Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 9, White Sox 7

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 9, White Sox 7

BOX SCORE

The A's decided to shake up their starting rotation and bullpen on Saturday. Their plan worked as they defeated the White Sox 9-7 in Chicago. Two Australian-born pitchers filled in to start and close the game. Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless inning of relief in place of Ryan Cook to earn his eighth save, and Travis Blackley started the game in place of Tommy Milone.At the PlateFrancisco Liriano struck out 15 batters in his last start versus Oakland on July 13. On Saturday he was at it again, striking out the A's first four hitters. Chris Carter came to the plate and knocked him off his rhythm with a double.In the third inning, the A's loaded the bases with two outs. Carter again stung Liriano with a two-out, two-run single to tie the game at two apiece. Derek Norris smashed a two-run ground rule double down the left field line to put the A's up 4-2. Then Adam Rosales added an RBI single to left field, giving the A's their fifth run of the inning. Oakland batted around in the frame with Jemile Weeks flying out to center field to start and end the inning.Coco Crisp led off the fourth inning with a double. He turned on the jets and came around to score from second after getting a great read on a bloop single by Josh Reddick. The A's took a 6-2 lead on Reddick's single and subsequently knocked Liriano out of the game.Liriano, who threw a no-hitter in 2011, was replaced by Philip Humber, who threw a perfect game in 2012. Humber walked Norris in the fifth inning. The A's catcher then stole second base, his fourth stolen base this season. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, but the A's couldn't drive him home.The A's got an unlucky break in the seventh inning when Cliff Pennington smacked a pinch hit double that got stuck under the padding at the top of the fence. As a result of the ground rule double, Brandon Inge, who would have easily scored from first, got held up at third. Weeks struck out to end the inning, and the A's missed a chance to take the lead.In the next inning, the baseball gods repaid the A's for their misfortunes. Jonny Gomes clubbed a solo homer to left field, tying the game at seven. Yoenis Cespedes and Carter reached on back-to-back singles, then Inge hit a ball down the right field line that landed just fair, giving the A's an 8-7 lead.The A's added an insurance run in the ninth inning after Crisp doubled and Gomes drove him home with a single. The run was huge for Oakland as they just demoted their closer before the game.Starting Pitching ReportTravis Blackley made a spot start for the A's allowing the team to skip Tommy Milone's start and get Jarrod Parker extra rest. Blackley pitched five innings and allowed five runs. He gave up six hits, struck out six batters, and walked one.Blackley got in trouble in the second inning. After back-to-back hits put runners on second and third with no outs, he allowed a run to score on an RBI ground out. Then Tyler Flowers hit a double, driving in the first of three RBIs on the evening.Flowers also smacked an RBI single in the fourth inning that preceded a very close play at the plate. In the fifth inning, Kevin Youklis muscled a low fastball over the wall in center field for a two-run homer. The pitch Youklis took deep didn't look like a mistake on Blackley's part. The White Sox slugger's homer might have been aided by the famous Chicago wind.Bullpen ReportJordan Norberto entered in relief of Blackley and surrendered the lead on a Flowers home run. It was the White Sox's sixth homer of the series. The lefty reliever pitched one and one-third innings.The A's freshly demoted closer Ryan Cook entered the game in relief of Norberto with a runner on and one out. He allowed back-to-back singles, the second hit being an A.J. Pierzynski RBI that gave the White Sox a 7-6 lead. Cook was able to induce an inning-ending double play after yielding the lead. Cook remained in the game for the eighth inning. He left with two outs and a runner on base. He pitched one and one-third innings, hit a batter and struck out one. The run he allowed was charged to Norberto. Jerry Blevins got the final out of the eighth inning.Grant Balfour entered the game as the A's closer with a two-run lead. He hadn't earned a save since May 5. The Australian-born righty started the inning by hitting Youklis in the hand. He then got Adam Dunn to fly out to left. He struck out Alex Rios, and got Pierzynski to pop out to shortstop to end the inning.It was Balfour's eighth save of the season. Ironically, Cook got the win.In the FieldReddick made a strong throw home on a single hit by Flowers, and had Dayan Viciedo nailed at home plate. But Viciedo avoided Norris' tag as he slid home safely. Norris went for a swipe tag and Viciedo executed a perfect hook slide reaching in to tap the plate with his left hand before the catcher's glove touched him on the forearm.Inge made a diving stop in the seventh inning on a ball hit by Alex Rios. Inge landed then held his arm frozen in a strange manner without trying to make a throw. After some examination from the A's athletic trainer and manager Bob Melvin, he remained in the game and ended up with a big hit. After the game, Inge told A's radio announcer Vince Cotroneo that his shoulder popped out of the socket on the play. Inge somehow managed to pop his shoulder back in and finish the game.Up NextBartolo Colon (9-8, 3.38) will face another one of his former teams on Sunday. Colon, 39, hasn't allowed an earned run since July 22. The veteran had his 22 13 scoreless innings streak snapped in his previous start on an unearned run.He will be opposed by left-handed pitcher Chris Sale (13-3, 2.59 ERA). Sale pitched eight innings of two run ball against the A's on April 25.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

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AP

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.