Athletics

Mexico City, Japan could be in A's travel plans for 2019

melvin-japan-ap.jpg
AP

Mexico City, Japan could be in A's travel plans for 2019

The A’s could be headed to Mexico City in spring 2019 to play multiple exhibitions as part of Major League Baseball’s efforts to expand its international audience.

Oakland was in discussions to play in Mexico City this upcoming spring, according to A’s traveling secretary Mickey Morabito, but that idea was scratched because a new ballpark being built there is not quite ready yet. The A’s remain in play for two exhibitions in Mexico City in 2019 against a yet-to-be-determined opponent if the plans come to fruition.

The A’s most likely would send a split squad south of the border and leave another group in Arizona to continue Cactus League play, which is what they did in 2015 when they played exhibitions in Las Vegas.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred mentioned Mexico City, Charlotte and Montreal as strong contenders for an expansion franchise while addressing the issue during last season’s All-Star Game festivities. Mexico City, the largest city in North America based on population, currently is home to the Diablos Rojos of the Mexican League.

The A’s always ask to be considered for international play, and their 2019 schedule may include quite the globe-trotting itinerary. In addition to potential exhibitions in Mexico, NBC Sports California confirmed that Oakland also is being considered for a return trip to Japan to open the ’19 regular season, as reported recently by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Oakland began the 2008 season with two games against the Boston Red Sox at the Tokyo Dome and returned there in 2012 for an opening series against the Seattle Mariners. A’s officials gave positive reviews on both experiences, and the team’s payout for games in Japan surely would be more than the gate for two games at the Coliseum.

The Los Angeles Angels, who signed Japanese star Shohei Ohtani this winter, would be a natural choice as one of the teams to play in Japan. The Red Sox and New York Yankees are considered leading candidates for a planned series in London later in the 2019 season.

The Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins will play a two-game series in April of this upcoming season in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

 

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.”