Alcantara has an A’s debut for the ages–and one to forget

By Morris Phillips

Nerves were written all over the first major league appearance for Raul Alcantara.

Alcantara, the sixth pitcher to make his first big league start for the A’s this season, walked a batter, hit three more, and was charged with a balk, belying the excellent stats he compiled in his brief stint with AAA Nashville.  Plenty frustrating, and aided by some questionable calls by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza, Alcantara’s afternoon started with some pretty good pitches.  Then things deteriorated quickly.

With one out, and an  0-2 count against Mike Trout, Alcantara plunked the slugger, allowing his first baserunner.  Albert Pujols, doing his professional hitter thing, calmly deliver a single to center.  Again on a 0-2 count, C.J. Cron singled to load the bases.  Alcantara then plunked Jefry Marte, walked Andrelton Simmons and allowed a run-scoring, sacrifice fly to Nick Buss putting the Angels up 3-0.

In the second, Alcantara allowed a homer to Kole Calhoun.  In the third, Simmons doubled, then moved to third on Carapazza’s questionable balk call, and scored on Buss’ second run-scoring sacrifice fly.

Needless to say, very few pitchers have experienced a big league debut like Alcantara.  In fact, he became just the second A’s pitcher–and the first in 86 seasons–to hit three batters and commit a balk.  Still, the guy who compiled a 1.18 ERA in Nashville, striking out 24, and walking just three over eight starts bears watching according to manager Bob Melvin.

“Toward the end of his outing we saw the stuff that we think we’re going to see, and he got better as he went along,” Melvin said.  “Sometimes nerves hit you in your first outing, especially when a couple of things transpire.”

Through an interpreter, Alcantara denied nerves, saying “I was trying to make perfect pitches.”

Down 5-2 when Alcantara departed, the A’s would fall behind 8-2 in the fifth before rallying.  With three runs in the fourth, a single run in the fifth, and another impressive opposite field blast from Khris Davis in the seventh, the A’s made a game of it, crawling within 8-7.

But with the game on the line, a pair of sloppy errors allowed the Angels to add on in the ninth and win 10-7.  Having won just 11 times in their last 35 ballgames, it was more of the same for the A’s, but a few interesting happenings outside of Alcantara’s debut took this one outside the mundane.

Angels’ starter Jered Weaver was hit by a ball off the bat of Danny Valencia in the third, taking a shot to his hip and buttocks that he said wasn’t serious, but caused some numbness.  But just one day after the entire Angels’ organization was frightened by starter Matt Shoemaker being hit in the head by a batted ball in Seattle, it was definitely alarming.

Shoemaker remains in Seattle where he was operated on overnight after suffering a small skull fracture.  He was speaking after the surgery, and seems on track to return to Souther California at the end of the week.  Out of caution, as much as ineffectiveness, Weaver lasted just four innings on Monday.

Despite the abbreviated start, Weaver became the third pitcher to compile 2,000 innings pitched in an Angels uniform, joining Nolan Ryan and Chuck Finley.

Sean Doolittle pitched the seventh inning, his first appearance for the A’s since June 25 after battling shoulder issues.  Joey Wendle, the A’s starter at second base, picked up his first RBI in the big leagues in the fourth.

Sonny Gray, Chris Bassitt and Felix Doubront–three fifths of the A’s rotation at the beginning of the season made appearances before the game, all doing soft tossing in the field in the hopes they can at some point resume throwing off the mound.  None of three are expected to pitch again this season.

The A’s will face Angels’ starter Ricky Nolasco in the series second game on Tuesday evening.  Ross Detwiler was scratched from the start when he was ushered into Monday’s game in relief of Alcantara in the fourth.  Zach Neal will instead make the start for the A’s on Tuesday.


Oakland A’s Wednesday game wrap: The Astros find a way to win, sweep the A’s in one run loss 4-3

by Jerry Feitelberg

AP photo: Oakland A’s Jake Smolinski (5) is greeted by teammate Chad Pinder (18) after scoring in the second inning off the Houston Astros on Wednesday at Minute Maid Field

Houston- The Houston Astros swept the three-game series with the A’s Wednesday afternoon in Houston as they came-from-behind in the bottom of the eighth to beat the A’s 4-3. The A’s starter, Ross Detwiler, had an excellent outing. He pitched seven innings and allowed just three hits and one run while striking out seven. Detwiler, in his five starts with Oakland, has had three terrific games. He also had two poor starts, too.Detwiler pitched well enough to win, but Liam Hendriks could not get the job done. Hendriks, who had improved his game after being on the DL earlier this year, gave up the three runs that propelled the Astros to victory. The Houston starter, Mike Fiers, went five innings, allowed eight hits and three runs, two of which were unearned. As  Bob Melvin would say, doesn’t matter if they are earned or unearned, we’ll take them. However, the A’s neither scored nor got a hit after the fifth inning as the Houston bullpen stopped them cold.

