photo credit nbcsports.com screen shot by @adriangarro: Oakland A’s pitcher Mike Fiers is exuberant after tossing a complete, no hit game against the Cincinnati Reds as A’s catcher Josh Phegley prepares to meet Fiers on the mound Tuesday night at the Oakland Coliseum.
by Jerry Feitelberg
OAKLAND — People in baseball say “you never know what you are going to see at a baseball game.” Tuesday nights game featured Mike Fiers tossing his second career no-hitter. Fiers had everything working for him as he did not allow the hard-hitting Cincinnati Reds a single hit. The A’s won the game 2-0. The game was delayed about an hour and forty minutes due to a malfunction of the lights in left field, Play started at 8:45 pm.
In most games when a no-hitter occurs, pitchers are helped out by excellent fielding. The A’s made two great defensive plays in the sixth inning. Second baseman Jurickson Profar, who has been maligned for his poor defensive play this season, made a sensational catch robbing Kyle Farmer of a hit. The ball was hit into short right field and Profar made a diving catch to prevent the Reds from recording their first hit of the game. The next batter, Joey Votto, slammed a ball to deep left-center-field. Ramon Laureano made a leaping catch and robbed Votto of a home run. Fiers walked two hitters in the seventh, but he was helped when the A’s made a 6-4-3 double play.
In the bottom of the second, the A’s put a run on the board to grab an early 1-0 lead. With two out and Stephen Piscotty on first, Profar doubled into the right-field corner. Piscotty scored all the way from first and was called safe when the Reds’ catcher missed the tag.
The A’s added another run in the bottom of the seventh. With two, out, Profar slammed his third dinger of the year over the right-center-field wall. The A’s led 2-0.
Fiers continued his mastery of the Reds as he set them down in order in the eighth and ninth innings to record his second career no-hitter.
Game Notes: Jurickson Profar was not only a defensive star Tuesday night, but he also drove in both runs for the A’s, He drove in Piscotty with the A’s first run in the second, and his home run in the seventh gave the A’s their second run.
Bob Melvin said that “it was a great night.” He also said that it was no fun for me after he reached 120 pitches.”
Fiers threw 131 pitches as he won his second career no-hitter. His first came when he was a member of the Houston Astros and he no-hit the LA Dodgers.
Melvin also said that Fiers “was using all his pitches to be more effective.”
Mike Fiers had this to say about Bob Melvin: “I was ‘really thankful for him leaving me in.'”
When asked about the one hour and 40 delay due to the malfunction of the lights in left field, Fiers replied: “it didn’t affect me.
Fiers also said this about his performance: “I had to keep them off balance.” He did exactly that.
The line score for the game was this: A’s: two runs five hits and one error. Reds: no runs, no hits and one error.
It was the eighth no-hitter in Oakland history and 13th in A’s history. Fiers’ no-hitter is the 300th in MLB history, and he is the 34th pitcher with multiple no-hitters.
Matt Olson played his first game of the season. He was placed on the IL on March 25th after breaking his right hamate bone.
The A’s improved to 16-21 and the Reds dropped to 15-21. Tyler Mahle’s record fell to 0-5, and Fiers evened his improved to 3-3.
Time of game was two hours and 25 minutes. 11,749 people watched Fiers pitch his historical masterpiece.
Up Next: Game two of the three-game series will be at the Oakland Coliseum Wednesday night. Game time will be at 7:07 pm. The A’s will send lefty Brett Anderson to the hill and Sonny Gray, the former A’s ace, will pitch for the Reds.
The Most Import Oakland Athletics Story of Saturday, July 29, 2017:
Bill King receives the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame
Thank you Mr. King. Holy Toledo! You made it to the Hall of Fame!
Second Most Important Athletics Story of Saturday, July 29, 2017:
Sonny Gray reportedly has been scratched as the starter for the game on Sunday
Multiple sources from USA Today Sports to Bleacher Report and more are reporting that Oakland pitcher Sonny Gray has been scratched as the starter in final game of the series with the Minnesota Twins on Sunday afternoon. With the Major League trade deadline set for Monday, July 31 at 1 p.m. PDT, the anticipation is that a deal involving Gray is in the final stages and his potential new club would want to have him ready to start as soon as possible.
