Athletics

Gossett targets mental game as area of focus looking ahead to 2018

Gossett targets mental game as area of focus looking ahead to 2018

ARLINGTON, Texas — Daniel Gossett had trouble putting things all together on the mound in his rookie season. At the very least, however, he’s got a firm grasp on what he needs to work on leading into 2018.

“I think I’m letting mental things get in the way of my pitching,” he said following the A’s 8-4 loss to Texas on Saturday. “It’s something to learn from. You’ve got to work on that as much as the physical stuff.”

The right-hander gave up four runs and lasted just 1 2/3 innings against the Rangers, the shortest of his 18 career starts in the majors. The long ball has been a primary problem — Gossett allowed 21 home runs over 91 1/3 innings this season. Entering the night, his 20 homers allowed were second most in Oakland history by a pitcher over the first 17 games of his career.

Missed location is the obvious culprit any time a young pitcher watches the ball fly over the fence. But Gossett believes that what he needs to correct is just as much between the ears as anything else.

“I’ve just got to let myself pitch and trust myself to pitch,” he said. “I know that I’m a better pitcher than what I’ve been showing lately.”

Despite a 4-11 record and 6.11 ERA, the 24-year-old Gossett still will arrive at spring training next year as a legitimate contender for a starting role. That’s the plain truth of Oakland’s rotation. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea are locks for two of the five spots. Beyond that, there’s a long list of possibilities. In alphabetical order, they go: Raul Alcantara, Chris Bassitt, Paul Blackburn, Jharel Cotton, Gossett, Jesse Hahn, Daniel Mengden and Andrew Triggs, and that’s just the group from the 40-man roster.

So competition will be wide open and opportunities there for the taking. Gossett, a second-round pick in 2014 who just completed his third full season of professional baseball, impressed the big league staff during spring training, and that put him near the front of the pack when reinforcements were needed from the minors. Gossett found that the learning curve was steep. The key now is to draw from that experience and apply it next season.

Manager Bob Melvin said he thought Gossett ran out of gas a bit over September, but added: “He’s got to get ahead, have better command of his breaking stuff. Usually when his fastball’s down and he’s ahead in the count, he’s got enough pitches to keep you off balance. But when he gets behind it’s a little bit of a tougher time for him.”

Despite getting an extended taste of the majors this season, Gossett knows that doesn’t guarantee anything once spring training rolls around.

“I had a couple good starts here and there, but the bad starts outweigh the good starts, so I’ve still got something to prove,” he said. “Come in with that attitude. A little chip on my shoulder couldn’t hurt.”

**

Right fielder Matt Joyce, who hit his 25th homer in the game, exited late after tweaking his left hamstring. Melvin said Joyce won’t be in the lineup for Sunday’s season finale.

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

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USATSI

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

C.C. Sabathia couldn't save the Yankees' 2017 season. And now he has a decision to make.

After nine seasons in New York, the 37-year-old hits the free agent market this winter.

With career earnings nearing $250 million and a 2009 World Series ring already on his resume, would the Vallejo-native consider coming home to play for the A's? That's a question that was posed to NBCSportsBayArea.com Insider Joe Stiglich last week.

While it's a possibility, based on comments after Saturday's ALCS Game 7 loss to the Astros, it sounds like Sabathia doesn't want to leave The Bronx.

“I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great. This is my home, and I want to see this thing through," Sabathia told reporters, according to The Associated Press.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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USATSI

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.