The A’s scored three runs in the second inning. The key play was a Carlos Correa error that led to two unearned runs for Oakland. Jake Smolinski drove in two with a triple, and Bruce Maxwell had a single to drive another run.  The ‘Stros scored one in the bottom of the fourth as Correa made up for his error by driving in the first run of the game for Houston.

Bob Melvin summoned Liam Hendriks from the bullpen to start the eighth inning. Hendriks retired the first two hitters but then the roof caved in on him. George Springer tripled to put a man on third with two out. The next hitter, Alex Bregman, struck out swinging, but the ball got by catcher Bruce Maxwell. Springer scored, and Bregman reached first safely. Jose Altuve tripled to drive in Bregman, and Altuve scored on an Evan Gattis single to put Houston ahead 4-3. Ken Giles earned his seventh save of the year as he closed out the game to secure the win for Houston.

Game Notes- The Astros now lead the A’s 10-6 for the season. The two teams will conclude play against each other when the Astros visit the Oakland Coliseum September 19,20 and 21.

The A’s recalled Joey Wendle from Triple-A Nashville to replace the departed Coco Crisp. Wendle, 26-years old, made his Major League Debut Wednesday in Houston. Wendle went hitless but did score a run.

The A’s are off on Thursday as they return home for a three-game series this weekend with the Boston Red Sox. David Ortiz will be visiting the Coliseum for the last time as he is retiring at the end of the season. The A’s then play the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners to conclude the homestand.

Oakland A’s Saturday game wrap: Sale too much for A’s hitters, Sox win 6-2


By Charlie O. Mallonee

Chris Sale was the first pitcher to win 14 games in the major leagues. It took him six games and 49 days to book his 15th win of the season. Win number 15 came on Saturday night in Chicago against the Oakland Athletics by the score of 6-2.

Sale pitched eight innings of scoreless baseball and gave way to his bullpen to close out the game in the top of ninth inning. The A’s seized on the opportunity to face someone else other than Sale and had the tying run on deck when Chad Pinder flied out to deep center field just three feet from the fence with two men on base for the final out of the game.

The Oakland loss ties the series at one game apiece with the rubber game of the match to be played on Sunday afternoon.

On the Bump

Left-handed starting pitcher Chris Sale (15-6) was the story of the night for the White Sox. The 6-foot-6 Sale came out and took control of the game from the beginning. He gave up no runs on just three hits. Sale faced 29 hitters and walked three while striking out eight. Sale wanted the win so badly he threw 120 pitches (74 strikes) in pursuit of the victory.

Nate Jones came on in the top of the ninth inning to close the game out for Sale and proved to be no mystery for A’s hitters. Jones gave up two runs (earned) on three hits and managed to get only one out. He was responsible two runners on base when he left the game.

Closer David Robertson had to enter the game for Chicago. He managed to get Yonder Alonso to strike out and Chad Pinder to fly out to deep center field for the final out of the game. Robertson picked up his 31st save of the season.

LHP Ross Detwiler started for the A’s and had one of those games that a pitcher would like to have erased from his memory. Detwiler (1-2) gave up six runs (earned) on 10 hits in just 4.0 innings of work. He walked one, struck out two and issued one home run. Detwiler threw 81 pitches (55 strikes) in four innings of work. He faced 23 batters. Bottom line, it just was not Detwiler’s night.

The A’s bullpen did all they could do to keep their team in the game. Daniel Coulombe, Chris Smith and John Axford combined to hold the White Sox scoreless over the 4.0 innings. In fact, the A’s relievers did not allow a baserunner in final four innings.

In the Batter’s Box

Every White Sox hitter except DH Justin Morneau had a hit in the game off Detwiler.

