Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 9, Twins 4

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 9, Twins 4

BOX SCORE

The A's came out of the gate like a thoroughbred ridden by a maniacal jockey, leaving Twins starting pitcher Brian Duensing in the dust. He was knocked out after just two innings, allowing six runs on seven hits. With their second consecutive four-homer game the A's powered their way to a 9-4 win.The swinging A's have hit nine home runs over the course of this three-game sweep of the Twins. Oakland is now a season-high three games over .500 and a 12 a game behind Baltimore for the second American League Wild Card spot.At the PlateA's manager Bob Melvin is pulling all the right strings -- call him the puppet master. He started Gomes in the second spot in the lineup for the first time this season -- all Gomes did was go 3 for 4 with a two-run homer and three runs scored.Gomes launched one of the A's four homers on Sunday. The A's have so much pop lately that the late, great Orville Redenbacher would be jealous. They now have 92 home runs this season. They hit 114 all of last year.Yoenis Cespedes smashed an outside pitch to dead center for a solo homer in the second inning. Chris Carter upped the ante with a blast to right-center that hit the facing of the second deck. Cespedes and Carter's back-to-back blasts gave the A's a 6-2 lead. In addition to his homer, Carter drew three walks.Cespedes ended up going 4 for 5 with three RBI, his first career four-hit game. He looked unstoppable in this series. The Cuban-born slugger sprayed the ball all over the field, doing a particularly good job of hitting the ball to the opposite field. When he is healthy he is scary good.Seth Smith was moved down to the eighth spot in the lineup -- shocker, another Melvin move that worked. He clubbed his 10th homer of the season in the sixth inning. The A's now have five hitters on the team with double-digit home runs. (Reddick-20, Moss-11, Cespedes-11, Gomes-10, Smith-10.)After Smith's homer in the sixth, Cespedes hit an RBI-single. The A's eventually loaded the bases in that frame, scoring another run on a wild pitch with Brandon Inge batting, making the score 9-2.Inge came to the plate three different times with the bases loaded on Sunday. He went hitless in all three of those plate appearances, ending the day 0 for 5 with two strikeouts. He left eight men on base.Starting Pitching ReportJarrod Parker pitched on a full week's rest and had enough run support to be at ease on the mound. Even though it wasn't one of his best performances, the 23-year-old rookie got his sixth win. He allowed four runs on nine hits, but didn't walk any batters which is a great sign. Parker has all the makings of a frontline starting pitcher, but his one weakness is issuing walks. Bullpen ReportJerry Blevins pitched a clean seventh inning and came back out for the eighth. He got two more outs in that frame before being relieved by Evan Scribner, who got the last out of the inning. Scribner stayed in the game for the ninth inning and pitched a scoreless frame.In the FieldJarrod Parker got charged with an error when he fielded a comebacker and bounced a throw to shortstop Brandon Hicks, who could have turned a double play if the throw was better. When all was said and done it only ended up costing the A's one run.As rough of a day as Inge had at the plate, he made a sensational play to end the eighth inning. The third baseman dove to his right stealing a double off the bat of Trevor Plouffe, then fired to first for the out.Up NextThe A's head home and get the day off on Monday, before beginning a pivotal six-game stretch with two games against the Rangers and four against the Yankees.Oakland will be sending Bartolo Colon (6-7, 3.80 ERA) to the mound against the Rangers. It will be his third start since being reinstated from the disabled list. Colon is 18-6 with a 3.61 ERA in 28 career starts against the Rangers.Roy Oswalt (2-1, 6.26 ERA) will be on the mound for the Rangers. The veteran righty has made four starts this season after sitting out the first two and a half months of the season. He gave up nine runs on July 3 against the White Sox, but allowed just one run against the Twins over 5.2 innings in his last start. Former A'sBen Sheets got his first win since July 10, 2010 -- when he was with the A's. He threw six innings of shutout ball against the Mets. The veteran righty who has returned from "Tommy John" surgery allowed just two hits and struck out five hitters.Trevor Cahill went 5.1 innings for the Diamondbacks agains the Cubs. He allowed three runs on four hits. Cahill was part of the swap that sent Parker to the A's.

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.