A’s walk-off wonders once again in 5-4 win over the Angels

By Morris Phillips

The A’s game notes made it very clear: the Angels weren’t likely to prevail despite being locked up with Oakland, tied 4-4 in the late innings on Sunday.

And all that statistical momentum built up by the first-place A’s didn’t even take account how poor the Angels have been in close games this season. Accordingly, Mark Canha’s sacrifice fly in the 10th inning chased home Franklin Barreto in the A’s 5-4 win at the Coliseum.

“We’ve lost that game five times this year, maybe six,” said Angels’ manager Joe Maddon. “We’ve had leads and gave them up. And I am not banging on the pitching. Overall, we pitched pretty well today. It sticks in my mind losing some games with leads late. We just have to be better at that.”

The A’s became the first American League team to 20 wins, and at 20-9, their 4 1/2 game lead over the Astros in the division looms large in a shortened, 60-game regular season. The visitors fell to 9-20, as 2020 is trending toward a major disappointment for the high-priced Angels.

The game notes produced by the perpetually tuned-in Mike Selleck before each A’s game are always filled with statistics, numerical trends and historical perspective. But when the A’s are cooking, as they are now with the second-best record in baseball, the notes can be downright intimidating for advance scouts and opposing managers.

The A’s are experiencing one of their five best starts to a season in their East Bay history, and late game proficiency and heroics are at the root of it all. The A’s are 5-0 in extra innings after Sunday, and they’ve hit 15 homers in the seventh inning or later, third best in MLB. Add to that, the Oakland bullpen, with the trio of Jake Diekman, Joakim Soria and Liam Hendriks leading the way, has 10 saves so far this month, already their largest total in August in the last 15 seasons.

Want more? The A’s are 13-4 in their home ballpark, and one of two teams (Braves) that haven’t lost this season on a Sunday, a record that improved to 5-0 on Sunday.

So when the A’s rid themselves of Angels’ starter Dylan Bundy, trailing just 4-3 in the sixth, things figured to get better in a hurry. Against the beleaguered Angels bullpen, they did.

Two pitches in, Stephen Piscotty’s RBI single off reliever Mike Mayers pulled the A’s even.

Earlier the Angels got a big three-run homer from Shohei Ohtani, who has struggled with his bat ever since he was shut down earlier this month from pitching due to forearm tightness. But their 4-2 lead would stagnant as Mike Trout, whom Angels beat writers tweeted hasn’t looked like himself lately, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts while leadoff hitter David Fletcher and rookie number seven-hitter Jo Adell went 0 for 4 and 0 for 5 with three strikeouts respectively.

The A’s bullpen shut the door with 5 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Frankie Montas as J.B. Wendelken, followed by the previously mentioned trio, allowed just two singles.

Hendriks managed the greater degree of difficulty in the 10th, retiring Jason Castro, Andrelton Simmons and Fletcher without letting placed baserunner Adell advance.

“They keep shutting the door with that new extra-inning rule,” Canha said of the bullpen. “When you do that, it’s huge. Going into the bottom half just having to score one takes pressure off the offense and makes the job a little bit easier.”

The A’s won for the first time without the benefit of a home run. They had homered at least once in 23 of their first 28 games. Instead, they went small–and clutch–with four, two-out RBI and five knocks with a runner in scoring position.

The A’s open a four-game set in Texas on Monday, the first leg of a 10-game trip that continues through Houston and Seattle.

No Doubt Clout: A’s sweep the Giants, win 15-3 with thunderous home run display

By Morris Phillips

Normally, a trip to Oracle Park doesn’t prompt an offensive breakout. But these aren’t normal times: from protective masks, empty stadiums to overnight thunderstorms by the Bay, baseball in 2020 has a different rhythm.

The A’s undoubtedly have caught that rhythm. And they’re not a normal team, in fact, through 22 games of a two-month season, they’re exceptional.

Friday and Saturday, the A’s were merely good when they absolutely had to be, winning with a pair of epic, ninth inning rallies. On Sunday, they were fabulous from first pitch to last, drubbing the Giants 15-3 behind 17 hits, nine of which went for extra bases including a pair of massive homers.

“For a while we were winning close games, getting big hits and the pitching was ruling the day,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It seems the bats have woken up some.”

Melvin said woken, Oakland fans might say hella woke after Chad Pinder–first pitch swinging in a pinch-hitting role–touched off a three-homer, fifth inning with a majestic bomb that left the park traveling at 112 mph.

The reaction from the Oakland dugout to the crack of the bat reverberating through a near-silent ballpark? Priceless.

The cheers from Pinder’s fast reacting teammates almost seem verbalized, as in “I’ve seen home runs, but not like this..”

Pinder entered a 2-2 game, as Giants’ starter Logan Webb departed, and manager Gabe Kapler summoned lefty reliever Wandy Peralta to face Tony Kemp. Melvin played a hunch that the righty-hitting Pinder could incite a rally. The manager’s intuition–as often happens with hot clubs–was spot on. Pinder’s two-run shot led to a nine-run outburst that put the game away.

After Pinder struck, Mark Canha tripled home two runs, Stephen Piscotty hit a three-run shot, and Marcus Semien add a two-run blast. Incredibly, Piscotty’s homer measured thirty feet further than Pinder’s, and one-hopped the bleachers’ concourse.

“Not even in batting practice have I seen a ball go up there,” Melvin said afterwards via Zoom chat. “It looked like it was headed for the glove (yes, the giant-sized, leather glove above the concourse).”

Mike Fiers went six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs, and picked up the win. His 91-pitch effort was his lengthiest to date.

The A’s have won 13 of 15 after a 2-4 start to the season. Their 16-6 record is the best in the Majors.

Are they the best team in baseball? Maybe, maybe not, but they certainly looked like it in sweeping the Giants.

NOTES: Through 22 games, the A’s are a statistical conundrum that makes perfect sense when combined with these two facts: they don’t have any significant injuries, and after winning 95 games in back-to-back seasons with that group returning almost intact, they have more confidence-building experience than their opponents, especially on offense.

When have the A’s been able to say either of those two statements?

Now the conundrum: the A’s entered Sunday with a .219 team batting average, which ranked them 14th in the American League, ahead of only Cleveland (.196!!). But the A’s have drawn 92 walks (3rd in the AL), and been hit by a pitch 17 times (1st).

A dramatic juxtaposition indeed, the walks and hit batters keep the A’s above water despite their anemic batting average. But here’s an even more startling statistical twist.

The A’s have struck out 221 times in 22 games, more than 10 times a game, and the second most in baseball behind only the Braves, who struck out 16 times in their 4-0 win over Miami on Sunday.

Balancing those strikeouts? The A’s have hit 35 home runs, more than three for every two games played, a high number of which have come late in games to either tie, lead or win.

And making all those disparate offensive numbers sing? The A’s pitching staff has compiled a 3.49 ERA, fifth best in baseball, and a number almost a full run lower than the MLB average (4.41). When you have to wait a full nine innings for an offense to kick in, you need a pitching staff that keeps you in the game. The A’s staff does that.

A’s-Giants series numbers for the A’s offensively: 29 strikeouts (14 on Saturday), 35 hits (17 on Sunday), nine home runs (multiple homers in an inning, once in each of the three games), 15 walks (five off starter Logan Webb, who departed in the fifth inning on Sunday).

 

 

 

 

 

The losing streak is over as the A’s beat the M’s 3-2 in extra innings

by Charlie O. Mallonee

With one out in the top of the 10th inning and Tony Kemp at second base as the new extra-innings rules require, pinch hitter Robbie Grossman stepped into the batters’ box to face Seattle reliever, Dan Altavilla.

Grossman hit a 2-1 slider into right-center field that drove Kemp home to score the go-ahead run for the Athletics. Grossman motored all the way to third base when center fielder Kyle Lewis threw up his hands that the ball was stuck under the wall. After an umpire review of the ground rules, Grossman was sent back to second base and his hit was scored as an RBI-double.

The bottom of the 10th would be a test

The A’s sent Liam Hendricks to the mound to close out the game and get the win for Oakland. The Mariners Shed Long started the inning at second base. Hendricks set the side down in order to finish the game by striking out J.P. Crawford.

Hendricks picked up his second save of the season and has an ERA of 2.70.

