Alonso gets All-Star nod, but A’s swept at home by the Braves

Atlanta Braves’ Ender Inciarte, left, is tagged out by Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell in the second inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 2, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. Inciarte attempted to score on a hit by Braves’ Brandon Phillips. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–That ever significant group of former A’s players floating around major league baseball always bares watching. Some leave Oakland just as their careers are ready to ascend, others resurface with All-Star size chips on their shoulders like Josh Donaldson.

Whatever the circumstances, the current A’s need to be aware of the formers, even when they’re familiar opponents like Kurt Suzuki.

Suzuki smashed 59 home runs as an Athletic from 2007-2013, but in the ensuing seasons, the catcher had not returned the favor as a member of the Twins or the Nationals. His power numbers have decreased, as has his playing time, now as a backup for the Braves.

But Suzuki was back at the Coliseum on Sunday, in the lineup and making plays. And it wasn’t long before the 33-year old Suzuki looked like the 25-year old Suzuki of 2009 as an Athletic.

Suzuki clubbed a pair of home runs, the second breaking a 3-3 tie in the 12th inning, as the Braves went on to a 4-3 win and a sweep of the three-game series. The streaky A’s have now dropped seven in a row at home.

“I know the coaching staff over there. I’ve played for those guys,” Suzuki said. “It’s a good adrenalin feel coming around the bases.”

Suzuki didn’t reserve his impact on the game to just the two, lengthy home runs he hit. Behind the plate, Suzuki was critical, blocking a near wild pitch in the 11th that would have undoubtedly allowed the A’s to score the winning run from third base.

Also, Suzuki wasn’t bad calling and framing pitches, as starter Julio Teheran and seven relievers combined to strike out 17 A’s. Rajai Davis was punched out on a questionable pitch to end the 11th with the potential winning run at third base.

“Couldn’t happen to a better guy,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Suzuki’s various contributions. “It’s nice to see when good things happen to the good guys.”

The A’s couldn’t extend a streak of streakiness with a win. Oakland came into Sunday’s series finale having gone 8-8 in their previous 16 games, winning four, losing four, winning four then losing four again. But they dropped their fifth straight game despite coming up with game-tying runs in the seventh and 11th innings. 


A’s outlast Rangers, 9-8

PhotoBy George Devine, Sr

If the A’s – now 4.5 games ahead in the AL West – go on to win the division, this night will probably be remembered as a key to their success. Ahead 9-3, Oakland came into the final frame with only a one-run lead, and prevailed 9-8 over the Texas Rangers at Arlington.

Yoenis Cespedes seemed to set the tone for the evening with a three-run homer to left center in the first. But the Rangers answered with two in the bottom of the inning, Dan Straily walked two, and a single by Adrian Beltre followed by A.J. Pierzynski’s sac fly made it a one-run game.

In the third, Josh Donaldson hit his 22nd homer of the year, to left. In the fourth, he doubled to center, after Derek Norris and Kurt Suzuki had singled to the same location. The fifth inning saw Alberto Callaspo walk, then advance to second as Chris Young singled to left, and to third when Norris singled to right. Callaspo scored when Suzuki walked, bringing Norris to second and Young to third. Young came home when Coco Crisp sacrificed to center. Brandon Moss homered to right center in the sixth.

In the home eight, the Rangers’ bats came to life. Beltre walked on Brett Anderson, as did Pierzynski. Anderson then left the game due to what were described as back spasms, to be replaced by Jesse Chavez. Jim Adduci’s base hit to left loaded the bases. Leonys Martin subsequently reached on an infield base hit. Ryan Cook walked Ian Kinsler and that forced in a run. Elvis Andrus single to right, and the margin was trimmed to 9-6. The runners on base moved ahead on a passed ball. Alex Rios’ base hit then posted two more runs.

Sean Doolittle held the 9-8 lead through the ninth, as the game’s elapsed time passed the four-hour mark. He picked up his second save of the season. The winner is Straily (10-7; 5.2 ip, 2 h, 2 er, 4 w, 4 k) and the loser Derek Holland (9-8; 3 ip, 8 h, 6 er, 1 w, 2 k, 2 hr).

The two teams atop the AL West meet again at 10:05 a.m. PDT on Saturday, September 14 with Bartolo Colon (15-6) facing Yu Darvish (12-8).

Pitchers’ duel becomes batters’ brawl; Suzuki blasts 3-run HR

By George Devine, Sr.

August 30, 2013

The Athletics began a long homestand against Tampa Bay with an atmosphere suggestive of a postseason confrontation. Just over 15,000 came to Coliseum – without the Bay Bridge in operation — on a balmy (69 degree) evening to see a pitchers’ duel between LHP David Price and RHP Jarrod Parker….that is, until the fifth inning. Up to that point, the Rays had scored the game’s only run, when in the second Desmond Jennings walked, stole second and came home on Yuniel Escobar’s grounder to center field. But in the fifth, Kurt Suzuki broke it open with a three-run homer. It came after Alberto Callaspo hit one of Price’s pitches in the direction of second baseman Ben Zobrist, who committed his firsr error after 81 games. Chris Young then walked and Suzuki took Price deep.

In the eighth, after Parker had thrown 100 pitches, the first two Rays reached base. Ryan Cook came in to relieve him, and gave up a single. Matt Joyce sacrificed to score a run, then James Loney doubled past Young in center to make it 3-3 In the bottom of the frame, with Joel Peralta in relief, Coco Crisp led off with a base hit and scored on Jed Lowrie’s double to make the score 4-3 in favor of the home team.

Cook got the win (6-3) and Price the loss (8-6). Grant Balfour notched his 34th save.

The win puts Oakland a half-game ahead of the Rays in the race for the first wild card spot, and two games behind Texas in the AL West.

The A’s and Tampa Bay face off again at 6:05 p .m. on Saturday, August 31 with Sonny Gray (1-2, 3.18 ERA) opposing Alex Cobb (8-2, 2.67) on a fireworks night.

On Tuesday, September 3, Oakland Athletics’ Owner Lew Wolff and family members, as well as Hitting Coach Chili Davis, will serve meals at Oakland’s St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County’s dining room and tour the facility’s community center which also houses administrative staff, some limited medical care, free drop-in help for families, a free clothing closet and both culinary and transitional employee training programs.

Three generations of the Wolff family—Mr. Wolff, daughter Kari Wolff and grandson Arthur Wolff—will join Davis, a former three-time Major League All-Star and three-time World Series champion, in serving lunch to SVDP’s clients from 10:45-11:30 a.m., before taking a tour of the facility. Wolff wants his daughter and grandson to experience the lives of people who are less fortunate and understand the value and obligation of giving back to your community. Also, the Wolff family and Mr. Davis wanted to stress to everyone that St. Vincent de Paul provides meals, clothing and services to more than 4,000 people each year, and that their financial and volunteer help is sorely needed throughout the year—not only during the holiday season.

Wolff last week donated $5,000 for much-needed backpacks for St. Vincent’s children, as they begin the new school year. In addition, the A’s owner is hand-delivering 100 tickets to the Oakland-Minnesota game on Thursday, Sept. 19, with a challenge to the Bay Area community to donate at least $50 to St. Vincent de Paul in exchange for two free tickets.

The Oakland A’s and St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County have forged a long-time relationship, with the team’s front office employees preparing and serving meals at the facility’s dining the holiday season and donating funding, food and other supplies to the area’s prime community center. In addition, Athletic players, coaches and managers have donated their time in servicing SVDP’s clients during the team’s season and off-season. This marks the 75th anniversary of service provided by St. Vincent de Paul to Alameda County.