Athletics

Matt Olson rounding into form as A's head out on nine-game road trip

Matt Olson rounding into form as A's head out on nine-game road trip

Matt Olson appeared in all 162 games a year ago, tallying a career-best 29 home runs and 84 RBI in his first full season in the big leagues.

On Sunday, Olson appeared in his sixth game of the 2019 campaign and launched his first round-tripper, a solo shot to right-center.

That was Olson's first home run since Sept. 26, 2018 -- a grand slam off future Hall of Famer Felix Hernandez.

Olson made his season debut in Tuesday's homestand opener after a six-and-a-half week layoff resulting from March 22 surgery to remove the hamate bone from his right wrist. He went 5-for-23 at the plate over the six-game homestand, over which the A's went 4-2.

"It’s been wild,” Olson told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle following Oakland's series-ending 5-3 defeat Sunday. “I’m not really easing myself back in. We had some close games and some tense moments, but it was good to come out with two series wins."

Olson's home run was also his first RBI of the season, two categories in which manager Bob Melvin expects Olson's totals to increase in short order.

"With a hand injury like that, sometimes the power takes a little while to come back, but it hasn’t looked like it,” Melvin said after the loss. “It’s just about seeing more pitches, getting comfortable and getting more at-bats. When you get your first home run, you feel a little bit better about your progress. I think he’s doing fine."

[RELATED: Braden reflects on his Mother's Day perfect game with A's]

After finding their footing at home, the A's now head out on a nine-game road trip through Seattle, Detroit and Cleveland. Prior to the just-completed homestand, they were coming off a nine-game road trip in which they went 1-8.

Olson wasn't active for that last road trip. He will be for this next one. You can be sure both he and the A's are glad he'll be along for the ride.

A's bullpen struggles again, wastes Mike Fiers start in loss to Twins

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A's bullpen struggles again, wastes Mike Fiers start in loss to Twins

Mike Fiers left Thursday's game against the Minnesota Twins in line for his eighth consecutive win. Unfortunately for Fiers, the A's bullpen couldn't protect the lead for him.

That's become an unwelcome trend this season and continued in Thursday's 6-3 loss, as Oakland blew its 17th save of the season, third-most in the AL.

Yusmeiro Petit entered the game with two on and one out in the seventh inning and the A's leading 3-1. Minnesota's Eddie Rosario belted Petit's very first pitch over the right field wall for a three-run home run, and the Twins rallied back for the series-opening victory.

"It probably crept a little bit more towards the middle than he wanted it," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters Thursday after the game. "But he's been a guy who's been doing (the job) for us in that situation all year. Every now and then you're going to give one up. Give (Rosario) credit. He put a good swing on it."

Fiers ended up with a no-decision and his win streak remains alive at seven. The right-hander delivered his 11th straight quality start, allowing three earned runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings, with four strikeouts and four walks.

Fiers wasn't quite as sharp as he has been recently, but Fiers still found a way to limit the damage despite the many baserunners. He recorded the first out of the seventh inning, before allowing a double and a walk to put the tying runs on base.

At that point, Fiers had made 89 pitches and Melvin had a decision to make. Oakland's skipper elected to turn to his bullpen.

"It's a hot night, he's back out there again for the seventh inning, gives up a hit and a walk," Melvin explained. "So it's a situation where we usually bring (Petit) in. You've got to give Rosario credit. He hit a good pitch."

[RELATED: Optimistic Beane hopes A's are active at trade deadline]

Lou Trivino also had a rough night out of the A's bullpen, surrendering a pair of home runs in the eighth inning to give the Twins some insurance. Oakland's 'pen has only converted 56 percent of save opportunities this season, seventh-worst in the majors.

The A's bullpen has actually performed much better as of late, so perhaps this is just a minor hiccup. Oakland will try to even the series Friday night when they send Chris Bassitt to the mound.

A's vs. Twins lineups: Matt Chapman out, Chad Pinder to start at third

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A's vs. Twins lineups: Matt Chapman out, Chad Pinder to start at third

The A's will be without All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman as they take aim at their seventh straight win Thursday night in Minnesota.
 
Chapman left Wednesday's game after two innings with left ankle soreness and is considered day-to-day. He told reporters his absence is just precautionary and he should play on Friday.
 
"It just stiffened up on my throw across the diamond (in the top of the first) and then when I took that swing in the box (in the bottom of the first), it kind of just like caught, and then it didn't feel right," Chapman said after the game. "So it was more precautionary than anything."
 
Chad Pinder will fill in at third base and hit eighth in the order. Pinder homered in Wednesday's win, one of six A's home runs in the game. Jurickson Profar hit two homers of his own and will get another start at second base and bat seventh.
 
Designated hitter Khris Davis will hit sixth for the second straight game, with right fielder Mark Canha in the cleanup spot again. Canha notched his first career two-homer game on Wednesday.
 
Veteran right-hander Mike Fiers will be on the mound for Oakland, seeking his eighth straight win and 11th consecutive quality start. Fiers, 34, ranks second among American League starters with a 2.31 ERA since April 26. For the season, he is 9-3 with a 3.61 ERA.
 
Fiers is 6-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 12 career appearances against Minnesota, including 11 starts. Earlier this month, he allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings in a no-decision against the Twins.
 
Minnesota will counter with right-hander Kyle Gibson. The 31-year-old is 8-4 this season with a 4.03 ERA. In five career starts against the A's, he is 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA.
 
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 4:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 5:10.
 
Oakland A's (55-41)
Marcus Semien, SS
Robbie Grossman, LF
Matt Olson, 1B
Mark Canha, RF
Ramón Laureano, CF
Khris Davis, DH
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Chad Pinder, 3B
Josh Phegley, C

Mike Fiers, RHP (9-3, 3.61 ERA)
 
Minnesota Twins (58-36)
Max Kepler, CF
Mitch Garver, C
Nelson Cruz, DH
Marwin Gonzalez, LF
C.J. Cron, 1B
Luis Arraez, 2B
Miguel Sanó, 3B
Jake Cave, RF
Ehire Adrianza, SS
 
Kyle Gibson, RHP (8-4, 4.03 ERA)