Many of those same sources are pointing to the Yankees as being the final destination for Gray which really comes as no surprise. New York needs a starter to replace Michael Pineda and have been on the hunt since he went to the disabled list. The hang-up seems to be the price the Athletics want for Gray.
As the late, great broadcaster Red Barber used say the A’s know “they are in the catbird’s seat!” They have what the Yankees need plus Sonny Gray comes with two additional years of team control. That is going to come at a price and Oakland wants young, very talented prospects.
The Yankees have one of the most talented minor league organizations in the major leagues. Naturally, they want to give up as little as they have to in order to acquire Gray. It’s like buying a car, everybody has to keep going back to the sales manager to see if they can get it for that price.
If you are an A’s fan, the sad news is by August 1 Sonny Gray will be wearing a different uniform. The good news is you will have some great young talent for team when the new stadium opens in 2021 or so.
Third Most Important Athletics Story of Saturday, July 29, 2017:
Athletics break five-game losing streak and give Melvin win 1000
The Oakland Athletics ended a five-game losing streak in dramatic fashion on Saturday night when Rajai Davis hit a 1-0 pitch from the Twins Taylor Rogers over the left-center field wall with Adam Rosales on at first to give the A’s a 5-4 walk-off victory. The big crowd of 27,047 on fireworks night exploded with excitement as their team celebrated the win at home plate.
The win was also significant for Athletics manager Bob Melvin as it was the 1000th of his major league career. After the game, he was quick to downplay the milestone but it is one to be celebrated and honored as only 64 other managers have accomplished that feat.
The A’s jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first-inning thanks to an RBI-double by Ryon Healy that drove Rajai Davis home from second base. The Twins came back and scored two runs on three hits and left the bases loaded in the second inning. A’s starter Chris Smith almost did not make it out of that inning.
Minnesota scored two more runs in the top of the fifth inning when Miguel Sano hit his 24th home run of the season — a two-run shot — down the right field line. That gave the Twins a commanding 4-1 lead.
Ryon Healy hit his second double of the game to lead off the A’s half of the fifth inning. With two out, Yonder Alonso drove Healy home on a single to left-center field. The Twins held a 4-2 after five.
Rookie Matt Chapman breathed hope into the fans when hit a 2-0 pitch from LHP Buddy Boshers deep into the stands in left field for his sixth home run of the season. The round-tripper chased Boshers from the game and closed the gap to a one-run lead for the Twins at 4-3.
After Daniel Coulombe held the Twins scoreless in the top of the ninth, the A’s put Adam Rosales in the game to pinch-hit for Jaycob Brugman. Rosales drew a walk off Taylor Rogers. That brought Davis to bat who ended the game with his fourth home run of the year.
In the batter’s box
Rajai Davis went 4-for-5 on the night including the home run, two runs scored and two RBI. This was the second walk-off home run of his career.
Ryon Healy had a 2-for-4 game with both hits being doubles. He now has 21 two-baggers on the season. Healy also had an RBI (58) and scored a run.
Matt Chapman went 1-for-4 against the Twins but his one hit was his sixth home run of the year which created his 10th RBI as well.
Jed Lowrie broke out of an 0-for-14 hitless streak with a single in the third inning.
Minnesota’s Miguel Sano’ had a 1-for-5 game hitting his 24th home run of the year. It was his first home run in a road game since July 1 in Kansas City.
Zack Granite went 2-for-4 for the Twins and posted two RBI. That extended his hitting streak to nine games.
On the hill
Chad Smith had a rough start for the A’s versus the Twins and really had to work very hard to hang in there for 5.0-innings. He gave up four runs (all earned) on seven hits. He walked three and struck out four. Smith allowed one home run and did not figure into the final decision.
