Athletics

Instant Replay: Manaea strong, but Astros walk off vs A's

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Instant Replay: Manaea strong, but Astros walk off vs A's

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HOUSTON — Before you work on forgetting this first half from the A’s, they provided one last reminder Sunday of just how they’ve arrived at their 38-51 record.

Rookie Sean Manaea delivered a terrific start but was robbed of a victory when Ryan Madson blew his second save of the weekend. The Houston Astros would win it in the 10th inning, 2-1, when Danny Valencia's errant throw to first allowed Jake Marisnick to score from third with the game winner.

On a day the A’s got great starting pitching, they committed four errors and mustered just four hits, leaving the door open for an opponent to break their hearts. That summed up their first half perfectly — the failure all too often to get all components of their game working in unison on the same day.

They were on the verge of winning a pitcher’s duel and heading into the All-Star break having taken three of four from the Astros, who have the majors’ best record since May 23 (31-13). Instead, they digested one last tough-to-stomach defeat before scattering their separate ways for a four-day rest.

Runners were on the corners with two outs in the 10th when Carlos Correa chopped a grounder toward third. Valencia fielded the ball near the line and fired across the diamond. His throw pulled Yonder Alonso off the bag and Alonso couldn’t make a swipe tag, and the Astros began celebrating, as they earned a split of the four-game series.

Starting pitching report

Manaea finished the first half with the strongest outing of his 12 big league starts, blanking the Astros over seven innings. He struck out six, didn’t issue a single walk and held the Astros to five hits. All the more impressive was that he did with his defense committing three errors with him on the mound. Manaea stranded a runner in scoring position in five of his seven innings.

Bullpen report

Madson’s late-game struggles against the Astros continue. He gave up Luis Valbuena’s three-run walk-off homer Friday and also allowed a game-winning hit in early June during the A’s last visit here. He entered Sunday with a 1-2 record and 9.82 ERA in five games against Houston this season. John Axford pitched a perfect eighth. But the winning rally came with Liam Hendriks on the mound.

At the plate

The scored nine runs in Friday’s loss and totaled just seven in the other three games. They had just one scoring rally Sunday, and that came in the sixth. Matt McBride, spelling Stephen Vogt behind the plate, led off the inning with a single. Coco Crisp bunted him to second and Marcus Semien brought him home with a broken-bat single to left. Third base coach Ron Washington made an aggressive call to send McBride, but Jake Marisnick’s throw went closer to the first-base dugout than to home plate.

In the field

Having gone a franchise-record 15 games in a row without an error, the A’s were charged with committed four of them Sunday, including two by Valencia. bobbled a grounder in the first, Semien couldn’t scoop a grounder in the sixth and Coco Crisp couldn’t field Evan Gattis’ single in the seventh, allowing Gattis to reach second. Then came the deciding play on VAlencia’s errant throw.

Attendance

The announced turnout was 28,119.

Up next

The A’s will break for four days, as Stephen Vogt heads to San Diego for Tuesday’s All-Star Game and his 24 teammates will go their separate ways to recharge. They’ll return to the Coliseum and work out Friday afternoon before beginning the second half that night against the Toronto Blue Jays.

CC Sabathia hosts 52 Oakland Boys & Girls Club kids at A's-Yankees game

CC Sabathia hosts 52 Oakland Boys & Girls Club kids at A's-Yankees game

OAKLAND -- New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia welcomed 52 kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Oakland to the Coliseum on Tuesday night for the A's-Yankees game.

The Vallejo native is winding down his 19th and final season in the majors. The 39-year-old has been hosting Boys & Girls Club kids on the road at each of his final stops in the American League.

"It's been a lot of fun to get in front of these kids," Sabathia told NBC Sports California. "With me growing up in Vallejo and being a Boys & Girls Club kid, knowing what those kids are going through, I think it will be a lot of fun to be able to get in front of them and have a conversation."

Sabathia was part of the Continentals of Omega Boys & Girls Club in Vallejo from the first grade through the eighth grade. Now he relishes the opportunity to give back to today's youngsters.

"I just wanted to do something special for the kids," Sabathia said. "I grew up a Boys & Girls Club kid. My first experience at a baseball game was with the Boys & Girls Club. Hopefully, we can have that for some of these kids around the country."

Sabathia has a career record of 251-160 with a 3.73 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He won the 2007 Cy Young Award, is six-time All-Star and has a strong case to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame.

[RELATED: Why Bailey's splitter is so critical to his success]

Though he now lives in New Jersey, Sabathia's family still resides in the Bay Area and he says he will always consider the East Bay home.

"It's always fun to be able to come here," he smiled. "I come here a lot, whether it's Oracle Arena to watch the Warriors, being here to watch the Raiders, or playing here against the A's. It's my home stadium."

A's Homer Bailey relies on splitter in shutting down mighty Yankees

A's Homer Bailey relies on splitter in shutting down mighty Yankees

OAKLAND -- When Homer Bailey dominated the Giants his last time out, it was certainly impressive, but it came with the caveat of facing a weak lineup. There was no such caveat Tuesday night.

Bailey shut down the league-leading New York Yankees for 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run with eight strikeouts, as the A's took the series opener, 6-2. Most notably, seven of Bailey's eight strikeouts came on his splitter.

"I thought he was great," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "He had a really good split again tonight. It keeps you off balance. He can go up top with his heater and the breaking ball is just enough. It was another night where he had a really good split. It pairs off his fastball really well."

Bailey, 33, utilized the split early and often, throwing it on 32 of his 108 pitches. The right-hander made the powerful Bronx Bombers look silly, chasing pitches well out of the zone.

"It was (working well)," Bailey said. "I think just kind of understanding how I need to throw it -- the pressure points and the speeds -- it's just something that's been working really well for me and it's complemented by the other pitches."

Bailey's splitter was effective his last start against the Giants as well, resulting in three strikeouts, two groundouts, and a flyout, without a single hit.

"It looks pretty nasty," said A's first baseman Matt Olson, who went 2-for-3 with his 26th home run of the season. "The guys I've talked to say it's pretty good. It looks like a true tumble splitter, which is definitely a tough pitch to hit. Not many people have the true split. He was obviously on tonight."

When Bailey's splitter is on, it also makes his other pitches more effective. He fooled several Yankees hitters with his fastball because it comes out of the same arm slot as the split.

Said Melvin: "It allows him to pitch up and down. He can elevate with his fastball and the split kind of comes out of the same plane. Then he can throw his slider and sinker and kind of go side to side just enough. When he's throwing strikes and getting ahead and he has that pitch, as we've seen since he's been here, he can be a tough customer."

[RELATED: Melvin, A's unafraid to use rookie pitcher Puk in big spot]

The A's have now won five of Bailey's seven starts since acquiring him from the Reds. His last two outings were probably his best and should go a long way toward keeping him in the starting rotation for the rest of the season.