Athletics

Blevins goes hungry after Houdini-esque routine

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Blevins goes hungry after Houdini-esque routine

Programming note: Coverage of Game 3 of the A's-Angels series begins tonight with A's Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California
ANAHEIM -- Jerry Blevins is a skinny guy, probably because his teammates let him go hungry. After pulling off a seemingly impossible save Tuesday night in Anaheim, Blevins could be heard hollering in the clubhouse, "Where's my pie? Where's my pie?""I was half expecting it while doing the TV," Blevins said. "It was a perfect moment for a pitcher to get a little love." In the bottom of the ninth inning with a one run lead, runners on the corners and no outs, Blevins got the call. As the 37,764 in attendance had the place shaking, and the Angels bats had the A's quaking, Blevins had a game plan. Strikeout, double play, pie. Two out of three isn't half bad. Blevins struck out Kendrys Morales on five pitches. The switch hitter went down swinging on an 85-MPH change up. Four pitches later Howie Kendrick hit a 92-MPH sinker straight to Josh Donaldson, who threw to Cliff Pennington, who turned the game-ending double play to give the A's a 6-5 victory.Blevins let out a primordial scream as the A's dugout emptied in celebration. It was easily the biggest moment in Blevins playing career, one he said was better than his Major League debut. "I felt like pure elation," Blevins said. "It was one of the loudest screams I've ever given on a the baseball field." Morales is a switch hitter so the A's were comfortable turning him around with the left-handed Blevins on the mound. Kendrick is a right-handed hitter but was 0 for 4 in his career against Blevins. With Ryan Cook unavailable the A's clearly had a trick up their sleeve with Blevins. "Talk about Houdini," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You know he's not going to get a lefty, but we were trying to turn Morales around and hope he can make good pitches after that." The A's were in this situation in the first place because closer Grant Balfour had an uncharacteristically rough night. He entered the game with a three-run lead and walked the first two batters he faced. He was removed after back-to-back RBI singles put the Angels in position to win the game in walk-off fashion. Balfour who had converted his last 10 save opportunities prior to Tuesday, appeared to be very frustrated with the strike zone of home plate umpire Paul Schrieber. Immediately after the game Balfour went into the clubhouse and watched the video of each pitch he threw. After reviewing the tape and blowing off some steam he calmed down. "They do a great job at what they do and it is frustrating sometimes when you see it one way, they see it another and you are trying to pitch and get outs in big games like that." Balfour said. "I felt there was a couple strikes that should have been called but at the end of the day I've got to make better pitches and get out of that situation too."As soon as he left the game he became Blevins' biggest fan. The donut-loving lefty didn't disappoint. "That was awesome, coming in for a strikeout and a double play was the way to write it up," Balfour said. "I was on the top step, I am the guy cheering for him." Dan Straily, who also deserves a share of the credit for the A's 11th consecutive road win, was inside watching on TV. He said everyone in the clubhouse went crazy when the A's recorded the final two outs. Straily went six and two-thirds innings, he allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out eight batters. All of the runs he allowed scored via the long ball. The last time he faced the Angels he gave up four homers."After throwing a ton of pitches in the first couple innings I looked over my shoulder and saw the bullpen going and was making sure that I was not going to be embarrassed again," Straily said. Melvin had Tyson Ross warming up in the second inning after Straily gave up a two-run homer to Vernon Wells. From the third inning on, Straily looked like a completely different pitcher. "For him to get us all the way through for almost a full seventh that's quite the turnaround for a kid that was on the ropes," Melvin said. Straily earned his second Major League win with his dad watching. It was his father's birthday and they had breakfast before the game. Usually the offense gets all the attention. The performance of the A's hitters is easy to forget after what transpired on the mound. Yoenis Cespedes snapped out of a 21-game homerless streak with a solo homer in the first inning. Brandon Moss clubbed a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 18th of the year and sixth in the last 12 games. In the ninth inning the A's got some crucial insurance runs. Coco Crisp hit an RBI triple to right field that was misplayed by Torii Hunter. As the veteran right fielder chased after the ball, Crisp rounded third and scored. Every last bit was needed in this game. It still all boiled down to one unreal effort by a man that just wanted a little post game pie. He did get a treat though. The A's victory over the Angels puts the A's 21 games over .500 -- that's pretty sweet. His second career save, well, that can be the cherry on top.

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.