Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: A's stave off elimination

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Pratt's Instant Replay: A's stave off elimination

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Facing elimination, the Oakland Athletics and their fans returned home knowing they had a tough task at hand. Riding the momentum of a sellout crowd, the A's jumped out to an early lead and played shutdown defense to declaw the Tigers.The A's won 2-0 behind a gutsy effort by recently-injured starting pitcher Brett Anderson. The last time he pitched was on Sept. 19, in Detroit, where he suffered a Grade 2 oblique strain. He ended up winning the game on Tuesday.Starting Pitching ReportAll the questions surrounding the health of Anderson were answered rather quickly. He struck out Tigers' leadoff hitter Austin Jackson on three pitches to start the game. Next Anderson struck out Omar Infante on four pitches and retired Miguel Cabrera on one pitch.Anderson got a little love from the glove of Coco Crisp to start the second inning. Prince Fielder launched a ball that would have been a homer had Crisp not made a spectacular catch to rob him. Anderson gave up back-to-back singles after Fielder's near homer, but worked his way out of the inning unscathed.Anderson caught another break in the third inning. He struck out Gerald Laird, but the ball got away from catcher Derek Norris. Laird started running to first but slowed down while turning around to check and see if the umpire determined he went around on his checked swing. That gave Norris enough time to throw to first to get the out. Anderson then had trouble finding the strike zone. He walked Jackson on four consecutive balls, but got Infante to ground into an inning-ending double play with Cabrera on deck. Anderson threw 39 pitches through three innings.Anderson retired nine of the next 10 batters to get through the sixth inning. He struck out Cabrera to end the top of the sixth and the sell-out crowd went crazy.Anderson finished the night with six shutout innings of two-hit ball. He struck out six batters and walked two. He got 10 groundouts and one fly out.Bullpen ReportRyan Cook took over in the seventh inning. He got a little help from Yoenis Cespedes as he robbed Fielder for the first out. Cook struck out Delmon Young for the second out. He gave up a single, but got Dirks to hit a lazy ball to left to left field to end the inning.Sean Doolittle entered in the eighth inning. He demolished the Tigers' hitters by striking out the side. Doolittle hit 96 miles per hour on his fastball.Grant Balfour entered in the ninth inning with the heart of the Tigers' lineup due up. He struck out Infante, gave up a single to Cabrera, and then got Fielder to ground into an game-ending double play for the save.At the PlateThe A's jumped out front for the third game in a row this series. Crisp and Stephen Drew each reached base to start the game. Yoenis Cespedes cracked a ball up the middle past a diving Infante to drive home Crisp and give the A's a 1-0 lead. With two on and no outs, Brandon Moss struck out looking and Josh Reddick grounded into an inning-ending double play.The A's had a chance to break the game open in the first inning but only scored one run. They doubled their run total when Seth Smith crushed a solo homer to center field off Tigers' starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Smith has three career homers in just 16 career at-bats against Sanchez.In the FieldThey said the A's backs were against the wall going into this game. Crisp's literally was as he made a leaping catch against the wall in right-center field to rob Prince Fielder of a home run to start the second inning. Fielder looked like he had a line-drive home run, Crisp somehow caught up to the ball at the height of his leap and got his glove on it.Stephen Drew made two nice ranging plays in the fourth inning. The first one he ranged to his left and made a 360-degree spin to throw out Cabrera. The second, he ranged all the way past second base and made an off balance throw to rob Fielder of a hit up the middle.Cespedes made a spectacular ranging catch to rob Fielder in the seventh inning. He looked like a panther stalking his prey as he got really low to the ground as he tracked the ball and went into a dive to catch the ball. Ironically, all the plays that made the "In the Field" section were to rob Fielder.AttendanceThe A's announced a sell-out attendance of 37,090. Warriors coach Mark Jackson was in the crowd.Dot RaceGold wins the dot race with the A's wearing white jerseys. The Dot Race is so much more intense during the postseason.Up NextA.J. Griffin gets the ball in Game Four. He was 7-1 this season, but his one loss came against the Tigers.Max Scherzer will be on the mound for the Tigers. He finished second in Major League Baseball with 231 strikeouts, trailing only Justin Verlander's 239.

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.