Athletics

Melvin pleased to see A's 'find some grit' in comeback victory

Melvin pleased to see A's 'find some grit' in comeback victory

SEATTLE — When all was going against the A’s on Tuesday, they found a way to counter-punch.

On a wild night in which shaky bullpen work and a game-changing error nearly doomed them, A’s manager Bob Melvin was most pleased that his team found a way to overcome adversity and claim the kind of game that’s been snatched away from them too often.

“When you go through streaks like this, you’ve got to find some fight,” Melvin said after Oakland’s 9-6 win over the Mariners. “We’ve been losing games by a defensive play, one pitch, little things through this whole stretch. At some point you’ve got to overcome it and find some grit and do some good things late in games when we’re behind. We finally did it tonight. Hopefully this is something we can build on.”

To say the A’s are a work in progress is an understatement. Until they find a way to cut down on errors and tighten up their relief work, they’ll be challenged to keep opponents down after they jump ahead of them. But, unlike three previous games on this road trip when they relinquished leads in the late innings, they found a way to overcome their mistakes.

Matt Joyce provided the biggest swing of the game with a two-run homer off Steve Cishek in the top of the ninth that turned a 5-4 Oakland deficit into a 6-5 lead. Then Mark Canha added a three-run homer for cushion, which proved important when closer Santiago Casilla gave back a run in the bottom half.

But the consensus in the A’s clubhouse was that Rajai Davis’ leadoff single in the ninth was the spark for it all. Davis pinch-hit for Josh Phegley and singled to right-center. With the A’s biggest speed threat representing the tying run with no outs, Cishek had to split his attention between first base and the next hitter, Joyce.

“With Rajai on first, being a base stealer, I was pretty confident I was gonna get a heater to hit,” Joyce said. “He fell behind 2-0 there. He kind of had to throw a strike. He gave me a fastball, a good fastball over the plate to hit.”

Added Davis: “Me getting on base, I think it caused a little bit of a distraction. Now he’s gotta throw a strike, and Joycie was ready for it.”

Canha, drawing his first start of the season in center field, went 3-for-5 with his three-run shot to left-center. It was his first homer of the season after he was sent down to the minors April 15 and was just recalled on the most recent homestand. He’s now 7-for-14 over his past four games.

Though it was easy to forget about after the A’s let a 4-1 lead slip away, Phegley was a big factor early in the game. He threw out two runners trying steal second, including one as part of a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play, and singled home a run to give the A’s a 4-1 lead in the fourth. Those caught base stealers helped propel Andrew Triggs to yet another impressive start. The right-hander threw six innings of oen-run ball, lowering his ERA to 2.12, which ranks in the top five in the American League.

Seattle’s three-run game-tying rally was aided by third baseman Ryon Healy’s two-run error, not to mention a replay overturn in which Jean Segura was ruled safe at first after it appeared the A’s had turned an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to preserve a lead.

“I don’t know how that’s overturned,” Melvin said. “I really don’t, because it feels like we’ve been burned on that all year long. Just a lot of unlucky stuff. You’ve got to make your own breaks and you have to overcome it, and they did tonight.”

A's award-winning run this offseason 'really special' to organization

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USATSI

A's award-winning run this offseason 'really special' to organization

The hardware just keeps rolling in for the Oakland A's.

Just look at the list of awards the A's have claimed over the past two weeks:
• AL Manager of the Year -- Bob Melvin
• Sporting News AL Manager of the Year -- Melvin
• MLB Executive of the Year -- Billy Beane
• Two Gold Gloves -- Matt Chapman and Matt Olson (plus two more finalists in Jed Lowrie and Marcus Semien)
• AL Platinum Glove -- Chapman
• Wilson Defensive Player of the Year -- Chapman

"It's really special," A's general manager David Forst said. "Seeing the individual awards has been great. It means a lot to everybody in the organization."

That list doesn't even include Edwin Jackson, who was named a finalist for the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award. The winner will be announced Monday.

The A's also were represented in the AL Cy Young Award and MVP voting -- Blake Treinen tied for sixth in the Cy Young race, and four A's finished in the top 20 of the MVP voting: Chapman (seventh), Khris Davis (eighth), Treinen (tied for 15th), and Jed Lowrie (tied for 20th).

"When it was announced on the network that Bob (Melvin) had won (AL Manager of the Year), you could hear the applause from all corners of our new office in Jack London Square," Forst said. "That was the case for both Gold Glove Awards, and really everything this offseason that has kind of energized the organization. It has been really special the last month."

Quite the momentum to take into an important offseason, as the A's search for starting pitching and other components that can help return them to the playoffs.

MLB rumors: A's, Yankees talked Sonny Gray deal, but no trade imminent

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AP

MLB rumors: A's, Yankees talked Sonny Gray deal, but no trade imminent

It could be Sonny again in Oakland, but there's reportedly still a long way to go. 

The A's reached out to the Yankees about acquiring right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray, "but there is no present momentum in talks," MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Friday. 

Last week, Fancred's Jon Heyman reported the A's were interested in re-acquiring Gray, who pitched in Oakland from 2013 to 2017 before being traded to New York. As Morosi noted, they've had no problem bringing back former pitchers, and there's good reason that a return to Oakland could bring the best out of Gray.

For one thing, he was a much better pitcher away from Yankee Stadium since the Bronx Bombers acquired him at the trade deadline in 2017. Gray went 6-7 with a 6.55 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 88.0 innings in the Bronx. By contrast, he was 9-9 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.18 WHIP on the road. In 386.0 innings at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with the A's, Gray was 25-20 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.

Injuries to promising young starters such as Sean Manaea and A.J. Puk forced the A's to use a patchwork starting rotation down the stretch last season, and the team relied on a bullpenning strategy en route to its first playoff appearance in four years. As a result, A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane identified starting pitching as the team's top priority this offseason.

[ROSS: How Patrick Corbin's contract could affect A's starting pitching market]

[MORE: Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?]

Re-acquiring Gray would maintain the approach that kept the rotation afloat last season but offer the A's much more upside than bringing back Cahill and Anderson. With the Yankees actively looking to trade Gray, it makes a lot of sense for both teams.

Based on Morosi's report, it sounds like they'll have to start picking up the phone, though.