The A’s used four relievers in the game: Dull, Casilla, Josh Smith and Coulombe. Each pitched one inning. Each gave up one hit. None gave up a run which was the key to Oakland hanging in for a chance to win the game.
The victory went to Daniel Coulombe (2-1) who was the pitcher of record in the ninth inning.
Casilla was used to pitch the seventh inning which was a bit of surprise. This does not mean that he has been demoted from the closer’s role.
Taylor Rogers takes the loss for the Twins. His record falls to 5-3 and he also records his third blown save of the season.
Minnesota used four pitchers in the game.
The same two teams meet on Sunday in Oakland at 1:05 p.m. RHP — “the ageless one” — Bartolo Colon (2-9, 8.00) is scheduled to go for the Twins, and if the reports are true, TBA will be on the mound for the Oakland Athletics in place of Sonny Gray.
Two notes from disabled list
Chad Pinder went 1-for-3 in a rehab start for Triple-A Nashville Saturday. He has played eight games for the Sounds and has gone 5-for-27 including one home run.
Kendall Graveman made a rehab start for the Sounds on Saturday. He pitched 4.2-innings allowing four hits, one run (earned) while walking two and striking out five.
What uniform will Sonny Gray be wearing on August 1st?
Who will the Athletics get in return for Gray?
What will happen with Yonder Alonso?
Should Jed Lowrie and Rajai Davis have their bags packed?
Is Khris Davis untouchable?
Are the Oakland Athletics really in a true rebuilding mode?
Get the answers to these questions and more on this special edition of the Oakland A’s Podcast which will focus on the MLB trade deadline. The Athletics are definitely sellers at this point and their prize player is pitcher Sonny Gray. Many teams want him, but who will be willing to step up and pay the price the A’s are going to want for Gray?
Charlie O welcomes Melissa Lockard to the podcast to discuss all things trade deadline. Melissa is the publisher and editor of OaklandClubhouse.com and a regular contributor to FanRagSports.com on the latest news relating to the Athletics. Melissa also spends a great deal of time reporting on the A’s minor league organization, so she knows the strengths and weaknesses of the system as well as what the needs are for the future.
This podcast will not waste your time. It’s 19-minutes and 17-seconds of pure content. They jump into the questions and get to the heart of the story.
Like Dave, Ricky, Jose, Mark and Eck, the young A’s weren’t bad early, then seized control late, both at the plate and on the mound in Chicago on Sunday.
Throwback uniforms prompted the 1990 nostalgia but the improving A’s provided the thump in Oakland’s 5-3 win over the White Sox.
The A’s completed the sweep with Sonny Gray starting and allowing just four hits, and Santiago Casilla earning the save despite allowing a solo shot to Melky Cabrera. Offensively, the A’s got home runs from Matt Joyce and Adam Rosales, and two hits from four consecutive hitters near the top of their starting lineup led by Franklin Barreto.
The A’s swept on the road for the first time since September, and significantly increased their road win total, which was only nine coming into the weekend. What’s more, the post midseason purge A’s looked improved in the process.
“We really put together three solid games here,” said Gray, who pitched seven innings, struck out seven, walked one. “We got big hits when we needed to, our starting pitching was really good, and our bullpen was really good. Hopefully that’s something we can continue to do.”
Gray’s fifth consecutive start of at least five innings, with at least five strikeouts naturally increases his trade value as a talented, trade-deadline added starter for a club with postseason aspirations, but at what return? The resurgent A’s, winners of seven of their last 11, all of a sudden have plenty of emerging players, but don’t necessarily have another Gray. Could they betray their familiar pattern, and lock Gray up to a pricey deal instead?
Maybe, given what the team’s shown lately.
Barreto capped an impressive beginning to his big league career with two knocks, a run scored, and a loud out on his final at-bat, 390-foot ride to the centerfield warning track that was snagged by Adam Engel. Barreto’s drive came off a Chris Beck sinker, and had the reliever thinking the worst off the swing of the bat.
The conclusion? Barreto, in only his second big-league start, can swing it. His presence in A’s lineups of the near future feels foregone after his impressive debut.
“We do like the fact that he’s up here and he’s getting a chance at the big leagues, getting a taste of this,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Derek Holland pitched into the seventh inning with a 2-0 White Sox lead, but the A’s rallied with a single run in the seventh, two in the eighth, and two more in the ninth.
Barreto’s leadoff single in the eighth preceded RBI singles by Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso, giving the A’s their first lead. In the ninth, Joyce and Rosales provided cushion with consecutive home runs. The A’s rally marked the first time the White Sox had blown a lead in the seventh inning or later this season.
With the loss, the White Sox have dropped six of seven, and are a season-worst 10 games under .500.
The A’s allowed just five runs in the three-game sweep. On Sunday, they produced a rare, errorless effort as well, while Chicago’s Matt Davidson’s throwing error boosted Oakland’s two-run eighth inning.
On Tuesday, the A’s get another shot at AL leader Houston at Minute Maid Park. Sean Manaea gets the start, looking for his seventh win.
No, you did not read the headline wrong. The Oakland Athletics beat the White Sox 10-2 on Saturday and have now won back-to-back games on the road in Chicago. This A’s team had won just nine game on the road this season going into the series with the Chisox. They are now 11-25 on the road after winning on Friday and Saturday. Winning on the road is key for the A’s to even their record at .500 which is the most important goal for this team right now.
This was a game of record setting first
Three Oakland A’s rookies hit their first major league home run in this game. That had never happened in Major League history.
Matt Olson hit his first career home run in the top of the first inning off the very tough veteran pitcher James Shields. Matt Joyce was on base so the HR was a two-run shot. Olson was not done. He hit another two-run round-tripper in the top of the seventh off Jake Petricka. Olson finished the game going 2-for-3 with four RBI and two walks.
Rookie center fielder Jaycob Brugman stepped in the batter’s box to face Shields in the top of the second inning with one out and the bases empty. Brugman hit the ball over the wall in right center field for his first career home.
Franklin Barreto — the A’s number one rated minor league prospect — played for the Nashville Sounds in Oklahoma City on Friday night. After the game, he was told to report to the big club in Chicago. Barreto was initially told he would not play on Saturday. That situation changed and he was inserted into the starting lineup. In the third inning Barreto hit a one out, two-run home run off James Shields for his first major league hit and home run. Barreto finished the day going 2-for-5.
There was one more first in the game. Starting pitcher Daniel Gossett recorded the first win of his career in the contest. Gossett (1-2) pitched 6.0-innings giving up two runs (no earned runs). He struck five while walking just one White Sox batter. He threw 93 pitches — 64 strikes.
Every batter in the A’s lineup recorded a hit
The A’s pulled off a rare feat on Saturday when every player in the lineup picked up a hit. They scored 10 runs on 15 hits that included four home runs (all hit by rookies) and one double. They drew six walks. Oakland left 13 runners on base and was 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position as a team.
Catcher Bruce Maxwell who was called back to the majors when Stephen Vogt was DFA’d went 3-for-5 and scored two runs in the game. He also did another fine job in handling the pitchers in the game.
The number nine hitter — Adam Rosales — had a big day at the plate. Rosales went 2-for-5, scored two runs and had one RBI for the A’s.
Oakland relievers do their job
A trio of A’s relievers each worked one inning after Gossett was done for the day. Daniel Coulombe, John Axford and Michael Brady combined to hold the Chisox to no runs on no hits in final three frames. In fact, they did not allow a base runner in their relief efforts.
There was a negative — three Oakland errors
The A’s did commit three errors in the game. They were very fortunate that they happened in a game where they scored 10 runs and could compensate for them.
Errors were charged to Barreto (1, fielding), Rosales (6, fielding) and Healy (13, throwing).
The White Sox committed two miscues of their own on defense.
James Shields took the loss and his record drops to 1-1.
Alen Hanson had the only multi-hit game for the White Sox going 2-for-4.
Todd Frazier and manager Rick Renteria were ejected from the game in the seventh inning for arguing with the umpires after a video review went against the Sox. It was the first ejection Frazier’s career.
A’s go for the sweep on Sunday
Sonny Gray (2-3, 4.84) will take the ball for A’s on Sunday. Gray lost his last start on Wednesday when he gave up five runs on seven hits to the red hot Houston Astros.
LHP Derek Holland (5-7, 4.48) will go to the hill for the White Sox. Holland also made his last start on Wednesday and he lost that game to the Minnesota Twins. The Twins roughed him up for seven runs on nine hit in just 2.2-innings.
The Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays honored the memory of the great Ernie Banks today by playing two the old fashion way. The teams played a true doubleheader where fans were able to watch two games for the price of one.
There are many baseball people who believe that having more doubleheaders would be beneficial for the game because it would help to shorten the season. Angels manager Mike Scioscia likes the idea of shortening the season to 154 games with one doubleheader per month scheduled for every team. “I would trade anything to get this game more seasonal and finish in October,” said Scioscia back in 2015.
Even if Major League Baseball decided to implement a schedule that included six doubleheaders per each season, most the twinbills would not be tradition two-for-one ticket games. In today’s sports economy, MLB owners would almost certainly insist on “day-night” doubleheaders where the stadiums are cleared and tickets must be purchased for each game.
So much for the romantic idea of returning to the days of Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and “Let’s play two!”.
Speaking of Mr. Cub – at the end of this story there will be an answer to a trivia question about playing two games on one day for you. How many doubleheaders did Ernie Banks play in both games of during his 19-year major league career?
The Rays used game one as a “throwback game” donning uniforms from their first year in Tampa Bay for the contest. The Athletics were looking to bounce back after 13-4 crushing loss that they suffered on Friday night.
Oakland entered the game with an 8-21 road record – the second worst in the major leagues. If the A’s are to ever even their record at .500 to have a chance making a run for a Wild Card spot, they have to start winning more games on the road.
That did not happen in game one on Saturday.
The A’s had their number one starter in Sonny Gray on the mound in the opening game. Gray went 6.0-innings giving up five runs but only two were earned due to two errors committed by the Athletics. Gray actually committed one of the errors himself on an errant throw to first base. The Rays collected nine hits off Gray while he struck out 10 and walked just one batter. He did not figure into the decision.
Erasmo Ramirez started for the Rays and he also struggled in his outing. He lasted 5.1-innings allowing three runs (all earned) on 10 hits. Ramirez struck out six and walked one. It was also a no-decision game for him.
Even though they took a 3-0 lead in the top of the second, the A’s trailed the Rays 5-4 as they headed to the top of the ninth. Khris Davis led off the ninth by striking out. Yonder Alonso then hit his 11th double of the season off reliever Alex Colome. Rajai Davis came in as a Pinch-runner for Alonso. DH Ryon Healy hit a double (16) to left field that drove Davis home to tie the game at 5-5. The inning would end with the potential go ahead run in Healy stranded at third base.
Ryan Madson set the Rays down in order in the bottom of the ninth and it was on to extra innings.
Tampa Bay brought in reliever Austin Pruitt to face Oakland in the top of the 10th. He kept the A’s from scoring and the game remained tied as it went to the bottom of the 10th.
Liam Hendriks took the ball for the A’s and gave up a single to the Rays leadoff hitter – Peter Bourjos. With Evan Longoria at bat, Hendriks threw a wild pitch that moved Bourjos to second. Longoria then hit a single to left that drove Bourjos home to score the winning run. The Rays won the game 6-5.
The good news was the A’s had only 45 minutes to think about the loss because they would have been deeply distressed by some of the numbers. They committed two errors. Errors have been the bane of this team’s existence. The A’s had 16 hits to go with two walks and left 13 men of base. The loss dropped their road record to 8-22 for the year.
The good news was game two was less than hour away from first pitch.
Jaycob Brugman who was held hitless in his firs professional game on Friday night went 2-for-4 with a walk in this game. Joyce, Lowrie, Davis, Alonso and Healy also had a multi-hit games in the opener.
