Athletics

Instant Replay: A's lose to Angels on late defensive blunder

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Instant Replay: A's lose to Angels on late defensive blunder

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM — There is worse damage Albert Pujols could do to a pitcher with the bases loaded than what he did Monday night.

That probably made it sting even more for A’s reliever Ryan Dull, after Pujols’ bases-loaded dribbler in the eighth wound up scoring the winning run as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the A’s 2-1 at Angel Stadium.

Pujols, owner of 591 career home runs and a future Hall of Famer, tapped a comebacker that might have had Dull thinking “force out” at home. But the pitcher couldn’t field the ball cleanly and his only play was at first, as Yunel Escobar scooted home to break a 1-1 tie.

With that, the A’s wasted another terrific effort from rookie Sean Manaea, who fired seven innings of one-run ball and limited the Angels to four hits. The problem was the A’s slipped back into the offensive funk that marked most of their last homestand. They mustered just four hits off four Angels pitchers after starter Jered Weaver left following the fifth with tightness in his lower back.

Former Athletic Andrew Bailey shut the door in the ninth for his second save this season against Oakland.

Starting pitching report

Manaea has been excellent in three starts since returning from a strained back muscle. He’s allowed just one run combined over 18 innings in those starts. On Monday, he gave up Mike Trout’s solo homer in the fourth — No. 29 on the season for the MVP candidate. But that was the only blip on the radar from the first to the sixth, as Manaea retired 15 of 16 during one stretch. The lefty struck out three and walked one. Since coming off the disabled list June 29 for a forearm strain, Manaea has posted a 2.72 ERA in 14 starts (15 games). He came up particularly big in the sixth, coaxing a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play from Pujols with two runners on to keep it a tie game.

Bullpen report

Kole Calhoun doubled down the right field line in the eighth off Dull to put runners on second and third with one out. The A’s intentionally walked Trout to bring up Pujols with the bases-loaded, and the go-ahead tapper would follow.

At the plate

Weaver allowed just one hit over five innings, that hit being Stephen Vogt’s homer to right in the sixth that evened the score. Vogt came in hitting just .205 in September.

In the field

It won’t show up in the box score, but Yonder Alonso had an excellent game at first base, scooping several short-hop throws out of the dirt. He helped Manaea considerably in the first. The pitcher himself threw low and off-target on Pujols’ comebacker, but Alonso deftly shifted to the outside of the bag and picked the throw. He dug another throw out of the dirt from Ryon Healy on Jefry Marte’s grounder, and that stranded two runners in scoring position.

On Calhoun’s eighth-inning double, it appeared Alonso may have had a shot at the ball, but it was hit sharply and got by him quickly.

Attendance

The announced turnout was 29,934.

Up next

Daniel Mengden (2-8, 5.74) carries a 4.25 ERA in five career road starts compared to a 6.86 ERA in eight home starts. He takes the hill Tuesday with Ricky Nolasco (7-14, 4.60) going for the Angels in the 7:05 p.m. game.

Former A's pitcher Bartolo Colon throws to kids in Dominican Republic

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USATSI

Former A's pitcher Bartolo Colon throws to kids in Dominican Republic

Sorry Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Mike Trout.

But Bartolo Colon is the greatest baseball player ever.

Colon is an absolute legend. He pitched last season with the Texas Rangers at the age of 45, and he probably wanted to keep pitching this season, but no team signed him.

So what better way to scratch the pitching itch than to crash some kids' pick-up baseball game and throw heat by the overmatched youngsters.

That's exactly what the former A's pitcher did this week, and he posted videos on his Instagram feed.

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Spending time in Los Rincones de Guananico

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Los rincones de Guananico

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But Big Sexy wasn't done. The very next day, Colon crashed another pick-up game.

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Eso es en los caño de maimon

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[RELATED: What are A's playoff chances?]

Can a major league team please sign Bartolo? He's a national treasure, and we deserve to watch him pitch for another 15 years.

AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

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AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

OAKLAND -- With just nine games left in the regular season, the A's are in a great position to lock up a playoff berth for the second consecutive year.

Oakland sits atop the AL wild-card standings at 92-61, two games ahead of Tampa Bay and 2 1/2 games in front of Cleveland. The A's also have the easiest remaining schedule of the three clubs.

Here's a breakdown of each team's final three series and their odds to make the playoffs:

A's: 92-61 (9 games remaining)

3 vs. Rangers (74-79)
2 at Angels (69-83)
4 at Mariners (64-88)

Oakland will play its final nine games of the regular season against sub-.500 AL West opponents. With a magic number of eight to clinch the top-wild card position, the A's likely only need to win five of the nine games. A 6-3 record would just about guarantee them the top spot.

According to FanGraphs, the A's have a 96.3 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Rays: 90-63 (9 games remaining)

4 vs. Red Sox (79-72)
2 vs. Yankees (99-54)
3 at Blue Jays (61-91)

The Rays have the most difficult remaining schedule of the three wild-card contenders, with six games against the Red Sox and Yankees. New York still has something to play for as they try to beat out Houston for home-field advantage, while Boston's lineup is always dangerous.

FanGraphs gives Tampa Bay a 59.9 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Indians: 89-63 (10 games remaining)

1 vs. Tigers (45-106)
3 vs. Phillies (78-72)
3 at White Sox (66-86)
3 at Nationals (83-68)

The Indians have two tough series remaining as they battle the Phillies and Nationals from the NL East. Washington currently leads the NL wild-card race, while Philadelphia is three games out of the second spot.

According to FanGraphs, Cleveland has a 44.0 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Tiebreakers

The A's own tiebreakers against both the Rays and Indians, having won the season series against each club. That means, in the case of a two-team tie between the A's and either Tampa Bay or Cleveland, Oakland would still host the Wild Card Game.

[RELATED: Red-hot A's have work to do to attract fans]

It gets more complicated if all three teams tie for the two wild-card positions. The A's still own the tiebreaker, so they would host the Rays, with the winner earning the top wild-card spot. The Indians would then host the loser, with the winner of that game claiming the second wild-card position.

Of course, if the A's handle their business, it won't come down to tiebreakers.