Athletics

A's use three solo shots to avoid sweep vs Mets

A's use three solo shots to avoid sweep vs Mets

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NEW YORK — Rookie Matt Chapman quickly atoned for a baserunning blunder by hitting a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning that sent the Oakland Athletics over the Mets 3-2 Sunday, ending New York's four-game winning streak.

With the July 31 trade deadline nearing and far back in the NL wild-card race, the Mets now start a 10-game trip, and there's no telling whether veterans such as Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda will remain on the team when it returns to Citi Field.

Marcus Semien and Khris Davis also homered for Oakland, helping Bob Melvin post his 999th victory as a big league manager. Semien connected on the sixth pitch of the game, and Davis hit his 28th home run in the fourth.

Michael Conforto hit his 19th homer of the season and fifth of the Mets' 6-4 homestand that followed the All-Star break.

Oakland led 2-1 when Chapman opened the fifth with a double and moved up on a wild pitch by Rafael Montero (1-7). But with no outs, Chapman wandered too far from third base and was picked off by catcher Rene Rivera.

After the Mets tied it on an RBI grounder by Jose Reyes, Chapman launched a drive with two outs in the seventh. Chapman showed pop in the minors, and has homered four times since making his major league debut last month, including a drive Saturday night.

The Athletics made another mistake on the bases in the ninth when Jed Lowrie tried to steal second — with pinch-runner Rajai Davis already there, resulting in an out.

Rookie Daniel Gossett (2-5) gave up two runs and five hits in six innings. He snagged a line drive by Curtis Granderson just above his head in the fifth, preserving Oakland's one-run lead.

Santiago Casilla, a possible trade target in the next two weeks, worked the ninth for his 16th save in 21 chances. After Wilmer Flores singled with one out, pinch-hitter Yoenis Cespedes hit a flyball that got fans hollering it might leave the park, but it was caught way short of the warning track.

The A's improved to 3-10 in interleague play, still the worst mark in the majors. The start of the game was delayed 61 minutes because of rain.

Despite the defeat, it was not a total loss for Montero. He was 0 for 28 at the plate in his major league career before lining a two-out single in the fifth. He broke into a big smile and the ball was thrown into the Mets dugout for safekeeping.

Montero then scampered to third when Conforto struck out on a wild pitch that bounced toward the New York bench. Granderson's bid for a tying hit was caught by the right-handed Gossett, who took off his glove, rotated his left shoulder to work out a kink, spit, tilted his hat and shook his head as he slowly walked off the mound.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: Righty reliever Ryan Dull (strained knee) could rejoin the A's for the finale of the upcoming four-game series in Toronto. ... 1B Ryon Healy didn't start for the second straight game after getting hit in the head by a bad hop Friday.

Mets: Cespedes and INF Asdrubal Cabrera didn't start, with manager Terry Collins saying the veterans told him they could use a day off.

UP NEXT

Athletics: RHP Chris Smith (0-0, 2.77 ERA) starts in Toronto vs. LHP Francisco Liriano (5-5, 6.15). Smith made his first major league start earlier this month at age 36.

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (11-3, 3.37) has won seven straight starts. He has a 1.51 ERA in that span, striking out 50 and walking 10. He'll face Padres LHP Clayton Richard (5-10, 5.35).

Why A's should pass on outfielder Michael Brantley in free agency

Why A's should pass on outfielder Michael Brantley in free agency

Michael Brantley surely will be a hot commodity this offseason.

The 31-year-old outfielder has made back-to-back All-Star Games, slashing .309/.364/.468 this past season with 17 home runs, 36 doubles and 76 RBI. In 10 career seasons, all with the Cleveland Indians, he has a slash line of .295/.351/.430.
 
While Brantley figures to be a solid addition to whatever team he joins in free agency, the A's don't need any help in the outfield. Between Stephen Piscotty, Ramón Laureano, Nick Martini, Mark Canha, Chad Pinder and Dustin Fowler, Oakland is set for years to come.
 
Brantley might provide a slight upgrade in left field, but even that is uncertain. Throughout his career, he has averaged 13 homers and 81 RBI per 162 games, with a .781 OPS. Compare that to A's left fielders last season, who notched 18 home runs and 61 RBI with a .761 OPS. Pretty close, right?
 
Oakland's current outfielders also own the advantage of youth. Sure, Brantley still is in his prime, but he's probably on the back end. Meanwhile, all six of the A's aforementioned outfielders are 28 or younger. Laureano, Pinder and Fowler, in particular, have tremendous upside and could reach Brantley's level in the near future. Piscotty already is there.
 
Then, of course, you also have to look at salaries. Brantley earned $12 million last season and is projected to receive around $15 million per year in his next contract. The A's six outfielders will make less than that combined.
 
Oakland's outfield is in great shape for the next several years. Any major free agent discussions should begin and end with starting pitching.

For those reasons, the A's should respectfully pass on Brantley.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Monday is dedicated to Nationals slugger Bryce Harper.
How Brantley could help solve one of the Giants' biggest issues
Why Phillies should pursue Brantley if they whiff on Harper

Does Brantley really fit the White Sox's long-term plan?

A's Bob Melvin should be 2018 AL Manager of the Year, and here's why

bobmelvinap.jpg
AP

A's Bob Melvin should be 2018 AL Manager of the Year, and here's why

Any other season, Alex Cora and Kevin Cash would have been worthy recipients of the American League Manager of the Year Award, which will be handed out Tuesday.

Cora led the Red Sox to a franchise-record 108 wins and a World Series championship in his first season on the job. Cash guided the Rays to a surprising 90-win season, marking a 10-win improvement from 2017.

But in 2018, Bob Melvin was in a league of his own.

The A's manager took a team with the lowest payroll in baseball and led it to the fourth-best record in the league at 97-65, a remarkable 22-game improvement from the previous year. Perhaps most impressive, he essentially did it without a starting rotation.

Injuries forced Melvin to use 15 different starting pitchers, an A's franchise record. Oakland lost a whopping 10 starters -- Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, A.J. Puk, Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Andrew Triggs, Daniel Gossett, Paul Blackburn, Daniel Mengden and Kendall Graveman -- to injury, seven of them season-ending. Yet somehow the A's kept winning.

Melvin refused to let his players use the injuries as an excuse. He adapted, and so did they. Melvin relied more heavily on his bullpen, often pulling his starting pitcher before the fifth inning. He also managed his position players brilliantly, using his entire bench and keeping everyone focused whether they started or not.

Before the season, not even the most optimistic A's fan could have expected a playoff berth. Oakland was coming off three consecutive last-place finishes in the AL West. Sure, the team had talent, but it was young and inexperienced, probably two years away from contention. Then Melvin found the perfect balance between fun and focus, demanding hard work from his players while still allowing them to be themselves.

A Manager of the Year nomination is nothing new for Melvin, who already has won the award twice, first in 2007 with the Diamondbacks and again in 2012 with the A's. He's one of just 14 managers to win the award multiple times, and one of six to do it in each league.

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Cora likely will be Melvin's toughest competition this year, but just look at the talent on the Red Sox's roster. Boston entered the season with the second-highest payroll in baseball at over $206 million, more than tripling Oakland's $63 million.

Yes, Cora won the ultimate prize with a World Series trophy. But Manager of the Year is a regular-season award, and Melvin's accomplishments then were unparalleled.