The bad news was the A’s lost the first game. The good news was they had the very hot Sean Manaea on the mound for game number two. The key question was would the A’s be able to provide the run support Manaea would need win the game.
Manaea was definitely up to the task. He put in a quality start working 7.0-innings giving up two runs (both earned) on six hits (one home run). The lefty struck out five and walked just two Rays. Manaea earned the win and his record improved to 6-3 for 2017.
Manaea also received the run support that he needed. The A’s scored their first run in the first inning and they would never trail in the game. They scored another run in the second, one in the sixth, three in seventh and one more run in the ninth inning.
Six of the Oakland batters had a multi-hit game. Yonder Alonso went 4-for-5 with run scored and an RBI in the game. Khris Davis was 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Ryon Healy went 2-for-5 hitting his 14th home run of the season to go with two runs scored. Chad Pinder had a 2-for-5 day with a home run (8). Josh Phegley also had a 2-for-5 game hitting his third home run of the season. Jaycob Brugman stayed hot as he went 2-for-3 with two RBI in game two.
The Rays scored two runs on six hits.
The A’s road record improved to 9-22. Oakland remains in last place in the American League West with a record of 27-35, 16.5 games back of Houston and two games back of fourth place Texas.
The A’s and Rays wrap up the three day – four game series on Sunday. Jesse Hahn (2-4, 3.40) will start for Oakland while Tampa Bay will counter with Chris Archer (4-4, 3.65). The first pitch is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. PDT.
Oh yes, the answer to our Ernie Banks question
Ernie Banks played in both games of 318 doubleheaders over 19-years in the major leagues. No wonder he said, “Let’s play two!”
“That’s American League baseball. A lead is never safe because they’re used to coming back and having big innings because the offensive clubs hit the ball out of the ballpark. We didn’t walk guys to get to that situation, they hit us,” opined Nationals manager Dusty Baker after the game.
I have the greatest of respect for Dusty Baker who I have covered as a manager since he was the skipper of the San Francisco Giants, but I have to disagree with him on his analysis of the game in Oakland on Sunday.
What the Nationals saw as they escaped with an 11-10 win in the third and final game of this interleague series match up was not American League baseball, it was Oakland Athletics’ baseball at home on Rickey Henderson Field. This 2017 A’s team loves to play at home in Oakland. At home they are tenacious, fierce and tough to beat which is why they are 16-12 in Oakland (on the road they are a different team, 8-20).
The second thing that Dusty Baker saw was a Nationals team that is now 35-20 on the season that had an 11-4 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning against the last place team in the American League West lose its focus as they were looking ahead to a series with the Dodgers that begins in L.A. on Monday. Not to take anything away from the A’s, but that comeback should have never happened.
This was really a tale of two different games:
The Pitching Duel
Both starting pitchers were strong in this game. Which may surprise you when you look at the score.
Sonny Gray worked seven strong innings. He finished giving up three runs (all earned) on four hits. He walked three while striking out six National hitters. Gray threw 103 pitches (63 strikes). Sonny Gray wound up with a no-decision despite the fact that he pitched well enough to get a win.
Washington starter Tanner Roark looked like he might wind up with a “CG” (complete game) with the way he was pitching. Roark was strong through seven innings but ran into trouble in the eighth. He finished going 7.2 innings giving up 4 runs (all earned) on five hits. He walked just one and struck out four A’s. Roark also pitched well enough to win but his bullpen really let him down, but he still wound up with his sixth win of the season.
Sonny Gray left the game with score tied 3-3 after seven complete innings.
Tanner Roark exited the game with two out in the bottom of the eighth with a 6-4 lead.
The relief pitching was a little scary
The A’s brought in Ryan Madson for the top of the eighth inning. Madson gave up three runs on just two hits including a three-run home run to Ryan Zimmerman (16). After the Zimmerman round-tripper, Madson induced Daniel Murphy to ground out. He was then replaced by Frankie Montas who caused Anthony Rendon to pop out to end the inning. Madson would take the loss in the game.
