Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: We'll see you Thursday night

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Pratt's Instant Replay: We'll see you Thursday night

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- The A's were down to their final three outs. They were down two runs. They were even down two games to none this series. It is all evened up now. The Oakland Athletics live to fight another day after a 4-3 walk-off win.The A's were on life support. Down 3-1 entering the ninth inning the Tigers sent their closer Jose Valderde to the mound. Josh Reddick hit a leadoff single. Josh Donaldson just missed a game-tying home run. Seth Smith drove them both home with a game-tying double, and Coco Crisp smacked the game-winning single to right field. Their season seamed to be on the brink. They reanimated like Bernie and partied with pie. It was their 15th walk-off win this season. Their seventh in postseason history.At the PlateThe A's hitters had very few answers for Max Scherzer. He struck out five of the first eight batters he faced, and retired a stretch of 12 consecutive hitters starting with two outs in the first and ending with two outs in the fifth when Seth Smith worked a walk.Following Smith's walk, Derek Norris hit a bloop single to put runners on the corners with two outs. Cliff Pennington stepped to the plate with a chance to put the A's on the board but he struck out looking.Even the A's spark-plug Coco Crisp led off the sixth inning by hitting a hard ground ball to first base that Prince Fielder couldn't handle. As the ball bounced off his glove and rolled into foul territory Crisp used his speed to get to second base. Crisp's 10-pitch plate appearance worked Scherzer up to 85 pitches.
On Scherzer's 90th pitch the ball got away from catcher Alex Avila and Crisp moved up to third. One pitch after Crisp reached third, Stephen Drew stroked an RBI double into the right-center gap. The A's got greedy though and tried to send Drew to third and he was thrown out.Running into an out at third with no outs and the best hitter on the team in the on-deck circle is a crippling mistake. A's third base coach Mike Gallego clearly thought Drew could make it but he was out by several steps. The A's ended up with an out instead of having the tying runner in scoring position.The A's put together a two-out rally in the eighth inning that started with a Drew single. Cespedes was pitched carefully by Tigers' relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit and took a walk. Trailing 3-1, Brandon Moss stepped to the plate with two outs and a chance to get the A's back in the game but struck out swinging. He practically swung out of his shoes on the first two pitches he saw.Starting Pitching ReportLast time A.J. Griffin faced the Detroit Tigers he allowed a career-high five runs and a career-high tying eight hits. It was important for him to get out to a good start in order to keep the raucous crowd in the game. Griffin did so by retiring the first five batters he faced. In the second inning with two outs he allowed a soft bloop hit to Andy Dirks that was stretched to a double, but Griffin got Jhonny Peralta to fly out to right to end the inning.Griffin retired six of the first seven batters he faced -- five of them on fly balls. He got into trouble when he gave up a leadoff double to Alex Avila to start the third inning. Griffin was looking for a called third strike from home plate umpire Wally Cooper but didn't get it. Then Avila smacked a ball down the right field line. Omar Infante then sacrificed Avila to third. With one out and Avila on third the A's drew in the infield but Jackson singled to left field to score the Tigers' first run. For the first time in the series Detroit scored first.Prince Fielder led off the fourth inning by launching a ball into the right field bleachers. It wasn't slowing down as it crashed into the stands. Fielders blast put the Tigers up 2-0. It was only his second hit of this series. Griffin allowed back-to-back singles after Fielder's blast. He responded by getting Peralta to ground into a a huge double play and getting Avila to fly out to end the inning with a runner on third.Griffin appeared to be on the ropes in the previous inning but came back out for the fifth. He responded by tossing his second three up, three down inning. He allowed a bloop single to Cabrera to start the sixth inning and was pulled from the game. All things considered, Griffin's end result wasn't too bad. He allowed two runs over five-plus innings on 85 pitches. He gave up seven hits and one walk.Bullpen ReportJerry Blevins entered in relief in the sixth inning. He got a quick three outs after getting Fielder to ground into a double play. He finished the inning by getting Delmon Young to ground out to short. He stayed in the game for the seventh inning and got three straight groundouts. Blevins faced five batters, got five groundouts, and threw 11 pitches.Sean Doolittle entered in the eighth inning. He allowed a leadoff single to Infante that evaded the glove of a diving Drew. Jackson bunted Infante over to second and Tigers' manager Jim Leyland called on Avisail Garcia to pinch hit. He stroked a single to right field that gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead. The single was a major punch in the gut for the A's fans in attendance. Doolittle allowed a single to Young and was relieved by Ryan Cook who quickly got a ground ball to end the inning.Cook tossed a scoreless ninth inning as well.In the FieldDown 2-0 in the fourth inning with runners on first and second and no outs the A's turned a critical double play. Pennington came up with the ball and tossed to Drew who threw to first. Moss had to pick the ball clean to complete the double play.Josh Donaldson made the best play of his career in the seventh inning. He dove toward foul territory to snag a hard-hit ball by Peralta, then from his knees threw across the diamond for the out. When Donaldson made the throw he was about two feet in foul territory. That's a tough throw to make when standing on your feet. AttendanceThe A's announced a sell-out attendance of 36,385.Dot RaceGreen wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's and Tigers play in a win-or-go-home fifth game. Jarrod Parker will be opposed by Justin Verlander.

Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

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Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

Ryan Christenson has worked his way up the coaching ladder in the A’s farm system, and on Thursday he was named the team’s new major league bench coach.

The announcement makes Christenson, 43, the right-hand man for manager Bob Melvin and essentially the No. 2 man in the dugout. It also settles a position that was in flux over the course of the 2017 season. Mark Kotsay began this past season as bench coach but stepped away from the team in June to be with his family after his daughter, Sienna, suffered a serious eye injury.

Kotsay is expected to remain with the big league club in some form of non-everyday role. Chip Hale finished the season as bench coach but will now switch back to third base coach, a position he originally was hired for leading into the 2017 season. Hale also coaches Oakland’s infielders.

“At some point in time we knew Ryan was going to be here,” Melvin said. “He went through all the classifications (managing in the minors). He did well with a young group. It’s a good fit bringing him in, and he’s ready for the bench coach role. He’s done a lot of managing.”

Though the bench coach works in closest tandem with a manager throughout the game, Melvin also noted the importance of having a third-base coach that thinks right along with him and is on the same page. From that standpoint, he said having Hale in that role is important.

“Chip’s so good at third, that even though I’m used to having him on the bench, it’s tough not to use him (at third),” Melvin said. “Certainly this isn’t a demotion for Chip.”

It’s the first appointment on a major league staff for Christenson, who has spent the past five seasons managing in Oakland’s farm system, starting with low Single-A and working his way up to Triple-A Nashville this season. He led Double-A Midland to back-to-back Texas League titles in 2015-16, and his teams went 391-307 (.561) over those five seasons.

The rest of Melvin’s coaching staff will return intact in 2018. That includes pitching coach Scott Emerson, who took over that role midseason after the firing of Curt Young, and hitting coach Darren Bush. Like Christenson, Emerson and Bush both were promoted from within the farm system to their eventual spots on the big league staff.

All three men have extensive history coaching the large group of young players that are establishing themselves as the A’s core, and that’s a factor worth keeping in mind when evaluating the makeup of this staff.

Emerson, who assumed Young’s duties in June, will return as pitching coach despite the A’s staff posting a 4.67 ERA, highest by an Oakland staff since 1999. A’s pitchers also surrendered an Oakland-record 210 home runs.

“Similar to Ryan, he knows everybody, what we have here and in the minor leagues,” Melvin said of Emerson. “He’s been a good fit here and continues to be a good fit.”

Bush oversaw a group of hitters that showed improvement as the season wore on, scoring the fifth-most runs in the American League after the All-Star break. The A’s set a franchise record for strikeouts – in line with the rise in whiffs throughout the majors -- but also hit the fourth-most homers in franchise history.

Melvin’s staff is rounded out by first base coach Mike Aldrete, bullpen coach Garvin Alston and assistant hitting coach/catching coach Marcus Jensen. Steve Scarsone, who filled in as interim third base coach from June through the rest of the season, will resume his duties as a traveling instructor throughout the farm system.

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts.