Athletics

Instant Replay: A's blow five-run lead, lose 10-6 to Astros

Instant Replay: A's blow five-run lead, lose 10-6 to Astros

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – The outcome might have been shocking had the A’s not dropped so many clues that Saturday’s game ultimately would end badly for them.

Even in building a five-run lead, there were numerous malfunctions that a team pays for against a dangerous opponent. It all caught up to the A’s in a 10-6 loss to the Houston Astros in front of a Coliseum crowd that understandably grew disgruntled as the afternoon wore on.

It’s tough to make off with a ‘W’ when your pitching staff issues eight walks. Or when your defense makes two errors on one play that costs two runs. Or when two bases-loaded opportunities wind up netting zero runs.

That’s not a complete list of all that went wrong, but it provides a clue as to why this one played out the way it did. The A’s have lost three in a row, and the news wasn’t great on the injury front Saturday morning as shortstop Marcus Semien underwent an MRI for a sore right wrist.

The A’s built a 5-0 lead after striking for three in the second inning, then getting home runs from Trevor Plouffe and Khris Davis in the fifth. But Houston began chipping away with two in the sixth, then two more in the seventh.

Things got ugly in the eighth, when the Astros put runners on second and third with one out against Santiago Casilla, trailing 5-4, and Sean Doolittle came on to relieve him. Doolittle threw a wild pitch on his first offering to bring home the tying run and move Brian McCann to third base. He would score on Nori Aoki’s sacrifice fly to put the Astros ahead. George Springer’s two-run homer made it 8-5, and the A’s couldn’t muster the needed comeback magic.

Starting pitching report:
Sean Manaea put together another crazy pitching line. In his previous start, he struck out 10 while allowing six runs against the Texas Rangers. On Saturday, he exited in the sixth inning having walked five but allowing zero hits. He had swing-and-miss stuff, as his six strikeouts would suggest. But his command deserted him in the sixth, when he issued three consecutive free passes to open the inning. With the bases loaded, Carlos Correa smoked a liner that got past shortstop Adam Rosales for an error. Two runs wound up scoring on the play as center fielder Jaff Decker mishandled the ball for another error. With the A’s lead cut to 5-2, manager Bob Melvin came to get Manaea, who threw 98 pitches over five-plus innings and was charged with two runs (one earned).

Bullpen report:
There was plenty of blame to go around in this area, as five relievers combined to allow eight earned runs. Doolittle was on the mound when the lead changed hands, but it doesn’t all fall on him. Casilla walked two to spark Houston’s go-ahead rally, and then Frankie Montas gave up two runs late to stymie any thoughts of a comeback. And it’s worth noting the relief corps has been overworked the past two days with short starts from Kendall Graveman and Manaea, respectively.

At the plate:
Plouffe is showing signs of awakening offensively. He homered for the second consecutive game also drew two walks in the No. 2 spot in the batting order. He was in that spot with both Marcus Semien and Rajai Davis out of the lineup. Two batters after Plouffe went deep, Khris Davis connected for his sixth homer, an opposite-field shot to right-center on a curve ball on the outer part of the

In the field:
Defensive mistakes continue to bite the A’s at bad times. Correa scorched his sixth-inning liner, but Rosales should have caught it, and Decker’s error on the same play led to a second run scoring on the play. The A’s have committed a major league-high 15 errors, including at least one in each of the last nine games.

Attendance:
A crowd of 20,140 was on hand.

Up next:
This series wraps with a 1:05 p.m. game Sunday as Jharel Cotton (1-1, 3.97) matches up against Charlie Morton (0-1, 4.09), who will be facing the A’s for the first time in his career.

Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

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Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

Ryan Christenson has worked his way up the coaching ladder in the A’s farm system, and on Thursday he was named the team’s new major league bench coach.

The announcement makes Christenson, 43, the right-hand man for manager Bob Melvin and essentially the No. 2 man in the dugout. It also settles a position that was in flux over the course of the 2017 season. Mark Kotsay began this past season as bench coach but stepped away from the team in June to be with his family after his daughter, Sienna, suffered a serious eye injury.

Kotsay is expected to remain with the big league club in some form of non-everyday role. Chip Hale finished the season as bench coach but will now switch back to third base coach, a position he originally was hired for leading into the 2017 season. Hale also coaches Oakland’s infielders.

“At some point in time we knew Ryan was going to be here,” Melvin said. “He went through all the classifications (managing in the minors). He did well with a young group. It’s a good fit bringing him in, and he’s ready for the bench coach role. He’s done a lot of managing.”

Though the bench coach works in closest tandem with a manager throughout the game, Melvin also noted the importance of having a third-base coach that thinks right along with him and is on the same page. From that standpoint, he said having Hale in that role is important.

“Chip’s so good at third, that even though I’m used to having him on the bench, it’s tough not to use him (at third),” Melvin said. “Certainly this isn’t a demotion for Chip.”

It’s the first appointment on a major league staff for Christenson, who has spent the past five seasons managing in Oakland’s farm system, starting with low Single-A and working his way up to Triple-A Nashville this season. He led Double-A Midland to back-to-back Texas League titles in 2015-16, and his teams went 391-307 (.561) over those five seasons.

The rest of Melvin’s coaching staff will return intact in 2018. That includes pitching coach Scott Emerson, who took over that role midseason after the firing of Curt Young, and hitting coach Darren Bush. Like Christenson, Emerson and Bush both were promoted from within the farm system to their eventual spots on the big league staff.

All three men have extensive history coaching the large group of young players that are establishing themselves as the A’s core, and that’s a factor worth keeping in mind when evaluating the makeup of this staff.

Emerson, who assumed Young’s duties in June, will return as pitching coach despite the A’s staff posting a 4.67 ERA, highest by an Oakland staff since 1999. A’s pitchers also surrendered an Oakland-record 210 home runs.

“Similar to Ryan, he knows everybody, what we have here and in the minor leagues,” Melvin said of Emerson. “He’s been a good fit here and continues to be a good fit.”

Bush oversaw a group of hitters that showed improvement as the season wore on, scoring the fifth-most runs in the American League after the All-Star break. The A’s set a franchise record for strikeouts – in line with the rise in whiffs throughout the majors -- but also hit the fourth-most homers in franchise history.

Melvin’s staff is rounded out by first base coach Mike Aldrete, bullpen coach Garvin Alston and assistant hitting coach/catching coach Marcus Jensen. Steve Scarsone, who filled in as interim third base coach from June through the rest of the season, will resume his duties as a traveling instructor throughout the farm system.

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts.