Healy caps another walk-off win, but A's get plenty of help

Healy caps another walk-off win, but A's get plenty of help

OAKLAND — Ryon Healy received the postgame shower and proudly wore a crown on his head in the form of an upside down Dubble Bubble bucket.

It was well deserved, after his towering two-run homer off Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth Sunday gave the A’s an 8-6 victory over Detroit. But what stood out most about Oakland’s second walk-off win in a row was how many people it took to bring it to fruition.

The A’s didn’t play a perfect game on a sun-drenched afternoon at the Coliseum, but they had an ensemble of contributors come through and override their missteps. The result was a series victory over the Tigers, and a seemingly drastic shift in mood over a less-than-24-hour span.

“It was fun that we got the ‘W’,” Healy said. “It’s a lot of fun and I think everybody really feeds off that. Hopefully it continues to snowball positively for us.”

After losing Friday’s series opener — their ninth loss in the previous 11 games — the A’s walked off on Rodriguez on Saturday night in a 6-5 victory. On Sunday, they found themselves trailing 6-5 entering the bottom of the ninth with Rodriguez again trying to nail down a save. Like the game before, the A’s got multiple clutch at-bats when they needed them most. Rajai Davis worked a leadoff walk and Jed Lowrie doubled him home to tie the game.

After Khris Davis lined out, Healy got hold of a 1-0 fastball and sent a deep fly ball to left that seemed it might never come down. Justin Upton went back like he thought he had a play on the ball until he ran out of room and the ball barely cleared the out-of-town scoreboard.

“I thought it might hit a seagull to tell you the truth,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin, referring to the large flock of birds that eerily circled the Coliseum for much of the game.

The A’s wouldn’t have been in that position if not for a stellar relief effort from Bobby Wahl in just his third big league appearance. Sonny Gray worked just 4 2/3 innings as Detroit erased a 4-1 Oakland lead, and with a depleted bullpen at his disposal, Melvin called on Wahl to begin the seventh with the A’s trailing 6-5.

The rookie responded with two scoreless innings and two strikeouts. After a shaky debut in Minnesota where he gave up two hits and plunked a batter in one-third inning of work, Wahl steadied himself with a scoreless inning Friday that included a couple of strikeouts, then ate up two innings Sunday to get the ball to Santiago Casilla for the ninth.

“After that first one, for sure, I started feeling more comfortable,” Wahl said. “I got the nerves out a bit. It’s starting to feel like baseball again.”

The A’s (14-17) have won back-to-back games when they trailed after the seventh inning or later. They had lost 28 such games in a row leading into this weekend, the longest active streak in the majors.

It actually had not been that long, relatively speaking, since they’d last posted back-to-back walk-off victories. It happened July 22-23 of last season against Tampa Bay. In the second of those, Healy won the game with his first career walk-off blast.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing in his first full major league season. But Healy has shown some resiliency since having a two-error inning at third base early in Saturday’s game. He rebounded by homering in his next at-bat in that game. On Sunday, he singled and drew two walks among his four plate appearances before hitting the game winner.

He said he had no idea it was going out when it left his bat.

“I was kind of reading Justin Upton’s body language out there, whether he was running out of room or not,” Healy said. “I didn’t know it was gone until I was almost touching second base.”

That’s when his teammates began forming a mob at home plate. Healy threw his helmet high in the air after rounding third, he was doused with water as he conducted a TV interview, and Khris Davis crowned him with the Dubble Bubble bucket.

On Thursday, Healy homered against the Twins but was ejected later in the game for arguing a strike call. Melvin said after that game that his young infielder needs to know how to best channel his passion, but that he never wants to take away the fire that Healy plays the game with.

“That makes him who he is, because in those (pressure) situations, he’s afraid of nothing,” Melvin said. “He wants to be up in that situation.”

Bigger than baseball: Piscotty reflects on homecoming in trade to A's


Bigger than baseball: Piscotty reflects on homecoming in trade to A's

He’ll be playing in front of his family and hometown fans, in the ballpark he grew up going to as a kid.

Stephen Piscotty is fully aware that not many major leaguers get to do this, but his trade from the St. Louis Cardinals to the A’s means so much more on a deeper level.

The Pleasanton native will get to play in front of his mother, Gretchen, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, in May.

It was a difficult and emotional 2017 season for Piscotty, a 26-year-old outfielder who left the Cardinals for a period to be with his family and also dealt with two stints on the disabled list. He struggled to a .235 batting average after a 22-homer, 85-RBI season in 2016.

He admits how difficult it was to concentrate on baseball, with his thoughts drifting back to the Bay Area and his Mom. Piscotty expressed gratitude to the Cardinals for their treatment of him during his tough time and for their efforts in orchestrating a trade that brought him home.

The A’s sent minor league infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock to St. Louis in a deal that was finalized Thursday.

