A’s beat the Twins 6-2 on Saturday night as Fiers and Lucroy star

13000 HR
Graphic: @Athletics

by Charlie O. Mallonee

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

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Photo: @Athletics

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

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Lucroy get high fives after hitting the 13,000th home run in Athletics history Photo: @Athletics

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.

Up Next

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).

 

 

 

A’s win their fifth game in a row, downing the Tigers 2-1 on Saturday night

Chappy HR
Chapman hit home run number 14 Photo @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND, Calif. — The announced attendance at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday night was 33,668. They came to see the hometown Oakland Athletics, who started the game versus the Detroit Tigers in second place in the American League West and in the American League Wild Card playoff race. The big crowd also came to see a “Harry Potter” inspired fireworks show that would follow the contest.

The fans were treated to another A’s win as they beat the Tigers 2-1. It was the A’s fifth consecutive win as they have won every game of this current homestand. Oakland is now 20 games over .500 as they improved to 66-46 with 50 games left to play in the regular season.

The one question this reporter had after the game was – how many of the 33,668 paying customers really enjoyed the A’s win? It was a bit like taking a ride with Mr. Peabody and Sherman in the Waybac Machine because it was not a typical 2018 MLB game. Strong pitching and good defense dominated the game with some hitting highlights thrown in for good measure.

Mr Peabody

It was my kind of game, but I am an “old guy.” I love a pitcher’s duel. I do not have to see a half dozen home runs to feel like I have been to a great game. I hope the veteran fans in the crowd on Saturday night helped the younger fans appreciate what they were seeing. It is a side of baseball I hope we never lose an appreciation for as fans.

There were home runs

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All of the A’s runs came via the long ball. Matt Chapman led off the third inning by hitting a 0-2 pitch from Jordan Zimmerman to straightaway center field for his 14th home run of the season to tie the game at 1-1. After Jed Lowrie lined out to center field, Khris Davis stepped into the batter’s box to face Zimmerman. Davis “crushed” his 30th home run of the year into the left field seats off the first pitch delivered to him. That gave the A’s a 2-1 lead which as it would turn out would be all they would need to win the game.

Davis became the sixth player in A’s history to hit 30-plus home runs in three straight seasons. The last Athletic to accomplish the feat was Miguel Tejada in 2000-02.

Pitching was very strong

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Edwin Jackson continues to be an amazing performer on the mound for the A’s. He worked 6.1 innings giving up one run (unearned) off five hits. Jackson struck out three Tigers and walked just one. He earned the victory which upped his record to 3-2 on the season with a 2.87 ERA. Not bad for a pitcher who started off in Triple-A while trying to get back to “the Bigs.”

Lou Trivino came on to relieve Jackson in the seventh inning and gave up just one hit and no runs in 1.2 innings on the mound. If you are an A’s opponent and are trailing late in the game, you watch Trivino work magic on the hill knowing that in the ninth inning the worst is yet to come.

And, the worst did enter the game in the ninth as Blake Treinen took the ball to close out the contest. It was not a perfect inning as he did allow one hit while striking out two batters. Treinen now has 28 saves for the year to go with his 0.95 ERA.

The Tigers’ Jordan Zimmerman lost his fourth decision in a row. He has not won a game since July 6 when he beat Texas. Zimmerman was 4-0 before the losing streak began.

Zimmerman threw 6.1 innings giving up two runs (both earned, both home runs) while striking out six and walking just three. Frankly, Zimmerman pitched well enough to win on almost any given night except this one.

Drew VerHagen pitched 1.2 innings of perfect relief for Detroit, but the Tigers could not produce any more runs.

Defense

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In a 2-1 game, there are many plays by the defense that should be talked about, but we are only going to mention two in this story.

The two plays that will be referred to were both made by rookie outfielder Ramon Laureano, who played in his second major league game on Saturday night. He was supposed to have the night off, but Mark Canha came down ill and Laureano was pressed into service.

In the top of the fifth inning with two out, the Tigers’ Mike Gerber hit a “flare” into left-center field. Laureano ran to his right, stretched out and put a glove on the ball but it popped out of his glove. Gerber saw the ball get away and immediately kept running for second base. Laureano jumped up and threw the ball to second baseman Jed Lowrie who put the tag down on Gerber who over-slid the bag in his haste to get the extra base. That was the third out of the inning and the crowd expressed their appreciation for the rookie in a very vocal manner.

Jeimer Candelario led off the top of the seventh inning for Detroit. He hit a 2-2 pitch from Jackson into right-center field that looked like it would fall in for a base hit. Laureano ran hard to his left then went into a controlled slide and made a great catch for the first out of the inning. Yes, the crowd went wild.

Quick notes for hardcore fans

  • Quick game – 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • A’s six hits – 10 strikeouts
  • Tigers’ seven hits – six strikeouts
  • Runners In Scoring Position

A’s 0-for-10 (Wow!)

