More of the Same: The A’s season finale mirrors their uneven season as a whole in a rough 7-6 loss to the Astros

By Morris Phillips

Hard to believe, and even harder to watch, the A’s finished their season in familiar fashion. Building three, one-run leads, squandering them, and ultimately falling short after a valiant, ninth inning comeback in a 7-6 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

In the complicated, nuanced vernacular unique to this sometimes confounding game of baseball, you can’t make this stuff up.

You can imagine what manager Bob Melvin said after the game. Really, in this case you could mimic his words as they were said.

“We came up just short, like we did this season, unfortunately,” Melvin said. “But I think next year, it just gives us a little bit more edge to get back to the postseason.”

The A’s finished the season 86-76, third in the AL West behind the Astros and the hard-luck Mariners, who missed the postseason for an on-going record within all of the four major U.S. sports of 20 consecutive seasons. The A’s opened the season with six losses, but followed that soon after with a 13-game win streak, and their 44-21 record that concluded on June 18 was the best run in Major League Baseball within that 65-game stretch.

Then things got disjointed, the team’s momentum stalled, and did so in a frustrating way in which the team’s offense and pitching took turns sputtering. The A’s finished the season with a 42-50 record in their last 92, With the postseason still within reach in the last three weeks season, the A’s lost 12 of 16.

That’s a long stretch to play poorly, and a more intense level of frustration followed the team in September. It was hard on the team, the management and the fans. But the A’s are clearly capable. When Melvin says they can bounce back in 2022, that’s almost a certainty given their track record. But this is Oakland, California, and these are the A’s: what happens this off-season is anyone’s guess.

But we do know this: Melvin’s correct, the 2022 A’s can bounce back, but as always they’re going to need the majority of their roster intact, and make some pricey decisions that more often than not have lead them to do something less than pricey. Just the decisions regarding retaining Ramon Laureano (80-game PED suspension) and Starling Marte (arguably the most effective trade deadline acquisition in MLB) will be fascinating.

But this division is anyone’s to control, even with the presence of the 2017 champion Astros. The Angels have spent the last six seasons issuing expensive contracts, but getting little to show for it. We’ve already mentioned the plight of Mariners. The Rangers are in rebuilding mode, although their new stadium and surprisingly, robust attendance could speed up a revival. And the Astros have been great, but nobody stays great forever, and the return or possible retirement of Dusty Baker as manager will be one of the postseason’s storylines.

Of course, the A’s have their own uncertainties to add to the mix. Despite the easing of COVID restrictions, their attendance was abysmal. And the Oakland-Las Vegas “where will they play?” saga is enough to cripple any franchise especially given the drama has reached its second decade.

So in summation: we’ll see what transpires.

On Sunday, the A’s scored single runs in the second and third, getting solo shots from Seth Brown and Tony Kemp. But the Astros matched, and the game was tied 2-2 in the fourth, when the A’s gained a third lead, 3-2, on Kemp’s sacrifice fly that scored Luis Barrera.

A’s starter Cole Irvin went six innings, allowing five hits and striking out four, but he departed trailing 4-3 after he was touched for a two-run homer courtesy of Kyle Tucker in the fifth.

Houston added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth and appeared to be headed to the playoffs gracefully, leading 6-3 headed to the ninth. The AL West champs will host the White Sox in a best-of-five starting Thursday.

But the A’s came up clutch in the ninth. Chad Pinder led off with a base hit, and Seth Brown brought the visitors within a run and nobody out with a two-run homer that was the seventh of eight hit in the game.

The eighth? With two outs, Khris Davis delivered, tying the game and bringing back memories of his best days in an Oakland uniform.

Melvin turned to Lou Trivino to handle the bottom of the ninth, and get the final game of the season to extras. But it didn’t happen.

Jason Castro led off with a single, and after Jose Altuve was retired, Trivino surrendered a double to Yordan Alvarez with Castro stopping at third. Two pitches later, the season ended with Mark Canha’s swiping concession of a base hit from Yuli Gurriel that landed less than 10 feet in front of the leftfielder.

“We didn’t finish off the game like we wanted, but to have the fight in the ninth inning to come back and tie the game like that, especially with Khris’ homer at the end, it was a really good feeling,” Melvin said.

MLB The Show 2019 Postseason podcast with Daniel Dullum: Cole enjoys what could be his last days in Houston; Yanks in front of Twins with 2-0 lead; plus more

photo from latimes.com: The Astros’ Gerrit Cole struck out 15 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rays in Game 2 the ALDS.

On the MLB The Show 2019 Postseason podcast with Daniel:

1 Astros’ Gerrit Cole making the most of what might be his last days in Houston

2 Yankees in the driver’s seat with 2-0 lead over Minnesota in ALDS

3 NLDS – Braves, Cards even at 1-1, Nats unsure if Max Scherzer will start game 3 vs. Dodgers

4 A’s Bob Melvin, Billy Beane believe Khris Davis will bounce back

5 Giants working to get GM in place while searching for manager

At Home. Home Runs? A’s simply out of character in Wild Card game loss to the Rays

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND — Seven A’s homered at least 20 times this season. Manager Bob Melvin’s wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel in advance of the win-or-swim Wild Card game: he penciled all seven into his lineup on Wednesday against the Rays.

What happened next wasn’t what anyone in Oakland was expecting. One of the most prolific power hitting teams in the history of Major League baseball whiffed. The A’s hit 257 home runs this season, 315 doubles or triples, and none of that carried over to the disappointing Wild Card loss, 5-1 to the Rays.

The A’s managed just eight singles across nine innings, and even those weren’t struck with much authority. Charlie Morton and three relievers shut the A’s down without allowing even as much as rallying moment.

The Rays? They smashed four home runs in the first five innings, including the first courtesy of Yandy Diaz on the game’s fifth pitch. In the season of the home run, the Rays got the directive. What happened to the A’s?

“We couldn’t string anything together tonight,” Melvin said. “They kind of beat us with our game. We’re normally a home run-hitting team,”

“Get into this Wild Card game and a lot of times it comes down to pitching and timely hitting.  They got us on the run early in the game, and we really couldn’t answer.”

Home runs don’t always decide baseball games, and they haven’t traditionally played a major factor in postseason games, but times are changing. The 2017 World Series between the Astros and Dodgers was supercharged, and this postseason could be similarly built. But if one club belts four, and the other swings and misses, that’s always been decisive, playoff game or not.

Playing at home normally provides an advantage as well. The Oakland crowd, better than 54,000, setting a new Wild Card attendance record, did their part. But the A’s couldn’t follow suit, another anomaly given their 52-29 record at the Coliseum this season.

Starting Sean Manaea seemed like a smart move as well. Tampa Bay didn’t hit left-handed pitching that well this season, ranking in the lower third in most categories. But it mattered little. Diaz, fresh off the disabled list, and seeing his first big league game action since July 22, made Rays manager Kevin Cash seem like a genius. The hard swinging Diaz homered opposite field in each of his first two at-bats.

Manaea lasted just two plus innings, but he wasn’t awful. The A’s ace struck out five, didn’t walk any, and allowed just four hits. But three of those four left the park.

“I just was trying to get good pitches to hit and luckily they went out,” Diaz said.

And one more home run related note: The A’s hit the fourth most home runs among AL clubs this season, but those 257 home runs ranks them eight best all-time as home run records fell like confetti in 2019.

And the Rays? The were a bit of an afterthought in terms of power hitting with 217 home runs, 15 fewer than the American League average this season. But the Rays were number one by allowing 181 homers, the fewest in all of baseball.

A’s crush the Astros 21-7 on Tuesday night

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Graphic: @NBCSCA

By Charlie O Mallonee @Charlieo1320

This morning on my Oakland A’s podcast with Lee Leonard, I told our listeners not to panic about the A’s 15-0 loss to the Astros on Monday night. Baseball is a funny game and sometimes a game will just get away from a team. Just as frequently, when a team scores a bundle of runs in a game – they will not be able to repeat that feat in the next game no matter how hard they try. It’s just a “baseball thing”.

The A’s turned the table on Tuesday

Oakland showed up on Tuesday night ready to play and scored seven – that’s right seven – runs in the top of the first inning before the Astros ever had a chance to pick up a bat. The Houston starting pitcher – Wade Miley – was credited with working 0.1-innings while giving up seven runs (all earned) off seven hits. He walked one and struck out none. Miley entered the game with a record of 13-4 and an ERA of 3.74. His record is now 13-5.

It was like the A’s had all of this pent-up energy that just had to be released and they took it all out on the Astros on Tuesday night. The A’s scored two runs in the second inning, two in the third, six runs in the fourth, two more in the fifth, one in the sixth and tacked one more on in the top of the ninth inning for a total of 21.

Oakland won the game 21-7.

Tanner Roark picked up the win

Tanner Roark picked up his 10th victory of the season in this game. He worked 5.2-innings allowing five runs (all earned) off eight hits. He walked one and struck out three. He did give up three home runs. Roark threw 105 pitches (65 strikes).

Ryan Buchter faced one-hitter and Daniel Mengden worked 3.0-innings giving up two runs (both earned) on four hits. He walked two and struck out one. Mengden did allow one home run.

Focus on the A’s with the bat

  • Mark Canha: went 3-for-6 with three runs scored and one RBI.
  • Chad Pinder: also had a 3-for-6 game scoring one run and adding an RBI.
  • Khris Davis: joined the 3-for-6 club with two runs scored and three RBI. Davis hit his 20th HR in the game.
  • Sean Murphy: had a two-home run game. He went 3-for-5 at the plate with three runs scored and four RBI.
  • Matt Olson hit two home runs and now has 31 for the year.
  • Marcus Semien hit his 27th round-tripper of the season in this contest.
  • For the A’s, it was 21 runs off 25 hits and just eight men left on base.

Wild Card Race

Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Cleveland all were winners on Tuesday. The Rays stay in Wild Card Slot #1 with a 1.5-game lead over the A’s. The A’s own Wild Card Slot #2 with a 0.5-game lead over the Indians. The race is tight and very competitive.

After the Houston series, the A’s do have a game versus a team with a winning record.

Up Next

Game three of the four-game series will be played on Wednesday night at 5:10 PM PDT. LHP Brett Anderson (11-9, 4.08) will start for Oakland while RHP Jose Urquidy (1-1, 5.33) will take the mound for Houston.

Oakland A’s podcast with Jerry Feitelberg: A’s go for it tonight as there’s a chance to sweep Yanks at Coliseum

Photo credit: mercurynews.com

On the Oakland A’s podcast with Jerry Feitelberg:

#1 With the Oakland Raiders playing just one preseason game in the Oakland Coliseum surface, the outfield always gets scuffed up. How much of a role does that play in the A’s injuries?

#2 The A’s have three players that were out due to injuries that are back in the lineup: First baseman Matt Olson (hand), DH Khris Davis (oblique), right fielder Stephen Piscotty (knee), and center-fielder Ramon Laureano (shin). Laureano was not in the lineup on Wednesday night against the New York Yankees.

#3 The A’s starting pitcher from Wednesday night Mike Fiers has one of the best records in the American League and pitched against the Yankees. Tell us about how Fiers does it all season long.

#4 We’ve talked about Chad Pinder has just about done it all covering for open positions and has pulled it off. Talk about how valuable Pinder has been for Oakland.

#5 The starters for Thursday for the Yankees Masahiro Tanaka (9-6, 4.56 ERA) for the Oakland A’s Tanner Roark (7-8, 4.01 ERA) to conclude the series in Oakland.

Join Jerry each Thursday for the A’s podcast at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Oakland A’s podcast with Charlie O: Pinder is doing it all, relieving 4 players during their IL

Photo credit: sports.yahoo.com

On the A’s podcast with Charlie O:

#1 Oakland A’s outfielder Chad Pinder is turning into a designated utility guy with the A’s injuries piling up and in the middle of the wild card chase.

#2 Injuries on the club include, first baseman Matt Olson (hand), DH Khris Davis (oblique), right fielder Stephen Piscotty (knee), and center-fielder Ramon Laureano (shin).

#3 Pinder has picked up the slack filling in for Olson, Davis, Piscotty and Laureano which speaks to his talents and ability. A’s manager Bob Melvin said that he very significant to the team.

#4 Taking a look at the A’s series with the New York Yankees that opens up on Tuesday night. The Yankees will start Domingo German (16-2, 3.96 ERA), and for the A’s, Homer Bailey (10-8, 5.22 ERA).

Charlie O does the A’s podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Oakland A’s podcast with Charlie O: Davis looks to return to lineup after sitting on Sunday; Sweet revenge in shutout for Bassitt and Golito

Photo credit: @sfchronicle

On the A’s podcast with Charlie O:

#1 Oakland A’s Khris Davis has hit only one homer in his last 18 games and has OPS of .801 in the last ten games. Davis is hitting .281, but was benched on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox.

#2 A’s manager Bob Melvin had Nick Martini at designated hitter for Davis. Martini struck out four times, but it gave Davis some time to think on the bench. Davis is expected to be back in the lineup against the Giants on Tuesday night.

#3 How much sweet revenge was it for A’s pitchers Chris Bassitt and Lucas Golito, who combined in a shutout over the Sox? Both Bassitt and Golito formerly pitched for the Sox.

