Athletics

ALDS Game 4: Key Matchups

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ALDS Game 4: Key Matchups

OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics are still playing with their backs against the wall. A Game Four win keeps their season alive and puts the pressure on Detroit to close it out in a must-win Game Five in front of a sell-out Oakland crowd. Facing elimination, the A's are sticking with their one game at a time approach. Oakland's win on Tuesday night was their first over the Detroit Tigers in the postseason since 1972. Here are the key match ups to keep an eye on in this game.
Key Match Ups:Hostile Territory: The A's and Tigers both complimented the crowd at the Oakland Coliseum after Game Three. They were crazy loud from the first pitch to the final out. The fans will need to continue to swing the momentum in the A's favor with their energy. Detroit was the only American League team to make the postseason with a losing road record. They were 38-43 away from Comerica Park this season. A's lineup bookends vs. Max Scherzer: Coco Crisp is 2 for 5 in his career against Scherzer and Cliff Pennington is the only player in the A's lineup that has taken him deep. Josh Reddick is batting fifth and he is 3 for 5 with a triple off Scherzer. Strikeouts could hurt A's: Scherzer finished second in Major League Baseball with 231 strikeouts. The A's hitters struck out an American League record 1,387 times this season. In four career starts against the A's, Scherzer has accumulated 35 punchouts. It might be in the A's best interest to swing early in the count and try to put the ball in play. Heart of the Tigers lineup vs. A.J. Griffin: The A's have held Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to a combined .185 (5 for 27) average in this series. The Tigers' 3-4 hitters have been good against Griffin. Griffin's only loss this season came against the Tigers. In that game in Detroit on September 18, both Cabrera and Fielder hit homers off Griffin, and they each drove in two runs off him. Reaching for the Stars: Cabrera singled on Wednesday night and has reached base safely in all 14 of his career postseason games. Stephen Drew walked twice and has reached safely in all 10 of his playoff games. Quality work: Every starting pitcher in this series for both Detroit and Oakland have registered a quality start.

Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

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Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

Ryan Christenson has worked his way up the coaching ladder in the A’s farm system, and on Thursday he was named the team’s new major league bench coach.

The announcement makes Christenson, 43, the right-hand man for manager Bob Melvin and essentially the No. 2 man in the dugout. It also settles a position that was in flux over the course of the 2017 season. Mark Kotsay began this past season as bench coach but stepped away from the team in June to be with his family after his daughter, Sienna, suffered a serious eye injury.

Kotsay is expected to remain with the big league club in some form of non-everyday role. Chip Hale finished the season as bench coach but will now switch back to third base coach, a position he originally was hired for leading into the 2017 season. Hale also coaches Oakland’s infielders.

“At some point in time we knew Ryan was going to be here,” Melvin said. “He went through all the classifications (managing in the minors). He did well with a young group. It’s a good fit bringing him in, and he’s ready for the bench coach role. He’s done a lot of managing.”

Though the bench coach works in closest tandem with a manager throughout the game, Melvin also noted the importance of having a third-base coach that thinks right along with him and is on the same page. From that standpoint, he said having Hale in that role is important.

“Chip’s so good at third, that even though I’m used to having him on the bench, it’s tough not to use him (at third),” Melvin said. “Certainly this isn’t a demotion for Chip.”

It’s the first appointment on a major league staff for Christenson, who has spent the past five seasons managing in Oakland’s farm system, starting with low Single-A and working his way up to Triple-A Nashville this season. He led Double-A Midland to back-to-back Texas League titles in 2015-16, and his teams went 391-307 (.561) over those five seasons.

The rest of Melvin’s coaching staff will return intact in 2018. That includes pitching coach Scott Emerson, who took over that role midseason after the firing of Curt Young, and hitting coach Darren Bush. Like Christenson, Emerson and Bush both were promoted from within the farm system to their eventual spots on the big league staff.

All three men have extensive history coaching the large group of young players that are establishing themselves as the A’s core, and that’s a factor worth keeping in mind when evaluating the makeup of this staff.

Emerson, who assumed Young’s duties in June, will return as pitching coach despite the A’s staff posting a 4.67 ERA, highest by an Oakland staff since 1999. A’s pitchers also surrendered an Oakland-record 210 home runs.

“Similar to Ryan, he knows everybody, what we have here and in the minor leagues,” Melvin said of Emerson. “He’s been a good fit here and continues to be a good fit.”

Bush oversaw a group of hitters that showed improvement as the season wore on, scoring the fifth-most runs in the American League after the All-Star break. The A’s set a franchise record for strikeouts – in line with the rise in whiffs throughout the majors -- but also hit the fourth-most homers in franchise history.

Melvin’s staff is rounded out by first base coach Mike Aldrete, bullpen coach Garvin Alston and assistant hitting coach/catching coach Marcus Jensen. Steve Scarsone, who filled in as interim third base coach from June through the rest of the season, will resume his duties as a traveling instructor throughout the farm system.

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts.