Athletics

A's land Piscotty without giving up any of their top prospects

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USATSI

A's land Piscotty without giving up any of their top prospects

The A’s finalized their trade for St. Louis outfielder Stephen Piscotty, sending two minor league infield prospects to the Cardinals in return.

Shortstop Yairo Munoz and second baseman Max Schrock were ranked 13th and 17th, respectively, on the A’s current list of prospects by mlb.com.

Both have upside but it’s fair to say Oakland pulled off this deal for a starting outfielder without giving up any of the premium guys in their farm system. A quick rundown on each prospect:

Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers, 68 RBI and 22 stolen bases last year split time between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. His raw talent and all-around tools made him an intriguing prospect. Munoz primarily is a shortstop but bounced all around the infield last season. The A’s even experimented with him in center field, and it would have been interesting to see if Munoz could have emerged as a possibility in center at the major league level eventually.

But with prospects climbing through the system such as shortstop Jorge Mateo, third baseman Sheldon Neuse and, over at second base, top prospect Franklin Barreto — not to mention shortstop Richie Martin, a former first-round pick whose hitting has held him back thus far — the A’s appear to have dealt from depth in trading Munoz.

Schrock, 23, was acquired in August 2016 from the Washington Nationals for reliever Marc Rzepczynski. He hit .321 for Midland last season and made the Texas League Midseason and Postseason All-Star teams. He’s an offense-first second baseman who impressed with his all-around approach and knowledge of the strike zone. A’s manager Bob Melvin praised Schrock in his first look at him last spring in major league camp. At 5-foot-8, he’s the type of player that naturally will get overlooked when compared to other more highly touted guys in a farm system.

The A’s just dealt another second baseman from their system in Joey Wendle earlier in the week. But with Barreto considered the A’s second baseman of the future, and Chad Pinder available to handle second as well being starter Jed Lowrie, Oakland was in good enough shape depth-wise to deal Schrock.

Interesting to note: Thursday’s trade was the first between the A’s and Cardinals since 2009, the season Oakland shipped Matt Holliday to St. Louis after a disappointing first half of the season. Since the 2014 trade deadline, the A’s have swung trades with 24 of the other 29 teams in the majors.

A's notes: Oakland completes best 50-game stretch since 2005

A's notes: Oakland completes best 50-game stretch since 2005

OAKLAND — On June 15, the A's were 34-36, 11 games out of a playoff spot. Since then, all they've done is rattle off 38 wins against 12 losses, their best 50-game stretch in 13 years. Even more incredible, 20 of those 38 wins have been of the comeback variety, and 14 have seen the winning run scored in the eighth inning or later. Oakland has only lost one of its last 17 series (14-1-2), moving within a game of first-place Houston in the AL West.

--- The A's won their 65th straight game when leading at the end of the seventh inning, matching the longest such streak in franchise history (July 21, 1927 – June 23, 1928). Oakland is 50-0 this season when leading at the end of the seventh, and 59-0 when leading at the end of the eighth.

--- Matt Chapman doubled and walked to extend his career-high on-base streak to 28 games. It's the longest active streak in the American League. Chapman also extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games.

--- Marcus Semien hit his third home run in the last four games. He is 9 for his last 17 with three home runs, six RBI, and seven runs scored.

--- Jonathan Lucroy threw out Dee Gordon attempting to steal second base in the eighth inning. Lucroy leads MLB with 22 runners caught stealing this season.

--- The A's have won 11 of their last 12 home games, and 17 of their last 20. For the season, Oakland is 35-23 at the Coliseum.

--- The A's improved to 25-10 in one-run games, the best record in MLB. Seattle fell to 30-16 in one-run contests.

--- Felix Hernandez made his first career relief appearance after making 398 starts. Only Mike Mussina made more career starts before his first relief appearance.

Mike Fiers battles through injury to earn first win with A's

Mike Fiers battles through injury to earn first win with A's

OAKLAND — In the hours leading up to first pitch Tuesday night, Bob Melvin wasn't even sure Mike Fiers would be his starting pitcher.

“He almost didn't make the start,” Melvin said after the game. “He had a lower back/upper glute issue. I had two (lineup) cards made out. I had potentially (Yusmeiro) Petit starting that game.”

Fortunately Fiers was able to battle through the injury and pitch six strong innings, earning his first win as a member of the Athletics.

“I was fine,” Fiers said. “Everyone's not 100 percent this part of the season, but I was fine. I just had a little something going on, but nothing serious at all.”

After allowing a run in the first inning, Fiers settled in and allowed just one more run in the next five innings. He struck out five batters, without issuing a walk.

“The first couple of innings, I was a little worried about him,” Melvin admitted. “He seemed to loosen up and get better as the game went along. But to think that he was going to give us six innings -- he was pitching on adrenaline.”

“I didn't feel anything,” Fiers said. “I just had a little muscle cramp. It was nothing. I just had to stretch and get a little active warmup in, and it went away.”

Fiers has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last nine starts, lowering his ERA from 4.29 to 3.38. In two starts with the A's, he has given up just three runs in 11 1/3 innings, for an ERA of 2.38, with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

“They all feel like playoff games,” Fiers said. “This is the spot I wanted to be in. I wanted to be on a team that's winning and heading for the playoffs.”

Fiers has already helped the A's in their playoff push, and he figures to be a vital piece the rest of the season.

“To have a guy go out there and give us a quality start, we're going to need that down the stretch,” said second baseman Jed Lowrie.

“He just goes out there and competes, throws strikes, and goes after guys,” added third baseman Matt Chapman. “It's fun to play defense behind a guy like that.”

“I feel like this team has a lot of trust in me,” Fiers said. “I don't want to let them down. I want to pitch well and give them everything I've got.”