A's make 'biggest dream' come true for 12-year-old with cerebral palsy

A's make 'biggest dream' come true for 12-year-old with cerebral palsy

OAKLAND -- Dominic Banister has overcome more adversity in his 12 years than most people do in a lifetime.

Dominic has cerebral palsy, which has forced him to undergo 27 surgeries. But that hasn't stopped him from following his passion for baseball.

A die-hard A's fan, Dominic got to live out a lifelong dream when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Coliseum prior to Sunday's game between the A's and Angels.

Three weeks earlier, Dominic's uncle Jake Souza had tweeted a video of Dom taking a swing off a tee. The tweet quickly went viral and Souza decided to tag the A's to see if they could make a ceremonial first pitch a reality. It didn't take long for him to hear back.

"I knew his biggest dream was to throw out the first pitch," Souza said. "So I tagged the A's to see if we could make that possible. Within two hours, (A's president) Dave Kaval said yes and he bought him a suite with all of his friends. Dominic is going to have the best day of his life, thanks to Dave and the A's."

Said Kaval: "(Dominic) is just a huge A's fan. I was like, we've got to get on that immediately. We've got to get you out early in the season. We've got to make sure we can make that dream come true."

Dominic rode on a party bus from his home in Sacramento with a group of about 100 people. Wearing an autographed Matt Chapman jersey, he threw out the first pitch to Oakland bench coach Ryan Christenson, then proceeded to meet A's players and coaches in the dugout.

"It's crazy," Dominic said. "I get to see both my favorite players: Matt Chapman and Mike Trout."

Dominic's mother Raquel enjoyed the experience just as much as her son.

"It's surreal for me," she said. "I'm very proud of him and I love my brother (Jake) for this, and of course the A's too. We're just excited to be here. I'm so excited to watch this. It's a big moment for him."

Dominic's initial video on Twitter inspired thousands of people, most of them complete strangers, to like and retweet the post. Kaval and the A's organization were clearly inspired as well.

"The resiliency, perseverance, and courage that he has as a young boy is something we can all learn from," Kaval said. "We're very happy that baseball can be a vehicle to celebrate a person like that and learn from the inspiration."

Added Souza: "He was told he wasn't supposed to walk. The fact that he's going to be on a major league mound, something not a lot of people get to do, that's a goal in itself."

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That goal is now accomplished.

Frankie Montas 'did his thing,' continues to prove he's the A's ace

Frankie Montas 'did his thing,' continues to prove he's the A's ace

OAKLAND -- Don't look now, but the A's have found an ace.

Frankie Montas was dominant once again Saturday night, leading the A's to an 11-2 win over the Mariners. The 26-year-old notched nine strikeouts in six innings, allowing just two runs, as he improved to 9-2 on the season. 

"I'm just trying to go out there and compete," said a humble Montas after the game. "I'm just trying to throw strikes and they're swinging."

It may seem that simple to Montas, but what he's doing this season is far from ordinary. The right-hander's nine wins are tied for second-most in all of baseball. He also ranks seventh in the American League with a 2.85 ERA.

"Frankie did his thing," Melvin said. "It seems like it's kind of a typical game for him -- six innings, one walk, nine strikeouts. He pitched well again."

Montas has now recorded 19 strikeouts in his last two starts. He has always had a terrific fastball, but an improved slider and new splitter have been the biggest keys to his breakout season.

"They've been pretty good, the splitter especially," Montas said. "I've been throwing more strikes with my fastball and I can throw the splitter for a ball and they swing at it."

It's been a rapid ascent this year for Montas. After struggling his first few seasons in the major leagues, he worked extremely hard this offseason to improve his fastball command and secondary pitches.

"A lot of people thought he'd be a bullpen guy, but he's a bona fide starter in this league," said A's shortstop Marcus Semien, who went 3-for-4 with his 10th home run of the season. "He added that splitter. That's what makes him an effective starter now, I think. He always had the fastball. He added a two-seam. Guys who throw a two-seam and a four-seam are tough because you don't know what swing to put on. That's kind of what he's doing right now."

Perhaps most impressive has been Montas' consistency. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 13 outings this year, essentially giving the A's a good chance to win every game he starts.

Now that sounds like an ace.

A's vs. Mariners lineups: Seattle turns to opener to start in Oakland


A's vs. Mariners lineups: Seattle turns to opener to start in Oakland

OAKLAND — The A's will try to bounce back from a disappointing 9-2 loss Friday night as they once again host the last-place Seattle Mariners.

Seattle will employ an opener, with right-hander Gerson Bautista taking the hill. The 24-year-old has only pitched 3 1/3 innings this season, allowing two earned runs on four hits and four walks, with one strikeout.

Bautista will be followed by veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc. The 34-year-old enters Saturday's game with a 3-2 record and a 5.31 ERA in eight outings. In eight career games against the A's, LeBlanc has gone 3-1 with a 3.82 ERA.

Oakland will counter with 26-year-old Frankie Montas. The right-hander is having a breakout season with an 8-2 record and a 2.84 ERA in 13 starts. He has struggled against the Mariners, however, going 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in four career appearances, including one start.

The A's lineup will feature all right-handed hitters except for first baseman Matt Olson, who returns to the three-hole after hitting sixth on Friday. Mark Canha will bat fifth and Ramón Laureano moves up to sixth.

Chad Pinder will once again fill in for Stephen Piscotty in right field and bat eighth. Piscotty will miss his second straight game following surgery to remove a melanoma from his right ear. The A's expect him to return within a week.

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Mariners game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 6:07.

Seattle Mariners (30-43)
Mallex Smith, CF
J.P. Crawford, SS 
Domingo Santana, RF
Daniel Vogelbach, 1B
Omar Narváez, C
Kyle Seager, 3B 
Tim Beckham, DH
Mac Williamson, LF 
Dylan Moore, 2B

Gerson Bautista, RHP (0-0, 5.40 ERA)

Oakland A's (35-35)
Marcus Semien, SS
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Khris Davis, DH
Mark Canha, LF 
Ramón Laureano, CF 
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Chad Pinder, RF
Josh Phegley, C

Frankie Montas, RHP (8-2, 2.84 ERA)