Athletics

A's Ramon Laureano, Nick Hundley enjoy 'pretty crazy' catch, double play

A's Ramon Laureano, Nick Hundley enjoy 'pretty crazy' catch, double play

OAKLAND -- At this point, we really shouldn't be surprised by anything Ramón Laureano does on a baseball field. But this was stunning, even for him.

With Justin Smoak on first base and no outs in the second inning of Sunday's A's-Blue Jays game at the Coliseum, Toronto's Teoscar Hernández sent a fly ball to deep left-center field. Laureano, Oakland's center fielder, gave chase all the way to the wall, leaped and reached over to pull back a sure home run.

"It was in the air, and what I remember is that the wind helped it a little bit," Laureano said. "I saw the wall, and I just jumped."

But the play was just getting started. Laureano hurled the ball back toward first to try to double off Smoak. Not only did Laureano manage to throw it on the fly from the warning track, he overthrew A's first baseman Kendrys Morales by about 30 feet.

"I was really pumped up," Laureano said with a laugh. "I threw it without thinking. That happens sometimes."

Fortunately for the A's, catcher Nick Hundley was backing up the play. He ran down the ball and made an accurate on-the-run throw to second base, where Jurickson Profar tagged out Smoak trying to advance. That completed the most incredible double play in recent memory.

"You know [Laureano] has such a good arm that anything is possible," Hundley said. "When a guy makes such an incredible play, you can't let him take an error after that.

"I thought it was a homer. I didn't see him catch it. But once he [came up] with the ball, it's like, all right, now it's time to go."

The Coliseum crowd erupted in disbelief, and even Brett Anderson, who's normally stoic on the mound, let loose in celebration.

"I try to not show emotion, but that one kind of got the best of me," the A's left-hander said. "The robbed homer and then a tag and the whole ordeal. It was pretty crazy."

A's manager Bob Melvin marveled at the play on both ends, though he said he was more impressed by Laureano's catch than the throw.

[RELATED: A's left Anderson sprains ankle vs. Blue Jays]

"Well, the catch, because he overthrew everything," Melvin jokingly said. "He tried to throw it into the stands. Hundley did a great job backing up that play."

Unfortunately for the A's, the play came in a 5-4 defeat, sending the Blue Jays to a three-game weekend sweep. Still, the play will go on Oakland's all-time highlight reel.

Frankie Montas 'did his thing,' continues to prove he's A's ace

Frankie Montas 'did his thing,' continues to prove he's A's ace

OAKLAND -- Don't look now, but the A's have found an ace.

Frankie Montas was dominant again Saturday night, leading the A's to an 11-2 win over the Mariners at the Coliseum. The 26-year-old notched nine strikeouts in six innings, allowing just two runs, as he improved to 9-2 on the season. 

"I'm just trying to go out there and compete," Montas humbly said after the game. "I'm just trying to throw strikes, and they're swinging."

It might seem that simple to Montas, but what he's doing this season is far from ordinary. The right-hander's nine wins are tied for second most in all of baseball. He also ranks seventh in the American League with a 2.85 ERA.

"Frankie did his thing," Melvin said. "It seems like it's kind of a typical game for him -- six innings, one walk, nine strikeouts. He pitched well again."

Montas now has recorded 19 strikeouts in his last two starts. He’s always had a terrific fastball, but an improved slider and new splitter have been the biggest keys to his breakout season.

"They've been pretty good, the splitter especially," Montas said. "I've been throwing more strikes with my fastball, and I can throw the splitter for a ball and they swing at it."

It's been a rapid ascent this year for Montas. After struggling during his first few seasons in the major leagues, he worked extremely hard this offseason to improve his fastball command and secondary pitches.

"A lot of people thought he'd be a bullpen guy, but he's a bona fide starter in this league," said A's shortstop Marcus Semien, who went 3-for-4 with his 10th home run of the season. "He added that splitter. That's what makes him an effective starter now, I think. He always had the fastball. He added a two-seam. Guys who throw a two-seam and a four-seam are tough because you don't know what swing to put on. That's kind of what he's doing right now."

Perhaps most impressive has been Montas' consistency. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 13 outings this year, essentially giving the A's a good chance to win every game he starts.

Now that sounds like an ace.

A's vs. Mariners lineups: Seattle turns to opener to start in Oakland

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A's vs. Mariners lineups: Seattle turns to opener to start in Oakland

OAKLAND — The A's will try to bounce back from a disappointing 9-2 loss Friday night as they once again host the last-place Seattle Mariners.

Seattle will employ an opener, with right-hander Gerson Bautista taking the hill. The 24-year-old has only pitched 3 1/3 innings this season, allowing two earned runs on four hits and four walks, with one strikeout.

Bautista will be followed by veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc. The 34-year-old enters Saturday's game with a 3-2 record and a 5.31 ERA in eight outings. In eight career games against the A's, LeBlanc has gone 3-1 with a 3.82 ERA.

Oakland will counter with 26-year-old Frankie Montas. The right-hander is having a breakout season with an 8-2 record and a 2.84 ERA in 13 starts. He has struggled against the Mariners, however, going 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in four career appearances, including one start.

The A's lineup will feature all right-handed hitters except for first baseman Matt Olson, who returns to the three-hole after hitting sixth on Friday. Mark Canha will bat fifth and Ramón Laureano moves up to sixth.

Chad Pinder will once again fill in for Stephen Piscotty in right field and bat eighth. Piscotty will miss his second straight game following surgery to remove a melanoma from his right ear. The A's expect him to return within a week.

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Mariners game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 6:07.

Seattle Mariners (30-43)
Mallex Smith, CF
J.P. Crawford, SS 
Domingo Santana, RF
Daniel Vogelbach, 1B
Omar Narváez, C
Kyle Seager, 3B 
Tim Beckham, DH
Mac Williamson, LF 
Dylan Moore, 2B

Gerson Bautista, RHP (0-0, 5.40 ERA)

Oakland A's (35-35)
Marcus Semien, SS
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Khris Davis, DH
Mark Canha, LF 
Ramón Laureano, CF 
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Chad Pinder, RF
Josh Phegley, C

Frankie Montas, RHP (8-2, 2.84 ERA)