Athletics

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's fall to Orioles' four home runs

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Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's fall to Orioles' four home runs

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — The Baltimore Orioles know how to punish a pitcher for mistake pitches.

Chris Smith found out the hard way.

The Orioles twice homered on back-to-back pitches off the right-hander as Baltimore hung a 7-2 loss on the A’s to begin a four-game series at the Coliseum.

Baltimore, despite being a game under .500, finds itself very much in the American League Wild Card chase, and the Orioles must be looking at this extended weekend stay in Oakland as a chance to make a move.

The A’s would like to spoil their chances, but that’s only going to happen if their starting pitching turns things around. Smith (0-2) gave up a career-high four homers and allowed five runs over six innings, elevating the rotation’s ERA to 7.14 over the last 13 games.

Baltimore collected 10 hits. Amazingly, the first nine of them went for extra bases. Here’s five things to know as the A’s lost for the fifth time in the past seven games:

STATING HIS CASE: If not for the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Baltimore first baseman Trey Mancini would be making a serious push as an AL Rookie of the Year candidate. He went deep twice off Smith, hitting the back end of consecutive homers with Adam Jones in the fourth and handling the front end with Mark Trumbo in the sixth. Mancini is hitting .296 with 20 homers and 60 RBI.

A SPARK AT THE TOP: With just seven hits, the A’s didn’t have much going offensively. But Rajai Davis continues to ignite things from the leadoff spot. He led off the bottom of the first with a single. Orioles lefty Wade Miley (6-9) had him picked off first but Davis was safe at second anyway and advanced to third when Mancini’s throw went into left field. Then Davis came home on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly. Over his past 25 games, Davis is hitting .329 (23-for-70).

TRENDING THE WRONG WAY: Smith, solid for the A’s over his first three starts, has now allowed 13 runs over 15 innings in his past three outings (one of them in relief).

PHEGLEY UPDATE: If all continues to go well for Josh Phegley, the catcher hopes to begin a minor league rehab assignment early next week as he works back from a strained left oblique. Phegley caught a couple of bullpen sessions Thursday and took 50 swings with the bat Wednesday. He hasn’t played since July 24

CHAPMAN’S EARLY EXIT: Matt Chapman exited the game after three innings with what the A’s announced as an illness. Ryon Healy shifted from first to third base to replace him, and Matt Olson entered the game to play first.

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

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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. 

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson traded to... the Yankees

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Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson traded to... the Yankees

The New York Yankees Wednesday announced that they have acquired infielder Russell Wilson from the Texas Rangers in exchange for future considerations.

Wilson, 29, led the Seattle Seahawks to the 2014 Super Bowl championship, defeating the Denver Broncos, 43-8. At age 25, Wilson became the third-youngest quarterback to lead a team to a Super Bowl victory.

He has played the past six seasons (2012-17) with Seattle. A four-time Pro-Bowler, Wilson has completed 1,815-of-2,834 pass attempts (64.0 percent) for 22,176 yards and 161 touchdowns. He has compiled a career starting record of 65-30-1. In 2017, Wilson led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes.

"We've admired Russell's career from afar for quite some time," Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said. "This is a unique opportunity for us to learn from an extraordinary athlete who has reached the pinnacle of his profession. 

"After talking to a number of our players, there is a genuine excitement in having Russell join us for a short time in camp. We are all looking forward to gaining insight into how he leads teammates toward a common goal, prepares on a daily basis for the rigors of his sport, and navigates the successes and failures of a season."

The Richmond, Va., native was originally selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, and was acquired by Texas in the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft. In 2014 and '15, Wilson participated in team workouts at Rangers spring training camp.

In 93 career minor league games between Rookie-level Tri-City (2010) and Single-A Asheville (2011) in Colorado's system, Wilson hit .229/.354/.356 (72-for-315) with 58R, 9 doubles, 8 triples, 5HR, 26RBI and 19SB. In his last 15 games with Asheville in 2011, Wilson hit .302 (16-for-53) with 13R, 5 extra-base hits, 9RBI and 5SB.

A two-sport athlete in college, Wilson graduated from North Carolina State University in 2010. Using his last year of amateur eligibility, Wilson enrolled at the University of Wisconsin and quarterbacked the Badgers to a co-Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl appearance following the 2011 season. 

Wilson is expected to be in Major League camp in March. While he is in Tampa, Wilson will participate in pregame workouts with the club and watch games from the Yankees' dugout.

He will be assigned to the Double-A Trenton roster.

Yankees media services