A's shut out by Duffy, Royals, rain


A's shut out by Duffy, Royals, rain

The Oakland Athletics couldn't contain a brief fourth-inning Royals rally, nor could they touch Kansas City pitching as rain halted their efforts at comeback six A's outs shy of a full game.

The tarp wasn't stowed until 7:25 p.m., 20 minutes after the scheduled start time. But baseball would not be denied, as Oakland avoided it's first rain-out of the millennium by forcing seven-plus innings in on the misty Oakland evening.

After a 43 minute rain delay to kick off the festivities, Graham Godfrey pumped a first-pitch strike. He induced fly balls from Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, escaped the first inning with only 11 pitches thrown and so began his first full season in the majors.

A's manager Bob Melvin was encouraged by the outing. "For what Godfrey gave us -- 80-some pitches and six innings based on a shortened spring for him -- I thought he did fine."

"I was pretty satisfied with it," Godfrey said. "I caught a couple bad breaks, but you know, that's part of it."

Godfrey cruised until the fourth inning, when Billy Butler turned on afastball and trotted into second base with a leadoff double.

Those bad breaks he referred to led to the Royals' first runs.

First, Graham forced Jeff Francoeur into an off-balanced swing, but Francoeur managed to flare a single to right field.

Then, with runners on first and third, Mike Moustakas hammered a ball to dead center field. Yoenis Cespedes looked to have a beat on it, sprinting directly back towards the 400-foot sign. But when it came time to record the out, Cespedes' could not secure the catch as the bobbled ball fell safely to the warning track. Butler scored easily and the Royals were sitting pretty with runners on second and third and no outs.

It was a difficult play, especially given the weather, but it's the second time Cespedes has been unable to corral a deep fly to center in the young season. It's not a trend you want to see from the man who displaced last year's plus-defensive center fielder to left and who A's manager Bob Melvin recently referred to as "a true center fielder."

After the game, Melvin was quick to impress upon Cespedes' ability to get himself in position to make the play, rather than his inability to complete it.

Meanwhile, Godfrey's counterpart Danny Duffy loves pitching in Oakland. Three of his five career wins have come at the Coliseum.

Melvin entered the game with plenty of respect for the Royals' young hurler. "He's a talented pitcher, downhill plane, tall guy that throws up to 95-, 96-mph, plus curveball, good change-up as well. I know Duffy is a guy they're excited about."

He's not a guy the A's hitters are excited about after he allowed one hit and struck out eight.

"I have a gameplan that I'm going to follow regardless of what the other guy does," Godfrey said from the clubhouse. "But at the same time, you see what he's doing, how well he's throwing."

And he was throwing well. There were only two moments when the A's posed an offensive threat, and each ended in momentum for the Royals.

When the ball jumped off Daric Barton's bat in the second inning with Collin Cowgill on base, it looked like the A's would be on the board. But Lorenzo Cain made an athletic play to reel in the drive at the warning track and relay the ball to first base for the threat- and inning-ending double play.

"That ended up being a big play in the game," Melvin said. "I think the momentum shifts if that ball drops."

It didn't, and the A's only other threat came in the next frame when Pennington doubled with one out. He was promptly picked off by the wheeling Duffy.

Seven of the final 12 A's that came to the plate took the lonely walk from the batter's box back to the dugout after fanning.

"We just couldn't get it going offensively," Melvin said.

Cowgill played well in his busy debut for the A's. He recorded eight putouts, none more impressive than his run-saving over-the-shoulder catch to end the second after Chris Getz gave one a ride with two on.

Cowgill looked good at the plate too, working walks in each of his first two at-bats before firing a well-hit line drive to the right fielder.

The rain never completely stopped Tuesday evening in Oakland, and the A's and Royals are scheduled to be back out on the wet but covered Coliseum field Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. in the series' rubber match.

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect


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.

A's trade Ryon Healy to Mariners for two players


A's trade Ryon Healy to Mariners for two players

The rumors were indeed true. Ryon Healy was on the trade block.

And now Healy has been the Mariners.

The two teams announced the trade Wednesday evening.

Oakland will receive right-handed pitcher Emilio Pagan and shortstop Alexander Campos.

Healy burst on to the scene in 2016 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 72 games. This past season, he finished second on the A's with 25 home runs and 78 RBI. But he had become the odd man out in the A's lineup with Matt Olson and Matt Chapman solidifying the corner infield spots.

The 25-year-old is familiar with the Pacific Northwest as he attended the University of Oregon.

Pagan, 26, made his major league debut during the 2017 season. In 34 relief appearances with the Mariners, he posted a 3.22 ERA and struck out 56 batters in 50.1 innings. Against the A's, Pagan allowed one run in 5.1 innings over three outings. A native of South Carolina, Pagan was drafted by the Mariners in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

Campos appears to be the prize of the trade, though he's a bit further away from reaching the major leagues. Just 17 years old, Campos signed out of Venezuela in 2016 and made his professional debut this past season. In 59 games for the Mariners' Domincan Summer League team, Campos hit .290/.413/.367 with 10 doubles, two home runs and 26 RBI.

MLB Pipeline ranked Campos as Seattle's No. 15 prospect.