Athletics

A's push Will Smith to the brink, fall just short in 3-2 loss to Giants

A's push Will Smith to the brink, fall just short in 3-2 loss to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Through eight innings, the A's bats looked lifeless.

Oakland had mustered just two baserunners all night, one of them on a routine popup that miraculously dropped in for a single. They trailed 3-1 and now had to face one of the best closers in baseball.

But as they always seem to do, the A's rallied.

Dustin Garneau led off the ninth inning against Will Smith with a single to right. Khris Davis came up next as a pinch-hitter and battled back from an 0-2 count to work the count full, ultimately lining a single to center.

After a Marcus Semien strikeout, Matt Chapman launched a deep fly ball down the left-field line, only to watch it drop six inches foul. It likely would've tied the game. The very next pitch, Chapman ripped a single to right to load the bases.

Following a Matt Olson strikeout, Mark Canha was able to grind out a seven-pitch walk to force in a run and cut the lead to 3-2. Smith, who has only blown three saves all year, was on the ropes.

Chad Pinder took a tough strike one call that looked inside to even the count at 1-1. After a foul ball and a fastball inside, the count was again even at 2-2. Smith hurled a fifth straight fastball, his 37th pitch of the inning, and Pinder swung through it to seal a 3-2 Giants victory.

"There's no quit in this team," said outfielder Stephen Piscotty, whose 12th home run of the season accounted for the A's first run. "You don't always pull it all the way out, but just the effort -- you can tell the heart, that guys are battling and putting everything they've got left on the line. It stings a little bit when it doesn't happen, but you've got to feel good about making the effort."

Tuesday's starting pitcher Brett Anderson echoed that sentiment, appreciating his team's fight despite taking the loss.

"Will Smith is a tremendous closer, but we've done it before," Anderson said. "For KD to come in to pinch-hit and have a quality at-bat and get a single there, it was a positive sign. (We) never think we're out of it.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin added: "I think we just always expect to win. If we're in a position to have a chance to win late in games, we do it a lot at home with the walk-offs and same thing on the road. Until they get the last out, we feel like we have a good shot. This is a pretty good closer that we put some really good at-bats (against). Unfortunately, we just came up one at-bat short."

[RELATED: MLB rumors: A's to call up Corban Joseph from Triple-A Las Vegas]

The A's will have to hope that some of their ninth-inning momentum carries over to Wednesday afternoon when they take aim at a series split. The good news is they won't have to see Madison Bumgarner, who pitched seven dominant innings en route to his eighth win of the season.

Instead, it will be right-handers Homer Bailey and Tyler Beede facing off, with first pitch set for 12:45 p.m.
 

A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

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AP

A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

Major League Baseball has initiated the first-ever All-MLB Team. This was put forth for fans to vote on their favorite players from the 2019 season's entirety.

This is a bit like the All-Star selections only that, in this case, it's not in the middle of the season, and with these, there are both first and second teams. Also, this team will not be broken up by leagues and players were previously nominated -- pretty cool, right?

I voted for my 2019 All-MLB Team and here are my results:

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso put on a show at the plate this season and during the Home Run Derby. Sure, we dig the long ball, but we also appreciate a guy who shows his emotions when he does something great on the field, like setting a rookie home-run record with 53 dingers this season.

The middle-infielders as of late have become these gems filled with power, which is a characteristic we didn't see in the earlier eras of the game. 

For second base, Houston Astros star José Altuve proved once again why he is a constant force to be reckoned with. The six-time All-Star finished his 2019 campaign slashing .298/.353/.550 with 31 home runs and 74 RBI in 124 games. 

Marcus Semien was the vote at the shortstop position. While there were plenty that deserved the honors (Jorge Polanco and Xander Bogaerts should not go unmentioned), Semien was such a fascinating player this season.

Sure, there's a slight bias over here, but imagine having someone only get better as the season went on. Semien started in all 162 games this season and showed no signs of tiring, finishing with 33 homers and doubling last season's total. He was also third in AL MVP voting behind Mike Trout and Alex Bregman. 

Semien didn't receive All-Star honors this season, which is a shame. He deserves something after the show he put on.

Speaking of Bregman ... I voted for him at third base, the position that was the toughest to select across the roster.

He, Matt Chapman and Nolan Arenado each put up a phenomenal season and reminded you just why it's called the hot corner.

For Bregman, he was sensational across the board in each hitting category, finishing 2019 with a .296 average, 41 homers and a 1.015 OPS. Arenado matched Bregman's long-ball numbers with 41, but ya know -- Coors. 

And that energy is contagious.

Outfielders were easy to vote for.

Trout, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. I really hope you guys won't argue with me on those.

The starting pitchers, for the most part, hosted arms from the final two teams still playing October baseball. Justin Verlander earned his second Cy Young Award, posting a 2.58 ERA with 300 strikeouts in 223 innings and an MLB-leading 0.80 WHIP.

Well-deserved. 

Verlander's former teammate Gerrit Cole was behind him in Cy Young voting, leading the AL with a 2.50 ERA and MLB with 326 strikeouts and 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

I also voted for Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and once again, I hope there are no arguments there. If there is, I have plenty of photos of them drenched in champagne celebrating a World Series championship to back me up.

Former A and current Cincinnati Red Sonny Gray didn't reach his 2015 heights, but he dropped his ERA drastically from his 2018 campaign, boasting a 2.87 ERA with the Redlegs. His season deserved to be recognized.

From the bullpen, A's Liam Hendriks got a vote because he not only put up the numbers but switched to closer role responsibilities and did it smoothly and masterfully.

He finished his 2019 All-Star season with a 1.80 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 85 innings with a 0.97 WHIP.

[RELATED: Hendriks shift in energy factors in success with A's]

How'd I do? Let me know.

The winners for first and second-team honors will be announced at this year's Winter Meetings in San Diego. 

A's, free-agent reliever Jake Diekman agree to two-year contract

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USATSI

A's, free-agent reliever Jake Diekman agree to two-year contract

The A's are bringing back an important piece to their bullpen one day after non-tendering their former closer

The A's and left-handed reliever Jake Diekman have agreed to a two-year contract with a club option, the team announced on Tuesday. 

ESPN's Jeff Passan first reported the news. Diekman reportedly will earn a guaranteed $7.5 million. 

The A's acquired the 32-year-old from the Royals on July 27 for two minor leaguers. Diekman went 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA in 28 appearances out of the bullpen for Oakland.

[RELATED: Why A's could target these three non-tendered players]

Between the A's and Royals, he had a 4.65 ERA over in 76 games out of the bullpen. 

Diekman struck out 21 batters in 20 1/3 innings for the A's, but he also walked 16 batters.