Oakland pitching was strong

Mike Fiers (0-0, 5.40) made his second start of the season. Fiers worked 6.0 innings giving up two runs (both earned) off four hits. He struck out three and walked just one batter. Fiers threw 79 pitches (48 strikes). It was exactly the kind of starting effort the A’s needed.

The Oakland relievers were outstanding on Saturday night. Jake Diekman and Yusmeiro Petit both worked a perfect inning of relief each.

Joakim Soria worked himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth inning and wound up picking up his first win of the season.

The A’s found some hits in their bats

The key hit was Grossman’s pinch-hit RBI double that drove home the winning run for the A’s. The Mariners defense had to play Grossman straight away because of his power which gave him some open alleys to place the ball. It was Grossman’s second double of the season. He is now 7-for-20 at the plate.

Stephen Piscotty went 2-for-4 in the game and raised his batting average to .190. The A’s really need Piscotty to get going as he usually provides some much-needed punch for the Oakland offense.

Mark Canha hit a double in the contest and raised his average to .273. The A’s need Canha’s clutch hitting to put them back into the playoff race.

Tied for first place

The victory on Saturday night raised the A’s record to 4-4. That puts them into a tie for first place in AL West with the Houston Astros. The 60-game streak is certainly going to interesting.

Up next

The A’s and Mariners play game three of this four-game wrap-around series on Sunday afternoon.

The A’s will send RHP Chris Bassitt to the hill to start the game. This will be his second start of the season. Bassitt earned a no-decision in his first start of the year.

The Mariners will counter with RHP Kendall Graveman who is 0-1 so far this season. Graveman lasted just four innings in his last start and currently has a 13.50 ERA.

 

No power, no pitching, no win for the A’s in Seattle

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics (3-4) suffered their third consecutive loss on Friday night in Seattle as the Mariners won the opening game of the four-game wrap-around series 5-3. For the Mariners (4-4), it was their third consecutive victory.

Manaea was no mystery

Sean Manaea (0-2, 7.00) made his second start of the accelerated season and the results were less than spectacular. Manaea lasted just 4.1 innings allowing five runs (3 earned) on six hits while striking out four hitters.

Manaea’s ERA currently sits at 7.00 which is the kind of number that gets you sent to Triple-A or released in the normal baseball universe. In 2020, you might expect that two poor starting performances could mean a trip to San Jose to workout with the “taxi squad”, but that is not going to happen. With A.J. Puk on the Injured List, no front line starter is going to be sent anywhere.

Manaea is known as being a tenacious worker who will do everything he can do to get his “mojo” back on the mound. The fear in a situation like this is that it could be something physically wrong and not just something wrong with his pitching motion. The A’s have not given any indication that they think Manaea has any type of potential injury problem.

The bottom line is the A’s need Manaea to find a way to win games and win them right now. Each loss in this shortened season equals 2.7 losses. That means his two losses are the equivalent of 5.4 losses in a 162-game season. That many consecutive losses would cause major panic in the front office of any major league club.

The A’s need Manaea to find a way to get a win in his next start if they are to stay competitive for a playoff spot.

Three hits will not get it done

The A’s managed to collect only three hits in the game on Friday night in Seattle. Marcus Semien hit his first triple of the season in the top the eighth inning that drove in two runs for Oakland. Semien now has a six-game hitting streak and is batting .280 in those games.

Ramon Laureano hit his second double of the year in the game and Stephen Piscotty hit a single that eventually allowed him to score on Semien’s triple.

Laureano did hit a Sacrifice Fly that produced the A’s third and final run of the contest.

Oakland left four men on base. They went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and they left two runners in scoring position with two out.

For a team that is supposed to be known for its power, the A’s are experiencing a real power drought.

Walker was the Mariners star of the game

Taijuan Walker (1-1, 4.35) made his second start of the season for Seattle on Friday night and he was spectacular. Walker worked seven scoreless innings allowing only one hit and two walks while striking out eight Oakland hitters. He struck out the side in the fifth inning.

Taylor Walker picked up his second save of the young season in the game.

Seattle had a good night at the plate

J.P. Crawford went 2-for-4 and two runs on Friday night. He now has a five-game hitting streak with multiple hits in his last three games.

