the season over the center field wall. Manaea did not figure in on the decision in Sunday’s game.

The Tulowitzki home run gave Toronto a 3-0 lead. The Jays scored a run in the that wild and confusing top of the first inning.

The A’s were having to battle the strong pitching of J.A. Happ who entered the game with a 12-3 record. Happ held the A’s hitless through the first three innings.

The A’s broke through in the bottom of the sixth inning when they sent nine men to the plate and scored three runs on four hits to tie the game at 3-3. Marcus Semien started the scoring for the A’s by hitting his 20th home run of the year.

The game remained tied until the top of the ninth when the Blue Jays put runners on base by virtue of back-to-back base hits. With two outs, former Athletic Josh Donaldson stepped in and hit a double to left field that drove in two runs giving Toronto a 5-3 lead. The A’s were unable to respond in the bottom of the ninth and the final score was Toronto 5 Oakland 3.

On the bump

Rich Hill showed reporters his finger and the skin that had come off that finger. It does not look like an injury that is going to heal quickly. Bob Melvin was clear in postgame press conference that Hill was not a candidate to start on Tuesday against Houston.

Andrew Triggs who was hit by a ball on his left calf has a serious contusion. Melvin said they will evaluate Triggs situation again on Monday.

Marc Rzepczynski worked 0.2 of an inning and struck out two batters. Liam Hendricks pitched 1.1 innings and walked one hitter while giving up no runs in relief.

John Axford (3-3) took the loss going 0.2 innings giving up two runs (earned) on three hits. He walked two and struck out one.

Patrick Schuster worked 0.1 inning to close out the game.

Happ worked 5.2 innings giving up 3 runs (all earned) on five hits for Toronto. He struck out five and walked one. Happ did not figure in on the decision.

Jason Grilli (3-1) was credited with the win. Grilli worked 1.0 inning giving up no runs and no hits in his time on the mound.

The save went to Roberto Osuna. It is his 19th save of the season.

In the batter’s box

Marcus Semien went 1-for-4 with a run scored, a home run and a RBI. He now has 20 home runs and 48 RBI both of which are career highs.

Danny Valencia had a 2-for-4 day that included scoring a run. Valencia is now hitting .307 in the 56 games since he came off the disabled list May 6th. There have to be some contending teams that want his bat in their lineup and are willing to part with prospects to get it.

Jed Lowrie went 2-for-4 on Sunday. Lowrie is 6-for-16 (.375) in his four starts as the leadoff batter this season.

Yonder Alonso came into the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and went 1-for-2 hitting a double that was good for two RBI.

Josh Donaldson has reached base safely in 22 straight games and is hitting .388 over that period. He went 2-for-5 on Sunday.

Russell Martin went 2-for-3 on Sunday and scored a run. He is hitting .324 over the last 10 games.

Edwin Encarnacion had a 1-for-4 day but is .394 over his last 20 games.

Notes:

The Athletics were involved in a minor transaction on Sunday as they acquired left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. Detwiler was pitching for Triple-A Columbus and will be assigned to Triple-A Nashville for the A’s. He will not be on the 40-man roster.

This move was made to shore up the pitching staff in Nashville which has seen so many changes as pitchers have been promoted to Oakland and others have been designated for assignment.

Toronto first baseman Justin Smoak signed a two-year contract extension worth $8.25 million on Saturday. The contract includes an option year that would pay Smoak $6 million if exercised.

“We love Toronto, me and my family, and we wanted to stay here as long as we can,” Smoak said. “So we just wanted to get something done.”

Smoak is currently a role player for the Blue Jays. His signing is seen as protection at first base in case free agent Edwin Encarnacion signs elsewhere.

Up next

Three-game series in Oakland with Houston:

Mon – RHP Kendall Graveman (5-6,4.37) vs. RHP Mike Fiers (6-3,4.35) 7:05 PM

Tue – To be announced vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (6-9,4.90) 7:05 PM

Wed – RHP Daniel Mengden (1-4,5.54) vs. RHP Doug Fister (9-6,3.64) 12:35 PM

Toronto heads to Phoenix for two games with the Diamondbacks

A’s minor league spotlight: Franklin Barreto

 

Franklin_Barreto_5.23.16_for_6.2.16_eoii4i8c_3ee0o7ov

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics will be looking for prospects just like the one who is in out minor league spotlight this week as they move veteran players to playoff contenders between now and August 1st. Infielder Franklin Barreto is ranked the number one prospect in the A’s minor league system and he was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays as a part of the Josh Donaldson trade that also brought Kendall Graveman to the Athletics.

