Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: A's are postseason bound

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Pratt's Instant Replay: A's are postseason bound

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OAKLAND -- For the first time since 2006 the A's are heading to the postseason. They've clinched a spot in the American League Wild Card game with a 4-3 win over the Rangers. As the A's pop champagne and party in celebration they are now tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the top Wild Card spot and Oakland holds the tiebreaker. On June 30, the A's lost 7-2 to the Rangers and fell a seemingly insurmountable 13 games behind Texas. Oakland responded by going 55-26 from that point on and now sit just one game behind the Rangers with a chance to seize the division title with two games to play.
Starting Pitcher ReportEntering Monday, Jarrod Parker was 2-0 in his career against the Rangers. He was surgical in the first two innings. He carved up the Rangers, retiring six of the first seven batters he faced on 21 pitches.Parker got in trouble in the third inning. He allowed a leadoff walk and a single to Mitch Moreland. With runners on the corners and no outs he struck out Ian Kinsler. Elvis Andrus drove home the Rangers first run with a soft single. Then Parker struck out Josh Hamilton swinging and got Adrian Beltre to ground out to end the inning.With just six pitches Parker struck out Hamilton swinging in each of his first two plate appearances. He got him to fly out to end the inning on three pitches in the fifth.Parker's second run allowed came on a solo homer hit by Michael Young. He went opposite field on a 2-0 fastball and drove the ball over the high wall in right-center field. Crisp actually made a leaping attempt on the play as the ball barely cleared the wall. Napoli hit a towering drive to center field to make it a one-run game. It was Napoli's 24th homer of the season. It came on a 3-2 fastball and knocked Parker out of the game. Parker finished his night with six-plus innings pitched. He allowed three runs on six hits and walked three batters while striking out six. The two homers allowed for Parker tied a season-high mark. The Orioles hit two homers against Parker on July 27 in Baltimore.At the PlateThe A's jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. Oakland collected back-to-back hits from Coco Crisp and Jonny Gomes to start the inning, but Yoenis Cespedes grounded into a double play. With two outs and Crisp on third, Chris Carter drew a walk. Josh Reddick, who has been plagued with runners in scoring position this season, drove a two-out RBI single up the middle to score the first run. Josh Donaldson drew a walk to load the bases. Then Rangers' pitcher Martin Perez balked in the second run of the game.The A's got two off Perez in the first, but five days ago when they faced him in Texas they knocked him out of the game in the first inning by scoring five runs on six hits. The young lefty settled down and held the A's scoreless over the next three innings and retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced.Oakland's offense knocked Perez out of the game in the fifth inning by hitting back-to-back doubles. Adam Rosales scorched a ball into the right-center field gap and scored when Crisp doubled to center field. Crisp stole third base, his 39th of the season, and scored on a shallow sacrifice fly to center field hit by pinch hitter Brandon Moss. Crisp made a perfect slide home barely evading the tag of Mike Napoli after he caught the ball just to the left of home plate.The A's rallied with two outs in the sixth inning. Derek Norris drew a walk and Cliff Pennington smacked a pinch-hit single. Crisp stepped to the plate but popped out to second base to end the inning.Bullpen ReportSean Doolittle entered in relief of Parker. He pitched a clean inning and stuck out one batter. Ryan Cook took over in the eighth. He retired Hamilton to start the inning, got Beltre to pop out, and struck out Nelson Cruz looking.Grant Balfour entered in the ninth inning with a trip to the playoffs on the line. He hit 97-MPH on the radar gun and struck out the side.AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 21,162. The Oakland faithful were very loud on Monday. It looks like they got a large walk up crowd.Dot RaceGold wins the dot race after getting rear-ended across the finish line. There goes my theory that the dot color that corresponds with the A's uniform color wins.Up NextTravis Blackley (5-4, 4.00) takes the mound for the A's. He has struggled mightily in his last two starts lasting just three innings. He was knocked out after just one inning in his previous start, which was against the Rangers in Arlington, after allowing five runs.The Rangers will send left-handed pitcher Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26 ERA) to the mound. Last Thursday he allowed four runs against the A's but got the win.

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.