Athletics

Instant Replay: Bullpen coughs up lead, A's fall to Rangers again

Instant Replay: Bullpen coughs up lead, A's fall to Rangers again

BOX SCORE

The A’s put themselves in position for victory for the second night in a row, only to be dealt Texas-sized heartbreak once again.

The Rangers scored four runs in the seventh off an Oakland bullpen that’s suddenly looking very vulnerable, and Texas pocketed a 6-5 win at Globe Life Park.

Sonny Gray was in line for his first victory since last summer as the A’s took a 4-2 lead entering the bottom of the seventh. But the Rangers struck big off Ryan Dull and Liam Hendriks. They loaded the bases off Dull, who began the inning, then Elvis Andrus tied the game with a two-run single off Hendriks and Nomar Mazara added a two-run double for a 6-4 Rangers lead.

The bullpen opened this six-game road trip not having allowed a run over three consecutive games. But closer Santiago Casilla coughed up a 2-1 lead Friday and the ‘pen couldn’t hold Saturday’s lead, zapping the momentum the A’s had built on a 4-2 homestand. At 16-20, they fell back into sole possession of last place in the American League West.

Starting pitching report:
Gray was in line for his first victory since July 26 after throwing six innings of two-run ball. It was his best of three starts since coming back off the disabled list. He held the Rangers to five hits, walking two and striking out three over 106 pitches.

Bullpen report:
Dull’s results have not been great when pitching on the back end of back-to-back outings. His ERA shot up to 14.40 (8 ER in 5 IP) when pitching on no days’ rest. He loaded the bases on a single and two walks when Melvin called for Hendriks with one out. The righty had been excellent of late with nine consecutive scoreless outings, but he gave up the costly tying and go-ahead hits, with three of the four runs that inning charged to Dull (1-2).

At the plate:
The A’s, 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position over their previous four games heading into the night, got a couple hits in the clutch in building their lead. Yonder Alonso delivered a two-out run scoring single in the fourth to tie the game. Then Matt Joyce’s two-run single in the fifth gave them a 3-2 lead. Trailing 6-4 in the eighth, Alonso struck again with his 12th homer, turning around a 97 mile-per-hour fastball from Keona Kela.

Roster note:
Jaff Decker cleared waivers and the A’s outrighted the outfielder to Triple-A Nashville.

In the field:
Neither team committed an error.

Attendance:
37,898

Up next:
Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.67) takes the ball as the A’s close out this three-game series Sunday at 12:05 p.m. Former Athletic A.J. Griffin (4-0, 2.45) has been excellent for Texas this season, helping to make up for the injury to Cole Hamels.

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.