Tigers 1-for-4

  • Team Left on Base

Oakland 7

Detroit 4

  • Errors

A’s 1

Tigers 1

Up Next
The A’s will go for the series sweep on Sunday when they will send RHP Trevor Cahill (3-2, 3.39 ERA) to the hill to face the Tigers’ LHP Francisco Liriano (3-5, 4.62 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM PST.

They may be down, but they’re never out! A’s beat the Giants 4-3

Celebration
A’s celebrate after beating the Giants Photo: @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee

SAN FRANCISCO — The Oakland Athletics (54-42) really do not know when to quit. In the major leagues, teams that are trailing as they head into the late innings (the seventh inning and beyond) are pretty much doomed to failure the majority of the time. The goal for every big league team is to score early and often because later is usually too late.

The 2018 A’s are breaking all of those rules. The A’s are tied for second in runs scored in the seventh inning or later (173). They did it again on Saturday night against the San Francisco Giants (50-47).

The A’s were trailing the Giants 3-2 as they came to bat in the top of the seventh inning. Tony Watson was the new pitcher for San Francisco. Josh Phegley led off the inning with a single to right. The pitcher’s spot was due up (National League park), so manager Bob Melvin put in Mark Canha as a pinch hitter. Canha hit a 3-2 pitch halfway up into the bleachers in left field for his 12th home run of the season and his 38th and 39th RBIs of the year.

The A’s took a 4-3 lead and never looked back. Lou Trivino worked 2.0 innings of scoreless relief for his team. All-star Blake Treinen then came on in the bottom of the ninth. Treinen struggled a bit as he walked two Giants, but he worked his way out of trouble to earn his 24th save of the season.

The win went to Yusmeiro Petit (4-2) who was pitcher of record in the top of the seventh inning. The loss goes to Tony Watson who also receives a blown save for his record.

Neither starter had a great night. Brett Anderson worked just 3.1 innings for Oakland giving up three runs (all earned) on eight hits. Jeff Samardzija made the start for the Giants and he lasted just 4.0 innings. He allowed two runs (both earned) off three hits. He walked two and struck out one batter.

Steven Duggar had another good game for the Giants, going 2-for-4 at the plate while scoring two runs and adding an RBI. Buster Posey had a 2-for-4 night hitting as well.

Samardzija Swan Song?

To say that the Giants have been disappointed with the performance of Jeff Samardzija this season — may be one of the great understatements of 2018. His performance on Saturday did nothing to help his standing with the team. His 10th start lasted just 4.0 innings and saw “the Shark” give up two runs (both earned) on three hits. He walked two and struck out just one Oakland batter. The real concern was his velocity or lack of it. Samardzija had trouble breaking into the 90’s with his pitches. The Giants would love to open his spot for a younger pitcher, but they have to figure out what to do with the 33-year old veteran who will make $18-million per season through 2020.

A little bullpen irony 

In the seventh inning, the Giants’ lifted reliever Tony Watson and gave the ball to Ray Black with one out and two runners on base. The A’s had Lou Trivino warming up in their bullpen and would ultimately pitch the seventh inning for Oakland. The irony is that Trivino credits Black for his success as a pitcher. The A’s RHP said he was watching Black pitch at Class-A San Jose when he was with the Stockton Ports and he liked the way Black pitched. Trivino incorporated some of Black’s technique into his own style and now both are facing off in the major leagues.

So long Santiago and other transactions

Relief pitcher Santiago Casilla was designated for assignment (DFA) by the A’s. Casilla appeared in 26 games pitching 31.1 innings while posting a 3.16 ERA. He struck out 22 and walked 20 which lead to a WHIP of 1.213. Casilla had a poor outing on Friday night in San Francisco. If no team claims Casilla off waivers, he will have to decide if he will accept an assignment to the minors.

Ryan Dull received an airline ticket back to Nashville. Dull had a rough outing for the A’s on Friday night and has struggled to find any consistency on the mound this season. He had worked 18 innings for Oakland giving up 21 hits (3 HRs) while striking out 17 and walking five. Dull was carrying an ERA of 6.00, which will not keep you in the Major Leagues.

Franklin Barreto continues to rack up the frequent flier miles as he has returned from Nashville. His return is related to the leg contusion suffered by Jed Lowrie on Friday night. Lowrie did not play on Saturday and do not expect to see him on Sunday. Lowrie’s status for the All-Star game has not been addressed.

Good news for the starting pitching rotation

Daniel Mengden has been brought off the disabled list by the A’s. Mengden was put on the 10-day DL due to a foot sprain. The RHP is 6-6 this season in 16 starts with a 4.47 ERA in 90.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 55 and walked just 19 batters. Mengden could well see action in the Bay Bridge Series Part 2 in Oakland next weekend.

