Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 5-4 loss to Rays


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 5-4 loss to Rays


The A’s leave Tampa Bay having lost three of four to the Rays but likely feeling like they should have won the series.

They jumped out to a three-run lead Sunday only to allow the Rays to rally back and post a 5-4 victory. The winning rally in the seventh was aided by a two-base throwing error by reliever Daniel Coulombe. That ran the A’s major league-leading error total to 62.

The ending came in extremely bitter fashion, as the A’s loaded the bases with one out but couldn’t push the tying run across against Alex Colome.

It was the second day in a row the A’s staked themselves to a 3-0 lead but couldn’t come away with a victory. They lost the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader on a walk-off hit in the 10th.

Here’s five things you need to know about the finale of this four-game series:

That’s ‘D’ for Deflating: The A’s entered Sunday having committed just three errors in their previous seven games, but a staple of this season has been the untimely —and very costly defensive mistakes — that crop up to beat them. That moment came in the bottom of the seventh. The Rays’ Mallex Smith dropped a well-placed bunt to the right side. Yonder Alonso got caught in no-man’s land charging the ball. Second baseman Jed Lowrie couldn’t get over to cover first and Coulombe wound up firing a throw to no one in particular. Smith wound up on third and scored on Corey Dickerson’s sacrifice fly to snap a 4-4 tie.

More opportunities wasted: The A’s loaded the bases in the ninth with one out and their 3-4 hitters due up. But Jed Lowrie popped up in foul territory and Khris Davis chased strike three to end it. It was an example of why Oakland entered the day last in the majors with a .163 batting average with the bases loaded.

Vogt provides a boost: After Josh Phegley got both starts behind the plate in Saturday’s doubleheader, Stephen Vogt was back in Sunday’s lineup and drove in the A’s first two runs. He went down and got a low pitch off Chris Archer for a run-scoring single in the second. Then Archer tried to throw a 95 mile-per-hour fastball by him in the fourth and Vogt drilled it to right-center for an RBI double.

Rays’ super sub strikes again: The A’s had no answer for Mallex Smith.

Mallex Smith?

Filling in for injured Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, Smith terrorized the A’s all series, going 8-for-14 with six runs, a homer, three RBI and four stolen bases. He showed some pop in his bat and speed to do ‘small ball’ damage. Exhibit A was the seventh-inning bunt Sunday that ignited Tampa Bay’s go-ahead rally.

Fifth-inning blues for Hahn: Jesse Hahn took a 3-0 lead into the fifth. He struck out the first two batters of that inning before Tampa Bay struck for three runs to tie it on five consecutive hits.

Now officially in the fold, Lucroy ready to work with young A's pitchers


Now officially in the fold, Lucroy ready to work with young A's pitchers

The Oakland A's made it official: They finally got their man behind the plate. 

Oakland officially announced the signing of veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy on Monday. Lucroy's deal is reportedly worth $6.5 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser.

Lucroy joined his new teammates for the first time in Arizona on Monday, and told reporters that he is especially excited to work with the club's young, promising pitching staff. The three returning leaders in innings pitched (Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton) are all 27-years-old or younger, and 22-year-old top prospect A.J. Puk is pushing for a rotation spot after allowing just one run in three appearances this spring. 

"I'm looking forward to working with these guys and trying to help them get better and get better myself along the way," Lucroy told reporters. "I think that's what it's all about; taking what they do best and try to simplify their approach ... Really, just doing anything I can with them to get hitters out."

Manager Bob Melvin told reporters that he thinks Lucroy's experience will prove beneficial to his young staff.

"If we can't go out and get ourselves a [starting pitcher], that's the next best thing," Melvin told reporters on Monday. "So, he's got a lot of experience, and a great reputation for being a teriffic leader behind the plate."

Lucroy, 31, slashed .265/.345/.371 in 481 plate appearances with the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies last season, hitting six home runs with 40 RBI, his lowest marks in those categories since his rookie season in 2010.

In order to accomodate Lucroy's signing the, the A's designated left-handed pitcher Jairo Labourt for assignment. Labourt was acquired off of waivers on Mar. 4, and Labourt's arrival prompted the eventual release of Brandon Moss one month into his Oakland reunion.

Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues


Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues

When A's catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt during the anthem last season, he was the first MLB player to do so. He knelt before each of each of Oakland's final nine games, in order to protest racial inequality and in response to President Trump's incendiary comments about NFL players kneeling, but ended the season as the only MLB player to kneel during the anthem. 

This season, he won't kneel at all, he told reporters in a statement on the first day of spring training. 

“Obviously, I didn’t take that lightly,” Maxwell told the San Francisco Chronicle prior to the release of his statement.  “That was to bring awareness to a problem and the face we do see it, we do experience and we have empathy for what’s going on. This year I don’t plan on kneeling. … And we’ll move on forward.”

While Maxwell did address his protest during the anthem, he largely did not address his offseason legal issues.

“It’s ongoing, I can’t really discuss details,” he said. “It’s something me and my lawyers are handling.”

On Oct. 28, Maxwell was arrested in Scottsdale after allegedly pointing a gun at a food-delivery person. He pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct in November, and is set for a settlement conference on April 13 after failing to reach a plea agreement on Monday, according to the Chronicle. 

If an agreement cannot be reached, Maxwell's trial is set to begin on Aug. 9.