A's 'ain't bad' after 9-5 loss to Orioles


A's 'ain't bad' after 9-5 loss to Orioles


OAKLAND -- Before the game a message on the whiteboard in the A's clubhouse read "Two of three ain't bad, but it ain't us!!!" They had to settle for "ain't bad" on Sunday. The Orioles took the series finale in Oakland with a 9-5 victory. The A's however had the last laugh, as they won two of three in this series and hold home field advantage against the Orioles if they finish tied atop the Wild Card standings. "You win the first two games and you want to get greedy and take the third game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We're going day-to-day, but going into this series if you have a chance to take two out of three to a good team like that we'll take it." The A's are two games ahead of the Orioles for the top Wild Card spot. The A's handed the Orioles back-to-back losses this weekend for the first time since August 16-17. "Every game is a must win, but it's a tough place to play so we'll take one and go on to Seattle and try to win a couple up there," Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters said. "It doesn't matter what happened yesterday or recently. We were ready to play today and get a win."Rookie starting pitcher Dan Straily relinquished an early 2-0 lead by allowing four runs over four and two-third innings. Wieters wreaked havoc on Straily with two solo homers and a walk in three plate appearance against the A's starting pitcher."I just made a lot of mistakes plain and simple, I just didn't get the job done today," Straily said. "That's the most guys I've ever walked in a single game in my life. That's frustrating." Straily's five walks snapped an A's starting pitcher streak of 44 consecutive games allowing three walks or less that dated back to at least 1921. Straily said his fastball command was lacking and that he was trying to be too fine and missing his spots. "It's just a bad day at work," Straily said. "I am going to go back to work and fix it and be ready to go by next Saturday. I'm going to learn from it, watch the video on Tuesday and go back to work."Oakland's pitchers had an uncharacteristically wild day issuing nine free passes on Sunday. "We also had some guys in the game that haven't been pitching on a regular basis," Melvin said. "Our starters have typically been going longer in the game. We have a select few guys that are in close games and now all of a sudden we have guys in the game that haven't gotten regular work." The A's used a season-high seven pitchers in the game. At one point four A's relievers combined to get three key outs in the sixth inning, pitching their way out of a bases loaded jam. "Just too many toys in the chest," Melvin explained. "I knew I'd be killing one of these games here and making it into a four hour game and today ended up being that day."The A's struck the first blow when Josh Reddick smashed a two-run blast deep into the right field seats. His 29th homer of the season almost reached the second deck. Oakland made it interesting in the eighth inning when Stephen Drew hit his second homer in as many days to make it a 7-4 game. Drew now has three homers since being acquired by the A's. A's reliever Jesse Chavez allowed two runs in the top of the ninth to extend the Orioles lead to five runs. The A's didn't go down without a fight though, they rallied for a run in the ninth inning after Reddick added an RBI single. They had two runners on base when Chris Carter grounded out to end the game. The A's will spend their final day off of the season traveling to Detroit. They embark on a 10-game road trip which could prove to be their toughest test of the year. They have three games in Detroit, three in New York, and then four games in Texas against the American League West-leading Rangers. If they can hold their own on the marathon roadie, the chance they make the postseason for the first time since 2006 "ain't bad."NOTES:-- Coco Crisp was a late scratch from the lineup with allergic conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. He was wearing sunglasses in the clubhouse after the game. "He would have been available to pinch run today," Melvin said. "When your eyes aren't there you don't want to put him in that predicament. I think he got a little better as the day goes along but hopefully we get through the off day tomorrow and he is ready to go when we get to Detroit." -- A's batters struck out 12 times on Sunday running their total up to 1232 for the season and setting a new Athletics franchise record. Their previous high was 1226 in 2008.

A's lineup: Joyce jumps to No. 2 against right-hander Nolasco

A's lineup: Joyce jumps to No. 2 against right-hander Nolasco

With the A's going up against the right-handed Ricky Nolasco Thursday night in LA, manager Bob Melvin is pushing his lefties up in the order.

Oakland A's (10-11)

1. Jaff Decker (L) CF
2. Matt Joyce (L) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) 3B
7. Trevor Plouffe (R) DH
8. Josh Phegley (R) C
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Kendall Graveman -- RHP

Los Angeles Angels (11-12)

1. Yunel Escobar (R) 3B
2. Kole Calhoun (L) RF
3. Mike Trout (R) CF
4. Albert Pujols (R) DH
5. C.J. Cron (R) 1B
6. Andrelton Simmons (R) SS
7. Ben Revere (L) LF
8. Cliff Pennington (S) 2B
9. Juan Graterol (R) C
Ricky Nolasco -- RHP

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

ANAHEIM — As Yonder Alonso was preparing for the 2017 season last winter, he was tackling another challenge too.

Over the course of three months, the A’s first baseman gathered his thoughts and pieced together a fascinating first-person account for The Players’ Tribune about his childhood experience defecting from Cuba with his parents and younger sister.

Alonso framed the article as him penning a letter to his 8-year-old self, describing the grueling struggle he and his family would go through while reassuring his younger self that it would all be worth it when he finally made it as a major leaguer. Alonso describes in vivid detail the hardships he went through, caring for his sister, Yainee, at night as they dined on meals of microwaved hot dogs and microwaved eggs, while his parents were away from home working multiple jobs to support their family.

Alonso goes on to describe how he would return from college baseball road trips, while he was attending the University of Miami, and immediately head to a night job to help his father clean warehouses and scrub bathrooms.

The story struck a chord within the A’s clubhouse but also among so many people from the Miami area, where Alonso’s family settled after they defected. Alonso said he’s received text messages from many of them.

“I think everybody in this locker room, or any locker room, they definitely have a story to tell,” Alonso said. “And I think it’s awesome when you see a guy just kind of open up a little bit. I’m (usually) not one to open up.”

Athletes are used to reporters peppering them with questions and trying to draw stories out of them. Seldom do athletes take to penning their own story.

Representatives from The Players’ Tribune, an online publication started by Derek Jeter in 2014, reached out to Alonso in early December about writing something. Alonso had a trip planned to Cuba for later that month, before any request for an article came, and his return visit to his native country helped persuade him to go through with it.

“I saw a lot of people,” he said. “For me it was very touching. For my wife as well.”

Alonso met with an editor from The Players’ Tribune during spring training, and they began hashing out ideas. Alonso said he wrote the story himself with assistance from the editor.

“We had ideas, different ways of going about it,” he said. “I think from day one I knew the way I wanted to write it and how I wanted it to come out, which is a letter to my younger self.”

Even after finishing the project three weeks ago, Alonso said he wasn’t sure he wanted to share it publicly. He showed the article to some friends and teammates, including A’s reliever Sean Doolittle and outfielder Matt Joyce. After reading the piece, Joyce strongly persuaded Alonso to carry through with it.

“I told him it was awesome,” Joyce said. “From my perspective, you don’t really get a good sense of what those guys go through, coming over to the States. You just see them later. So to kind of read it in his own words, it was a really cool perspective and a good story to see what a kid across the water, from a different country, goes through to get to this point. I think it’s a very powerful story and message.”

Alonso said his motivation was simple.

“Just letting my family know, and people in this world know, that if you want to strive for something, it can be tough at times. But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”