Athletics

Khris Davis, Chad Pinder drive in three runs apiece as A's beat Astros 8-3

Khris Davis, Chad Pinder drive in three runs apiece as A's beat Astros 8-3

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- Chad Pinder hit a three-run homer and Khris Davis added three RBIs as the Oakland Athletics jumped on Lance McCullers Jr. early and cruised to an 8-3 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Davis, who extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games, put the A's up 2-0 with a double in a three-run first. Pinder made it 6-0 when he connected off McCullers (10-4) for his ninth homer in the fourth.

Oakland starter Chris Bassitt (2-3) yielded five hits and three runs in five innings for his second straight win after losing his first three decisions.

Yuli Gurriel drove in two runs and Tyler White hit a solo homer that cut the deficit to 6-3 in the fifth, but the AL West-leading Astros lost for the second time in three games.

McCullers allowed four hits and six runs while walking five in four-plus innings for his first loss since May 26. It came after a stellar outing last time out, when he whiffed a career-high 12 while permitting just three hits and a run in seven innings of an 11-4 win over the White Sox.

Things went wrong for him quickly when he walked two batters with one out in the first. The A's took a 2-0 lead when both runners scored on the double by Davis. A single by Stephen Piscotty sent Davis to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Chapman.

McCullers plunked Chapman to start the fourth before walking Mark Canha. Oakland pushed the lead to 6-0 on the homer by Pinder to left field.

Bassitt retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, and the Astros didn't get a hit until Alex Bregman's single with nobody out in the fourth. Jose Altuve singled before Gurriel's two-run single cut the margin to 6-2.

White got the Astros to 6-3 when he hit his first homer this season in the fifth.

Emilio Pagan allowed one hit in two scoreless innings after Bassitt's exit.

Marcus Semien doubled with one out in the sixth and scored on a two-out triple by Davis to push the lead to 7-3. Oakland made it 8-3 on an RBI single by Josh Phegleyin the ninth.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Astros: INF Marwin Gonzalez sat out after taking a cleat to the left wrist Tuesday night. He is day-to-day. ... SS Carlos Correa (back stiffness) ramped up his activity and said he's feeling good and believes he is inching closer to a return.

Athletics: Piscotty exited in the middle of the fifth inning after being hit by a pitch on the left wrist in the top of the inning. The team said his wrist was bruised.

UP NEXT:
Oakland RHP Trevor Cahill (1-2, 2.77 ERA) will come off the disabled list to start against Charlie Morton (11-2, 2.83) in the series finale Thursday. Cahill has struggled on the road this season, going 0-2 with a 5.66 ERA. Morton has won four of his last five starts.

Evaluating the A's arbitration decisions: Cory Gearrin

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Evaluating the A's arbitration decisions: Cory Gearrin

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

The A's acquired RHP Cory Gearrin from Texas in August for minor league pitchers Abdiel Mendoza and Teodoro Ortega. Gearrin pitched just six innings for Oakland, allowing four earned runs on 10 hits, with two strikeouts and two walks.

For the season, the 32-year-old went 2-1 with a 3.77 ERA and 1.34 WHIP between San Francisco, Texas, and Oakland. He has a career ERA of 3.54 over seven major league seasons.

Gearrin earned $1.675 million in 2018 and is projected to get $2.4 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

Gearrin has proven to be a solid veteran reliever and a team can never have too much depth in the bullpen. He will turn 33 in April and figures to have at least a few good seasons remaining.

With fellow veteran relievers Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney, and Shawn Kelley unlikely to return, Gearrin could have a role in the A's pen as a setup man for closer Blake Treinen.

Why he might be too pricey

If the number really is as high as $2.4 million, it would be a lot to pay for a depth option like Gearrin. While his numbers have been decent, the A's have younger and cheaper options in Lou Trivino and J.B. Wendelken. Oakland may be better off using that $2.4 million on other pitching help, or for re-signing other key players.

Verdict

It seems highly unlikely that Gearrin will return in 2019, especially for $2.4 million. The A's already have a deep bullpen and don't really have a need for Gearrin. Treinen, Wendelken, Trivino, Ryan Buchter, and Yusmeiro Petit all provide more value than Gearrin, and it would be hard to justify giving $2.4 million to your sixth best relief pitcher. Expect Oakland to move on without the 32-year-old right-hander.

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Sean Manaea

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Sean Manaea

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

Sean Manaea was having the best season of his career before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, which is expected to keep him out for most, if not all, of 2019 as well.

Manaea, 26, went 12-9 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 27 starts, striking out 108 and walking 32. The left-hander was the ace of the A's staff for most of the season, and he threw his first career no-hitter on April 21 against the league-leading Boston Red Sox.

Manaea earned just $550K in his third Major League season, but he is projected to get a raise to $3.8 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

Even though Manaea is expected to miss the vast majority of the 2019 season, it's a no-brainer for the A's to keep him. At 26 years old, he has plenty of good years in front of him, and he proved he can be a top of the rotation type pitcher.

Manaea has said his shoulder bothered him for the entire season, and yet he was still able to post excellent numbers and throw a no-hitter. His velocity was down for much of the season, likely due to his shoulder injury, but he learned how to utilize his secondary pitches and became a better all-around pitcher in the process. If he can get back to full healthy, he should be a number one or two starter on the A's for years to come.

Why he might be too pricey

The only way the A's would let Manaea go is if they believe he will not recover from the shoulder surgery. Spending $3.8 million on an injured pitcher obviously involves some risk, but based on all reports, his surgery went as well as they could have hoped.

Verdict

Assuming Manaea's prognosis is good, he should remain in Oakland, not just in 2019, but for years to come. The left-hander has already developed into a top flight pitcher in the American League, and at the age of 26, he hasn't even hit his prime yet.

Manaea also fits in well in the A's clubhouse and feels very comfortable pitching in Oakland. He has a great relationship with the fans and in the community, and he can be a face of the franchise for several seasons.