The 100+ mph throwing Montas came back for the ninth inning and got shelled by the Nats. Montas gave up five runs (all earned) on five hits including back-to-back home runs to Matt Wieters and Michael Taylor. Josh Smith had to be brought in to close out the ninth for Montas.
Koda Glover who was able to get Tanner Roark out of a jam in the bottom of the eighth inning returned in the bottom of the ninth. Glover gave up five runs (all earned) on four hits. Shawn Kelley was brought to replace Glover and he gave up a grand slam home run to Matt Joyce while also earning his fourth save of the season.
Yes, it was a weird game.
Stars on offense
Both teams had stars on offense. The A’s scored 10 runs on 10 hits while leaving two runners on base. The Nationals scored 11 runs on 11 hits leaving four runners on base. There were a total of five home runs hit in the game. There were also three doubles and one triple hit in the contest.
The Nationals were led on offense by designated hitter Ryan Zimmerman who went 3-for-5 on Sunday with three RBI and scoring two runs to go with his 16th home run of the season.
Washington shortstop Trea Turner had a 2-for-4 day with two runs scored and two RBI. Turner hit his third triple of the year off Sonny Gray.
Catcher Matt Wieters went 2-for-3 scoring two runs and posting two RBI. Wieters hit his fifth homer of the year off Montas in the ninth inning.
The Nats number nine hitter – Michael Taylor – had a day every number nine batter would like to have any day. Taylor recorded a 2-for-4 day with two runs scored and one RBI. Taylor also hit his sixth home run of the season off Montas in the ninth inning of the game.
The Athletics Khris Davis had a day he would have liked to have had on Saturday – his bobblehead day. Davis went 3-for-4 scoring three runs with two RBI that included his 17th home run of the year and his sixth double.
Outfielder Matt Joyce posted four RBI and scored two runs while going 2-for-4 against the Nationals on Sunday. Joyce hit his seventh home run of the season in the A’s six-run ninth inning.
The A’s have three more games at home this week with the Toronto Blue Jays. The series begins on Monday night. The Blue Jays will send J.A. Happ to the hill in the first game of the series. He is 0-3 on the year with 4.50 ERA. The A’s will counter with lefty Sean Manaea who is 4-3 with a 3.91 ERA. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
OAKLAND – The slumping A’s could definitely use some sunshine these days, and they may have their sun back in Sonny Gray.
The 27-year-old righty recorded his first win of the 2017 season on Thursday night in the A’s 8-3 win over the Red Sox at the Coliseum, and he showed flashes of his former self, striking out eight batters in six innings. He threw 103 pitches, allowing four hits and three runs, two of which came in the first inning.
Gray retired 16 of his last 18 batters, and gave up just one hit after the first inning — a fourth inning home run by Mitch Moreland. But it was one of just a few blemishes in a much-needed resurgent start.
“Sonny was absolutely outstanding,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “He looked as good as I’ve seen him in a very, very long time. Had all four pitches working. Really put the ball where he wanted to, when he wanted to do. Had that swing and miss slider tonight that we all know he has. It was very refreshing to see that.”
Everything about Gray’s evening had to be refreshing for the A’s, who have seen their ace go MIA since 2015. Last season, injuries hampered Gray, who made just 22 starts, going 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA, more than 2.5 runs higher than his previous career high.
The disappointment continued into 2017, when Gray began the season on the disabled list with a lat strain. After making two rehab starts, he went winless in his first three appearances with the A’s, and entered Thursday facing a Boston team that was the lone American League team he had yet to beat in his career.
But on Thursday, the sun shone. The Sonny we love might be coming through, at long last.
He wasn’t Clayton Kershaw, but his mojo was back. Save for early first inning struggles, Gray was stellar against a strong Red Sox team that usually pummels A’s pitching and has beaten the A’s nine of the last 10 matchups. Gray had batters whiffing on his sinkers, fastballs, curveballs and changeups.
“It didn’t matter,” Vogt said.