#4 Stephen Piscotty has had his share of injuries. He’s close to returning back after suffering the flu. What will it mean to have his bat back in the lineup?

#5 The A’s open up a series with the Giants tonight at Oracle Park with the A’s starting Brett Anderson (10-7) and the Giants starting their ace Madison Bumgarner (7-7).

Charlie O does the A’s podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

A’s come up short on the South Side on Saturday night, lose to the Sox 3-2

CHW1
Graphic/Photo: @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics (66-51) lost to the Chicago White Sox (52-63) 3-2 on Saturday in Game two of their three-game series. The A’s were held scoreless until the top of the ninth inning when they scored to two runs on an unusual play.

With two out and Alex Colome on the mound for the Sox, Marcus Semien hit a single to left-center field. Chad Pinder then doubled to left field and Semien moved to third base. Matt Chapman hit a hot drive down the third baseline that Ryan Goins could not handle and it traveled into left field. Semien and Pinder were able to score easily while Chapman stopped at second base on what would be scored as a two-base error.

With the score 3-2 and the tying at second base, Khris Davis was the next batter for Oakland. Colome was able to strike Davis out to end the game and earn the win for the White Sox.

Focus on the A’s

  • Tanner Roark was tagged with the loss in his second start for the A’s. His record drops to 7-8 for the season. Roark worked 6.2 innings giving up three runs (two earned) off six hits. He walked none and struck out seven batters. Roark is 1-1 with the A’s with a 2.41 ERA in two starts.
  • The A’s are 4-1 versus the White Sox this season. Oakland has outscored Chicago 30-8.
  • The A’s have loved playing American League Central teams this season. They are 16-5 versus AL Central teams this year.
  • Mark Canha has hit safely in each of his last 11 games versus the White Sox.
  • Matt Chapman is batting .400 (10-for-25) against the Sox this season.
  • Stephen Piscotty has gone 8-for-25 (.320) with two homers and five RBI over seven games since coming off the injured list on August 3rd.

Checking in on the Sox

  • The White Sox ended a four-game losing streak with their win over the A’s on Saturday.
  • This was the Sox first victory over the Athletics in more than a year.
  • Game-winning pitcher Reynaldo Lopez earned wins in consecutive starts for the first time since September 2018. He is now 7-9 for the season.
  • Tim Anderson extended his hitting streak to nine games.
  • Leury Garcia has reached base safely in a career-high 20 games.
  • Eloy Jimenez hit his 19th home run of the season off Roark in the fifth inning. It was a 410-foot blast right-center field.

Up Next

The A’s and White Sox will wrap up their three-game series on Sunday afternoon. Oakland will send RHP Chris Bassitt (7-5, 3.80 ERA) to the mound. He earned a no-decision in his last start against the Cubs when worked six innings giving up two runs (both earned) off eight hits. Bassitt will face Lucas Giolito (12-5, 3.44 ERA). Giolito was a winner in his last start versus the Tigers when he pitched six innings giving up three runs (two earned) off eight hits. He walked two and struck out eight batters.

First pitch is scheduled for 11:10 am PDT.

Fiers is on fire, leads the A’s to an 8-3 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday

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Chris Herrmann celebrates scoring a run Photo: @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics have become the St. Louis Cardinals’ worst nightmare. Back in June, the A’s swept their two-game series in St. Louis. On Saturday night, the A’s never trailed in game one of the two-game series in Oakland.

The Athletics jumped on the Cardinals early on Saturday night when they scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning off the Cards starting pitcher Dakota Hudson. The A’s sent eight batters to the plate collecting two hits, two walks, and one hit batsman. It became very apparent that it was going to be a short evening for Hudson.

The A’s scored two more runs in the bottom of the second inning. Oakland sent seven hitters to bat in the inning taking advantage of a double, sacrifice fly, two walks and one passed ball.

The Cardinals closed the gap to 5-2 by the end of 6 1/2 innings, but Chad Pinder hit a two-out three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to make an 8-2 score. The Cardinals’ Lane Thomas hit a pinch-hit home run in the top of the ninth inning which made the final score 8-3 in favor of the A’s.

Oakland is now 63-48 on the season — 8.5 games back of Houston in the AL West and 1/2 game out of the second Wild Card slot behind Tampa Bay. St. Louis falls to 58-51 and into second place in NL Central — 1/2 game behind the Cubs. The Cardinals now are in the number one Wild Card slot in the National League.

