Athletics

Josh Phegley deserves to make 2019 MLB All-Star Game, Bob Melvin says

phegleyap.jpg
AP

Josh Phegley deserves to make 2019 MLB All-Star Game, Bob Melvin says

At 31 years old, Josh Phegley is having a breakout season, and that's an understatement.

The A's catcher went 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBI in Thursday's 17-3 rout of the Tigers, bringing his season slash line to .295/.321/.514 with five homers and 26 RBI.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com's Martín Gallegos he believes Phegley is deserving of an American League All-Star selection.

In a normal year, Phegley would definitely have a good chance of playing in the Midsummer Classic. Unfortunately, this has not been a normal year for catchers in the AL, with several putting up even better offensive numbers than Phegley.

The Yankees' Gary Sanchez already has 12 home runs and is slashing .263/.346/.663. Minnesota's Mitch Garver has been even better with a .329/.418/.747 slash line, though he just went on the injured list with an ankle sprain.

Houston's Robinson Chirinos leads AL catchers in WAR at 1.7. Chirinos is slashing .268/.398/.546 with six homers and 21 RBI. James McCann of the White Sox leads the way with a .366 batting average, contributing to his .985 OPS.

Phegley does lead AL catchers with his 26 RBI and is tied for second with eight doubles. However, his five home runs are only tied for seventh and his .835 OPS is eighth.

[RELATED: A's play close to perfect game]

Here's a more detailed look at where Phegley ranks among AL catchers in each offensive category:

RBI: 26 (1st)
Doubles: 8 (T-2nd)  
Hits: 31 (4th)
Batting average: .295 (4th)
Runs: 18 (5th)
Slugging percentage: .514 (7th)
Home runs: 5 (T-7th)
OPS: .835 (8th)

Phegley has also been solid defensively, committing just one error all season. He has thrown out eight attempted base stealers, tied for most in the AL, though he also leads the league with 22 stolen bases allowed.

If Phegley keeps producing at his current rate, he will certainly be in the conversation to make his first ever All-Star Game. Whether he makes it or not, he has unquestionably emerged as one of the A's most valuable players.

A's vs. Twins lineups: Matt Chapman returns after missing last two games

mattchapmanroadusatsi.jpg
USATSI

A's vs. Twins lineups: Matt Chapman returns after missing last two games

The A's got a bit of good news Saturday as All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman is back in the lineup against the Minnesota Twins.

Chapman started the series finale against the Mariners on Wednesday but came in out in the third inning due to left ankle soreness. He didn't start the first two games in Minnesota.

Franklin Barreto will get the start at second base over Jurickson Profar.

Brett Anderson takes the mound for the A's, and he looks to continue his recent string of solid starts. The veteran lefty has a 1.74 ERA in 20 2/3 innings over his last three starts.

But the A's will have to deal with one of the best pitchers in the American League as Jose Berrios gets the ball for the Twins. The two-time All-Star has a 3.10 ERA this season, fifth-best in the AL.

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Twins game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 4:10.

Oakland A's (56-42)
1. Marcus Semien (R) SS
2. Matt Chapman (R) 3B
3. Matt Olson (L) 1B
4. Mark Canha (R) RF
5. Ramon Laureano (R) CF
6. Khris Davis (R) DH
7. Robbie Grossman (S) LF
8. Chris Herrmann (L) C
9. Franklin Barreto (R) 2B

Brett Anderson (9-5, 3.79)

Minnesota Twins (59-37)
1. Mitch Garver (R) C
2. Jorge Polanco (S) SS
3. Nelson Cruz (R) DH
4. Miguel Sano (R) 3B
5. Marwin Gonzalez (S) RF
6. C.J. Cron (R) 1B
7. Max Kepler (L) CF
8. Jonathan Schoop (R) 2B
9. Luis Arraez (L) LF

Jose Berrios (8-5, 3.10)

How three clutch hits turned tide in A's bounce-back win vs. Twins

How three clutch hits turned tide in A's bounce-back win vs. Twins

Entering Friday's game in Minnesota, the A's were only batting .243 with two outs and runners in scoring position. They were tied for 16th in MLB, but that position and their average will go up following Oakland's 3-for-7 performance in such situations during their 5-3 win over the Twins.

Matt Olson, Khris Davis, and Chad Pinder all came through with clutch RBI singles, two of them with two outs, to help the A's rally back and even the series at a game apiece.

Olson came to the plate in the top of the fifth with two outs and the tying run on second base. The A's first baseman took three straight fastballs, two for balls and one for a strike, to inch ahead in the count 2-1.

Twins starter Jake Odorizzi then executed a well-placed splitter low and away, but Olson was able to reach out and stroke it into center field for a base hit to score Marcus Semien and tie the game at three.

The single extended Olson's career-high hitting streak to 14 games and revealed his tremendous growth as an all-around hitter. The 26-year-old can obviously still hit for plenty of power, as his 20 home runs in just 238 at-bats would suggest, but he also knows how and when to put the ball in play for a base hit.

The next inning, with the game still tied at three, Ramón Laureano led off with a double. That brought up Davis, whose recent struggles have been well-documented. However, the A's slugger displayed a terrific piece of hitting, waiting back on a 2-1 curveball and ripping it into left field for his second RBI single of the night to give the A's a 4-3 lead. 

Davis still hasn't homered in more than a month, but he put together three solid at-bats on Friday. In addition two his two RBI singles, he torched a ball at 107 mph in the fourth inning for a lineout to center. Davis appears to at least be making small strides at the plate.

Later in the sixth inning, with two outs and a runner on second, Pinder came to the plate with a chance to provide some insurance. He would fall behind in the count 1-2 before sitting back on a curveball and blistering it into left field for an RBI base hit to make it 5-3.

[RELATED: Women of 'Baseball for All' offer optimism, empowerment]

The A's finished the night 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position, good for a .364 average. When Oakland can manufacture runs with situational hitting on top of launching home runs (which Marcus Semien did on the third pitch of the night), it's a potent combination.

With the win, the A's improved to 56-42 on the season, a full game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second AL wild-card spot. Oakland hasn't lost consecutive games since June 8.