Athletics

Ex-A's 2B Eric Sogard brings 'nerd power' back to Oakland in Jays return

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USATSI

Ex-A's 2B Eric Sogard brings 'nerd power' back to Oakland in Jays return

OAKLAND – Back in 2010, Eric Sogard introduced Oakland to "nerd power."

Now, nearly a decade later, he's back at the Coliseum as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

"It's special," Sogard told NBC Sports California. "Obviously, I spent the first six years of my big-league career up here. A lot of great memories to go with it. Great place all-around. Love the fans. It's nice to be back here."

A's manager Bob Melvin was happy to see his former second baseman.

"Just a great guy," Melvin said. "Everybody loved Sogi when he was here. It's always nice to see those guys again and I'm glad he is getting an opportunity again because he definitely still has something to offer."

The bespectacled second baseman played his first six seasons with the A's, quickly becoming a fan-favorite at the Coliseum. Now 33 years old, Sogard signed a minor-league contract with Toronto this offseason and was called up for the first time earlier this week. Through four games, he is 7-for-16 with two doubles and four RBI.

"We've seen Sogi get really hot," Melvin said. "He goes through these streaks and it looks like he's in one of them right now. I know he was six for his first 12, got a hit and knocked in a run last night, and made a really good defensive play last night. When he's playing well, he can be a pretty impactful player, as we saw in his days here with us."

Toronto is making the most of Sogard's impact by continuing to bat him in the leadoff spot.

"I'm just happy to be here again continuing to play the game and help my team in any way I can," Sogard said.

It's been a bit of a rough stretch for Sogard the past year and a half. After putting together a career-year with the Brewers in 2017, where he slashed .273/.393/.378, he struggled with injuries and performance last season, ultimately getting released.

"I went and had probably the best year of my career followed by my worst," Sogard said. "That's part of this game. You get ups and downs. You've just got to stay persistent, keep battling and stay after it, and good things will come."

Sogard still remembers his time in Oakland vividly. He cherishes the team's playoff runs in 2012, 2013, and 2014, and of course, the Coliseum fans.

"Obviously the right field fans are out there no matter what time the game is at, every game," Sogard smiled. "Just some of the playoff runs we had here when we'd open up the top and sell it out, how loud this place got was really a neat environment to play in."

[RELATED: A's hope Khrush extension starts new era in Oakland]

"Hopefully he lines out a few times and makes some outs (this weekend), but he's a good kid," Melvin said. "It's always good to see some of the good people who were here in the past and he's definitely one of those guys."
 

A's starting pitchers taming Tigers, rest of American League in May

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AP

A's starting pitchers taming Tigers, rest of American League in May

The A's weakness this season was supposed to be their rotation. Recently, they've bucked that notion.

Daniel Mengden is the latest A's starting pitcher to have a dominant outing. He went seven innings Saturday in Oakland's 4-1 win in Detroit, and only allowed one earned run while striking out five. 

"He's got good stuff, he can mix his pitches really well," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Mengden after the win. "He's a true four-pitch guy."

In the last month, the A's five-man mix of Mengden, Frankie Montas, Mike Fiers, Chris Bassitt and Brett Anderson has been among the best in the American League. 

Mengden followed a career first for Montas. On Friday, Montas pitched into the ninth inning for the first time in his career and struck out a career-high 10 batters. 

"We knew he had a lot of talent in him, but he's taking it to another level right now," Melvin told reporters Friday when asked about Montas' start.

Coming into their four-game road series with the Tigers, the A's had lost three in a row. They're now riding a three-game win streak, thanks to their starting arms. The trio of Bassitt, Montas and Mengden combined to throw 23 2/3 innings while allowing only three earned runs. They also struck out 22 batters and only walked four.

And the A's soon could have more help on the way.

[RELATED: Melvin raves about Montas after longest outing of his career]

Jharel Cotton pitched in his first rehab assignment in Class A for the Stockton Ports on Thursday. Sean Manaea quietly has been throwing bullpens, and top prospect Jesus Luzardo threw his first bullpen Tuesday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Oakland's starting pitchers' ERA now is just outside the top five in the American League. Though they're still in the bottom of the AL West, the A's are trending up, with reinforcements coming down the road.

A's vs. Tigers lineup: Khris Davis scratched from matinee at Comerica Park

A's vs. Tigers lineup: Khris Davis scratched from matinee at Comerica Park

The A's arrived in Detroit looking for something to snap them out of their funk, and they found exactly what they were looking for in the struggling Tigers.

Bob Melvin's club pummeled the Tigers 17-3 in Game 1 of the series Thursday, and Frankie Montas struck out a career-high 10 batters to lead Oakland to a 7-3 win Friday.

The A's lineup will look a little different Saturday at Comerica Park, though.

Khris Davis initially was scheduled to be in the lineup batting cleanup, but he was scratched from the order and replaced by Robbie Grossman. Grossman will bat sixth and play left field, and Stephen Piscotty will take over Davis’ designated hitter role and bat fourth.

Davis was scratched because of his sore left hip and is day to day. 

Oakland will give the ball to right-hander Daniel Mengden on Saturday. Mengden gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings during a 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians in his first start after being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Here are the full lineups for Saturday's A's vs. Tigers game: 

Oakland Athletics (21-25)
Marcus Semien, SS
Mark Canha, 1B
Matt Chapman, 3B
Stephen Piscotty, DH
Chad Pinder, RF
Robbie Grossman, LF
Ramon Laureano, CF
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Nick Hundley, C

Daniel Mengden, RHP (0-1, 6.75 ERA)

[RELATED: Olson's power hasn't been affected by hand surgery]

Detroit Tigers (18-25)
Josh Harrison, 2B
Dawal Lugo, 3B
Nicholas Castellanos, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Ronny Rodriguez, SS
Christin Stewart, LF
Brandon Dixon, DH
Grayson Greiner, C
JaCoby Jones, CF

Matthew Boyd, LHP (4-3, 3.15 ERA)