Athletics

A's fail to capitalize on numerous opportunities in loss at Yankees

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USATSI

A's fail to capitalize on numerous opportunities in loss at Yankees

The A's surrendered four solo home runs to the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, but that's not the reason they lost the game.

Oakland left the bases loaded in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, and then left two more runners on base in the ninth. For the game, the A's left 15 men on base, going just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, as New York earned a 4-3 victory in 11 innings.

"I feel like we were right on the cusp of breaking it open a couple of times and we needed that one more hit," A's outfielder Mark Canha told reporters. "It didn't work out, unfortunately."  

With the game tied 2-2 in the sixth inning, Oakland loaded the bases with just one out. Sheldon Neuse worked the count to 3-1, but took two straight fastballs for called strikes. Chris Herrmann followed by grounding out to shortstop on the first pitch he saw.

The A's did score a run in the seventh, courtesy of a Matt Chapman RBI double, but they again left the bases loaded when Jurickson Profar flied out to left. Then in the eighth, after drawing three walks to load the bases, Matt Olson struck out swinging to end the threat.

"We left 15 (runners) on and it comes back to bite you at some point in time," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters. "But you know what? We came back and had a lead. We were one pitch away from getting into the ninth inning with it."

Aaron Judge took care of that with a solo home run in the eighth inning, tying the game at three. Oakland had a chance to regain the lead in the ninth, but Josh Phegley struck out swinging to strand runners on first and second.

"Guys are battling up there, so that's what you want to see," Canha said. "It just didn't go our way today."

Added starting pitcher Homer Bailey: "When you've got two teams that both really want to win every game, you're going to lose some. You're going to lose some tight ones and sometimes that's just how it goes."

[RELATED: Sources: A's to call up top catching prospect Sean Murphy on Sunday]

The Yankees' fourth solo home run of the day ended up winning the game as DJ LeMahieu launched an opposite-field blast off Lou Trivino in the 11th. Despite the loss, the A's are still 4-1 against the Yankees for the season, with an opportunity to win this weekend's series on Sunday.

Said Melvin: "It was a game of inches today and they finally got the big hit."

Why A's players don't mind trade-offs with extended protective netting

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USATSI

Why A's players don't mind trade-offs with extended protective netting

OAKLAND -- Back in December, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred declared that all 30 ballparks will extend their existing protective netting in advance of the 2020 season.
 
The movement has its reservations among fans but seems universally supported among players. Even in Oakland, where ample foul ground already buys added insurance.
 
“It will be tougher to interact with the fans, maybe to throw a ball to them,” A's shortstop Marcus Semien said Friday at the team's media day. “I love throwing a baseball to a kid. But, at least they will be safe.”

An NBC News investigation last year found at least 808 reports of fan injuries from baseballs from 2012 through 2019. The total was "based on lawsuits, news reports, social media postings and information from the contractors that provide first aid stations at MLB stadiums."
 
On May 29 in Houston, Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. lined a foul ball that struck a two-year-old girl in the head. Earlier this month, an attorney representing her family told the Houston Chronicle that the girl suffered a permanent brain injury, remains subject to seizures and might need to stay on medication for the rest of her life.
 
“It sucks, and I don’t want to see it anymore,” third baseman Matt Chapman said. “I’ve seen fans looking at their phones, not paying attention. I’ve seen people holding babies and not paying attention.”
 
Chapman understands the inconvenience but predicts eventual workarounds to make sure fans get their access, yet remain protected in critical situations. 

“I don’t understand why fan safety would be a bad thing,” he said.
 
In an era where exit velocities are measured with extreme precision, it’s scary to know that a baseball traveling 100 miles per hour could be headed straight towards someone who might not be able to protect themselves.

Even if they are paying attention to every pitch.
 
“We hit the ball so hard,” Semien said. “And sometimes we’re a little early. Or late. And now that they are up by the dugouts, you just say, 'Thank you the nets are there because that could have been bad.' ”
 
Even pitchers realize the dangers of line drives in foul territory. Starter Mike Fiers spends a lot of time in road dugouts, where he and other players often remark about how close young kids are sitting to the action.
 
“They’re in a bad spot,” Fiers said. “I feel like a lot of people don’t know that. It’s tough when those foul balls go in because everyone always watches and hopes nobody gets hit.”

[RELATED: A's teammates 'respect' Fiers for outing Astros' scandal]
 
As if there weren’t already enough thoughts running through the typical MLB hitter's mind, the concept of additional netting should at least take risk out of the equation. 
 
“No one wants to be that guy who hits a ball in the stands and hits somebody,” A's manager Bob Melvin said. “Our fans are baseball’s lifeline. You have younger kids in there. It’s a nightmare to think about. I think all players are in favor of that.”

A's Bob Melvin recalls celebrating Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre's careers

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AP

A's Bob Melvin recalls celebrating Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre's careers

OAKLAND -- Without fail, every time -- there's BoMel.

Just as the 2019 season opened up, Ichiro Suzuki decided he would play in his final major-league game in Tokyo. A's manager Bob Melvin was at the top of the opposing dugout paying his respects as the 10-time All-Star bid farewell to the game of baseball.

Suzuki made sure to personally run over to Melvin and shake his hand.

Ever the professional, Melvin knows he's been able to witness some amazing things across his illustrious career.

"I think the longer you're around, the more you really understand those type of days," Melvin told NBC Sports California. "I know when I was a player it wasn't something I had a focus on, but Ichiro, I had a close relationship with him and his career is one of a kind, so you want to see how he's embraced -- you want to be there for something you know you're going to remember for a long time."

The Texas Rangers retired 21-year veteran third baseman Adrian Beltre's number in Arlington a few months later. The team hosted the A's, and there was Melvin, at the top of the dugout paying his respects once again. 

And despite being on the other side of Beltre's retirement ceremony last season, and receiving "a lot of pain from Beltre over the years," Melvin knew what he did during his time in the game had to be celebrated.

"The fact that he's such a great player and such a good guy, and I've had so many conversations with him and -- a Hall of Fame-type guy -- you want to be out there and really feel good about watching it and seeing how he's embraced by the fanbase."

These were some of those significant moments Melvin's collected over the years.

Beltre has a certain unique quality to him. Well, it's more of a rule, really.

Do not -- under any circumstances, touch his head. Unless maybe if you're Elvis Andrus.

"No -- I don't even think I'd try to go there," Melvin said. 

"We did have a funny conversation," he recalled. 

[RELATED: BoMel calls Fiers' a hero for revealing Astros scandal]

When it was Yoenis Cespedes' first year, the A's were in Texas and Cespedes had slid into third base. 

"His ankle was a little funky -- we weren't really sure, I went out there, and [Cespedes'] English isn't very good, so Adrian was translating for us, which was really funny."

"I could tell at times, he was trying to get Cespedes out of the game and Cespedes was looking like 'No, no, no,' so it ended up being a funny situation, but I've spent a lot of time on the other side against Adrian."