Athletics

Notes: Joyce might settle in as A's No. 3 hitter

Notes: Joyce might settle in as A's No. 3 hitter

MESA, Ariz. — Though the A’s batting order is changing daily during the early exhibitions, one constant is emerging.

Matt Joyce seems to be manager Bob Melvin’s early choice as a No. 3 hitter when he’s in the lineup. And Melvin’s comments Saturday morning suggested that it could be a regular-season staple as well.

“He’s a professional hitter,” Melvin said. “We tend to move the lineup around from time to time, so I’m getting him acclimated in different spots. We had trouble with on-base (percentage) last year, and his on-base against righties is very good. When he’s in there, he’ll probably be somewhere toward the top based on the fact that we need some guys to get on base a little bit earlier in the lineup.”

The left-handed hitting Joyce is slated to platoon in right field, with Mark Canha a candidate to share the position with him.

Oakland’s team OBP of .304 last season was worst in the American League and the lowest by an A’s team since 1979. Obviously, that played a big role in the A’s also bringing up the rear in runs scored in the AL. Joyce, signed to a two-year*** deal in the offseason, sports an impressive .341 career OBP, and that figure shot up to .403 with Pittsburgh last season, though he accumulated just 231 at-bats in a part-time role.

Joyce has started four Cactus League games so far, hitting third in three of them and second once. He’s 4-for-8 with two home runs and has drawn two walks.

Expect the batting order as a whole to continue showing lots of different looks in exhibitions because the A’s regulars still aren’t playing on a daily basis.

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Matt Chapman originally was in Saturday’s lineup at third base, but he stubbed his toe on a chair and cracked a toenail, so Melvin held him out as a precaution and Renato Nunez draws the start at third against the Cleveland Indians.

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Outfielder Jake Smolinski, who has yet to play because of a sore right shoulder, is scheduled to make his exhibition debut at designated hitter Sunday against Seattle. He still isn’t throwing yet and said he wasn’t sure when he would do so.

Melvin said he still thinks Smolinski can get enough playing time to make a run at a 25-man roster spot.

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Chris Bassitt and Felix Doubront, both on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery, continue to throw off the mound, though neither has thrown breaking balls yet.

A's fall out of AL West contention thanks to walk-off loss to Mariners

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AP

A's fall out of AL West contention thanks to walk-off loss to Mariners

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE -- Pinch-hitter Chris Herrmann's two-run homer in the 11th inning gave the Seattle Mariners a 10-8 win over Oakland on Tuesday night, clinching the AL West for Houston and leaving the Athletics with a wild-card matchup against the New York Yankees.

Seattle overcame an 8-5 eighth-inning deficit and dropped the A's 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees for home-field advantage in the Oct. 3 winner-take-all matchup. Oakland had been 68-0 when leading after seven innings.

Denard Span hit a two-run double off Fernando Rodney in the eighth.

Blake Treinen was one strike from closing out his 38th save in the ninth, but Nelson Cruz punched a two-out single, Ryon Healy reached when third baseman Matt Chapman bobbled his grounder for an error and Kyle Seager hit an RBI single. Treinen had allowed just one hit in his previous 13 appearances.

Ben Gamel walked with one out in the 11th against Emilio Pagan (3-1), and Herrmann batted for Andrew Romine and sent an 0-1 fastball out to deep right-center field.

Alex Colome (7-5) pitched the 11th for the victory.

A day after clinching no worse than a wild-card berth, Oakland took a 6-3 lead in the first two innings off Mike Leake. Nick Martini had a two-run triple and Matt Joyce a two-run single off Leake, and Marcus Semien added his 14th home run leading off the fifth inning. But the A's went scoreless after Matt Olson's RBI double in the sixth inning.

HELLO AGAIN

Edwin Diaz, the major league leader in saves, pitched the 10th for Seattle. Diaz had not pitched since Sept. 17, when he collected his 56th save.

PLAYOFF PLANS

Oakland manager Bob Melvin said the priority in the coming days will be making sure the A's regulars get a chance at some rest so they are fresh when the postseason begins. Melvin indicated getting his guys rest would take priority over trying to chase down the Yankees in an attempt to have the wild(equals)card game at home and not in New York. The A's gave Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty the night off on Tuesday.

"There is definitely a balance to this but I think the depth of our team allows us to be confident with who we give a day off to, whether it's in the lineup or in the bullpen," Melvin said. "But it is important at this point if time in the season that once we get to the postseason that guys are fresh. It's just as much of a mental grind as it is a physical grind too. One of the strengths of our team is we use all our guys."

The one guy that may not get any rest is Matt Olson, who has a chance at playing in 162 games. Melvin said he probably won't start Olson at least one game against the Angels this weekend but will do what he can to make sure Olson reaches his goal of playing in every regular season game.

As for pitching, Melvin said the staff hasn't figured out who would pitch this weekend against the Angels, let alone in a wild card game.

"We're leaving everything open," Melvin said.

UP NEXT

Athletics: RHP Edwin Jackson (6-3) makes his 17th start since joining the A's on June 25. Jackson has a 3.18 ERA in his 16 starts, the fourth lowest in the American League during that stretch.

Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez (8-13) makes what is likely his last start of the season. Hernandez will finish the year with a career-worst ERA (currently 5.46) and the 13 losses are one shy of his career-high.

A's locked into AL Wild Card Game vs. Yankees after loss to Mariners

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AP

A's locked into AL Wild Card Game vs. Yankees after loss to Mariners

Seattle Mariners catcher Chris Herrmann walked off the A's on Tuesday with a two-run homer, and locked Oakland into its playoff seeding in the process. 

The loss, coupled with the Houston Astros' win against the Blue Jays, eliminated the A's from contention in the American League West. As a result, Oakland will play the New York Yankees in the wild card game on Oct. 3. The winner will advance to play the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

So the A's know who they will play, but they don't know where they will play. Oakland trails the Bronx Bombers by 2.5 games for home-field advantage in the play-in game, and New York's magic number is down to two.

The Yankees will have five chances to clinch, while the A's only have four games remaining. As Ben Ross wrote earlier this week, New York holds the tiebreaker, but home-field isn't a shoo-in for advancement. Since the introduction of the wild card game in 2012, AL road teams are exactly .500 (3-3).