Athletics

Instant Replay: Gray hit early, A's smashed by Yankees

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Instant Replay: Gray hit early, A's smashed by Yankees

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND –- The A’s problems began Friday with another rough outing for Sonny Gray.

They certainly didn’t end there.

Sloppy defense combined with an uninspired night at the plate to help produce an 8-3 defeat to the New York Yankees that was much uglier than the final score indicated.

It was one of the A’s poorest overall games of 2016, and the polar opposite of the caliber of play that marked their three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers to begin this homestand. Since then, the A’s have dropped the first two of this four-game series against the Yankees, who reside in the American League East cellar and arrived in Oakland with a 5-12 road record.

The A’s committed three errors and mustered just six hits, and in so doing they dropped a game in the AL West standings for the second day in a row. They trail first-place Seattle by six.

All of those sobering details aside, the A’s primary concern still has to be Gray (3-5), who failed to make it through four innings for the third time in his past five starts. He walked four, uncorked three wild pitches and surrendered five runs (four earned) over 3 1/3 innings. That leaves the right-hander 0-4 with a 10.38 ERA over his past five outings. His overall ERA rose to 6.19.

All told, it was a stinker of an effort before a large crowd on hand for the A’s first fireworks night of the season.

Starting pitching report

Gray said he drew confidence from his last start in Tampa Bay, when he gave up three home runs but felt that he hit on a tweak of his mechanics that would help his command moving forward. Whatever positive step that was appeared to be negated Friday, when he threw just 53 of his 98 pitches for strikes. He’s clearly still searching for the command he typically showed over the previous 2 1/2 seasons.

Bullpen report

Ryan Dull and Andrew Triggs finished out the final 5 2/3 innings to save more wear and tear on the relief corps.

At the plate

After flexing their muscles with such an encouraging display of power leading into this series, the A’s have been held to a total of four runs and 12 hits in their two losses to the Yankees. The loss of No. 3 hitter Josh Reddick to a fractured thumb Thursday night is a significant blow to the offense moving forward. But on this night, Reddick’s presence probably wouldn’t have made a difference. Reserve catcher Matt McBride, drawing a start as the DH, gave the A’s an early lead with his RBI single in the second.

In the field

Where to begin? Crisp failed to come up with two catches that instead went for hits that scored four runs total. He made a long run to left-center and appeared to have a bead on Ronald Torreyes’ deep drive, but the ball fell just beyond his glove for a two-run triple that erased the A’s 1-0 lead. After Gray’s wild pitch scored Torreyes, Crisp broke in on Carlos Beltran’s liner before quickly reversing course and watching it sail over his head for a two-run double to put the Yankees up 5-1. Manager Bob Melvin came to get Gray afterward.

But the bumbling defense didn’t end there. Shortstop Marcus Semien turned in his shakiest game in a while, making a throwing error to first and double-clutching on Brett Gardner’s grounder up the middle to allow the speedster to beat out a single. Billy Butler, drawing another start at first base against the lefty Sabathia, let a routine foul pop fall to the ground for what was ruled an error.

Attendance

The announced turnout was 28,235. That’s roughly 7,000 short of a sellout, and fireworks nights often draw a full house. But the schedule makers sure didn’t do the A’s any favors by laying it out so the Chicago Cubs were playing across the bay at AT&T Park at the same time the Yankees are at the Coliseum.

Up next

After claiming his first major league victory his last time out, Sean Manaea (1-1, 7.91) takes the ball Saturday with Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 3.51) going for the Yankees. First pitch is 1:05 p.m.

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Having a lefty bat at the second base position continues to be one of the A's main focuses this offseason

That could mean reuniting with Eric Sogard. A source tells NBC Sports California the 34-year-old is open to returning to Oakland.

Sogard, currently a free agent, had an exceptional campaign in 2019 slashing .290/.353/.457 with 13 homers across 110 games with the Blue Jays and the Rays. He was part of the Tampa Bay squad that came to the AL Wild-Card Game in Oakland and celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse.

A's fans remember the outcome of that. 

The second baseman spent six seasons with the A's from 2010-15 where he accumulated a .239 average with eight home runs and 105 RBI. 

The A's traded second baseman Jurickson Profar to the Padres on Dec. 2, so they have a need at the position.

Despite picking up a talented second baseman during Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the team will still seek a more prominent starter at the position. 

[RELATED: A's are focused on keeping young stars]

The A's reportedly are interested in bringing current Mets second baseman Jed Lowrie back for the third time -- but there are 10 million reasons as to why the Mets wouldn't make a trade.

Did we mention Sogard bats left-handed yet?

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

As teams headed down south to the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the two main goals for the A's appeared to be finding a left-handed bat at second base, as well as continuing conversations with relief pitchers.

While the A's didn't make any huge acquisitions during the meetings, the 2019 Rule 5 Draft came and went as it does every year. With that, Oakland selected three players in the minor-league phase of the draft and had a couple more transactions as well.

Second baseman Vimael Machin was acquired from the Phillies for cash considerations. He will be competing for a roster spot.

The 26-year-old slashed .295/.390/.412 with seven home runs and 65 RBI across the Double and Triple-A teams in the Chicago Cubs organization last season. 

Jason Krizan was selected from the Mets during the Triple-A phase. The 30-year-old outfielder hit .275 across two teams last season. 

The Athletic's prospect writer Emily Waldon says he's going to be a solid addition to the A's organization.

"His walk rate has always been impressive," Waldon told NBC Sports California. "He doesn't have a ton of swing and misses, with some raw power, with eight to ten home run seasons. He's also a dependable defender with a good veteran presence." Waldon also joked Krizan has "80-grade sarcasm."

The A's also selected catcher Jose Colina, who put up some massive numbers with the Arizona League Indians Blue after signing with Cleveland as a minor-league free agent in June. The 21-year-old slashed .372/.443/.744 with eight homers and 20 RBI.

Right-handed pitcher Deivy Mendez rounds the group out. In 25 appearances across Single-A and Short-A last season with the Padres organization, he went 2-1 with six saves and a 4.20 ERA, striking out 33. 

[RELATED: A's interested in acquiring Lowrie for third time]

The Cincinnati Reds selected outfielder Mark Payton, who was claimed off waivers by the A's in December of 2018. Payton was selected during the major league phase of the draft which, according to Waldon, has the A's losing some muscle at the plate.

However, scouts reportedly didn't see the 28-year-old "doing a great deal outside of filling some needs." That power is what has gotten the most talk around Payton. 

Payton took advantage of the PCL last season with Triple-A Las Vegas and slashed .334/.400/.653 with 30 home runs and 97 RBI in 118 games.