Athletics

The A's defy odds and do it again, defeat Yanks 2-1

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The A's defy odds and do it again, defeat Yanks 2-1

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OAKLAND -- Three well traveled rookies and a wily veteran helped topple the best team in baseball 2-1 on Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum. Each of those four players' stories are so unlikely that you'd think we made them up. We'll start where it ended on Saturday night. With 25-year-old rookie reliever Sean Doolittle -- who notched his first career save. Doolittle was drafted as a first baseman, struggled with injuries and was converted to a pitcher. Nearly as quick as his 95-mph fastball rips through the strike zone, Doolittle blasted through the Minor Leagues in just 16 games.
As he stepped on the mound seeking his first career save Saturday night, the rookie first-baseman-turned-pitcher was asked to stare down four hitters with a combined 25 All-Star appearances, who account for 67.5M of the Yankees payroll. Alex Rodriguez hit a leadoff single, and then the left-handed pitcher responded by striking out the side.
RECAP: Pratt's Instant Replay -- A's, Yankees 1
The legend of Sean Doolittle continues."That's really impressive, talk about coming along way," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "And now he closes a game out against the Yankees, that's a goose-bump type of thing."Doolittle pitched the ninth inning because closer Ryan Cook -- also a rookie -- had worked in three consecutive days. He got Robinson Cano swinging on a 94-mph fastball, Mark Teixeira looking on a 94-mph fastball, and Andruw Jones swinging on a 94-mph fastball. "Wow," Doolittle said in reflection of what transpired. "It still hasn't sunk in yet. It was mentioned to me before I even got back up here that at this time last year I wasn't, like, pitching to hitters." "Looking back on where I've been and where I am now, it makes it that much more special," he said. Speaking of unlikely success stories, there's A's starting pitcher Jarrod Parker who got his seventh win tonight. Parker had "Tommy John" surgery in 2009 and missed the entire 2010 season. He had to battle his way back to the Major Leagues and he has undoubtedly arrived in Oakland. He held the team with the best record in baseball to one run over eight innings of work. "Boy, Jarrod was so good," Melvin said. "Changeup really good. Only walked one guy. That's really the way you have to pitch against the Yankees."
RATTO: Hollywood, take notice of the 2012 Oakland A's
What makes the three wins the A's have in this series even more remarkable is the fact all three games were started by rookie pitchers. The three rookies allowed a combined three runs and just one walk over those three games. "Every time out we are trying to one up each other," Parker said. "It sets the tone as the starting staff." As Parker finished the eighth inning the game was tied at one. Then another unbelievable thing happened. Third baseman Brandon Inge made a bold prediction."Inge told me I'm going to get you one here," Parker said. "And he did it." Inge stepped to the plate and clubbed the go-ahead home run off Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes. The shot hit the concrete facing of the bleachers over the high wall in right center. Inge was released by the Detroit Tigers this year. The A's essentially picked him up off the scrap heap and here he is helping the team win. "In this clubhouse we're having a blast right now," Inge said. "I think that's leading to a lot of the way we are playing on the field." Inge is only hitting .200, but when he does get hits -- they are important ones. He has nine homers and 42 RBIs in 64 games this year. "Just when I think about maybe a bunt or doing something different with him he gets a hit like that," Melvin said. Then there's the story of Yoenis Cespedes. A Cuban-born phenom that escaped his home country of Cuba to chase his dream of playing Major League Baseball. In the last year he has gone from Cuba, to the Dominican Republic, to Phoenix, Arizona, to Tokyo, to Oakland.After all of that, he is hitting .306 against the best competition in the world. His fourth-inning home run was launched like a missile and landed like an asteroid deep in the left field bleachers -- coincidentally, it landed right under a Cuban flag."The most important thing is to be concentrated in what you have to do," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "In Cuba it was the same thing. We traveled a lot over there too. But not so long like this year. I try to work, be concentrated all the time and do the best that I can do." Cespedes by the way is also a rookie. He has a career-high nine-game hitting streak and is 7 for 10 with two homers and three RBIs in this series against the Yankees. If anyone was overlooking Cespedes on the national landscape it's safe to say the secret is out."He's a terrific talent and a great hitter," Melvin said. "I don't want to say he's getting more confident because he is about as confident as you can get. I think he's just understanding the league more and making adjustments quicker." The stories of the A's key contributors seem like they've leaped out of the pages of a Hollywood screenplay. They are almost too good to be true. Fans can't wait to flip the pages as the the story is unfolding. It sounds corny, but studios love a good sequel and it feels like we are watching Moneyball 2. With the A's 13-2 July record they are pacing Major League Baseball. At 50-44 they are a season-high six games over .500. They've already taken three games of a four game set with the New York Yankees. Stay tuned.

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.