Athletics

Instant Replay: Fulmer outduels Triggs as A's fall to Tigers

Instant Replay: Fulmer outduels Triggs as A's fall to Tigers

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OAKLAND — The A’s installed a “Holy Toledo” sign beyond the center field wall at the Coliseum that’s meant to light up after a great play.

All they did Friday was save on the electric bill.

Highlights were few and far between in a 7-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers that opened a six-game homestand. Rather than build on a morale-boosting win in Minnesota the day before, the A’s reverted to old habits Friday.

Squandered scoring opportunities and defensive miscues marked their ninth loss in the past 11 games. Oakland went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, failing to break through against 2016 American League Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer (3-1). The Tigers right-hander went eight innings and struck out nine to get the win.

Jim Adduci’s three-run triple in the sixth was the most damaging blow, turning a 2-0 Detroit lead into 5-0. The A’s committed two errors, both leading to Tigers runs, and a crowd that hoped the A’s might build on the momentum of Thursday’s 8-5 win over the Twins wound up going home disappointed.

The A’s installed the “Holy Toledo” sign in tribute to former broadcaster Bill King, who will enter the Hall of Fame this summer. But the sign, which debuted Friday, was never activated as a game-turning play from the home team never materialized.

Starting pitching report:
Andrew Triggs (4-2) was shown the exit in the sixth after giving up Adduci’s three-run triple down the right-field line that put Detroit up 5-0. Until then, the right-hander couldn’t be faulted for much. He pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first by coaxing Justin Upton into a 6-4-3 double play. The Tigers’ two-run rally in the third started with Adam Rosales’ fielding error, then the most damaging hit of the inning wound up being Victor Martinez’s grounder that found a hole for a two-run single.

But trouble hit in the sixth, when Martinez got things going with a one-out double. Upton hit a comebacker that ricocheted off Triggs for a hit that put runners on the corners. Triggs fanned the flames by walking Tyler Collins to load the bases, and Adduci followed with his triple that landed just inside the right field line, clearing the bases and turning a 2-0 game into 5-0.

Bullpen report:
Rookie relievers Josh Smith and Bobby Wahl got some work after the A’s fell behind. Smith, in his A’s debut, gave up two runs (one earned) in two innings. Wahl struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

At the plate:
The A’s loaded the bases with one out in the third, but Matt Joyce struck out and Jed Lowrie grounded out. Joyce came up again with a runner in scoring position and struck out on an indecisive wave at the third strike. Yonder Alonso had both RBI for the A’s, and Rajai Davis collected career hit No. 1,000 in the ninth.

In the field:
The A’s committed two more errors Friday, giving them nine in their past nine games. Rosales mishandled Jose Iglesias’ slow bouncer in the third, kickstarting Detroit’s first rally. Then third baseman Trevor Plouffe had Andrew Romine’s grounder deflect off him in the eighth, which aided another rally. Ugliness ….

Attendance:
A crowd of 17,529 was on hand.

Up next:
Jesse Hahn (1-2, 2.53) should bring some good vibes into Saturday night’s start. He’s 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in three career appearances against Detroit, including a shutout which came on Memorial Day 2015 at the Coliseum. Hahn will be opposed by Jordan Zimmerman (3-1, 6.18) in the 6:05 p.m. game.

Five free agent starting pitchers still available for A's to target

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USATSI

Five free agent starting pitchers still available for A's to target

It's no secret the A's could use some starting pitching help.

The problem became more dire this week when the team announced talented left-hander Jesús Luzardo would be shut down for four to six weeks with a rotator cuff strain.

Though the season is already underway, there are still several starting pitchers available on the free agent market. Former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel tops the list, but don't expect the A's to throw massive money his way.

Instead, Oakland may choose to pursue one of these five starters:

Edwin Jackson

Jackson certainly makes the most sense of anyone. The 35-year-old right-hander was the most pleasant of surprises last season. Jackson went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts and was a key part of the A's clubhouse chemistry.

The two sides have been in contact for much of the offseason but have not been able to come to terms on a deal. That could change now that Jackson and the A's both figure to be a little more desperate.

James Shields 

At the age of 37, Shields is obviously nearing the end of his career, but he figures to get a shot somewhere in the league. The former All-Star went just 7-16 with a 4.53 ERA last season with the White Sox but did pitch over 200 innings.

Shields has a career ERA of 4.01 in 13 seasons. The right-hander would likely fair better on a team like Oakland, especially playing his home games at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum.

Miguel González

González is coming off season-ending rotator cuff surgery, but at just 34 years old he has a chance to bounce back. The right-hander went 8-13 with a 4.62 ERA in 2017, his last full season, but recorded a solid 3.73 ERA the year before.

González has a career ERA of 4.06 in seven major league seasons and could be another pitcher who would benefit from the Coliseum. He will be available for cheap, making him a low-risk signing.

Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo has struggled the past few seasons, but at just 33 years old, he still has time to regain his form. The right-hander has a career ERA of 4.06 in 12 big league seasons.

Gallardo's last productive season came in 2015 with the Texas Rangers. The former All-Star finished that year 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA. Like González, he should be available for a low cost.

[RELATED: A's have options at first base after Olson injury]

Bartolo Colón

Yes, Big Sexy is still going strong at the age of 45. You've got to think someone will take a flier on the former Cy Young Award winner, who will be entering his 22nd major league season.

Colón has 247 career wins and a 4.12 ERA, though he struggled to a 5.78 ERA last season in Texas. But three years ago, the right-hander went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA and made his fourth career All-Star Game.
 

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

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AP/USATSI

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

The A's fears became a reality Friday when Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson had to undergo surgery on his right hand.

No timetable has been provided for Olson's return, but a 2018 article in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine which studied similar procedures suggests he will likely miss three to seven weeks.

This is obviously a huge loss for Oakland. Beyond Olson's terrific defense, the 24-year-old provided tremendous power in the middle of the lineup.

Last season, Olson slashed .247/.335/.453 with 29 home runs and 84 RBI. That production won't be easy to replace, but the A's do have some reasonable options.

Platoon players Mark Canha and Chad Pinder can both play first base, and carry plenty of power in their bats. Canha clubbed 17 home runs and 22 doubles last year in just 365 at-bats. Pinder, meanwhile, hit 28 homers in 580 at-bats over the last two seasons.

Another option for the A's is to move Jurickson Profar to first base -- where he played 24 games last year -- and start Franklin Barreto at second. Barreto is coming off a terrific spring, hitting .375 (12-for-32) with a home run, four doubles, three RBI, five walks, and eight runs scored.

Barreto now has a great chance to make the 25-man roster in Olson's place. The 23-year-old has long been considered one of the A's top prospects, but has never had a chance to get consistent playing time in the big leagues. Oakland moved him from second base to the outfield this spring, but now a return to second makes sense.

[RELATED: Can A's regroup after rough beginning to season?]

The A's are fortunate to have enough offensive depth to survive the loss of Olson, but the biggest impact will likely show up on defense. Olson's height and scooping ability at first base will be incredibly hard to replace.

Nonetheless, Oakland showed the ability to overcome injury adversity last season. The A's just have to do it again this year.