Barreto was originally signed by Toronto for $1.45 million in 2012. Barreto began to catch everyone’s attention in 2014 when he led the Northwest League in multiple categories. He had a .311 batting average and .384 on base percentage. Barreto was seen as a major piece of the Donaldson trade.

After joining the A’s organization, Barreto was assigned to Advanced Class-A Stockton in the California league. He immediately found success at the plate hitting .302 with an OBP of .333. Barreto had 13 home runs and 22 doubles in 90 games, but his season was cut short when he suffered a wrist contusion in late July that put him on the disabled list for the rest of the year.

The scouts rank Barreto as an above average hitter with average power but some see him with more than average power. He is rated as a average runner. Barreto is said to have an outstanding arm but is considered to be a below average fielder.

Barreto is currently assigned to Double-A Midland of the Texas League. He has appeared in 87 games and currently has a .258 batting average with a .321 on base percentage and a .387 slugging percentage. Barreto has 17 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 32 RBI. He 22-for-32 in the stolen base department. Based on his current hitting statistics, Barreto will probably be looking at spending at least the first half of the 2017 season back Midland.

Barreto has also struggled defensively. His original position was shortstop but there was a problem with to many errors being committed. At Midland this season, they have used Barreto at second base and at shortstop. He has committed three errors in 28 games at second and 14 errors in 56 games at short. With shortstop Marcus Semien in the majors and Triple-A All-Star shortstop Chad Pinder at Nashville, Barreto’s future may be at second base or at a corner spot in the outfield.

Barreto was selected to the Texas League South Division All-Star Team. He played second base and hit a double in the game that the South Division won 8-3.

 

 

A’s vs the Toronto Blue Jays preview

Buster Posey, Troy Tulowitzki
Toronto Blue Jays’ Troy Tulowitzki slides safely into home plate to score against San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey during the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

by Jerry Feitelberg

OAKLAND–The second half of the 2016 baseball season resumes Friday night at the Oakland Coliseum. The Toronto Blue Jays, currently residing in a second place tie in the AL East with the Boston Red Sox, are just two games behind the Baltimore Orioles. The Jays have been surging as they have won eighteen of the last twenty-five and are 51-40 overall. The Jays have a strong offense, starting rotation and bullpen. Josh Donaldson, the reigning MVP, and former Oakland Athletic is having another strong year and could repeat as MVP. Donaldson is hitting .304 and has 23 homers and 64 RBIs. Donaldson, facing the A’s in Oakland, is five-for thirteen with a home run, two doubles, and five RBI. Many fans still rue the day that Oakland traded Donaldson to Toronto and view that move as one of the factors that have taken the A’s down to lower depths of the AL West. Michael Saunders, an All-Star this year, is having a career year for Toronto. Edwin Encarnacion leads the AL with eighty RBIs and has twenty-three dingers to his credit. Catcher Russell Martin started slowly but has been performing better lately. Other key offensive threats are shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and center fielder Kevin Pillar. Right fielder Joey Bautista will not play this weekend as he is on the DL with a turf toe. As you can see, the Blue Jays are loaded, and the A’s pitchers will have to be sharp to contain the Toronto Offense.

The Blue Jays’ starters are Marcus Strom, Aaron Sanchez, R.A.Dickey, and J.A. Happ Stroman (7-4, 4.89 ERA) will pitch Friday night for Toronto. Sanchez (9-1 2.97 ERA) is pitching well and made the AL All-Star squad this year. Happ is 12-3. Jesse Chavez, another former Athletic, Drew Storen, Jason Grilli Brett Cecil and Roberto Osuna headline the bullpen. Osuna has eighteen saves in twenty chances so far this year.

The A’s will send Daniel Mengden to the hill Friday night. Mengden is 1-4 with an ERA of 4.54. Mengden has pitched well enough to have a better record, but the A’s offense has not given him enough run support. Hopefully, that will change Friday night. The A’s, since May 1st, are 25-39 and are 37-51 overall. There is a lot of speculation regarding players that might be traded before the July 31st deadline. Contending teams are looking at Rich Hill and Sonny Gray as well as Josh Reddick, Danny Valencia, and Stephen Vogt. The A’s are not going anywhere this year. The front office will be making decisions soon about the future of these players. What do the A’s have to do to become contenders? Do they trade away their assets for prospects? How many times will the A’s rebuild the team? The phone lines are ringing in the A’s offices now. Hopefully, the trades the A’s make will get them back on the road to respectability.

