Athletics

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-snapping loss to Rays

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-snapping loss to Rays

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OAKLAND — On a sleepy night at the Coliseum, the A’s bats decided to go into hibernation.

The A’s were held to a season low-tying two hits and lost 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays to snap their three-game winning streak coming out of the All-Star break.

The game was played in front of the smallest crowd at the Coliseum in six years. Just 9,736 were on hand, the sparsest turnout since 9,193 showed up on May 2, 2011, when the A’s rewarded those who showed with a walk-off victory over the Texas Rangers.

No such good fortune for the faithful Monday night.

Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi (6-4) struck out five over seven innings as Tampa Bay moved to within two games of American League East-leading Boston.

Here’s five things you need to know from Monday:

GOOD AND THE BAD FOR GOSSETT: Rookie Daniel Gossett (1-5) completed seven innings for the first time in his seven major league starts. He gave up just three runs and, with a little help from his offense, could have been in position to win. With a slim margin for error, a couple of mistakes proved costly. Gossett served up solo homers to Steven Souza Jr. and Evan Longoria, giving him 10 homers allowed in seven starts.

DEFENSIVE DOINGS: The A’s turned in a couple very nice defensive plays, but a key sequence played out in the top of the third that helped push one of the Rays’ runs across. With runners on the corners and one out, shortstop Marcus Semien couldn’t cleanly field Evan Longoria’s grounder, and had to settle for a force out at second rather than a potential inning-ending double play. Mallex Smith scored on the play.

THE LONE HIGHLIGHT: Khris Davis lined a homer to right-center in the fourth for the only damage off Odorizzi. It was the 26th of the season for Davis. The A’s only other run came when Yonder Alonso scored on a wild pitch in the ninth.

NEW GUY IN THE ‘PEN: Blake Treinen, obtained Sunday in the trade that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals, pitched a scoreless eighth and hit 99 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun. The right-hander, a 2011 draft pick of the A’s, said he was enthusiastic about his return to Oakland.

“I’m excited to be back here, where it started,” Treinen said before the game. “I was drafted by these guys. They gave me a chance in pro ball.”

Treinen projects as a late-inning setup man who will be asked to get the ball to closer Santiago Casilla.

SMITH’S ENCORE: After pitching well in Seattle in the first major league start of his career, 36-year-old Chris Smith will draw a second start Tuesday night with the A’s sending Jharel Cotton to Nashville for a rehab start Wednesday. If all goes well, Cotton is likely to rejoin Oakland’s rotation after that. Kendall Graveman is scheduled to pitch in that same game for the Sounds on Wednesday as he continues his road back from a shoulder injury. Graveman is eyeing an early August return.

MLB Rumors: A's, Yankees talked Sonny Gray deal but no trade imminent

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AP

MLB Rumors: A's, Yankees talked Sonny Gray deal but no trade imminent

It could be Sonny again in Oakland, but there's reportedly still a long way to go. 

The A's reached out to the Yankees about acquiring right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray, "but there is no present momentum in talks," MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Friday. 

Last week, Fancred's Jon Heyman reported the A's were interested in re-acquiring Gray, who pitched in Oakland from 2013 to 2017 before being traded to New York. As Morosi noted, they've had no problem bringing back former pitchers, and there's good reason that a return to Oakland could bring the best out of Gray.

For one thing, he was a much better pitcher away from Yankee Stadium since the Bronx Bombers acquired him at the trade deadline in 2017. Gray went 6-7 with a 6.55 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 88.0 innings in the Bronx. By contrast, he was 9-9 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.18 WHIP on the road. In 386.0 innings at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with the A's, Gray was 25-20 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.

Injuries to promising young starters such as Sean Manaea and A.J. Puk forced the A's to use a patchwork starting rotation down the stretch last season, and the team relied on a bullpenning strategy en route to its first playoff appearance in four years. As a result, A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane identified starting pitching as the team's top priority this offseason.

[ROSS: How Patrick Corbin's contract could affect A's starting pitching market]

[MORE: Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?]

Re-acquiring Gray would maintain the approach that kept the rotation afloat last season but offer the A's much more upside than bringing back Cahill and Anderson. With the Yankees actively looking to trade Gray, it makes a lot of sense for both teams.

Based on Morosi's report, it sounds like they'll have to start picking up the phone, though. 

How Patrick Corbin's contract could affect A's starting pitching market

How Patrick Corbin's contract could affect A's starting pitching market

Patrick Corbin probably won't be signing with Oakland, but his contract should still be of interest to A's fans.

The 29-year-old left-hander is arguably the top pitcher available in free agency, meaning his contract could set the market for everyone else.

Corbin dominated hitters in 2018, striking out 246 in 200 innings. He posted a 3.15 ERA and 1.05 WHIP despite pitching his home games at Chase Field in Arizona, known as a hitter's park.

Corbin is projected to get somewhere in the range of five years for $100 million. Fellow left-hander Dallas Keuchel is also expected to get that type of money. However, we won't know the exact market for starters until Corbin and Keuchel get their offers.

After the top two starters, there is a slight drop off to veterans like J.A. Happ, Charlie Morton, and Nathan Eovaldi. Their offers will also depend, at least in part, on Corbin's contract. There is then a trickle-down effect through the rest of the available free agent starting pitchers.

[ROSS: Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?]

That means even if the A's don't sign Corbin, his contract could alter the price they pay for their own free agent targets. Oakland could conceivably pursue names like Wade Miley, Tyson Ross, and Clay Buchholz.

Of course, the A's have their own free agent starting pitchers to consider. Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson were crucial to Oakland's success last season. Jackson and Cahill, in particular, significantly increased their value moving forward.

But it all starts at the top with Corbin. Stay tuned.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Thursday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin.