Pratt's Instant Replay: Yankees 10, A's 9 (14 inn.)


Pratt's Instant Replay: Yankees 10, A's 9 (14 inn.)


NEW YORK -- The A's and Yankees engaged in what felt like a 10-round prize fight at Yankee Stadium. Each team at one point held the lead as the two playoff-contending clubs exchanged blows. For the second game in a row the A's and Yanks played into extra innings. Both team's starting pitcher lasted less than three innings, and the game went 14 frames.In the 13th inning the A's delivered a devastating combination. Jonny Gomes crushed a two-run blast to take the lead, Yoenis Cespedes sent them reeling with a beastly cut that sent the ball deep into the second deck in Yankee stadium. Then Chris Carter delivered a mighty blow, a solo blast that landed in the second deck to give the A's a 9-5 lead. It was the first time in franchise history that the A's hit three homers in extra innings.The Yankees got treated by their cornerman and came out swinging in the bottom half of the inning. They rallied for two runs before Raul Ibanez clubbed his second home run of the game, a game-tying two-run shot to even the score at nine.The Bronx Bombers dealt the knockout blow in the 14th inning when they loaded the bases and pushed across the winning run on a fielding error by Brandon Moss. The Yankees won the game 10-9. The game lasted five hours and 43 minutes.Starting Pitching ReportBlackley ranks second in the American League with seven pickoffs. His move is so good that is sometimes fools the umpires and the base runner. Blackley had Alex Rodriguez dead-to-rights at first base, but the second base umpire Larry Vanover called a balk on Blackley and awarded Rodriguez second base. The same scenario played out on July 18 against the Rangers.According to rule 8.05 of MLB's official rule book, a balk is when: "the pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery."The rule book adds that it is also a balk if: "The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base."Blackley says the idea of a pick off move is to make it look like you are going home. That's where the deception lies. The call changed the course of the entire game. Rodriguez came around to score the tying run when Robinson Cano hit a single. Five more batters came to the plate in the inning. Blackley appeared to be rattled by the call and ended up walking Andruw Jones with the bases loaded to make it 3-2.Things didn't much better for Blackley. A's infielders committed two errors behind him and a wild pitch scored the Yankees fourth run of the game.The Australian-born pitcher only lasted two innings. Yankees' starting pitcher Ivan Nova lasted two and one-third. This game was settled by the bullpens.At the PlateThe A's started the game with back-to-back-to-back doubles to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. Stephen Drew, Seth Smith, and Yoenis Cespedes did the damage. Drew smashed his sixth home run of the season to leadoff the third inning. The ball landed on the netting atop Monument Park where the Yankees keep plaques honoring their legends.The A's loaded the bases with one out in third inning after Drew's homer. Cespedes drew a walk, Brandon Moss hit a bloop single, and Chris Carter drew a walk. Josh Reddick, now batting sixth, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and grounded out to the pitcher who started an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play. Reddick's teammates picked him up in the next inning. Josh Donaldson was hit in the knee by a pitch and later came around to score on a Cliff Pennington RBI single.Moss recorded his third hit of the day in the seventh inning. His single moved Cespedes to third base. Chris Carter then tied the game at five with a sacrifice fly hit just deep enough to center field to allow Cespedes to score and Moss to move up to second. Reddick then hit a ball to shallow center to end the inning. Reddick might have gotten a hit but Curtis Granderson was playing shallow. Nothing is going Reddick's way at the plate lately. The A's rallied again in the eighth inning. Josh Donaldson hit a leadoff double and ended up on third when Pennington reached on a walk and Drew grounded out moving over the runners. With runners on second and third and one out Jonny Gomes entered the game as a pinch-hitter and got hit by a pitch to load the bases. Cespedes flew out to center field to end the inning. The A's have had trouble getting the big hits without Coco Crisp out of the lineup.The A's again loaded the bases in the 11th inning and again couldn't score. Chris Carter drew a walk to load the bases and Reddick again found himself at the plate in a high leverage situation. He pulled a liner toward right field but Yankees' first baseman Steve Pearce made a diving play to rob Reddick. The slumping right fielder hit several balls hard but couldn't catch a break.The A's decided they were done messing around in the 13th inning. Gomes clobbered his 17th home run of the season to give the A's a 7-5 lead, Cespedes clubbed No. 20, a tape-measure blast that landed deep in the second deck, and Carter sent his 15th of the year into the second deck in left field as well to give the A's a 9-5 lead.Bullpen ReportJim Miller entered the game in the third inning and quieted the Yankees bats. He retired six of the first eight batters he faced, and issued two walks. Miller cruised through two scoreless innings before Raul Ibanez connected on a pinch-hit homer to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. The ball Ibanez hit would have been a routine fly ball in the Oakland Coliseum. Miller pitched three plus innings and and only allowed one run and three hits.Jerry "The Magician" Blevins entered the game and walked Rodriguez intentionally. With runners on first and second he got Cano to ground into the inning-ending double play. He fell victim to some bad defense in the seventh inning. Nick Swisher hit a leadoff single that fell between three defenders and then he hit Ibanez before being lifted from the game with two on and no outs.A's manager Bob Melvin called on Ryan Cook to try and clean up the mess. He mopped up better than the Sham-Wow guy on his best day. The runners were moved to second and third on a bunt, then Cook got Granderson to pop out into foul territory and then struck out pinch-hitter Eric Chavez looking with a perfectly placed four-seam fastball. Cook pitched a three up, three down inning in the eighth. He hasn't allowed a run in 15 of his last 16 outings.Closer Grant Balfour took over in the ninth inning. He hadn't pitched in four days. He pitched two scoreless innings and allowed one hit. Evan Scribner pitched the biggest two innings of his career. Things got especially dicey in the 12th inning when the Yankees loaded the bases. A play at the plate kept the game going and the young reliever got Derek Jeter to fly out to end the inning.Pedro Figueroa entered the game with a four-run lead in the bottom of the 13th. He promptly gave up three singles and was pulled with the bases loaded no outs. Pat Neshek entered and allowed a run to score immediately on a passed ball. He allowed a sacrifice fly to make it 9-7, and gave up a game-tying two-run blast to Ibanez.Tyson Ross started the 14th inning. The Yankees loaded the bases against him when Rodriguez hit a single that everyone thought won the game but rookie pinch-runner Melky Mesa missed third base. Ross then fielded a comebacker hit by Cano that was juggled and bobbled before he corralled it in and threw home for the force out. Ross looked like he got out of the jam but Moss made an error on a ground ball hit to first which ended the game.In the FieldCespedes flashed his throwing arm again on Saturday after fielding a single and then throwing a rocket to third base to nail Ichiro. It is the second time in as many games that Cespedes has thrown out Ichiro trying to take an extra base. Cespedes has nine outfield assists this season which leads all American League rookies. Josh Donaldson and Cliff Pennington both committed errors on fairly routine plays. The ball Donaldson missed was hit pretty hard and took a tough hop. Pennington completely mishandled a softly hit ball.The A's defensive issues continued in the seventh inning. Nick Swisher hit a shallow pop up that fell between three A's defenders. Pennington appeared to call for the ball and put his hand up, Cespedes backed off when he probably should have taken charge, and Reddick came flying through the middle of them trying to make the play.One of the biggest moments in the game came in the 12th inning with Ibanez on third and one out. Russell Martin hit a sharp grounder to Pennington who threw home to Norris. Ibanez came crashing into Norris trying to pry the ball loose but the burly catcher held on for the out.Moss' fielding error sealed the deal in the 14th inning. He ranged left on a ball that he couldn't come up with cleanly and the winning run scored.AttendanceThe Yankees announced an attendance of 44,026.Subway RaceThe Yankees do a subway race. The green train won. The color of the opposing team never wins the dot race in Oakland. Especially now that the dots are green, gold, and white.Up NextA.J. Griffin (6-1, 2.45 ERA) pitches for the A's in the series finale. He became the first Oakland pitcher to start his career 6-0 but lost his last decision. Right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (14-10, 3.26 ERA) will take the mound for the Yankees.

Mailbag: Will A's go after Bay Area native CC Sabathia?


Mailbag: Will A's go after Bay Area native CC Sabathia?

As the postseason continues to unfold, it’s fair game to speculate on what might be in store for the A’s looking ahead to next year. Here’s some questions that came in via Twitter, with my thoughts attached …

@usernamaxwell -- What do you think the 2018 rotation will look like?

Talk about wide open. You can safely write in Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea. I’ll put Paul Blackburn in there based on his impressive showing before suffering a season-ending hand injury. Daniel Mengden has an inside track based on his strong September. But for both Blackburn and Mengden, the sample size of success is so small. For others, like Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett, they struggled during an extended opportunity in this season’s rotation. That’s why I expect the A’s to sign a free agent starter. It likely won’t be a front-of-the-rotation guy. But something tells me one of those five spots will be filled by someone not currently in the organization. As for in-house guys, everything is written in pencil for me beyond Graveman and Manaea.

@sanomafang -- Who do you see starting at CF next season?

Unfortunately there’s no crystal ball that tells us whether Dustin Fowler’s right knee will be full strength by the start of spring training. If he’s fully recovered from surgery for a ruptured patella tendon, it appears his job to lose. That’s saying a lot for a guy that’s played just one big league game. But the 22-year-old Fowler, acquired from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal, is a very highly regarded prospect. A’s officials have made it clear they see him as the likely starter in center if he’s 100 percent. But there’s bound to be rust to knock off. Boog Powell remains very much in the equation here. Bottom line, I see the A’s choosing their center fielder from in-house as opposed to acquiring someone.

@jackconboy -- Who do you think will get a long-term contract and would they give one to pre-arb players?

Although the A’s could target a veteran – reportedly they’ve held past talks with Khris Davis and Marcus Semien about extensions – I tend to think it’s the younger guys they would focus on locking up. Yes, I do think they would consider multi-year deals for pre-arbitration players. The question is when. I think they want to give it a little time to evaluate just who they should sink their money into. Any number of players could be targets. Trying to forecast right now, I think Matt Chapman and Matt Olson would make sense to sign as power hitters who play impact defense at the corner infield spots. These look like anchor-type guys to me. But Ryon Healy, Chad Pinder, Bruce Maxwell, Sean Manaea and others could warrant consideration too.

@OaklandABooster -- Any chance the A’s might bid on CC Sabathia in the offseason?

I’ve heard people speculating on this one. The A’s could use a seasoned veteran in their rotation. And given Sabathia is a Vallejo native, finishing his career in the Bay Area could be the perfect ending for the 37-year-old. So it makes some sense on the surface. But being that he pitched to a 3.69 ERA and 14 wins over 148 2/3 innings with the Yankees this season, expect there to be plenty of competition for his services on the open market. As usual, it will come down to dollars. But I could see the A’s making a play for him.

@dongodile -- What's gonna happen to Chris bassitt -- bullpen or rotation?

I’m pretty curious about this myself because there’s a fit for him somewhere on this staff if healthy. Bob Melvin said, in his season-ending media chat, that Bassitt could pitch in relief next season simply because he logged just 50 2/3 innings in 2017 after returning from Tommy John surgery. He feels comfortable relieving, and let’s face it, this bullpen needs reinforcements. He’s a wild card worth watching in spring training.

@mrjoesiler -- What do you see for the DH position in 2018?

I think this one’s on a lot of people’s minds. Things could very well remain status quo. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson appear locked in at the corner infield spots, and with Khris Davis manning left field, Healy would remain the DH. There’s been speculation that perhaps Healy could be dangled in a trade. I see the logic … moving him means Davis could slide to DH and the A’s could field a stronger defensive outfield that potentially has Matt Joyce in left, whoever wins out in center and Chad Pinder in right. But boy, you have to like the chemistry that’s developing with this young nucleus, and Healy is a part of that. Do you want to subtract a piece from that at this early juncture? Being that the A’s have stuck with Davis in left field for two seasons now despite his subpar throwing arm, I could see them staying the course in 2018 and Healy remaining the DH.

@J_M_C_74 -- With the recent trade acquisitions of SSs Jorge Mateo and Sheldon Neuse, does Marcus Semien become a trade candidate in the next 1 -2 years?

First thing’s first – the A’s have to be convinced they’ve got a better shortstop who’s ready before they would even consider dealing Semien. Both prospects you mention made a nice early impression, but it’s too early to tell if either will be playing shortstop in the bigs. Mateo is a terrific athlete but he could also be a center field option. From what I’m told, Neuse has adequate tools for short but is probably best suited for third base. I’ve long thought Richie Martin, the A’s first-round pick in 2015, would have the glove to eventually take over as the big league shortstop. But Martin’s bat is the concern right now, and he finished the season at Single-A after Mateo was acquired and took over shortstop at Double-A.

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


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.