Athletics

A's October Quest: Rangers increase lead with win

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A's October Quest: Rangers increase lead with win

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The sun finally peeked through the clouds and a rainbow appeared beyond center field soon after the Texas Rangers finished playing.All around, it was a bright ending to a drizzly Sunday.Matt Harrison came within one out of a complete game for his 17th victory and the Rangers beat Seattle 2-1, adding to their AL West lead over Oakland for the first time in 10 days."The only thing we can do is keep winning series, and do what we've been doing the past month," Harrison said. "The way they're playing, we've just go to keep going."On his 27th birthday, Harrison (17-9) became the fourth American League pitcher to 17 victories.Adrian Beltre hit his 33rd homer and Mitch Moreland had an RBI double to back the All-Star lefty who has won nine consecutive starts against Seattle since May 2010."Glad we got two runs to support him a little bit," catcher Mike Napoli said. "Overall, everything was pretty good. He had a good changeup, mixed in a couple of curveballs and backdoor sliders. For the most part, he was throwing strikes and missing barrels."With runners on first and third and two outs in the ninth, Koji Uehara struck out Michael Saunders to end the game. It Uehara's first save for Texas since being traded from Baltimore in July 2011.The start of the game was delayed 2 hours and 12 minutes by rain. A light drizzle was still falling when Harrison threw the first pitch, and persisted through the game that took only 2 hours and 20 minutes to play.Two-time defending AL champion Texas (87-59) has the league's best record, and now has a three-game division lead over Oakland. The A's lost for only the second time in 10 games Sunday, 9-5 at home against Baltimore.Texas had a 5 12-game lead on Sept. 6 after winning at Kansas City, gaining a half-game that day on the idle A's. Before Sunday's games, that lead had shrunk to two games - the Rangers' smallest since April 13, a week into the season."They're playing unbelievable," Harrison said. "We've just got to keep winning series."Texas has won eight of its last nine series, and hasn't lost consecutive games in more than a month.The Rangers have their final off day of the regular season Monday. They start a three-game series Tuesday at the Los Angeles Angels, before spending next weekend in Seattle and then playing seven of their last 10 games against the A's.Harrison scattered six hits and struck out five, and his only walk was to Franklin Gutierrez with one out in the ninth. After Kyle Seager's infield popout for the second out, Montero singled to right and manager Ron Washington made the pitching change after 119 pitches.After allowing a single to start the game, Harrison didn't let a runner past first until Justin Smoak led off the eighth with his 16th homer. Harrison benefited from three double plays - two that he started."He did a good job coming in at both left-handers and right-handers, he works that changeup off the fastball, he's able to cut his fastball or sink it, rides it every now and again, a nice breaking ball," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He's got a quick tempo and helped himself, he's great defensively out there, a couple of big double plays. 'Blake Beavan (9-10), pitching for the first time since Sept. 4, allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings. The right-hander was the Rangers' first-round draft pick five years ago before being sent to Seattle in 2010 with Smoak in the Cliff Lee trade.Beltre put the Rangers up 1-0 in the fourth with his eighth homer in 15 games. The 33 homers are one more than he had in his debut with the Rangers last season. The only time he hit more in his career was in 2004 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he led the majors with 48.Murphy had a leadoff single in the fifth and scored when Moreland pulled a double into the right-field corner."We needed the home run from Beltre and we needed the double by Mitch," Washington said. "Up and down our order, someone's going to get one."NOTES: The Rangers said after the game Martin Perez will start Friday's game at Seattle in place of struggling Scott Feldman. ... Seattle played its majors-high 24th rubber game of a series. The Mariners are 11-13 in those games, and had won seven of the previous eight. ... The Rangers are 16-7 in rubber games. ... The NFL's Dallas Cowboys played under sunny skies in Seattle, where they lost. ... During the rain delay, fans were able to see the start of both the Cowboys and A's games on split screen on the big video board. ... The announced paid attendance was 45,928, the 34th sellout at Rangers Ballpark. But a lot of bought tickets were unused on the wet day.

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

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AP

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”

Ouch.

Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

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USATSI

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.