“We’re pretty emotionally tied to that organization,” Piscotty said of the Cardinals. “It chokes me up a little bit. But family obviously comes first, and sometimes some things are more important than baseball. With this opportunity here, it’s just a great combination of family and baseball. … A lot of good is going to come out of it.”

Piscotty and his brothers, Austin and Nick, grew up going to the Coliseum, as his father, Mike, has been an A’s season ticket holder for more than two decades. In May, their tight-knit family was rocked by news of Gretchen’s diagnosis.

“I remember kind of thinking ‘OK, they diagnosed it a certain way but it’s gonna turn out to be something else,” Piscotty said. “I didn’t want to believe it. I kept playing for a couple days, but I was so distracted, I couldn’t focus. I really didn’t care about what was happening on the field.”

Piscotty talked with manager Mike Matheny, hitting coach John Mabry and others.

“They were like, ‘You need to go home,’ and it was the right decision,” Piscotty said. “… It was a roller coaster year. I got sent down (to the minors), but I learned a lot. I’m gonna tap into some of those experiences.”

The A’s feel they’re getting an athletic corner outfielder about to reach his prime. Piscotty inked a six-year $33.5 million before the 2017 season, so he’s locked up at an affordable rate moving forward.

Piscotty has played mostly right field, but he and new teammate Matt Joyce can handle either corner spot.

Though the A’s made the trade primarily for baseball purposes, general manager David Forst added that “it’s wonderful for his family, and hopefully it will have given him and his family some peace of mind.”

Piscotty got news of the trade while in Pebble Beach with friends for a golf trip that had been a long time in the planning. Team orthopedist Dr. Will Workman actually made the drive to Pebble to administer Piscotty’s physical — at a local Airbnb property — so the A’s and Cardinals could finalize the trade.

Piscotty lives in Pleasanton in the offseason, but the family recently made a trip to St. Louis and saw the Budweiser Clydesdales. Gretchen loves horses.

Piscotty is optimistic his mother will be able to get out to the Coliseum to see him play. He credits his father, who has “worked his tail off” to take care of insurance needs and medications for Gretchen.

“We’re in a good place,” Stephen said. “We’re at a point where we’ve got things pretty dialed in and we can move around and go places.”

The support has poured in from St. Louis and the Bay Area. A’s president Dave Kaval, responding to a fan on Twitter, said the team will donate some of the proceeds from Piscotty jersey sales to ALS research.

“I wish I didn’t need all of their support, but it’s nice to have it,” Gretchen Piscotty told the Bay Area News Group.

Stephen, who grew up idolizing Tim Hudson and Mark McGwire, is excited to wear green and gold. Getting to spend more time with his mother provides a different kind of lift.

“That will give me a lot of comfort and peace of mind knowing I’m close.”

A's land Piscotty without giving up any of their top prospects


A's land Piscotty without giving up any of their top prospects

The A’s finalized their trade for St. Louis outfielder Stephen Piscotty, sending two minor league infield prospects to the Cardinals in return.

Shortstop Yairo Munoz and second baseman Max Schrock were ranked 13th and 17th, respectively, on the A’s current list of prospects by

Both have upside but it’s fair to say Oakland pulled off this deal for a starting outfielder without giving up any of the premium guys in their farm system. A quick rundown on each prospect:

Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers, 68 RBI and 22 stolen bases last year split time between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. His raw talent and all-around tools made him an intriguing prospect. Munoz primarily is a shortstop but bounced all around the infield last season. The A’s even experimented with him in center field, and it would have been interesting to see if Munoz could have emerged as a possibility in center at the major league level eventually.

But with prospects climbing through the system such as shortstop Jorge Mateo, third baseman Sheldon Neuse and, over at second base, top prospect Franklin Barreto — not to mention shortstop Richie Martin, a former first-round pick whose hitting has held him back thus far — the A’s appear to have dealt from depth in trading Munoz.

Schrock, 23, was acquired in August 2016 from the Washington Nationals for reliever Marc Rzepczynski. He hit .321 for Midland last season and made the Texas League Midseason and Postseason All-Star teams. He’s an offense-first second baseman who impressed with his all-around approach and knowledge of the strike zone. A’s manager Bob Melvin praised Schrock in his first look at him last spring in major league camp. At 5-foot-8, he’s the type of player that naturally will get overlooked when compared to other more highly touted guys in a farm system.

The A’s just dealt another second baseman from their system in Joey Wendle earlier in the week. But with Barreto considered the A’s second baseman of the future, and Chad Pinder available to handle second as well being starter Jed Lowrie, Oakland was in good enough shape depth-wise to deal Schrock.

Interesting to note: Thursday’s trade was the first between the A’s and Cardinals since 2009, the season Oakland shipped Matt Holliday to St. Louis after a disappointing first half of the season. Since the 2014 trade deadline, the A’s have swung trades with 24 of the other 29 teams in the majors.