Athletics

Manaea, bullpen can't hit the brakes as A's squander big lead

Manaea, bullpen can't hit the brakes as A's squander big lead

OAKLAND — Sean Manaea said the blame for Saturday’s loss fell on him.

A couple lockers down from him, Sean Doolittle was talking about how he and his fellow relievers need to do a better job when entering tough situations.

On a day that produced so much dysfunction on the diamond, at least the A’s were in sharp form afterward in trying to accept responsibility.

They lost for the second straight day to the Astros on Saturday, 10-6, and did so in ugly fashion, blowing what was a 5-0 lead at one point. There were two costly errors and some missed opportunities on offense, but the biggest breakdowns came on the pitching side.

Handing a five-run lead to Manaea usually seems a sure route to victory. But after he tossed five scoreless (and hitless) innings, things went downhill quickly for the left-hander. He walked the first three batters of the sixth, throwing eight balls in a row at one point, and then gave up Carlos Correa’s line drive that got past shortstop Adam Rosales, a play on which the A’s got charged for two errors and let two runs score.

“We played the first half of the game really well, and probably as poorly as we could play the second half of the game,” manager Bob Melvin said.

Manaea’s sizable natural ability has shined through at times over his first three starts — the Astros still hadn’t registered a hit off him when he was pulled after five-plus innings. But he couldn’t recover after he lost command of the strike zone, and he piled up 98 pitches and forced Melvin to call on his bullpen early.

“Today was a tough one,” Manaea said. “It’s completely on me. Everybody’s just sitting around waiting, long innings, and I’m putting the bullpen in a bad situation like that. For me, it’s really a mental thing.”

Manaea actually lowered his ERA from 7.15 to 5.51, but the A’s need consistency from their No. 2 starter to bolster a rotation that’s been without Sonny Gray and saw Kendall Graveman leave Friday’s start early for health reasons.

It was still a 5-2 game when Melvin went to his bullpen, but rather than restore order, the relievers let things skid completely off-course. Liam Hendriks, Santiago Casilla, Doolittle and Frankie Montas combined to allow eight runs over the final three innings.

“It just kind of snowballed on us,” Doolittle said. “I guess the silver lining here is we all kind of had a bad day at once. Hopefully we got it out of our system. There’s some guys coming into tough spots with guys on base. We gotta be better coming into games in those situations and making pitches and picking each other up.”

Any team can rebound from a 5-7 start and spotty play early on. What the A’s truly can’t afford is bad news on the injury front for a couple of their cornerstones. Shortstop Marcus Semien missed Saturday’s game and will be sidelined at least a couple more days with what’s been diagnosed as a bone contusion in his right wrist. He underwent an MRI on Saturday, but a CT scan Monday should provide more clarity on how serious the injury is.

Semien said his wrist has bothered him since late in spring training. He’s played through the discomfort, and it was only hindering him swinging the bat until Friday night, when he felt it throwing during batting practice.

A bit of mystery also surrounds Graveman after he left Friday’s start early. He explained Saturday that he had trouble getting his entire body loose. Asked if it was accurate to say it was an arm issue, Graveman said no. Whatever the case, both he and Melvin expressed hope he would be OK for his next start Wednesday.

The A’s could use a dose of good news when they take the field Sunday looking to avoid a sweep.

Doolittle spoke of the bullpen specifically with the following quote, but could have been referring to his entire team about Saturday’s loss.

“That was so bad that we just gotta turn the page, leave it here, flush it and get back to work tomorrow.”

 

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

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USATSI

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

C.C. Sabathia couldn't save the Yankees' 2017 season. And now he has a decision to make.

After nine seasons in New York, the 37-year-old hits the free agent market this winter.

With career earnings nearing $250 million and a 2009 World Series ring already on his resume, would the Vallejo-native consider coming home to play for the A's? That's a question that was posed to NBCSportsBayArea.com Insider Joe Stiglich last week.

While it's a possibility, based on comments after Saturday's ALCS Game 7 loss to the Astros, it sounds like Sabathia doesn't want to leave The Bronx.

“I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great. This is my home, and I want to see this thing through," Sabathia told reporters, according to The Associated Press.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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USATSI

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.