Athletics

A's home-field advantage will be different in 2020, Bob Melvin says

A's home-field advantage will be different in 2020, Bob Melvin says

The A’s 2020 schedule got released on Monday and manager Bob Melvin was asked for his opinion of it during a Tuesday video conference with the media.

His main takeaway: Well, it’s short.

Melvin seemed to care less about when the A's play certain teams and the disparity between home and away games with specific opponents. His A’s have been notoriously slow starters, but Melvin believes that might not be the case during a 60-game season compacted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s not a lot of room for error, but I bet teams will just go out there and play like it’s August. That will be the feeling,” Melvin said. “There will be a little bit more intensity knowing that there’s a finish line not too far away. I’ve said often that teams play differently when they see the finish line, so it’s going to be that from the very beginning.

“There [will be] experiences that you just haven’t had before. Whether it’s seeing nobody in the stands or it's hearing the other dugout more, I’m sure you’ll hear more bench jockeying like we did … in college. There are a lot of unknowns still, but it’s a baseball game against guys you see a lot. There’s going to be a lot of intensity.”

That will certainly be the case on the field, with each game played without fans in the stands. That will mitigate the home-field advantage typically afforded to the hosts. That’s especially true with a vocal contingent as loyal A’s supporters.

Opponents still have to deal with Oakland Coliseum’s quirks, including vast expanses of foul territory. It won’t be the same at home, however, without fans filling the house.

[RELATED: How Luzardo's absence could impact A's rotation]

“It will be different,” Melvin said. ”I don’t think home-field advantage is as big of a deal anymore based on the fact that your fans aren’t there. Our fans are impactful for us, big time. Teams don’t really like playing here for the most part. Our fans can be pretty loud, especially if you get a big crowd. I don’t know that it factors in as much as it has in the past.”

Astros vs. Oakland A's live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

Astros vs. Oakland A's live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

The A's are rolling.

Oakland has won six straight games as they welcome the rival Astros to the Coliseum for the first time since Houston's cheating scandal was unearthed in the offseason.

The A's (9-4) are coming off a sweep of the Rangers, while the Astros (6-6) lost two out of three to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Here's how you can watch the A's play the Rangers online (download the MyTeams app here!) and on TV:

Friday, Aug. 7

When: A's Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Saturday, Aug. 8

When: A's Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 1:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Sunday, Aug. 9

When: A's Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 1:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

Marcus Semien's hard work paying off as he builds A's culture, tone

Marcus Semien's hard work paying off as he builds A's culture, tone

Austin Allen’s single to score Matt Chapman in the bottom of the 13th set the things up for Marcus Semien in the A’s 3-2 win over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

Semien sealed the deal with a walk-off single to center field. Semien smiled celebrated with an ice bath from Tony Kemp. It was a much-need victory over the Astros for both Semien and the A's.

For Semien, the big hit was a long time coming. 

“For me, it’s trying to be on time,” Semien told reporters following the 13-inning game. “I’ve been struggling with my timing a little bit, so just being on time, and same thing with Austin. Like I said, that guy was getting guys to chase up, so anything that is hard and a little lower, just attack it. I put a lot of work in earlier in the day just trying to hit line drives to the opposite field and it’s a good feeling when it clicks because for a while it hadn’t been clicking.”

Semien wasn’t hitting the ball hard, he explained. And when that happens, there’s a reason for it.  

“My stroke feels good, but sometimes it’s approach, sometimes it’s timing -- body position, a lot of things that could be,” Semien added. “That’s what early work is for, cage work. Once you get in the game, you just have to compete.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Semien said he has to create habits that work.

“It’s tough because you think you have to tinker with everything,” Semien added.

Semien wasn’t sure what that tinkering would consist of: Would he need to work on his swing? Not necessarily. The timing was definitely a factor, but Semien also believes opposing teams were attacking him differently.

That seems to be the case when he leaves a third-place AL MVP season behind him in 2019.

“They’re being more careful, you saw that with Texas,” Semien said. “I’m trying to take the low pitches, sometimes they’re calling them, and you just find yourself in 0-for-3 like that. I think today was a good day to build off.”

“They know last year I put up some good numbers and you’re not getting as much to hit. You think that you’re just going to get the same pitches that they threw last year and that’s part of it, kind of created some bad habits early on. Even since spring and Summer Camp, just hadn’t really been driving the ball well.” 

Semien said he’s working on that every day. It hasn't gone unnoticed.

“Marcus, I think has set the tone and built the culture here,” A’s starter Chris Bassitt told reporters during his postgame availability. “Obviously I think [Matt] Chapman and [Matt] Olson and those guys have caught on to just the work ethic that Semien brings every single day.”

[RELATED: A's fan creates GoFundMe to troll Astros with 'Asterisks' aerial banner]

Bassitt himself had a good outing, allowing just three hits and one earned run in seven innings. That brings his total to just two earned runs allowed in 16 2/3 innings this season. But this wasn’t about him at the moment despite his solid outing in the 13-inning game. He wanted to give Semien his moment.

“It’s not a matter of when [Semien] walks up to the plate, but whenever he does, you know you are getting the best effort from him every single night,” Bassitt said. “Doesn’t matter what at-bat, what inning. Anytime he walks up with the game on the line, I’m extremely confident in him.”