A’s Bassitt runs into red-hot Josh Donaldson with predictable results

By Morris Phillips

Chris Bassitt wasn’t himself on Saturday, and it was apparent from the start.

Absent the normal velocity on his fastball, and struggling with location, Bassitt needed more than 30 pitches to finish the first inning. By the end of the second inning, and after Josh Donaldson’s majestic drive landed behind the center field wall, Bassitt was effectively done, trailing 5-1 in a game the A’s would go on to lose to the Blue Jays, 9-3.

“It’s a starter’s job to make them feel uncomfortable, and that was the very last thing I was doing,” Bassitt said.

The loss ended what the team hopes is a defining run, a six-game win streak, and a seven-game road winning streak that made the A’s the last big-league club to lose away from home in 2016. With the rest of the AL West experiencing early-season struggles, Oakland was able to maintain its perch atop the division—tied with Texas with a 10-8 record.

Bassitt had pitched effectively in each of his three previous April starts, but after the game he complained of arm fatigue. His fastball, normally 95-96mph, topped out at 94mph on Saturday, and that along with his body language and his poor track record in the first inning, had the Toronto lineup salivating.

The first two Blue Jays reached, but Bassitt had a chance to put the dangerous Jose Bautista away after starting him 0-2. But the right hander missed with his next three pitches, the last of which ended up at the backstop for a wild pitch, allowing the two baserunners to advance. When Bautista then grounded out, it was an RBI sacrifice tying the game 1-1, instead of an inning-changing double play.

Three batters later, the A’s fell behind when third baseman Chris Coghlan couldn’t cleanly field Russell Martin’s grounder, allowing Josh Donaldson to score. Curiously, the official scorer ruled Martin’s grounder an infield hit, but in the real world, it was an instance of the Oakland defense letting its pitcher down at a critical juncture.

In the second, Bassitt again let the first two hitters reach. Then on a 2-0 pitch to the reigning AL MVP, the ball grabbed too much the strike zone and Donaldson, true to form, sent it soaring. After hitting a career-best 84 extra-base hits in 2015, the former Athletic is at again this season, with 13 extra-base hits and a major-league best seven homers already.

Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak, and did what they could to change the tenor of the conversation away from the 80-game suspension for PED use handed down to their first baseman, Chris Colabello. Justin Smoak, an experienced veteran replaced Colabello, but the Blue Jays murderer’s row of Donaldson, Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki remains intact.

Tulowitzki missed Friday’s game against the A’s, but returned in force with a pair of solo shots, the first of which came off Bassitt in the fifth.

Mark Canha got the A’s off to a fast start with a home run in the first. And Coco Crisp and Josh Phegley came up with timely, two-out RBI singles later in the game. But the A’s lineup was largely ineffective, drawing just one walk, and grounding into three double plays.

J.A. Happ pitched seven innings and picked up the win. The veteran was plenty familiar to the A’s, but they couldn’t damage him, outside of Canha’s blast. Happ’s doing something right; he placed himself on a very short list of Toronto starters to begin a season with four consecutive quality starts in the last 20 years.

The A’s turn to Eric Surkamp in Sunday’s series finale. Surkamp will be opposed by Drew Hutchinson, who was recalled from the minors for the assignment, a move, according to manager John Gibbons, made to give his entire rotation an extra day of rest.

A’s Don’t “Look Like Idiots”, Wait Out Walk-off Win

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Oakland Athletics hosted their 16th annual Root Beer Float day Wednesday night at the O.Co Coliseum, treating fans to a sweet treat before the game before Ike Davis served des the dessert during the game. After raising $34,709 for the Juvenile Diabetes Relief Fund, the A’s topped Felix Doubront and the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 on a pinch-hit single.

Josh Phegley, Stephen Vogt and Jake Smolinski all knocked in runs as well, and starter Sonny Gray pitched seven innings of two-run ball to help Oakland (44-52) pass the Seattle Mariners to move a half-game out of the American League West cellar. The Blue Jays (48-48) fall back to .500 after winning the first game of the series.

