Athletics

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros

BOX SCORE

The A’s took a noteworthy step toward changing the narrative in their recent history against the Houston Astros.

Coming through during clutch moments, both at the plate and on the mound, Oakland beat baseball’s best team 6-4 Tuesday at Minute Maid Park to run their winning streak to four.

Ryon Healy hit his first career grand slam to snap a 1-1 tie in the sixth, and starter Sean Manaea notched his first victory in seven career starts against the Astros, throwing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

George Springer’s three-run homer off Liam Hendriks pulled Houston to within two runs in the ninth, but with two runners aboard, Santiago Casilla coaxed a 3-6-1 double play from Brian McCann to end it.

The A’s (35-42), who have stumbled so badly on the road for the majority of this season, moved to 4-0 on this six-game road trip and defeated the Astros (52-26) for just the second time in their past 17 meetings with them.

Key two-out rallies: They came in with a majors-worst .225 average with runners in scoring position, but the A’s delivered in some key at-bats and scored five of their six runs with two outs. Bruce Maxwell singled home Khris Davis in the second to get the A’s on the board. Then with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, with the score 1-1, Ryon Healy capped an eight-pitch at-bat with an opposite-field grand slam, his 18th homer of the season.

Making himself at home: Sean Manaea (7-4) flirted with danger throughout his 5 2/3 innings but wound up registering his first victory in seven career starts against Houston. He stranded two runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, then wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with minimal damage. With no outs and the bags filled, Manaea fell behind 3-0 to Evan Gattis. Gattis chased a low pitch that would have been ball four and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. A run scored on the play but that play defused the rally and Manaea escaped with just the one run scoring that kept it a 1-1 game. The lefty gave up nine hits, but he’s now allowed just one earned run over three career starts at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park (16 IP).

Madson comes up clutch: Ryan Madson took two losses in four appearances at Minute Maid Park last season and allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. But manager Bob Melvin called on him in a crucial situation Tuesday, with two runners aboard and George Springer hitting in the sixth with the A’s up 5-1. Madson got Springer swinging on a 97 mile-per-hour fastball to end the inning and keep Houston from jumping back into the game after Oakland had scored four to command the lead. Madson retired all four batters he faced with three strikeouts.

Maxwell continues his roll: The A’s catcher went 3-for-4 and is 10-for-18 since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville. He also threw out Jose Altuve trying to steal second in the first.

Casilla slams the door: After Springer’s three-run shot in the ninth, Santiago Casilla entered and allowed singles to Altuve and Carlos Correa to bring the winning run to the plate. But Casilla retired pinch hitter Josh Reddick on a foul pop out and got McCann on the game-ending double play, getting over to cover first to cap the play.

Khris Davis' Opening Day home run has him on track to tie an MLB record

kdusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Khris Davis' Opening Day home run has him on track to tie an MLB record

You guys, baseball is back!

If you're one of the brave and dedicated people who woke up early/stayed up late to watch the A's open up the season in Japan against the Mariners, I salute you.

If not, that's OK, we got you covered with some of the top moments during the A's 9-7 loss to the Mariners. 

Stephen Piscotty got the first hit of the 2019 season with a homer to centerfield -- and Khris Davis did Davis-like things with a long ball to center in the bottom of the third -- just to name a few things.

This homer was his third Opening Day home run in a row:

He's just one home run from tying the record at four joining a pretty prestigious group: Gary Carter from 1977-80, Todd Hundley (1994 -97), and Yogi Berra (1955-58).

So, he could be the fourth guy to reach this feat. 

And a note from Ryan Spaeder of The Ace of Spaeder who helped assist me with these findings:

"Frank Robinson hit home runs in eight different Opening Day games, but never three straight, like Khris Davis did today," Spaeder told NBC Sports Bay Area.

He's also hit a .247 batting average over the course of four straight seasons, and guess what he's estimated to hit in 2019? 

Yep, .247. Crazy right?

[RELATED: Watch Davis' three-run HR in Japan]

Oh, and he's also a career .247 spring training hitter.

Of course he is.

If anything else, the man is consistent. 

 

 

 

A's Opening Day roster told us plenty before loss to Mariners in Japan

dullus.jpg
USATSI

A's Opening Day roster told us plenty before loss to Mariners in Japan

The A's were allowed to bring 30 players on their trip to Japan before cutting the Opening Day roster to 28, including three inactive players. Oakland announced that roster Tuesday, and while there were no major surprises, we did see an interesting development in the bullpen.

Right-handers Ryan Dull and J.B. Wendelken both made the active roster, while left-hander Jerry Blevins was nowhere to be found. Now that doesn't mean his tenure with the A's is over. The 35-year-old signed a minor-league deal with Oakland this offseason and has an opt-out option at the end of next month, the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported.

Oakland was hoping Blevins would emerge as a second left-hander in the bullpen, joining Ryan Buchter, but the veteran had a dismal spring. Blevins allowed eight earned runs in just three innings, surrendering three home runs. It appears Wendelken, after a strong outing in the season opener, may be the favorite to claim the eighth and final bullpen spot.

Meanwhile, the A's placed Jharel Cotton and Nick Martini on the 10-day IL and Chris Herrmann on the 60-day IL. Herrmann underwent arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month and clearly won't be back for a while. That means Nick Hundley and Josh Phegley will split the catching duties to begin the season.

Hundley started the opener with Phegley replacing him in the late innings.

Oakland's first four starting pitching slots will be occupied by Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson, and Frankie Montas. The fifth starter job remains open, with top prospect Jesús Luzardo still a strong possibility.

Luzardo didn't make the trip to Japan but continued his normal throwing routine in Arizona following a terrific spring training.

[RELATED: Stephen Piscotty hits first home run of MLB season in A's loss to Mariners]

The A's will have to set their official 25-man roster before their March 28 home opener against the Angels.