Kyle Lewis extended his hitting streak to eight games by going 2-for-4 and scoring a run in the win over the A’s.

Kyle Seager hit his fourth double of the season in the fourth inning which drove in two runs. It was his fifth extra-base hit of the season.

Up next

The first pitch for game two of the series is scheduled for 6:10 PM on Saturday night. The A’s will send RHP Mike Fiers (0-0, 9.00) to the mound to face off against the Mariners LHP Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 13.50).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Jerry Feitelberg: After 10 days on the road, A’s host Astros on Thursday night

Photo credit: athleticsnation.com

On the A’s podcast with Jerry Feitelberg:

#1 Stephen Piscotty has been out with the flu and had an injury earlier this season. How important is it to have him back in right field and back in the lineup?

#2 A’s second baseman Jurickson Profar continues to struggle with the glove and the A’s have called up minor leaguer Corban Joseph. Joseph was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas. Joseph hit .371, an OPS of 1.006, 13 homers, 73 RBIs, 63 runs in 381 at-bats.

#3 The A’s started Chad Pinder at second on Tuesday night against the Giants’ Pinder, whose been clutch in late innings, and wasn’t able to help the A’s overcome a one-run deficit. He struck out four times and was 0-4 against the Giants at the plate.

#4 A’s pitcher Sean Manaea is a work in progress, going 5 2/3 innings against in rehab at Triple-A Las Vegas in the game. He gave up a run and had 10 strikeouts and A’s manager Bob Melvin is anxious to get him back.

#5 The A’s host the Houston Astros on Thursday night. It’s the A’s first time back home after a 10-day road trip. The Astros, who lead the AL West will start Aaron Sanchez (5-14, 5.60 ERA) and for the A’s Mike Fiers (11-3, 3.30 ERA).

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

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

Cards 1
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.

Oakland A’s podcast with Joey Friedman: Piscotty working on a come back rehabbing in Vegas; Canha filling just fine in right field; plus more

mercurynews.com file photo: Stephen Piscotty #25 is helped off the field by by manager Bob Melvin #6 and Matt Chapman #26 of the Oakland Athletics after he injured his right leg as he avoids the tag by Luis Rengifo #4 of the Los Angeles Angels sliding into second base in the sixth inning of the game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 29, 2019

On the A’s podcast with Joey:

#1 A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty who has been out for a month due to a sprained knee who injured himself on June 29th in Anaheim is not too sure when he’ll be back but has been rehabbing.

#2 Piscotty will be joining the Las Vegas Aviators the A’s Triple A affiliate for rehab the Aviators will be using Piscotty as a designated hitter in his first game back and as an outfielder in his second game back.

#3 The A’s Mark Canha has started in right field in 18 of his last 20 games during Piscotty’s absence Canha has hit 18-68 for average .265 and on base percentage of .375.

#4 The A’s opened up Mount Davis for fireworks night on Saturday night sections 335-355 are obstructed views of the outfield but the tickets for those locations are half off.

#5 Starting pitchers for Sunday’s game at the Coliseum for the Texas Rangers Pedro Payano (1-0 ERA 1.50) for the A’s Mike Fiers (9-3 ERA 3.57).

Joey Friedman does the A’s podcasts each Sunday at http://www.sportsrasdioservice.com

MLB podcast with Daniel Dullum: M’s fire sale comes early, Encarnación dealt to Yankees; Ortiz will recover, but a look at the damage; plus more

photo from seattlepi.com: Former Seattle Mariners’ slugger Edwin Encarnacion, right, hits a two-run home run as Los Angeles Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy watches during the seventh inning of a baseball game Sunday, June 9, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif.

On the MLB podcast with Daniel:

1 Seattle trades AL home run leader Edwin Encarnación to Yankees

2 Big Papi’s surgeons reveal the extent of damage from gunshots

3 A’s rout Mariners 11-2; A’s Stephen Piscotty has surgery for melanoma

4 Braves’ Sean Newcomb OK after taking a 102-mph liner to the head

5 Bambino’s game-worn jersey sets record: $5.64 million at auction

6 Mitch Garver is the fifth player in Twins history to break a 0-0 tie with a home run in the eighth inning or later

Daniel Dullum does the MLB podcasts each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com