The walk-off came in bizarre fashion in the bottom of the 10th, with the A’s not sure if they in fact were winners. Davis bounced a chopper that Jose Reyes dove for before tossing to first, allowing another late inning sub Josh Reddick to score on what first base umpire Marvin Hudson ruled a base hit in a bang-bang play.

“I didn’t think he was going to catch it,” said Davis. “As soon as I hit it I thought ‘that’s going to be a hit’. He made a good play and it was really close.”

Davis came off the bench to pinch hit against deposed Jays closer Roberto Osuna (1-4, 2.28 ERA) and quickly fell behind 0-2. He managed to fight off a fastball, trickling it to the opposite field for the hit.

“Ike was coming in cold,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “That’s a tough assignment. After the first couple pitches he was behind. He fouled some back, wasn’t trying to do too much. He wanted to put it in play on the other side of the diamond.”

“He blew it by me twice,” said Davis. “I knew I had to shorten up. I tried to hit the ball hard the first two times.”

It wasn’t without drama though. Amidst a brief A’s celebration, Toronto manager John Gibbons asked for, and was granted, a replay review. The A’s players gathered on the mound, awaiting their fate.

“It’s a tough position to be in,” said Reddick. “If they turn it over, we’re going to look like idiots.”

After a 2 minutes and 45 seconds of review, home plate ump Hunter Wendelstedt confirmed that the call on the field would stand, with there being inconclusive evidence to overturn the call.

“They stayed with what they were told to do,” said Melvin on the ruling. “If there’s no definitive proof to overturn, you stay with it. It was nerve-wracking waiting on the verdict, but we’ll take it.”

“It felt like the longest replay of the year,” noted Reddick.

The A’s very briefly celebrated before racing into the dugout.

“We had a lot of fun out there planning our exit,” said Davis on the pre-concocted curtain call.

The game could have gone entirely the other way though. With Oakland leading 3-2, Tyler Clippard took over in the ninth inning looking for save number 18. He opened the inning issuing a free pass to Danny Valencia then coughing up a double to Devon Travis. Jose Reyes walked to load the bases with former A’s slugger Josh Donaldson up to the dish.

Clippard managed to down Donaldson on strikes, but brought around the tying run after walking Jose Bautista. He managed to coax an Edwin Encarnacion strikeout and Dionner Navarro fly out to escape the jam tied. Fernando Rodriguez (1-1, 3.21) then pitched a scoreless tenth to pick up the win.

“That’s tough,” said Melvin on Clippard’s outing. “Now you’re in a no-win situation. All you can do is keep it tied. You have the middle of their order up, some tough customers to deal with.”

“To get back into the dugout a tie game allowed us to win that game later,” added Melvin.

For the second night in a row Josh Donaldson managed to sour his warm homecoming by driving in a run, plating the first run of the game on a single up the middle in the top of the third inning. He’d endear himself to A’s fans again an inning later, throwing a tricky grounder in the dirt to give Smolinski a two-base error. Smolinski moved over to third base on a Ben Zobrist single, then came around to score on Phegley’s liner up the middle, knotting the game 1-1.

With starter Sonny Gray not featuring his sharpest stuff the A’s offense supported its ace, tacking on a pair of runs in the fifth. Billy Burns reached on a single, then swiped second before being knocked in on Stephen Vogt’s base hit. Melvin wasn’t able to see the singling, getting ejected after arguing a strike call on a botched pitchout during Burns’ steal.

“There was a bit of a miscommunication,” said Melvin on the situation. “I was asking if it was a pitchout. I think (homeplate umpire Wendelstedt) thought I was continuing to argue.”

Zobrist would also single, forcing Doubront to issue the intentional walk to Billy Butler to create a force out. Smolinski hit a deep fly to center field, but center fielder Kevin Pillar managed to pull in the ball. Vogt scampered home to convert the sacrifice. Brett Lawrie appeared to crack the game open with a scorching liner up the middle, but second baseman Devon Travis was perfectly positioned to field the hot shot.

Gray gave the fans a scare in the sixth, taking an Edwin Encarnacion liner up the middle off his back foot. After a brief visit from the trainer and a smile from Gray, the ace continued on no worse for wear.

“I knew he broke his bat, I just didn’t know how fast it was coming,” said Gray. “I knew it hit me pretty solid.”

“I was telling Vogt and Phegley I was fine,” said Gray on why he was smiling during the trainer’s visit. “They told me to tell the dugout that, but the trainer was already out there.”

The A’s would need both runs after Danny Valencia opened the 7th inning with a first-pitch homer to straight-away center field. Gray would finish out the inning, sandwiching a Donaldson walk between a pair of outs. He’d depart the game after finishing the inning, having struck out three while walking two and allowing 9 hits for two earned runs but wound up with a no-decision.

“They really made him work for a while,” said Melvin. “He was throwing some good pitches and they weren’t trying to do too much with them. They were hitting the ball the other way, fouling some pitches off.”

“There are outings like that where you really have to work hard on it,” stated Melvin. “He ends up leaving with the lead. I thought he pitched really well.”

Edward Mujica relieved Gray in the 8th, opening the inning with a leadoff single to Encarnacion. Mujica would erase the baserunner, fielding a grounder from Chris Colabello to start the 1-4-3 double play. He would cough up a two-out single to Russell Martin, then hand second base to pinch runner Ezequiel Carrera on a wild pitch before mowing down Pillar on a ground out to shortstop Marcus Semien.

Doubront would have been the hardluck loser. The southpaw went just 4 2/3 innings, allowing 7 hits and two earned runs to go with the unearned marker.

Donaldson and the Jays wrap up their first visit to the Coliseum this season with a matinee game Wednesday. Scott Kazmir takes the mound in what may be one of his last starts in the green and gold with the trade deadline approaching. He’ll be opposed by youngster Drew Hutchinson.

On Eve of His Return to Oakland, Revisiting the Josh Donaldson Trade

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

When Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson steps into the O.Co Coliseum batter’s box for the first time as a visiting player against Kendall Graveman Tuesday night, it will be a moment months in the making.

The earth has long since stopped shaking since a ground shattering trade that saw A’s general manager sned the Oakland A’s most feared slugger in exchange for Graveman, starting third baseman Brett Lawrie and prospects Sean Nolin and Franklin Barreto in the offseason. That doesn’t mean the wound won’t still be fresh for A’s fans.

Donaldson has put up similar stats North of Border to the ones he produced for four seasons in Oakland, which is to say he’s been MVP-caliber for the Jays. Donaldson is fresh off his second-straight All-Star game appearance, hitting second for the American League in its 6-3 victory over the Senior Circuit Squad in Cincinnati.

The 29-year old is hitting .288 for the season after 92 games, is one shy of the AL lead in runs batted in with 62 and sits five homers back of Mike Trout’s 27 for the league lead in long balls. Not bad for a player making only $4.5 million dollars.

On its exterior, the trade looks like a clear win for the Jays, who added a power bat to line-up already loaded with thumpers like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin. But the return for Donaldson hasn’t exactly been failing the A’s.

If Cy Young Awards were handed out in Spring Training, Graveman would have been a candidate. The 24-year-old righty owned the desert competition, going 3-1 with a miniscule 0.36 earned run over 25 1/3 innings. If they handed out the awards in April, he’d probably have been last on the list. Graveman compiled an 8.27 ERA, walking 9 while striking out only 7 over 16 1/3 innings. It was clear that Graveman wasn’t ready for the major leagues just yet, so a return to Triple A Nashville was in the cards for the young hurler.

Perhaps not. Graveman returned to the parent club in late May, and has been lights out ever since. In ten starts, he’s gone at least 5 2/3 innings every time. He’s allowed only 16 runs in his second tour of duty, and had managed to shrink his ERA to 3.16 prior to his last outing where he was touched up for 4 runs. He’s ERA since returning is sub-3.00. More importantly, he’s only walked 18 while punching out 44 batters.

While Brett Lawrie, the other main piece of the trade, hasn’t produced like Donaldson did, no one has asked him to. Lawrie, a former first round pick (16th overall in 2008), hasn’t lived up to the hype that followed him before he even played a professional game, but he hasn’t been a slouch either.

The Langley, British Columbia native is on track for career-highs in most offensive categories including homers (current 8, high 12), RBI (37, high 48) and most importantly for the oft-injured Canadian, games played (88, high 125). While he won’t match his rookie season batting average of .293 over 43 games in 2011, he’s on pace to best his full-season high of .273. The right-handed batter enters play Tuesday with a .280 mark. While he hasn’t been outstanding, he’s been better than expected.

