A's are more than just magic


A's are more than just magic


OAKLAND -- Its not magic, what the Oakland Athletics have done for six months, including Wednesday night in Game Four of this American League Division Series. Magic is a lazy way to describe what they do, and how they do it.

In fact, magic might actually demean them a bit. Even on a night in which they score three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to cheat the reaper and the Detroit Tigers, 4-3.

PRATT'S INSTANT REPLAY: We'll see you Thursday night

ESPECIALLY on a night like Wednesday.

At some point, its just got to be good baseball, designated hitter Seth Smith said after his two-run double off Tiger closer Jose Valverde tied the game and after Coco Crisps two-out single scored him with the winning run. Theres no magic recipe, or anything like that. We go out there and we play hard and carefree and get the job done. And thats how we go about it. Theres nothing going on in the clubhouse or anything crazy like that. We go out and play the game the way its supposed to be played.

Well, as often as they can, anyway. For five innings, they played the game the way Detroit starter Max Scherzer wanted it to be played, and in the sixth, they killed their own rally when third base coach Mike Gallego encouraged Stephen Drew to take third on an RBI double and ended up dramatically wrong by about ten feet, killing a budding rally and leaving Detroit ahead, 2-1.

That wasnt very magical.

But it was very baseball. Gallego was trying to force an issue and thought Drew had a better shot to beat Austin Jacksons throw than he actually did. Not a bad idea. Not a good play.

Still, the As, who have defibrillated themselves back to life more times than even TV hospital shows are allowed, came back from down 0-2 to tie this series not because of magic but because they did the hard things well when they needed to be done. They forced Scherzer out of the game after Drews double, making Detroit manager Jim Leyland coax 11 outs from his spotty bullpen. That was a very tough ask.

It got easier when Detroit scored off Sean Doolittle in the eighth, and easier still as Leyland navigated his way through appearances by Octavio Dotel, Phil Coke, Al "The Kissing Bandit" Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit, and was left with Valverde, his best, against Josh Reddick, Josh Donaldson and Smith, who were a combined 0-for-8 with five strikeouts.

Enter magic, in the guise of some very smart at-bats.

See thats the thing, manager Bob Melvin said. Its a magical season and all that, I guess, but those arent magical at-bats there. Im telling you these guys have smarter more aggressive at-bats than any team Ive ever managed. They know what they want to do, they have a plan, and they stick to the plan.

Reddick (single past second baseman Omar Infante), hes been struggling a little, but hes looking for a fastball he can do something with not hit it out, but put it in the big part of the park. Donaldson, hes clearly looking fastball and gets one right away that he can do something with, and its first and third. Smith, hes not trying to hit a home run either. He just wants to put it in play and gaps it . . . and Coco, well, right now, hes the guy I want in that situation as much as anybody for us.

And thats the thing about baseball. After 162 games, it isnt luck. As many times as weve done this, it isnt luck. You make your own luck.

And luck is another word for magic. And magic is a construct of the outworlders who hold to a story line that lost its validity a month ago.

Example: Smith came back from the interview room after the game, entered the clubhouse and took a hard left to go to the video room to look at his at-bats again. To see what he did, to see what Valverde did, and to see what he might have to do Thursday. No goat sacrifices, no pointy hats and wands, no eye-of-newt-and-wild-Brazilian-toad extract, no praying to graven idols. It was the work that got them all to this point.

But they know they will have to wrestle with the illusion of magic the rest of the way, whether it last one day or three more weeks. When one media member asked Crisp and Smith, Entering the ninth, knowing your history, is all of this on purpose? Were you guys trying to be down in the ninth?

Crisp tried to laugh, and said, I think so. What do you think? Definitely?

And Smith dropped his head a bit and said, Definitely. You nailed it.

So it goes. The As are stuck with magic, whether they like it or not, and the only way they lose it is to think that what they are doing is really magic after all.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for

A's trade outfielder Jaycob Brugman to Orioles


A's trade outfielder Jaycob Brugman to Orioles

OAKLAND – The Oakland A’s traded outfielder Jaycob Brugman to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later or cash, the club announced Wednesday. Brugman was designated for assignment on Monday.

Brugman made his major league debut with the A’s last year and batted .266 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 48 games. He also hit .275 with a home run and nine RBI with Nashville and then batted .182 in nine games with Mesa in the Arizona Fall League.  

Brugman was originally selected by Oakland in the 17th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

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A's make roster moves, DFA outfielder who played in 48 games in 2017


A's make roster moves, DFA outfielder who played in 48 games in 2017

In order to get their 40-man roster set for the Rule 5 Draft, the A's did a little roster reshuffling on Monday.

Among the casualties from the roster crunch was outfielder Jaycob Brugman, who played in 48 games for the A's in 2017.

Brugman and left-handed pitcher Sam Moll were designated for assignment in order to clear spots for the A's to add right-handed pitchers Heath Fillmyer and Lou Trivino to the 40-man roster.

During his stint with the A's last season, Brugman hit .266/.346/.343 with two doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI. Brugman participated in the recently-concluded Arizona Fall League, but didn't put up great numbers. He his just 1.82 in nine games.

The 23-year-old Fillmyer started 29 games for Double-A Midland and posted a 3.49 ERA in 149.2 innings. He was a fifth-round by the A's in 2014.

Trivino spent time with Midland and Triple-A Nashville during the 2017 season. In 48 relief appearances between the two levels, he posted a 3.03 ERA and struck out 65 batters in 68.1 innings.

Earlier on Monday, the A's acquired outfielder Ramon Laureano from the Astros for right-handed pitcher Brandon Bailey. Laureano was added to the 40-man roster and right-handed pitcher Bobby Wahl was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville.

The Rule 5 Draft will be held on Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Winter Meetings in Orlando.