Athletics

Instant Replay: A's 4, Dodgers 1

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Instant Replay: A's 4, Dodgers 1

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OAKLAND It's been a banner week for Travis Blackley. He recorded his first MLB win since his debut almost eight years earlier last Friday, and he went toe-to-toe with the reigning Cy Young Award winner on Thursday.Blackley threw a career-high eight innings and faced just two batters over the minimum, but he would not factor into the decision.The decision would go to Ryan Cook, who benefited from solid defense in the top of the ninth and a self-induced rally by Dodgers reliever Josh Lindblom. Lindblom walked Coco Crisp to lead off the inning, and sent Crisp to second on a wild pitch.The A's saved some dramatics for the ninth inning. They earned the 4-1 walk-off win -- and the series sweep -- on Yoenis Cespedes' first career walk-off home run. It was their second sweep in the last three series and their eighth win in the last nine games.Starting pitching report:After going almost eight years without an MLB win, Travis Blackley had a chance to win back-to-back starts Thursday. He was fast out of the gate, striking out two in the first inning and retiring the first 10 Dodgers he faced in order.Elian Herrera's solid fourth-inning double to left center broke up his roll, and Juan Rivera's subsequent single that clung to the first base line foiled the shutout and evened the game at one.Blackley wasn't fazed. He threw an incredible 67 of 87 pitches for strikes, recording first-pitch strikes 21 out of a possible 26 times. Blackley finished with eight innings pitched, three hits and one run allowed, no walks and six strikeouts.Bullpen report:Ryan Cook replaced Blackley in the ninth inning, and mistakenly walked the leadoff batter. But thanks to defensive help from Brandon Inge and Derek Norris, he only needed to face three batters to get out of the inning.At the plate:It looked good right off the bat when Coco Crisp beat out a weak roller to third base, but the first inning went awry. Jemile Weeks failed to do his job, popping up his sacrifice bunt attempt to first base. And Coco Crisp took off on Clayton Kershaw's first move and was -- for the first time in 37 tries -- cut down trying to steal.Instead of allowing Kershaw to settle in, though, the A's went right after him in the second. Jonny Gomes led off the inning with a double that bounced before caroming off left fielder Elian Herrera. After Gomes advanced to third on a wild pitch, Brandon Inge sent two balls deep to left field. The first clanged off the facade of the second deck about 12 feet left of the foul pole. The next, hit in fair territory, was barely corralled by Herrera at the track and Gomes trotted in to score the game's first run and register Inge's 31st RBI in his 31st game with Oakland.For the second time in as many days, Yoenis Cespedes sent a ball high and deep into the Oakland air, only for it to fall harmlessly to a Dodgers outfielder near the wall. His fourth-inning blast off Kershaw had the right sound, but it came down just in front of the CSN California sign, about 370 feet out in left center.Inge was seeing Kershaw well. In the seventh inning he sent another ball deep to left. He and Kershaw thought he got all of it; Kerhsaw lept off the mound and Inge began his trot to first base. But Herrera was there to make another Inge out on the warning track.In his first major league at-bat Derek Norris grounded into an inning-ending double play. He hit a ball well to left-center field in his next at-bat, but was put away by Tony Gwynn Jr. In his third at-bat, he smoked a liner down the left-field line, but Juan Uribe was perfectly positioned for the put out.Yoenis Cespedes ended the game with an exclamation mark. His blast to left barely tucked in over the 330-foot sign down the left field line, and if you blinked, you didn't see it sear the 55-degree Oakland air.In the field:In his start last Friday, Travis Blackley showed a dangerous pickoff move to first base in which his planted right foot flirts with the 45 degree boundary. It was on display again Thursday, as Blackley ended the fourth inning by catching Juan Rivera leaning.In the seventh inning, Brandon Moss dove to his right to snag Andre Either's ground ball. He threw on to Blackley to record the out. The A's had some defensive concerns about a converted outfielder taking on a new position, but Moss has just one error in 96 attempts entering Thursday. After the play, he turned to Jemile Weeks to confer about whose ball it was. Weeks seemed to be in position to make the play and nodded to whatever Moss asked him.The A's put together a gutsy defensive ninth inning. Brandon Inge opted for the high-risk, high-reward option on Dee Gordon's two-strike sacrifice bunt. The A's reward was high when his throw barely beat catcher Matt Treaner to the bag. It left Gordon on first base in a steal situation. After Ryan Cook threw over to first at least four times, Gordon tried to steal. Making his first career start, Norris came up big, throwing a frozen rope to cut down Gordon at second, clearing the bases and ending the Dodgers' ninth-inning threat.On the bases:Coco Crisp's franchise record of 36 consecutive successful steals came to end in the first inning when he took off for second on Clayton Kershaw's first move and the Dodgers went 1-3-6 to cut him down. Ichiro Suzuki's A.L. record of 45 is safe, and so is Vince Coleman's MLB record of 50.
Attendance:Tough to tell what the split was, but it looked like a sea of blue at the Coliseum, where Thursday saw an announced attendance of 23,337. The streaking A's are drawing right now; they've only had one game this homestand with a paid attendance under 20,000. Up next:The final and most exciting series of the A's sweep through the NL West is up next. Due to a rotational adjustment to protect young Jarrod Parker's arm, it will be he who takes the ball in Game 1 of the Bay Bridge Series.Parker (3-3, 2.82) faced the Giants in Game 1 of the first interleague matchup between the A's and Giants, and got rocked. He lasted all of two innings, allowing six earned runs on four hits and four walks. It was the only time he failed to record a strikeout in a start this year, and his only start in which he did not complete five innings. His loss contributed to the Giants' 2-1 series victory.Opposing Parker will be Tim Lincecum (2-8, 6.19), who is searching for himself amidst a stretch of nine starts in which the Giants are winless.

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.