A’s Improved? Not in 9-5 exhibition loss to the Giants at the Coliseum

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–Ken Waldichuk’s like a number of his Oakland teammates: his time is now whether he’s ready or not ready to shine.

After seven starts last season and Sunday’s rough outing against the Giants, Waldichuk appears to have a spot in the A’s starting rotation despite a 10.54 ERA this spring and five runs allowed in three plus innings work on Sunday.

Good thing manager Mark Kotsay is back for another round after 102 losses in 2022. He’s the unrepentant optimist.

“It wasn’t a successful year by any measure outside of the fact that there were some young players that got their opportunities,” Kotsay said. “Our expectation this year is we’re going to go compete and find ourselves in a position to hopefully add at the break and surprise people.

“There are players to be talked about that can establish themselves and have long careers as Oakland Athletics,” Kotsay said. “I think there’s some excitement.”

If Waldichuk is one of them, he’s going to have to establish pitch command. Hopefully, that’s sooner rather than later.

“I release the ball too far back and that’s when it starts spraying around,” Waldichuk said after surrendering a three-run homer to David Villar and walking four others.

The A’s got some similar love from Giants’ starter Alex Wood, who walked Esteury Ruiz and Seth Brown ahead of Tony Kemp’s game-tying double in the second inning. But the A’s offense went quiet after that; the Giants scored six, unanswered runs to lead 9-3 before the A’s got two solo shots in the ninth to gain respectability on the scoreboard.

The A’s scored just 568 runs in 2022, the second-fewest in the American League. In the off-season their roster needed a jolt. Instead they dealt offensive leader Sean Murphy and his 57 extra-base hits to Atlanta.

That means even more new faces in the A’s everyday lineup in 2023. Shea Langeliers is the headliner, and he should do well. Pablo Reyes and Carlos Perez, who’s hit 11 homers in limited time across four big-league seasons, might struggle. Reyes and Perez homered in the ninth inning Sunday, but they combined to hit just one other home run this spring.

Kemp, Seth Brown and shortstop Nick Allen return but that trio might not be enough to anchor a credible offense. Again, Kotsay preaches optimism.

“We’d love the opportunity to fill this place up,” Kotsay said. “There’s no better place to play in front of a full stadium than the Oakland Coliseum. I know that. I’ve experienced that.”

Road Relevant: A’s lose 4-3 in Toronto, fall short of winning road trip to begin season

By Morris Phillips

The A’s weren’t going to be satisfied with a .500 road trip to start the season. But after a grueling 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays, that’s what they got.

Finishing a senses-jarring, first ten games of the season with a 5-5 record isn’t earth shattering, but it’s an incredible, initial statement for the new-look A’s.

“I couldn’t be happier with the club’s energy, effort level and fight through these 10 days,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “The record may not reflect, right now, how well I feel we played on this road trip.”

Alex Manoah went six innings against Oakland, and picked up the win. The replacement guy for Toronto limited the A’s to four hits and two walks, and departed with a two-run lead. Manoah appearances have a winning effect on his club, the Blue Jays have won his last 10 starts.

“I want those guys to know that I’m giving it my all every time,” Manoah said. “I think they kind of play off that energy.”

The A’s trailed 3-0 and 4-2, but got a sacrifice fly from Seth Brown in the eighth to climb within 4-3, but they could get any closer in the ninth, making for a lengthier flight home ahead of Monday’s home opener against the Orioles at 6:40pm.

Lourdes Gurriel led the hosts with a double, single and sacrifice fly to boost a lineup that saw Vladimir Guerrero Jr. go 0 for 4.

“It’s pretty big that he gets hot,” manager Charlie Montoyo said of Gurriel. “It’s been amazing what he’s doing right now.

“Right now, he’s doing the job to make sure Vladdy sees some pitches.”

Adam Oller was lifted in the second inning in his Major League debut last Tuesday. He responded on Sunday, allowing three runs and five hits before being lifted by Kotsay in the fourth.

The 27-year old cited lack of command with breaking pitches, but acknowledged his growth as well, this time he kept the A’s attached.

Stephen Vogt hit his first home run of the season and Sean Murphy’s sacrifice fly to center field scored Cristian Pache from third base for two A’s runs.

“They were down early. We fought back. We grinded out at-bats,” Kotsay continued. “The energy was still really good for the end of a 10-day road trip. You’d look for that day off tomorrow, but I think the energy will be there tomorrow with opening day and going home.”

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast: Maddon excited to face his old team Cubs; Will Matz meet the Mets; plus more

photo Angels manager Joe Maddon

On That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast:

#1 What’s it like for former Chicago Cub manager Joe Maddon to play against his former team the Cubs as Angels manager.

#2 What does it say for the Angels organization formerly working in Anaheim picking up a manager like Joe Maddon.

#3 The New York Mets are inquiring about Steven Matz of the New York Yankees. Matz has a 4.05 ERA over the last four seasons and could turn free agent what are the Mets chances of getting Matz?

#4 The Oakland A’s Jesus Luzardo threw for three innings on Sunday in his second start this spring. Luzardo pitched for the Las Vegas Aviators last season in seven starts and had an ERA of 3.19.

#5 A’s manager Bob Melvin says that Tony Kemp may not end up being the A’s lead off hitter but he’s been getting some good at bats, Kemp hit a double and went 8-18 and Melvin says that Kemp is seeing left handed pitching pretty good too.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for A’s baseball on KIQI 1010 San Francisco hear all A’s home games on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Amaury does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com