Factor in Barreto, named to the MLB.com weekly all-prospect team, and Nolin still being at least a season away and the A’s could wind up being big winners in this trade. They may not feel like it now, but a rotation with Nolin and Graveman at the head and Barreto and Lawrie on the left side of the infield winning an AL West title, and possibly even the pennant, may be on the horizon soon. But first comes Tuesday night, a chance for the A’s to top the Jays and win a little victory.

Rangers Deny A’s Celebration, Make Game 162 A Must-Win

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

The celebration of clinching a playoff spot will have to wait another day for the Oakland Athletics following a 5-4 loss to the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park. The defeat, mixed with a walk-off Seattle Mariners win later in the evening, means the A’s (87-74) will now need to win or have the Mariners lose in the season finale Sunday to clinch a spot in the one-game Wild Card playoff and a date with the runner-up of the American League Central. The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals already clinched a playoff berths while boasting identical records, but must use the final day of the regular season to decide who will win the AL Central and who will host the Wild Card game Tuesday.

Oakland starter Jeff Samardzija (7-13, 2.99 ERA) suffered the loss after allowing five runs over seven innings despite striking out nine Rangers. The A’s Josh Donaldson hit his 29th home run of the season, while Jake Smolinski and Robinson Chirinos went deep for last-place Texas (67-94). Spencer Patton (1-0, 0.96) picked up his first career win, while Neftali Feliz nailed down his 13th save of the season at home.

Donaldson, whose status was in doubt after aggravating a knee injury Friday night, opened the game with a solo shot off Rangers starter spot starter Scott Baker in the first inning, but Texas struck back with run scoring singles by Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre in the bottom half of the frame for a 2-1 lead for their surprise starter.

Smolinski took Samardzija deep in the fourth for a 3-1 edge, but Oakland pulled within one after Nate Freiman’s double play off reliever Alex Claudio scored Josh Reddick.

Chirinos extended the lead in the seventh inning after his two-run homer off Samardzija. The A’s then came back in the next half inning with a pair of RBI singles by Reddick and Jed Lowrie off Roman Mendez. On Reddick’s single, Jonny Gomes managed to just beat out the tag on a play at the plate. Rangers interim manager Tim Bogar challenged the play, but the call of safe originally made on the field was upheld.

The Rangers are expected to send Saturday’s planned starter, Ace Derek Holland, to the mound Sunday looking to take the A’s postseason fate out of their own hands. The left-hander missed his regularly scheduled start after migraines derailed his ability to make the start. Manager Bob Melvin will tab the A’s Opening Day starter Sonny Gray with game 162 duties.

Super Sam’s Triple Seals The Deal, Oakland Defeats Anaheim 5-3

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 22: Sam Fuld #23 of the Oakland Athletics is congratulated by teammates after he scored against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the bottom of the six inning at O.co Coliseum on August 22, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 22: Sam Fuld #23 of the Oakland Athletics is congratulated by teammates after he scored against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the bottom of the six inning at O.co Coliseum on August 22, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

by Kahlil Najar

OAKLAND – Sam Fuld hit a deep line shot to right center field in the bottom of the sixth that hit the wall that scored Alberto Callaspo from first to give the A’s their first lead of the game and proved to be the game winning run of the night. Fuld went 1 for 4 on the night with one RBI and one run and Alberto Callaspo went 2 for 4 with a run and of his own. Coco Crisp hit his second lead off homer of the year to contribute to the A’s scoring who are now 4-0 against the Angels at home this year.

On the offense coming through, especially Coco Crisp, head coach Bob Mevin said, “They hit a home run. Then Coco answers. That was big. That was huge. That was like alright we’re fine. You can’t put too much pressure on him but when we play our best he’s playing well.”

The bottom of the A’s batting order had 6 hits and three runs tonight.

“That’s what we need. We need to have a deep line up sometimes and that really is the strength of our line up and why offensively we’ve got the numbers we put up this year,” beamed Melvin.

Sonny Gray also had a gem of a game tonight. Gray (13-7) went 8 and 1/3 innings and gave up six hits, including a pair of homers but only allowed those two solo shots. Gray also struck out five and was backed up by some great defense by Josh Donaldson who started a nice double play in the top of the sixth. Gray is now 9-1 against all teams in the AL West.

