Athletics

Instant Replay: Offense goes flat, Cotton gives up five in loss to Angels

Instant Replay: Offense goes flat, Cotton gives up five in loss to Angels

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – The A’s trotted out their alternate lineup against right-handed pitchers Wednesday night, but it didn’t produce the intended results.

Angels starter Garrett Richards was stingy in an abbreviated outing and three of his relievers took it to the finish line as Los Angeles dealt the A’s a 5-0 defeat before a Coliseum crowd that had little to get excited about.

Richards was making his first start since last May due to a damaged elbow ligament. Rather than opt for the Tommy John procedure, he took the unusual non-surgical route and instead chose stem-cell injections to rehab.

He blanked the A’s over 4 2/3 innings before leaving the mound with a trainer in the fifth, a scary moment given his long road to recovery. The Angels later announced he was removed as a precaution for biceps cramping.

Not that getting into Los Angeles’ bullpen helped the A’s any. Manager Bob Melvin moved Matt Joyce into the leadoff spot and dropped Rajai Davis to ninth, a look the A’s are likely to utilize occasionally against right-handers to try to maximize Joyce’s on-base abilities.

Things didn’t click Wednesday. The A’s advanced a runner to third in three different innings but couldn’t get him home. On two occasions, they stranded a pair of runners in scoring position.

They’ll take the field Thursday afternoon looking to salvage a split in this season-opening four-game series.

Starting pitching report

Jharel Cotton (0-1) didn’t make it out of the fifth inning in his season debut, giving up five runs on eight hits. The Angels got to him for three in the second, though they hardly knocked him around the yard. It was a series of bloopers and well-placed hits that hurt Cotton, plus a walk he issued in the inning. Danny Espinosa, who sank the A’s with his decisive three-run homer Tuesday, dropped a single into left that scored two. Andrelton Simmons’ bleeder down the right field line scored another.

In the fifth, the Angels strung together some nice at-bats. Kole Calhoun’s single moved Yunel Escobar to third. Mike Trout singled home a run. Then with Trout breaking for second, Albert Pujols shot a single through the hole on the right side for a 5-0 lead. That was Cotton’s last batter.

Bullpen report

Relieving Cotton was Frankie Montas, the rookie who made his A’s debut. The right-hander tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and sitting anywhere between 94 and 96 miles per hour on the stadium gun. Daniel Coulombe threw two scoreless innings with a strikeout. J.C. Ramirez (1-0) got the win for the Angels.

At the plate

The A’s mustered just six hits. Each of the three times they put a runner at third, it came with two outs, and they couldn’t break through with the big hit they needed. Stephen Vogt grounded to second with runners on second and third in the first. After Richards exited in the fifth and lefty Jose Alvarez entered, Mark Canha pinch hit for Joyce and popped out to end that rally. With two outs in the sixth, Khris Davis singled and Vogt doubled, but Trevor Plouffe went down swinging on a 96 mile-per-hour fastball from J.C. Ramirez.

Trout is doing his usual damage against the A’s. Through three games, he’s 5-for-13 with three doubles and four RBI.

In the field

The A’s turned two double plays, including a liner right at Yonder Alonso in which he stepped on first to double off Pujols and prevent the Angels from scoring more than two runs in the fifth.

Attendance

The announced turnout was 13,405.

Up next

The A’s see their first left-hander of the season when they face Tyler Skaggs (3-4, 4.17 last year) in Thursday’s 12:35 p.m. series finale. Andrew Triggs (1-1, 4.31) takes the mound for Oakland.

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.

Kyler Murray recreates iconic Bo Jackson photo, and A's properly react

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Kyler Murray / Twitter

Kyler Murray recreates iconic Bo Jackson photo, and A's properly react

Imagine being compared to Bo Jackson.

Yes -- the Bo Jackson.

The legend who dominated in both Major League Baseball and the National Football League. He was selected by the Royals in the 1986 MLB Draft and in the same year was the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. No big deal.

Bo played for the Royals, White Sox and Angels across eight seasons, earning All-Star honors in 1989, and he even was in MVP talks. In the NFL, he spent four seasons on the Raiders and even led the league three different times in longest rushing attempts.

How can you mimic that? Well, you can't, but you can pose like Bo. Just ask Kyler Murray.

He was the ninth overall pick by the A’s in this year’s MLB Draft and now is the starting quarterback at Oklahoma after backing up Baker Mayfield last year. So, the correlation is rather similar, but check out the young dual athlete pose like the legendary Jackson to mirror an iconic photo:

It's like looking at a reflection, right?

The A's had some fun with it, too, bringing recently crowned AL Manager of the Year Bob Melvin into the conversation about their young prospect.

Because, after all, BoMel knows ...