Athletics

Colon's rhythm key in A's shutout over Rangers

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Colon's rhythm key in A's shutout over Rangers

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- How do you stop a team that hasn't been shutout all season long? Fastballs. Two-seam fastballs, to be exact. At 39, Bartolo Colon came one inning shy of being the third-oldest pitcher to throw a shutout for the A's. He did however throw eight shutout innings, as the A's defeated the Rangers 2-0. It was Colon's fifth win of the season, and his first in Oakland. Colon allowed five hits and only walked one batter. He has now walked one batter or fewer in nine of his last 13 starts."There is rhythm and flow to a game, and he really dictated that tonight," Melvin said. "I'm always in rhythms like that, and trying to go fast," Colon said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "I feel so happy how I pitched tonight."OK, so fastballs, and speed. That was the A's recipe for success. Wednesday's game at the Oakland Coliseum was the fastest American League game this season. It was just two hours and four minutes long. "The faster that we can get back to offense and get back to swinging, it gets you into more of a rhythm," Brandon Inge said. "He did a great job. It's fun to play behind guys like that. I've seen it for many years from him. I'm glad I'm on his team now."The only trouble Colon got in came in the second inning. He loaded the based before inducing an inning-ending double play. He ended up retiring the final 11 batters he faced. Colon has won 18 games against the Rangers in his career. He couldn't have done it with out some offense though. The A's scored twice on Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis, who threw a complete game. He is now 5-2 with a 2.56 ERA while pitching in Oakland. The A's made him pay for his two biggest mistakes -- a second-inning double to Yoenis Cespedes and a fourth-inning double by Josh Reddick. Each scored. Cespedes finished the night 3-for-3, a homer shy of the cycle."Right now when people say to me I needed a home run for the cycle I know," Cespedes said through Spanish language reporter Manolo Hernandez-Douen. "During the game I am trying to make a good swing and look for good contact." Cespedes looked comfortable defensively in left field. In the third inning, he made a sliding catch to rob Josh Hamilton. He ranged all the way to the foul line, which was a far run because the A's had an overshift on against Hamilton. After making the catch, he popped up to his feet and waved his arms in celebration.
"It was amazing how far he went to get that ball," Melvin said. "I didn't realize it was on his leg for a minute...When the ball was hit I didn't think he had a chance to get there. He closed the gap pretty quickly."Brian Fuentes pitched the ninth inning for the save. He faced the heart of the Rangers lineup, striking out Hamilton swinging for the second out. He is now 5 for 7 in save opportunities. "It takes a lot of poise and guts to get through that ninth," Melvin said. "There's a little bit more pressure on you knowing that the starter pitched a good game, and you have to close it out against that lineup."Notes: Brandon Moss made his A's debut Wednesday night, going 0-for-3. He picked a few balls at first, bailing out Inge. As a result he was the recipient of a unique award."I gave him a big man hug," Inge said. "That's impressive enough for me." "He did, he tested me," Moss said. "You do your best to pick those and try to make something out of it."

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.