Athletics

Instant Replay: A's bats put it all together on offense to beat Royals

Instant Replay: A's bats put it all together on offense to beat Royals

BOX SCORE

KANSAS CITY – The A’s coasted to the kind of low-stress victory Wednesday that every major league manager should get to savor once in a while.

They established season highs in runs and hits as they hammered the Royals 8-3 to win consecutive games for the first time this season. The victory was the A's eighth in a row over the Royals.

Eight of the nine hitters in Oakland’s starting lineup had at least one hit. The lone player who didn’t, leadoff man Marcus Semien, walked twice, scored two runs and had a stolen base.

That made it an easy night for skipper Bob Melvin, who made a minor lineup tweak as he dropped Ryon Healy down to the sixth spot and moved Jed Lowrie into the ‘3’ hole. The switch paid dividends, as Lowrie notched a team-high three RBI, and Healy — who entered the night 5-for-32 — had a single and a double.

A team that’s done most of its damage with the long ball this season, the A’s (5-4) instead bunched together singles and doubles Wednesday, knocking former Athletic Jason Hammel (0-1) from the game after 4 2/3 innings.

The beneficiary was right-hander Andrew Triggs (2-0), who has yet to allow an earned run through his first two starts, spanning 11 2/3 innings.

The A’s will go for the sweep in Thursday night’s road trip finale against the Royals, who fell to 2-6 and have scored the second-fewest runs in the American League (24).

Starting pitching report

Triggs held the Royals to four hits over six innings with three strikeouts and a walk. Kansas City put the leadoff hitter aboard in three of the first four innings, but Triggs bore down with men on base. He stranded six runners total.

Bullpen report

Ryan Dull, Liam Hendriks and Frankie Montas handled the final three innings, with the Royals scoring two runs off Hendriks in the eighth on the strength of three hits and a walk. It was Hendriks’ third appearance, but his first in six days.

At the plate

Good stuff up and down the box score for the A’s. Lowrie’s two-run double highlighted a four-run sixth that turned a 4-0 game into 8-0. Rajai Davis got the A’s on the board with a double that scored Trevor Plouffe all the way from first in a the third inning. Three singles, including Yonder Alonso’s run-scoring hit to left-center, and a sacrifice fly from Plouffe made it 3-0 in the fourth. The next inning, Semien walked and stole his fourth base of the season to help set up Lowrie’s sacrifice fly, as the A’s came through with good situational hitting with runners in scoring position.

In the field

Rajai Davis made a key early play in center field. His diving catch to rob Alcides Escobar saved a run in the second and got Triggs out of that inning. Right fielder Matt Joyce also had a terrific catch in the ninth, making a running grab as he crashed into the wall on Cheslor Cuthbert’s deep drive.

Attendance

The announced crowd was 24,380.

Up next

After a quick promotion from the minors and an encouraging long-relief outing against Texas, Jesse Hahn (0-0, 3.00) makes his first start of the season Thursday. Lefty Jason Vargas (1-0, 5.40) goes for the Royals. First pitch is 5:15 p.m.

A's send Opening Day starter down to Triple-A

A's send Opening Day starter down to Triple-A

The A's optioned Opening Day starter Kendall Graveman to Triple-A Nashville Thursday, along with fellow RHP Chris Bassit. In a corresponding move, newly acquired RHP Wilmer Font was activated to the 25-man roster.

Graveman struggled mightily in his six starts this season, going 0-5 with an 8.89 ERA. His five losses lead the major leagues, as do his 28 runs and 41 hits allowed.

The 27-year-old earned his first quality start of the season Wednesday night at Texas, allowing three runs in six innings, but still took the loss. Last season, Graveman went 6-4 with a 4.19 ERA in 19 starts.

Bassitt was recalled from Nashville last Friday, but did not appear in a game with the A's. The 29-year-old is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in three relief appearances with Nashville this season.

Font was acquired from the Dodgers Wednesday for LHP Logan Salow. The 27-year-old went 0-2 with an 11.32 ERA in six relief appearances with Los Angeles.

Re-examining A's Doolittle-Madson trade with Nationals

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USATSI

Re-examining A's Doolittle-Madson trade with Nationals

Last July, the A's traded veteran relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals. Oakland fans were understandably disappointed to see them go, but the A's received some excellent young talent in return, acquiring RHP Blake Treinen, LHP Jesus Luzardo, and infielder Sheldon Neuse.

While it is far too early to determine which team “won” the trade, we can at least begin to evaluate the players Oakland added.

Blake Treinen

At the age of 29, Treinen has shown he has what it takes to be an effective Major League closer. Since joining the A's, Treinen has appeared in 43 games, allowing just 11 earned runs in 50 innings for an ERA of 1.98. He has converted 16 of his 21 save opportunities.

Treinen immediately helped fill the bullpen void left by the departures of Doolittle and Madson. His four-seam fastball and sinker consistently register in the high 90s, and his slider has baffled hitters this season.

Treinen has all-star closer stuff, and he is a bargain financially, making $2.15 million this season. He won't be an unrestricted free agent until 2021, so the A's appear to have their closer for the next few years.

Jesus Luzardo

Luzardo could be the biggest prize in the entire trade. A third-round draft pick out of high school in 2016, the 6-1 left-hander is still just 20 years old and already in Double-A, a rare feat.

Luzardo dominated at High-A Stockton this season, striking out 25 batters in 14 2/3 innings, while allowing just two runs on six hits. He was promoted to Double-A Midland earlier this week, giving up two runs in five innings in his debut, and striking out five.

MLB Pipeline ranks Luzardo as the A's second best prospect, and the eighth best LHP prospect in all of baseball

Luzardo's fastball clocks in the high 90s, and he has an above average breaking ball and changeup. He got his first taste of the big leagues in Spring Training, pitching six scoreless innings and striking out six, including two-time MVP Mike Trout. Luzardo is definitely on the fast track to the big leagues.

Sheldon Neuse

Neuse (pronounced 'noisy') has primarily played third base, but can also play shortstop, second base, and even first base if needed. The 23-year-old starred at the University of Oklahoma and was selected in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft.

A right-handed hitter, Neuse is off to a slow start this season at Triple-A Nashville, batting just .153 through 18 games. But he has shown tremendous ability in previous seasons. In 22 games with High-A Stockton last year, Neuse hit .386 with seven home runs and 22 RBI. He was promoted to Double-A Midland, where he batted .373 in 18 games.

Like Luzardo, Neuse joined the A's for Spring Training, batting an impressive .310 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 58 at-bats. MLB Pipeline ranks him as Oakland's 11th best prospect.

Analysis

Again, it is way too early to declare either team the winner of this trade. Doolittle, 31, and Madson, 37, have both pitched well for the Nationals, helping to shore up their struggling bullpen.

But A's fans have to be excited about the players they added, especially Luzardo. If the talented southpaw reaches his full potential, this could wind up being a steal for Oakland. For now, we'll call it a win-win, as both teams got what they needed out of the deal.