Athletics

A's 10th walk-off win defeats Yankees

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A's 10th walk-off win defeats Yankees

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OAKLAND -- When Ryan Cook gave up the game-tying home run in the ninth inning to Robinson Cano, in the back of Josh Reddick's mind he must have been thinking about getting the whipped cream ready. That is how confident this bunch of A's players have become.The A's 10 walk-off wins lead Major League Baseball. If that figure isn't absurd enough, the fact that it is a different A's player each time out that ends up the walk-off hero is. "It means we are not relying on one person in the lineup," Josh Reddick said. "I enjoy it, I get to pie somebody different every night."This time it was Brandon Moss on the receiving end of two pies. He smacked a game winning single to drive in Yoenis Cespedes in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Yankees 3-2. "That's the way we're built," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We have to get contributions from a lot of people. Certainly Reddick and Cespedes always seem to be in the middle of everything Is this Moss' first walk-off too? Is this 10? There you have it." When the manager is even in disbelief, you know you have something interesting going on. Defeating the Yankees is no small feat for the A's. They had a nine-game losing streak to New York entering this series. This time around the A's have guaranteed at worst a series split. "We may not have the name and we may not make the money but we're all at the same level," Moss said with dried whipped cream still on his undershirt. "Once you start believing, you show up at the ballpark with a different attitude." The A's wouldn't have been in position for the late-inning heroics without the pitching performance of rookie starting pitcher Tommy Milone. He threw first pitch strikes to 23 of the 26 batters he faced and struck out a career-high 10 batters. "It's pretty exciting. It's not something I go out there and try to do," Milone said. "I don't try to strike people out, when I go out there I just try to make quality pitches and I felt like from pitch number one I was in the zone."Milone's changeup had Yankees hitters so out of sorts that his fastball would paralyze them at the plate. His 10 strikeouts matched the best mark by an A's rookie pitcher against the Yankees since Bobby Witt did in in 1993. For the second night in a row the A's threw a rookie starting pitcher out there against the vaunted Bronx Bombers, and for the second night in a row the A's starting pitchers didn't allow a single walk. The pitching and offense are clicking for the A's."It means we are playing well and confident at this point," Melvin said. "Coming in we knew this was going to be a good challenge."Cespedes went 4 for 5 extending his hitting streak to a career-high eight games. He is now batting .304 this season. Reddick went three for five with two doubles. He was also a difference maker in the field. He threw out Mark Teixeira easily as he tried to advance from first to third on a single in the fourth inning. It was his American League-tying ninth outfield assist -- all of which have come while playing in right field.The A's are now 12-2 in July which is the best in the majors and are five games over .500 for the first time since April 17, 2010. NOTES: On all 10 walk-offs Josh Reddick has been ready with the post game pie. He divulged a little secret to the us after the game."We have them stocked up downstairs," Reddick said. "The concession guys really kicked in and and jumped on board with it. And they have it out ready when the ninth inning rolls around." As part of the "Walk-off Hero" program Budweiser is donating 5,000 to Folds of Honor for every A's walk-off win this season. I am not sure Budweiser knows what they got themselves into. They are already in the hole 50,000. The Folds of Honor Foundation provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children and spouses of military service men and women killed or disabled while serving our country.

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

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AP

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”

Ouch.

Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

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USATSI

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.