 

The winning streak continues as the A’s crush the Indians 7-2 on Saturday

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Canha bangs an RBI-double off the left field wall Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee

By Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND, Calif. — The well-traveled veteran pitcher Edwin Jackson made his second start for the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, and he worked 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on two hits, while walking none to come away with his first victory in a Green and Gold uniform. Jackson’s teammates rewarded his efforts by coming from back from a 2-0 deficit to score seven runs off just eight hit to win their sixth consecutive game.

Neither starting pitcher allowed a hit or baserunner in the first three innings of the game. The Indians were the first to strike when they hit two home runs off Jackson in the top of the fourth inning. Francisco Lindor hit his 20th homer of the season into the right-field seats on a 1-1 count to lead off the inning. With one out, Jose Ramirez stepped up to the plate to face Jackson and jacked a 2-2 pitch over the center-field wall for his 24th round-tripper of 2018. Things were not looking good for Jackson at that moment.

Jackson settled down in the top of the fifth and he did not allow another baserunner in the remaining 1.2 innings he would pitch.

The A’s struck back in the home half of the sixth inning. Franklin Barreto led off with a double. Josh Phegley then hit his second home run of the year into the left field seats to tie the game at 2-2. Dustin Fowler followed up with a single through the hole at second. Mark Canha hit a line drive to left that hit at the top of the wall for a double that allowed the speedy Fowler to race home from first to score the A’s third run and give them the lead. Canha was thrown out trying to advance to third. Oakland took a lead 3-2 and would never trail in the game again.

Oakland would score four more times in the eighth inning to make the final score 7-2.

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Bob Melvin came out to congratulate and take starter Edwin Jackson out of the game Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee

Edwin Jackson (1-0) gets credit for the win. The Indians’ starter Adam Plutko (4-2) is tagged with the loss. A’s reliever Lou Trivino picked up his third save of the season.

Oakland’s record improves to 46-38, and they are now 8.5 games behind the Astros in the AL West. The Indians fall to 44-37, but maintain an 8.0 game lead over the second-place Twins.

Melvin talks about his team after the game

In the Batter’s Box

A’s

  • Dustin Fowler snapped an 0-for-9 hitless streak with his single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Hitting his fifth home run of the year in the bottom of the eighth was just icing of the cake. Fowler was the only A’s player to have multiple hits in the game.
  • Matt Olson hit his 18th home run in the home half of the eighth inning as the A’s kept adding insurance runs to their lead. He has now hit 15 of his 18 home runs off right-handed pitching.
  • Mark Canha extended his hitting streak to nine games, which is the longest streak of his career. He has also reached base safely in his last 10 games.
  • Khris Davis hit a sacrifice fly to up his RBI total to 55 for the season.
  • The A’s went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left just three runners on base.

Indians

  • Francisco Lindor is on fire. In his last 19 games, he is batting .306 (23-for-75) with six home runs, five doubles, 11 RBI and 20 runs scored.
  • Since the start of the 2017 season, Jose Ramirez leads the major leagues with 136 extra base hits. He entered the game on Saturday tied for fourth in the MLB with his teammate Francisco Lindor with 44 extra base hits so far this season.
  • Jason Kipnis has now reached base safely in each of his last 13 games. In those 13 games, he is batting .312 with three homers and eight runs scored.

On the Hill

A’s

  • Edwin Jackson still has not walked a batter since joining the A’s. He worked 6.2 innings giving up two runs (earned) off two hits (both HRs). He struck out six Cleveland hitters. Jackson threw 86 pitches (52 strikes).
  • The A’s used four relief pitchers to close out the game. Ryan Butcher, Emilio Pagan, Yusmeiro Petit and Lou Trivino worked the final 2.1 innings.
  • The plan was to have Petit close it out, but he looked a bit rusty when got up on the mound. Manager Bob Melvin said that was on him for not getting him into some games earlier in the week.

Indians

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Terry Francona has a little chat with umpire Tony Randazzo Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee
  • Indians starter Adam Plutko looked brilliant in the opening three innings but the wheels came off in the sixth inning. He pitched 5.2 innings allowing three runs (earned) on five hits. He walked one and struck out three.
  • The Indians used five pitchers in the contest.
  • Dan Otero and Josh Tomlin really struggled in the eighth inning when the A’s sealed the game by scoring four runs on just three hits. Two walks and two home runs were the fatal flaws for the relievers.
  • A familiar face to Bay Area baseball fans came into the game to shut down the A’s in the eighth inning, former Giant George Kontos was brought in to do the job.

Up Next

The A’s will try to complete their second consecutive series sweep on Sunday when they will close out this three-game series with the Indians. The Indians will start RHP Mike Clevinger (6-3, 3.03). The A’s will counter with RHP Frankie Montas (4-1, 3.68). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM PDT.