Athletics

Instant Replay: A's waste Manaea's career-high 10 K's, fall to Texas

Instant Replay: A's waste Manaea's career-high 10 K's, fall to Texas

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Texas – The lopsided final score Sunday at Globe Life Park didn’t tell the story of the opportunities the A’s let get away.

They finished 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners in an 8-1 loss to the Rangers in the rubber match of a three-game series.

The A’s outhit the Rangers 8-7, but that was offset by the career-high five RBI from Texas third baseman Joey Gallo, a shaky relief outing from A’s rookie Frankie Montas and other miscues that added up to cost Oakland in its first road series of the season.

Sean Manaea gave up a three-run homer to Gallo in the second, but the left-hander struck out a career-high 10 batters over 5 1/3 innings. Manager Bob Melvin pulled the lefty with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, Texas up 3-0, and called on Montas in a tough jam.

Montas fell behind 3-0 to Robinson Chirinos and wound up walking him to force in a run. Gallo followed with a two-run single to right that broke the game open and put the Rangers up 6-0.

Starting pitching report:
What a pitching line it was for Manaea — 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 10 K’s over 86 pitches. After allowing Gallo’s homer in the second, Manaea nearly let the wheels come off in the third with a hit batter, a walk, a wild pitch and his own throwing error on a pickoff that put runners on second and third with no outs. But Manaea came back to strike out three in a row and keep Texas off the board that inning. He was only at 86 pitches when Melvin came with the hook, but the lefty had hit Nomar Mazara in the helmet and walked a batter in the inning leading up to the switch.

Bullpen report:
Montas, who threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings in his season debut Wednesday, entered with no margin for error in the sixth. The walk to Chirinos and two-run single from Gallo, who’s filling in for the injured Adrian Beltre, gave Texas some breathing room. Chorinos did more damage in the eighth with a two-run homer off Daniel Coulombe.

At the plate:
Marcus Semien drew his second consecutive start in the leadoff spot, not surprising given he looked good Saturday night against Yu Darvish. Rajai Davis batted second to give the A’s a nice speed combo atop the lineup. But runners on base brought out the worst in the A’s at-bats. Davis struck out with runners on the corners to end the top of the third. The A’s biggest opportunity to jump back in it came in the fifth, when they loaded the bases with 1 out and their 3-4 hitters due up. But Ryon Healy popped up and Khris Davis took a called third strike to thwart that rally. Two more runners were left in scoring position the next inning when Josh Phegley chased strike three and pinch hitter Matt Joyce flied out to right.

The A’s only run came courtesy of a wild pitch that brought home Khris Davis in the eighth.

In the field:
It was a tough day defensively for Healy, who drew the start at first base because the Rangers started lefty Martin Perez on the mound. Healy let Rougned Odor’s sharp grounder get past him for an error that helped facilitate the Rangers’ three-run sixth. In an eighth inning that dragged on forever, Healy couldn’t come up with a short-hop throw from Semien that correctly was scored an E-6 but probably should have been scooped.

Attendance:
The turnout was 36,905.

Up next:
It’s the rare Monday matinee for the A’s, as they play Kansas City in the Royals’ home opener at 1:15 p.m. Jharel Cotton (0-1, 10.68) takes the hill opposed by Ian Kennedy (0-1, 5.40). After a day off Tuesday, Andrew Triggs (1-0, 0.00) matches up against former Athletic Jason Hammel (0-0, 5.40) in Wednesday’s 5:15 p.m. game. Then the road trip finale pits Jesse Hahn (0-0, 3.00) against lefty Jason Vargas (1-0, 1.50) Thursday at 5:15 p.m.

 

Revisiting A's signing of Grant Balfour in free agency eight years ago

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Revisiting A's signing of Grant Balfour in free agency eight years ago

January 18, 2011 officially marked the beginning of "Balfour Rage."

The A's signed Australian relief pitcher Grant Balfour to a two-year, $8 million contract with a $4.5 million option for a third year. Balfour, who was 33 years old at the time, had spent the previous four seasons with Tampa Bay, seeing mixed results.

The right-hander was coming off a strong season in 2010, however, going 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 57 appearances. He had never been a closer in his big league career, but averaged better than a strikeout per inning as a setup man.

Performance

Balfour had a strong 2011 season in Oakland in a setup role. He went 5-2 with two saves and a 2.47 ERA, striking out 59 in 62 innings. Balfour eventually took over the closer role in 2012 and recorded 24 saves in 26 opportunities with a 2.53 ERA.

The A's exercised Balfour's option in 2013 and he posted a career-high 38 saves in 41 opportunities with a 2.59 ERA, earning his first and only All-Star appearance. He also set the A's franchise record with 41 consecutive saves converted.

Balfour quickly became a fan favorite, known for his fiery passion and screaming of profanities on the mound. "Balfour Rage," as it became known, sometimes rubbed batters the wrong way, but Balfour insisted it was just his way of pumping himself up. Needless to say, A's fans loved it.

[RELATED: How A's could learn from Coco Crisp signing nine years ago]

Lesson

The Balfour signing was a great success for Oakland. In three seasons, he went 9-7 with 64 saves and a 2.53 ERA. For just over $12 million, that was a bargain.

Balfour proved to be a late developer in his career. He didn't really put it all together until he was in his 30s. While the A's signed Balfour to be a setup man, they were open to an increased role for him and eventually he earned the closer job.

Of course, Balfour's personality was a big part of his success in Oakland. "Balfour Rage" resonated with fans and teammates alike. That became his identity and both he and his team embraced it.

2019 free agent comparison

It's not exactly "Balfour Rage," but Sergio Romo is quite flamboyant on the mound. Like Balfour, Romo wears his emotions on his sleeve and gets fired up when he records an important out, sometimes bothering hitters.

Romo, 35, went 3-4 with 25 saves and a 4.14 ERA last season with the Rays. For his career, the right-handed reliever owns a 2.86 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, averaging well over a strikeout per inning.

A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

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A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

Unless the A's add another catcher, Josh Phegley is poised to get the most playing time of his big league career. Phegley and Chris Herrmann are currently the only catchers on the A's active roster and they figure to platoon behind the plate.

Last season, Phegley hit .204/.255/.344 with two home runs, seven doubles, and 15 RBI in 39 games. The 30-year-old re-signed with the A's in November for one year at $1.075 million.

Phegley has a career slash line of .223/.264/.372. His best season came in 2015 when he hit .249/.300/.449 with a career-high nine homers and 34 RBI.

Phegley has performed slightly better against left-handed pitching throughout his career, hitting .243/.279/.414. The right-handed hitter figures to get most of next season's at-bats against southpaws, with Herrmann starting against righties.

Phegley has also been solid defensively throughout his career, maintaining a .992 fielding percentage and throwing out 33 percent of attempted base stealers, five points above the league average.

Baseball Reference projects Phegley to hit .223/.285/.368 next year with six home runs, 15 doubles, and 28 RBI. They estimate him at 242 at-bats, which would be a career-high.

[RELATED: Chris Herrmann 2019 projections]

Phegley has done everything the A's have asked of him over the years and proven to be a consistent player and great clubhouse presence. We expect a slight improvement from last season, especially if he gets increased playing time.

Projection: .227/.297/.374, 6 HR, 12 doubles, 27 RBI