Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 5, Blue Jays 4 (15)

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 5, Blue Jays 4 (15)

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- It seems nothing can rattle the A's anymore. Prior to the game the team made five roster moves, shocking the clubhouse -- the big move was a trade that sent veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Nationals. They didn't have much time to sulk or feel sorry for themselves. They had a game to play. The A's played their second 15-inning game this week. And for the 13th time this season they won it in walk-off fashion. This time it took a leadoff triple from Jemile Weeks who scored on a Coco Crisp sacrifice fly to win the game 5-4. It's his third walk-off hit this year. He was treated with a two cooler cold shower. Then Spiderman emerged and pied Crisp with two pies. The A's win came at a cost. Yoenis Cespedes left the game with a right wrist sprain. He had two infield singles on Friday -- he has nine this season. He swiped second base for his ninth stolen base, but then got thrown out trying to steal third. He then left the game. He likely injured his wrist when he got caught stealing third. Starting Pitching ReportProfessional baseball's strikeout leader Dan Straily wasted no time getting his first major league strikeout. He struck out the first batter he faced, Brett Lawrie, looking on a 3-2 fastball. Straily, 23, used all four of his pitches effectively. His arsenal included a 92-mph fastball, a 82-mph change-up, a 73-mph curveball, and an 82-mph slider. He struck out five batters -- three with fastballs, one with the change-up, and one on the slider. Straily attacked the strike zone, throwing 13 first-pitch strikes over 24 batters faced. He only walked one batter. The only run he allowed came on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. He worked through his debut jitters and settled into a groove in the fifth and sixth innings and retired eight of the last nine batters he faced. Straily was in line for his first career win but will have to settle for an impressive no decision after the A's gave up the lead in the bottom of the ninth. At the PlateThe A's got two on in the second after Cespedes legged out an infield single and Chris Carter worked an 0-2 count into a walk. Brandon Inge stepped to the plate next and extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games with an RBI-single giving the A's a 1-0 lead. Jonny Gomes swung and missed on Brett Cecil's first two offerings before driving an 0-2 pitch into the left field bleachers. Gomes now has 11 homers this season and his blast gave the A's a 2-0 lead. Carter hit a hanging slider so hard in the fourth inning that it landed about 30 stairs deep in the left field stairwell. It was his ninth homer of the season and it gave the A's a 3-1 lead. At this point it would be wise to put Carter in the lineup daily. Gomes hit the hardest single of his life in the the fifth. It was a screaming line drive that smashed into the very top of the wall in left field. The ball was hit so hard that he had to stop at first. Gomes' single moved Coco Crisp to third base. He ended up scoring on a Josh Reddick sacrifice fly to right field. In the 10th inning Jemile Weeks hit a leadoff single up the middle past the outstretched glove of Kelly Johnson as he dove for the ball. Coco Crisp drew a six-pitch walk and then Weeks and Crisp advanced on a wild pitch thrown by Brad Lincoln. Gomes drew a walk of his own to load the bases for Reddick with one out. Reddick struck out looking on a 2-2 curveball. Brandon Moss stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter but grounded out to short. Weeks led off with a triple in the 15th. This time, Crisp drove him home with a sacrifice fly.Bullpen ReportGrant Balfour brought rage to the right field bleachers and to the Jays hitters. He pitched two flawless innings striking out three batters. Ryan Cook blew the save after allowing a two-out, three-run game-tying homer. He struck out the first two batters he faced but let the Jays rally to tie the game. Cook has allowed six runs in his last six appearances. His six blown saves are tied for the most in the American League. Jerry Blevins started the 10th. He allowed two runners to reach base after hitting Colby Rasmus and walking Edwin Encarnacion. He then got Kelly Johnson to fly out for the second out. Pat Neshek entered in relief of Blevins. He threw two pitches and ended the Blue Jays threat in the 10th. He came back out in the 11th and struck out the side. Not bad for a guy that was pitching in Triple-A all season. Sean Doolittle pitched the 12th inning and got bailed out by some solid defense (read below). Travis Blackley entered the game in the 13th. Having just been moved to the bullpen, he can serve as a very effective long reliever. Blackley flashed his pickoff move, nailing Rajai Davis at first base. He has now picked off seven runners. He ended up throwing three scoreless innings and got the win. In the FieldIn the 12th inning Brandon Moss, who doesn't usually play left field, slightly misplayed a ball hit to left off the bat of Colby Rasmus. Omar Vizquel, attempting to score from first, rounded third as Moss' throw hit the cutoff man Inge who fired the ball home to Norris to get the 45-year-old at the plate. The play preserved the 4-4 tie. In the 15th inning Eric Sogard made a ridiculous play to save a run. He ranged far to the right backhanding the ball and flipping it to third base for the force out to end the inning. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 30,169. Straily Italian Heritage night Fireworks = attendance. Dot RaceWhite wins the dot race.Up NextStraily's Double-A roommate A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.51 ERA) will take the hill for the A's on Saturday. According to the A's game notes Griffin is the first pitcher since at least 1918 to begin his career by tossing six or more innings while allowing three runs or less in each of his first seven starts. Ricky Romero (8-8, 5.69 ERA) will get a chance to redeem himself against the A's after allowing eight runs in one and a third innings last time he faced them. Rehabbing A'sCliff Pennington went 1-for-2 with two walks and one RBI for the River Cats. He also stole a base. This is his first rehab start since hitting the disabled list with left elbow tendonitis on July 20.

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.