“Mixing in all three of his pitches. Fastball had good life, curve ball backdoor to lefties, away from righties, enough change ups to keep you off balance. It was pretty impressive,” said Melvin on Gray.

Gray started off shaky in the first when after getting the Angels lead off batter to ground out, he threw an 81 mph curve ball that Mike Trout got a hold of and went over the left center field wall for his eighth home run of the year and give the Angels a 1-0 lead. Coco Crisp wasted no time to respond as he hit his 15th career lead off home run to the exact same spot and tied the game up at one a piece.

After the Trout home run, Gray was able to put out the next nine batters until Josh Hamilton ripped a curve ball into the right field stands to give the Angels the lead again 2-1.

The A’s tied it up in the bottom of the fifth when after a Crisp double and a Gentry walk, Josh Donaldson smacked a line drive to Angels pitcher Santiago who was able to get a hand on it and deflected the ball into the second baseman’s glove to get Gentry out at second but on a throwing error by shortstop Erick Aybar, Donaldson was able to advance to second and Crisp was able to cross the plate.

In the sixth, Sam Fuld came up and smacked his third triple of the year into right center to score Callaspo and give the A’s a 3-2 lead. Andy Parrino then followed with a sac fly to bring in Fuld and make it a 4-2 Oakland lead.

The A’s received an insurance run in the eighth when Stephen Vogt hit his ninth homer of the year to make it a 5-2 game. The Angels tried to make it interesting in the ninth as they put up a run against Sean Doolittle and got the bases loaded but he settled down and got Chris Ianetta to strike out and end the game 5-3.

Tomorrow the Angels send up their ace C.J. Wilson (10-8, 4.59) against the A’s ace Jon Lester (13-8, 2.58). Game time 6:05 pm.

 

Astros Jump on Hammel Early to Top A’s 8-1

By Matthew Harrington

For the fourth time in as many outings, the Oakland Athletics lost a game started by trade acquisition Jason Hammel. In need of a win to keep the Los Angeles Angels over a game back entering play Wednesday afternoon, the A’s instead fell to the Astros 8-1 at Minute Maid Park. The Green and Gold (66-41) also dropped Monday’s contest in Houston 7-3, marking Wednesday as only the second series loss in 11 chances all-time against the Astros (44-64) since the start of interleague play and Houston’s move the American League last season.

Two starts removed from a brief two-inning July 19th start where the right hander yielded five runs against the Orioles, Hammel again found himself in early trouble Wednesday afternoon. The other starter acquired in the July 4th Jeff Samardzija blockbuster surrendered six runs in a six-hit first inning, then served up a two-run home run to Jon Singleton in the fifth for eight earned runs. Hammel (8-9, 3.87 ERA) struck out four, walked a trio of Astros and scattered seven hits in his 4 1/3 innings of work to take the loss. He has now allowed 18 runs over 17 innings with the Athletics.

The lone bright spot for the A’s came in the second inning after Josh Donaldson took the first pitch, an 88 mile-per-hour fastball, of the inning over the Crawford boxes in left field. Donaldson’s 23rd homer of the season was the only run Oakland scored off Astros starter Dallas Keuchel. The southpaw (10-7, 2.97) went the distance, notching five strikeouts and a scant three hits over his complete-game gem. Billy Burns went 0-for-4 in his first major league start in the leadoff spot for Bob Melvin with Coco Crisp still in Oakland after receiving an MRI on his neck Monday.

With the A’s idle Thursday, the Angels could pull a half-game back of Oakland by the time the AL West Leaders open up a 10-game homestand Friday night against the Kansas City Royals. The Halos, sitting two games back at the moment, play an evening game against the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday before wrapping up the four-game set at Camden Yards Thursday.

Opening Day starter Sonny Gray will open the weekend series for the A’s Friday night looking for a superhuman effort on a night when O.Co Coliseum will be lit up with a postgame super hero-inspired fireworks display. He’ll clash with the Royals’ Jeremy Guthrie in an attempt to save the dwindling AL-West lead from peril.

After three against the Royals, the surging Tampa Bay Rays roll into town (with or without hot trade commodity David Price) for a three-game set followed by a four-game series against former Athletic Kurt Suzuki and the Minnesota Twins. August 9th against the Twins, fans will receive a special Tony La Russa Hall of Fame bobblehead in honor of the legendary skipper’s induction into Cooperstown earlier this month.