Athletics

Blackley, A's avoid sweep in Texas with 3-1 victory

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Blackley, A's avoid sweep in Texas with 3-1 victory

BOX SCORE

If you are going to win just one game of a four-game series, it might as well be the last one. The A's will head home happy after defeating the division-leading Rangers 3-1. The A's got a stellar seven-inning performance out of their starting pitcher Travis Blackley, and a solid inning of relief from their newest All-Star Ryan Cook to escape Arlington without being swept.Starting Pitching ReportBlackley did a good job pitching to contact, even against the top run-scoring team in baseball -- in one of the toughest parks to pitch in. He didn't walk a single batter in his seven innings pitched, earning his second win. He scattered seven hits, and only struck out three hitters.The only run he allowed came in the third inning after Ian Kinsler doubled and was driven home on a single by Elvis Andrus.Blackley didn't struck out a hitter until he caught Adrian Beltre looking in the fourth inning. He never got into any major jams in the game. Craig Gentry made it to third base against him in the sixth inning, but the Australian lefty ended up stranding him there by getting Josh Hamilton to pop out to shortstop Cliff Pennington.Blackley had a couple chances to show off his pickoff move. He had Andrus so dead-to-rights that the speedy shortstop didn't even bother to move when Blackley threw the ball to first. He also got Yorvit Torrealba in the fourth. Blackley might have the best pickoff move in baseball, he leads the AL with six pickoffs this season. At the PlateSeth Smith hit a leadoff double over the head of center fielder Craig Gentry to start the fifth inning. Derek Norris promptly drove him home with a game-tying RBI single to left field. Norris has not collected a hit in six of his seven games played. He has a six-game hitting streak.The A's scored another run in the sixth on a strange sequence of events. Yoenis Cespedes smashed a double down the right field line that kicked off the wall perfectly to Nelson Cruz, who was able to get the ball back to the infield quick enough to force Weeks to stay at third. Then with Smith at the plate, Darvish threw a wild pitch in the dirt, Weeks came streaking home sliding across the plate kicking up a cloud of chalk and dust. It looked like a smoke bomb went off at the plate. There was some confusion by the Rangers on the play. They claimed Darvish's pitch hit Smith in the foot. Replays showed that it did not, and the umpires made the right call. The run gave the A's a 2-1 lead.Brandon Moss clubbed a leadoff homer to start the seventh inning. It was his eighth home run of the year and it reached the upper deck. Moss hit seven home runs in his first 13 games, but had been held without an RBI in his past seven games.Yu Darvish struck out the side after giving up the tying run in the fifth. He struck out Norris after giving up the lead in the sixth. The Japanese-born ace recorded 11 strikeouts over seven innings of work. Eclipsing his MLB career-high in strikeouts.The A's got the leadoff runner on base in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.Bullpen ReportJerry Blevins came in for one batter. That batter was Josh Hamilton. Blevins might deserve player of the game honors after stealing the momentum from the Rangers after a potentially critical A's error. He got Hamilton to pop out to end the inning with two runners on base. Hamilton is now 0 for 5 with four strikeouts in his career against Blevins.Grant Balfour got the first two outs in the eighth inning. He gave up just one hit and would have gotten three outs if it wasn't for the aforementioned error. It didn't take long for Ryan Cook to get a chance to prove he belongs on the AL All-Star team. Hours after the announcement, he entered with a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, and shut down the Rangers with a 1-2-3 inning and his seventh save.In the FieldBrandon Inge made the A's sixth error in the series. Similar to Saturday's game, the A's third baseman couldn't field a ball hit right to him. Andrus singled home Kinsler in the third inning, but was caught advancing to second after a strong throw home by Reddick was cut off by Moss, who tagged Andrus.Weeks made a nice play on a broken-bat ground out in the fourth inning. The ball traveled toward Weeks, and the bat head came with it in a parallel trajectory. Weeks navigated out of the line of fire of the lumber, maintained focus, and fielded the ball cleanly, throwing out Hamilton at first.Up NextFrom one Japanese sensation to the next, the A's will face Diasuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 4.91 ERA) on Monday at the Oakland Coliseum. Dice-K has made four starts since returning from the disabled list on June 9.Jarrod Parker (4-3, 2.57 ERA) struck out a career-high nine hitters in his last start in Seattle. He has been dominant, allowing one run or less in six of his last seven starts.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

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AP

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.