Focus on the A’s

Fiers line
Graphic: @Athletics

  • Mike Fiers pitched 5.2 innings and allowed just one run en route to his 10th win of the season. Fiers now owns the second-longest active winning streak in the American League with eight wins. His last loss was May 1st. Fiers struck out four, walked just one while giving up six hits. He made 94 pitches. In his postgame comments, manager Bob Melvin said he wanted to keep Fiers pitch count down tonight.
  • Stephen Piscotty went 2-for-3 plus a hit-by-pitch in his first game back from the injury list.
  • Khris Davis extended his hitting streak to five games. He is batting .320 (7-for-20) over those five games. Davis scored a run in the fifth inning of the game.
  • Matt Chapman put a three-walk game into the scorebook for the second time this season. He did it versus the Rangers back on April 23rd. Chapman scored a run in the first inning of the contest.
  • Chad Pinder was brought to pinch-hit for Grossman in the bottom of the seventh inning with two out and two runners on base. Pinder hit an 0-2 pitch from Tyler Webb over the left-field fence for a three-run home — his 10th of the year. Skipper Bob mentioned after the game that this team really uses everyone on the 25-man roster. Everyone is ready to contribute at all times.
  • “Mr. I can play anywhere coach” — Mark Canha had a 2-for-5 night with the bat and drove in two runs. So far this season, Canha has played all three outfield positions and first base for the A’s.

Athletics roster changes

  • Stephen Piscotty has rejoined the team. He was placed on the 10-day IL back on June 30 with a knee sprain. Piscotty went to Las Vegas for a rehab assignment where he played three games in the outfield and two at designated hitter.
  • The A’s claimed catcher Dustin Garneau off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. Garneau is a right-handed hitter while Chris Herrmann is a lefty (Josh Phegley is on the IL due to a deeply bruised thumb). Garneau is familiar with some of the Oakland pitchers as he played 19 games with the A’s in 2017 plus seeing them in head to head competition.
  • Infielder Franklin Barreto has been optioned back to Triple-A Las Vegas. He was hitting just .106 at the time he was sent down. Manager Bob Melvin commented that Barreto had nothing left to prove at Triple-A which means it could be the end of the road for the infielder and the Athletics organization.

Cardinals watch

  • Cardinals starting pitcher Dakota Hudson walked a season-high five batters in just 3.2 innings of work on the mound. His record drops to 10-6 for the season after being charged with the loss.
  • Paul DeJong had a 2-for-4 game with an RBI. He now has a career monthly best 43 RBI in August. He is second for the Cards in total bases with 185.
  • Lane Thomas hit his second home run of the season in the top of the ninth inning. Both of his home runs have come when he has been a pinch-hitter.

Up next

A’s fans will get their first look at RHP Tanner Roark on Sunday. Roark came to the A’s at the trade deadline from the Cincinnati Reds for minor league outfielder Jameson Hannah. Roark was 6-7 with a 4.24 ERA in 21 starts for the Reds.

The Cardinals will counter with RHP Adam Wainwright, who is 7-7 with a 4.47 ERA so far in 2019. Wainwright started against Oakland back on June 26 in St. Louis. He lost that game 2-0. Wainwright worked 6.2 innings giving up two runs (both earned) off seven hits. He walked one, struck out nine, but he gave up two home runs. Wainwright will be a free agent at the end of the season.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 PM PDT.

Headline Sports podcast with Barbara Mason: Big Papi is happy to see his family in the DR again; Rays need Sogard’s bat to get into the wild card race; plus more

Photo credit: @Complex

On Headline Sports with Barbara Mason:

#1 Former Boston Red Sox David Ortiz is back home in the Dominican Republic after suffering a near assassination attempt. He said he’s glad to see his family again and is looking forward to eating his favorite foods again.

#2 Former Oakland A’s infielder Eric Sogard was with the Toronto Blue Jays this season and now joins the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays were looking to boost their lineup. Sogard is hitting .300 this season.

#3 The Oakland A’s continue to battle in the AL Wild Card race they got a walkoff walk on Sunday when A’s hitter Khris Davis walked to force a runner in from third base with the base loaded for a 7-6 win over the visiting Texas Rangers.

#4 San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will start throwing against the scrimmage defense with pads on and head coach Kyle Shanahan will get an idea how everything should look as far as blocking is concerned.

#5 Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Antonio Brown are all set to throw and catch and make it happen in camp as they prepare for their first preseason game on Saturday Aug 10th at the Oakland Coliseum against the Los Angeles Rams.

Barbara does the Headline podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com