Athletics

Stephen Piscotty hopes A's fan cutouts benefiting ALS Cure moves needle

Stephen Piscotty hopes A's fan cutouts benefiting ALS Cure moves needle

Stephen Piscotty’s phone blew up Saturday morning, shortly after the A’s announced that a section of fan cutouts purchased would benefit the ALS Cure Project.

Texts started flooding in with friends and family saying they wanted one.

They’re available for $149 in an exclusive section down the first base line and come with an autographed photo of Piscotty, with proceeds going to a great cause.

The ALS Cure Project is run by the Piscotty family, set up after matriarch Gretchen Piscotty died in May 2018 of ALS. The charity foundation is devoted to helping fund and find a cure for the debilitating disease. The ALS Cure Project is actively raising funds through community events, and the A’s have been helpful in this endeavor since Stephen Piscotty joined the A’s.

That includes this new endeavor, where fans can display a cutout of themselves – they’re available in other parts of the Coliseum as well – at the stadium during a time with they aren’t allowed in during the coronavirus pandemic.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

If one in the ALS Cure Project Foul Zone gets hit with a foul ball, Piscotty will sign the cutout itself as a one-of-a-kind keepsake after the season ends.

“We’d obviously love to sell that section out,” Piscotty said. “That would be really cool, and it would mean a lot to our foundation. We had a bunch of things planned, from a golf tournament to another gala we had done previously that got shut down due to the pandemic, so we were looking for ways to raise funds elsewhere. I think this is a unique initiative, so hopefully they can sell it out. It would really move the needle for us.”

[RELATED: A's starter A.J. Puk excited to enter 2020 MLB season restriction-free]

The A’s have been supportive from a business perspective, but those on the roster have devoted time, effort and their platform to helping the Piscottys and their cause to find a cure.

“It’s what Stephen’s all about, so it doesn’t surprise me,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I know he’s excited about it. I was informed about that yesterday and I’m all for it. We’ll do anything we can along those lines during what is a difficult time for our country. We can play baseball to support that, but also doing things charity-wise like Stephen consistently does is a great idea.”

Astros vs. Oakland A's live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

Astros vs. Oakland A's live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

The A's are rolling.

Oakland has won six straight games as they welcome the rival Astros to the Coliseum for the first time since Houston's cheating scandal was unearthed in the offseason.

The A's (9-4) are coming off a sweep of the Rangers, while the Astros (6-6) lost two out of three to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Here's how you can watch the A's play the Rangers online (download the MyTeams app here!) and on TV:

Friday, Aug. 7

When: A's Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Saturday, Aug. 8

When: A's Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 1:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Sunday, Aug. 9

When: A's Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 1:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

Marcus Semien's hard work paying off as he builds A's culture, tone

Marcus Semien's hard work paying off as he builds A's culture, tone

Austin Allen’s single to score Matt Chapman in the bottom of the 13th set the things up for Marcus Semien in the A’s 3-2 win over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

Semien sealed the deal with a walk-off single to center field. Semien smiled celebrated with an ice bath from Tony Kemp. It was a much-need victory over the Astros for both Semien and the A's.

For Semien, the big hit was a long time coming. 

“For me, it’s trying to be on time,” Semien told reporters following the 13-inning game. “I’ve been struggling with my timing a little bit, so just being on time, and same thing with Austin. Like I said, that guy was getting guys to chase up, so anything that is hard and a little lower, just attack it. I put a lot of work in earlier in the day just trying to hit line drives to the opposite field and it’s a good feeling when it clicks because for a while it hadn’t been clicking.”

Semien wasn’t hitting the ball hard, he explained. And when that happens, there’s a reason for it.  

“My stroke feels good, but sometimes it’s approach, sometimes it’s timing -- body position, a lot of things that could be,” Semien added. “That’s what early work is for, cage work. Once you get in the game, you just have to compete.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Semien said he has to create habits that work.

“It’s tough because you think you have to tinker with everything,” Semien added.

Semien wasn’t sure what that tinkering would consist of: Would he need to work on his swing? Not necessarily. The timing was definitely a factor, but Semien also believes opposing teams were attacking him differently.

That seems to be the case when he leaves a third-place AL MVP season behind him in 2019.

“They’re being more careful, you saw that with Texas,” Semien said. “I’m trying to take the low pitches, sometimes they’re calling them, and you just find yourself in 0-for-3 like that. I think today was a good day to build off.”

“They know last year I put up some good numbers and you’re not getting as much to hit. You think that you’re just going to get the same pitches that they threw last year and that’s part of it, kind of created some bad habits early on. Even since spring and Summer Camp, just hadn’t really been driving the ball well.” 

Semien said he’s working on that every day. It hasn't gone unnoticed.

“Marcus, I think has set the tone and built the culture here,” A’s starter Chris Bassitt told reporters during his postgame availability. “Obviously I think [Matt] Chapman and [Matt] Olson and those guys have caught on to just the work ethic that Semien brings every single day.”

[RELATED: A's fan creates GoFundMe to troll Astros with 'Asterisks' aerial banner]

Bassitt himself had a good outing, allowing just three hits and one earned run in seven innings. That brings his total to just two earned runs allowed in 16 2/3 innings this season. But this wasn’t about him at the moment despite his solid outing in the 13-inning game. He wanted to give Semien his moment.

“It’s not a matter of when [Semien] walks up to the plate, but whenever he does, you know you are getting the best effort from him every single night,” Bassitt said. “Doesn’t matter what at-bat, what inning. Anytime he walks up with the game on the line, I’m extremely confident in him.”