Vogt, who has caught Gray since the pitcher’s rookie season in 2013, knows that when Gray is on, he’s making batters swing at air.
“When he’s punching people out, that’s when you know Sonny is Sonny,” Vogt said. “He’s an ace, and aces punch people out. That’s what he did tonight.”
Gray struck out six of the last 10 batters he faced, and prided himself on it after the game.
“My last start I struggled putting guys away,” he said. “That’s really been a focus for a while now. I feel like my stuff is getting better. My stuff is the best it’s been in … I can’t remember when.”
We haven’t seen this Sonny Gray in a couple of years, though manager Bob Melvin doesn’t think Gray has ever changed.
“Everyone’s going to have a tough year,” Melvin said on Gray’s 2016 campaign. “There were injuries involved in it. But the stuff is always there, and he’s quite the competitor. I don’t fall into that and say he’s not who he is anymore. One year is not going to get me off who I think he is.”
Melvin added that Gray is the “kind of starter who wants to factor in and get a decision,” and that Gray would be happy with getting the win on Thursday.
He was right. It was Gray’s first in nearly 10 months, but it’s not like he was counting.
“I don’t know how long it’s been,” Gray said. “As a pitcher, you want to win games. You want to start a game that you can let the team win. That’s the most important thing as a pitcher — is to win. It’s nice to get a win for sure. Hopefully I can put together some good starts from here.”
Through six innings on Saturday night, all the ominous signs, as well as the positive developments for the A’s didn’t seem to matter too much. Instead, the only things that seemed pertinent were the A’s maintained a two-run lead, and presumptive ace Sonny Gray pitched as he always does at Arlington, Texas, confidently and effectively, likely the precursor to a seventh consecutive win for the starting pitcher against the Rangers at their ballpark.
Then Gray departed, having thrown a season-high 106 pitches, and the bullpen entered, with disastrous results.
Nomar Mazara’s two-run double capped the Rangers’ four-run seventh inning, and they went on to defeat the A’s, 6-5, the second consecutive night the A’s saw their bullpen implode despite being handed a late-inning lead.
The Rangers’ rally netted them a fifth consecutive win, while the A’s fell back into the AL West cellar, nine games off the pace of the division-leading Astros. While the A’s weren’t derailed by poor defense, or a lack of clutch hitting, their frequent issues thus far this season, they saw their injury-ravished bullpen undo a third, consecutive encouraging outing by Gray, who departed leading 4-2.
“That’s what we expect out of him,” manager Bob Melvin said of Gray. “That’s what he expects out of himself. He left in a tight game, a low-scoring game, and we had a lead.”
Ryan Dull came out of the bullpen, and allowed three of the four batters he faced to reach base, two via walk. Liam Hendriks inherited Dull’s bases-loaded jam, and allowed a sharp single to Elvis Andrus through the left side of the infield. Hendriks had retired Andrus in all 12 previous encounters between the two.
Mazara’s ringing double, hit just beyond the glove of retreating left fielder Khris Davis, came next, plating two more, and giving the Rangers a lead they would not relinquish.
Until that point, stranding runners on base was a Rangers’ problem, thanks to Gray, not one for the A’s. Gray kept Texas batters frustrated by retiring nine of ten batters with runners in scoring position, only allowing an RBI single to Andrus, giving Texas a 1-0 in the third. Conversely, the A’s were 3 of 7 in those situations, and scored five runs, nice turnarounds for a club that ranks last in scoring in the American League, and last with runners in scoring position.
The A’s also got a 12th home run from club leader Yonder Alonso to narrow the Texas lead to 6-5 in the eighth. But in the ninth, Matt Bush earned his third save, striking out Trevor Plouffe and Bruce Maxwell, before retiring pinch hitter Stephen Vogt to end the game.
Kendall Graveman gets the ball on Sunday, entrusted with helping the A’s avoid a sweep. Former Athletic A.J Griffin goes for Texas, looking for a career-best, fifth consecutive win. Griffin shut out the Padres in his most recent outing.