Athletics

A's spring training Day 2: Melvin not rushed to name closer

A's spring training Day 2: Melvin not rushed to name closer

MESA, Ariz. — Don’t expect the battle for the A’s closer’s job to play out like a day-to-day drama.

Manager Bob Melvin said Cactus League results won’t play a heavy factor in choosing his ninth-inning man, and reiterating past sentiments, Melvin suggested multiple relievers are likely to be called upon for saves this season.

“We have four or five guys that have closed games before, so the tough part is identifying who is going to go where as the spring goes along,” Melvin said Wednesday. “… We feel we have a really good bullpen, and how that works out we’re not sure yet. We’ll have those conversations as spring moves along.”

John Axford, Santiago Casilla, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson have all notched at least 22 saves in a major league season, with Axford, Casilla and Madson posting 30-plus saves at least once. Rather than dwell right now on who he’ll call on in the ninth, Melvin said the key to the exhibition season is sorting out the sequence for all the late innings — seventh, eighth and ninth.

“If I want to run somebody 1 2/3 (innings), pick up the seventh and eighth, give him the day off the next day … we may do things a little differently this year,” he said. “But at this point, we’re still trying to calculate where we’re going with it.”

Regarding Casilla, Melvin isn’t pinpointing a day for when he expects his newest bullpen addition to report to camp. Casilla is being held up by visa paperwork in the Dominican Republic.

“Based on him signing late, we knew he’d be late” to camp, Melvin said. “I’m not worried about him not being here right now because we have such a long spring. His workloads have been pretty extensive the last few years.”

NOTEWORTHY : Sonny Gray, Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea all threw bullpen sessions, lined up in a row next to each other, during the A’s first workout of 2017. It just so happens those three will be counted on to anchor Oakland’s rotation this season.

Melvin said he liked what he saw from Gray, who is lined up to leave camp in early March and join Team USA should the Americans advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

NEW GUYS :The first full-squad workout isn’t until Sunday, but roughly half of A’s position players invited to camp are already taking part in informal workouts at Hohokam Stadium while pitchers and catchers work out down the street at the minor league facility. Among those on the field Wednesday was new third baseman Trevor Plouffe. Recently signed Adam Rosales was also there, though he doesn’t get the “new” label based on his stint in green and gold from 2010-13.

FAMILIAR FACE: On hand to watch batting practice at Hohokam was former A’s managing partner Lew Wolff. Wolff sold the majority of his ownership shares in November, but mentioned back then that he still planned be around the team this spring.

QUOTABLE Starting pitcher Jharel Cotton was asked his impressions of hard-throwing right-hander Frankie Montas, who cranks his fastball up around 100 miles per hour. Cotton recalled a scene from when he first watched Montas on the mound when both were Dodgers minor leaguers.

“I watched his bullpen to see what it was about. Of course, I had to throw a bullpen after that and i was like, ‘I can’t keep up with that.’ it was embarrassing for me.”

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).