Jose Abreu led the way for Chicago going 2-for-3 on the night driving in two runs and scoring two runs. One of his hits was his 15th home run of the season and the other was his 28th double of the year. Abreu now has 66 RBI for the season.

Melky Cabrera went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Sox Saturday night. Cabrera also drove in two runs and scored a run. Cabrera hit his 29th double and recorded his 56th RBI in the game.

Danny Valencia had a 2-for-4 night for the A’s. Valencia started the Oakland mini-rally in the top of the ninth inning by hitting his 15th home run of the season into the seats in right center field.

Chad Pinder made his major league debut on Saturday night in Chicago. Pinder who was called up from Triple-A Nashville when Tyler Ladendorf went on the DL will play second base against left-handed starting pitchers. Pinder went 0-for-4 for the night but made the game interesting when he hit a David Robertson cut fastball that was up in the zone to deep center field with two runners on in the top of the ninth inning. Unfortunately, the ball was about three feet short of going over the wall and White Sox CF Adam Eaton was fast enough to haul it in for the final out of the game.

You’ve got to be kidding me

In the top of the ninth inning with one out and Ryon Healy on at first, Stephen Vogt hit a ground ball on the right side of the infield that was fielded by second baseman Carlos Sanchez. Sanchez tossed the ball to shortstop Tim Anderson. Anderson stepped on second base forcing out Healy and threw to first but Vogt was called safe.

A’s manager Bob Melvin challenged the call at second base. The video replay made it very clear that Anderson did not come within a foot of touching the bag. The call was overturned and Healy was called safe.

What happened next? Brett Eibner hit a line drive single to right that allowed Healy to score and moved Vogt up to second. Replay has changed the game.

Up Next

The plan was for Jesse Hahn to come off the disabled list and make the start versus the White Sox on Sunday. Those plans went on hold when Hahn did not feel right after throwing in the bullpen on Saturday. Hahn had felt good after pitching in Nashville on Tuesday but that was not the case on Saturday.

With Hahn on still on the DL, RHP Zach Neal – who had actually returned to the bullpen – will make another start for Oakland. Neal started last Sunday against the Mariners in Oakland. He worked 5.1 innings giving up five runs on eight hits. Neal has a record of 2-2 with a 5.19 ERA. He has a 7.98 ERA as starter and a 3.15 ERA as a reliever.

The White Sox will send LHP Jose Quintana to the hill on Sunday. Quintana in 9-9 on the year with a 2.85 ERA. This will be his third try at picking up win number 10.

Photo: Chicago Tribune

Oakland A’s Wednesday game wrap: The A’s beat the O’s again, Ross Detwiler shines in 1-0 shutout

by Jerry Feitelberg

Oakland- The A’s beat the Baltimore Orioles again behind the strong performance of the veteran lefty Ross Detwiler. The final score was 1-0. Detwiler, traded to Oakland by Cleveland, was recalled from Nashville to start for the Green and Gold, Detwiler was 4-0 in Nashville and with his performance Wednesday probably will make another start shortly. Detwiler pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed just six hits and did not walk a batter. He just mesmerized the Oriole hitters. A’s manager Bob Melvin said Detwiler “mixed it up really good. He kept the ball down in the zone, and it was way more than we expected.” Melvin also said that Detwiler’s performance was phenomenal
The A’s and veteran lefty Ross Detwiler dodged a bullet in the first inning. He gave up two singles and threw two wild pitches, but the Orioles failed to score. With Jones at second, O’s shortstop J.J.Hardy singled just over Danny Valencia’s head in right field. Jones was waiting to tag up as he thought the ball might be caught. When it wasn’t, Jones took off and tried to score. The home plate umpire ruled him safe but the A’s ask for a review. The call was overturned, and Jones was ruled out. Jones never got his front leg down, and A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell tagged him on his back foot for the out.

The A’s scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the third. Doubles by Marcus Semien and Yonder Alonso produced the only run the A’s would need to win their third straight one-run game.

Game Notes. The A’s now have a three-game winning streak and are in fourth place in the AL West. With the loss, the Orioles are now in second-place in the AL East, a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays.

The A’s and O’s conclude the four-game series Thursday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum. Game time will be at 12:35 pm. Andrew Triggs will pitch for Oakland, and the A’s will face the Oriole ace, Chris Tillman.

Time of game was two hours and twenty-four minutes and 13,481 happy fans watched the A’s win.