Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1 (11)

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1 (11)

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OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen appeared to achieve the improbable. After losing starting pitcher A.J. Griffin to right shoulder pain in the second inning, the A's 'pen pitched six and one-third scoreless innings to keep the team in the lead. This after the 'pen combined for nine scoreless in a 15-inning marathon on Friday night. Then Ryan Cook allowed a game-tying home run in the ninth. As the great Yogi Berra once said, it was deja vu all over again. The A's entered Saturday 9-2 in extra innings games. They couldn't pull it off this time. The Toronto Blue Jays scored two runs in the 11th to take the game 3-1. At the PlateDerek Norris doubled home the A's first run. It was a two-out hit that he smacked over the right fielder's head. As the ball made its way to the wall, Brandon Inge rounded third and scored easily. The A's loaded the bases in the fifth inning with two outs. That sent Michael Taylor to the plate. Taylor was acquired by the A's in exchange for Brett Wallace in a prospect swap with the Blue Jays. Taylor wasn't able to make the Jays pay for trading him, however. He ended up striking out on a check swing. Taylor battled Steve Delabar in an 11-pitch at-bat in the eighth. Delabar won the battle by striking out Taylor looking on a 95-mph fastball. Starting Pitching ReportStarting pitcher A.J. Griffin left the game after just 32 pitches with what the team is calling tightness in his right shoulder.
NEWS: Griffin forced to leave
He was pulled in the second inning with two outs. Griffin had a 1-1 count on Moises Sierra when athletic trainer Nick Paparesta and Bob Melvin visited him on the mound and removed him from the game.Griffin seemed to be fine prior to the game. He was playing music in the clubhouse and was his typically upbeat self.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. That streak is over. If Griffin has to go on the DL, expect Brandon McCarthy to take his spot in the rotation. McCarthy is pitching a second rehab game in Triple-A for the Sacramento River Cats Saturday night. He would be on turn to fill in for Griffin. Coincidentally, Griffin came up when McCarthy went on the DL.Bullpen ReportAfter a 15-inning game the night before, the last thing the A's needed was for their starting pitcher to get injured. Jordan Norberto did a spectacular job filling the void out of the bullpen. He pitched a career-high three and two-thirds innings on 64 pitches -- without allowing a run. The lefty reliever allowed four hits, struck out four and didn't walk a single batter. Previously, Norberto's longest outing was a two and one-third inning outing against the Yankees. Pat Neshek entered in relief of Norberto and retired the final two batters in the sixth inning. He threw a scoreless seventh inning as well. Neshek looks like a sneaky-good pickup for the A's. He has a deceptive delivery from the right side. Over one and two-thirds innings, he didn't allow a hit. He walked one batter and struck out one. Grant Balfour was the next stop on the bullpen express. He tossed a perfect eighth inning. Ryan Cook entered the game with a one-run lead in the ninth, pitching in his third game in a row. Cook's numbers when pitching on consecutive days are not good. Entering Saturday he had allowed 11 runs in eight innings. The second batter he faced David Cooper clubbed a game-tying solo homer to right field. Cook has now blown four saves in his last six appearances. His seven blown saves are the most in the American League. It might be time for the A's to look elsewhere in the ninth. Jerry Blevins pitched a scoreless 10th inning. He put two runners on base but struck out two batters to end the inning unscathed. In the 11th he put two on again. This time they both scored. The A's had a chance to end the inning with a double play. Jeff Mathis struck out swinging with both runners in motion. Kottaras threw the ball to Inge who couldn't catch it to make the tag. It looked like the throw would have beat the runner but it got by Inge, giving the Jays a 2-1 lead. Moises Sierra followed with a double giving the Jays a 3-1 lead. In the FieldWhen track and field starts in the Olympics, the A's should compete as a relay team. Instead of the baton, the A's passed the ball seamlessly. They combined for a fantastic relay on a double off the wall in center field. Josh Reddick played the ball off the wall and fired it to Adam Rosales, who chucked it home beating Sierra by a good five feet. Catcher George Kottaras caught the ball and absorbed some contact from Sierra but stayed on his feet and held on for the out. The A's ended the 11th inning with a second play at the plate. Anthony Gose hit an infield single but again Sierra was thrown out at home. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 17,121. Up NextTommy Milone (9-8, 3.68) takes the mound for the A's. The last time he faced the Jays he allowed five earned runs over seven innings and took the loss.The Jays will be sending Aaron Laffey (2-2, 4.20 ERA) to the mound. Laffey gave up seven runs on nine hits against the Mariners in his last start. He allowed four runs on July 26 against the A's in Toronto.

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.