Athletics

Graveman exits game early, A's can't slow Astros' deep lineup

Graveman exits game early, A's can't slow Astros' deep lineup

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Nori Aoki homered and drove in two runs to help the Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 7-2 Friday night for their third straight win.

Brian McCann had three RBIs with a two-run double and a sacrifice fly to help Dallas Keuchel (2-0) win in Oakland for the first time in seven games, including six starts.

Khris Davis homered - his fifth of the season - in his first at-bat for the A's, who lost their second straight.

A's starter Kendall Graveman took a shutout into the fifth inning, which Aoki ruined with a leadoff homer over the right- field fence.

Graveman left after the fifth. He gave up five hits, walked two and did not strike out a hitter. Ryan Madsen (0-1) gave up a run and three hits while getting just two outs.

Houston's Jose Altuve reached base in all five plate appearances, extending his streak to a career-high 11 straight.

Madsen got the first two outs in the sixth and then gave up singles to McCann and Marwin Gonzalez. Aoki hit a high chopper toward second that be beat on a play challenged by the A's that was upheld.

A seventh-inning error by Trevor Plouffe, who homered in the ninth, led to three unearned runs, including two on McCann's double. Plouffe also erred in the ninth, allowing two more unearned runs to score.

REDDICK RETURNS

Astros outfielder Josh Reddick returned to the Coliseum for the first time since the A's traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers last July. "It's always fun to play here," Reddick said. "There are a lot of good guys and great friends here. The good thing about playing in Houston is I get to watch these guys play more often." Reddick had a personal fan club in the right field bleachers with whom he's spent time with outside the park. "I'm sure I'll be heckled. I don't expect anything less. From the first pitch thrown, you're the enemy." Reddick spent 4 1/2 years in Oakland, where he became a full-time player.

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Astros: RHP Chris Devenski has thrown four innings in each of his first two appearances. Manager A.J. Hinch would prefer he make more appearances with fewer innings moving forward.

Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray will throw three innings or 45 pitches in extended spring training and at least two more bullpens before rejoining the team. Manager Bob Melvin hopes to have him back by May 1.

UP NEXT:

Astros: RHP Lance McCullers has struck out 20 A's hitters in 15 2/3 innings. He struck out in his last outing against the Kansas City Royals.

A's: LHP Sean Manaea will make his fifth career start against the Astros. He's 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA against them.

MLB rumors: Matt Harvey to A's might not be as insane as you think

mattharvey.jpg
USATSI

MLB rumors: Matt Harvey to A's might not be as insane as you think

The Hot Stove is sizzling up. We're at the point where if it were a pot of water, you would see bubbles start to form. So the talks are coming in hot.

Jon Heyman of FanCred tweeted Wednesday that the A's and the Reds are among teams interested in free agent pitcher Matt Harvey:

Harvey finished 2018 with the Reds, compiling a 4.50 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 128 innings. He looked more like his original self now that he was sporting the Reds uniform.

But the A's? Interesting. Interesting indeed. But it's also not an insane idea.

The A's have had many scenarios in the past that have been those buy-low options that turn out to be successful for them. Harvey's average salary is $5.625 million (via Spotrac), and the team has been known to get a bang for their buck. Let's take a look at a few of them.

Edwin Jackson

Pitcher Edwin Jackson blew out 35 candles on his last birthday cake in September, which sometimes would intimidate people -- especially fans and front offices. But the righty was signed to the A's on a one-year deal for just $1.5 million. And how did that turn out? Well, great. 

In 92 innings, he boasted a 3.33 ERA with a 6-3 record and 68 strikeouts. His 6.65 K/9 ratio wasn't the best of his career, but he did only give up 12 long balls. 

Trevor Cahill

Seven seasons after being traded away to the D-backs, Trevor Cahill was reunited with the A's -- the team who drafted him in 2006. And it's safe to say it was good for him to be "home." The 30-year-old finished his 2018 campaign with a 3.76 ERA and improved his walk-rate drastically from the previous season. He also accumulated 100 strikeouts in 110 innings.

He too, was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

Rich Hill

The A's recently "celebrated" their anniversary from three years ago when they signed Rich Hill to a one-year, $6 million deal. He's now super successful with the Dodgers and made appearances in two World Series. But there was a time when the A's were the lucky folks to call him their own.

Acquiring Hill was special, but his performance in that singular season not only made A's fans happy, but he was able to laugh in the face of those who perhaps thought his was age was more than a number. The now 38-year-old struck out 150 in 132.2 innings and finished his time in Oakland with an 11-5 record.

[RELATED: Paxton deal impacts A's, Giants]

Harvey in a green and gold uniform is not a crazy thing to consider. Especially coming off of a successful season (for both him and the A's) and if the team signs him to a one-year deal, there isn't much risk involved.

(images -- USATSI)

How Khris Davis, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Olson gave A's plenty of value

davispiscotty.jpg
USATSI

How Khris Davis, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Olson gave A's plenty of value

The 2018 A's became the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs after starting the season with the lowest payroll, but they got plenty of value beyond Opening Day.

Forbes' Robert Kuenster compiled a list of players who hit 25 or more home runs in 2018, and broke down how much each team paid per home run. Three A's -- slugger Khris Davis, outfielder Stephen Piscotty, and first baseman Matt Chapman -- reached the mark, and compared favorably to the rest of the bigs.

The A's got the most value with Matt Olson. Olson hit 29 homers on a $547,500 base salary, so Oakland paid about $18,879 per Olson dinger. That was the eighth-lowest mark in all of baseball. Piscotty's $37,037 per home run ($1 million divided by 27) was the lowest price among any 25-homer hitter who made six figures.

Each of Khris Davis' 48 home runs was worth $218,570, or the 18th-highest. Still, only one of the players ahead of him was within five home runs of his final, MLB-leading total (Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez).

The A's will have cost certainty with Olson (still under team control) and Piscotty (signed through 2024) for the foreseeable future, but the same can't be said of Davis. 2019 is his final year of arbitration, and he can become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

Oakland's front office said a payroll increase will happen next season, and a potential Davis extension figures to be part of that. Considering how valuable Davis was this season, paying more per home run would still be money well spent.