Doolittle wins ninth-inning battle with former teammate Moss in A's win

doolittle-moss-rewind.jpg
AP

Doolittle wins ninth-inning battle with former teammate Moss in A's win

KANSAS CITY — Brandon Moss shared some pretty powerful emotions with his former A’s teammates at Kauffman Stadium three seasons ago.

There was more drama for the A’s in that ballpark Monday, and this time Moss was wearing enemy colors. He came to the plate for the Royals in the bottom of the ninth representing the go-ahead run, with Kansas City runners on the corners and two outs with the A’s clinging to a 2-0 lead.

On the mound for Oakland was lefty Sean Doolittle. Calling pitches behind the plate was Stephen Vogt. All three were on the same side in 2014, when the A’s lost a 9-8 heartbreaker to the Royals in the American League Wild Card game.

“He’s one of my favorite people over there. We know him well,” Vogt said. “That’s all I told Doo. I just went out there and said, ‘Let’s go, you and me right now.’”

Doolittle and Vogt won the battle of good friends. Moss went down swinging on a 94 mile-per-hour fastball and the A’s clinched a 2-0 victory in front 40,019 fans on hand for the Royals’ home opener.

Moss went from journeyman to All-Star while with the A’s from 2012-14, hitting a career-high 30 home runs in 2013. He was at his best in that Wild Card loss, hitting two homers and driving in five runs in a performance that seemed like it would carry the A’s into the next round. Instead, the Royals came back to win a thriller in 12 innings.

“It was a little bit weird, just because I know what he’s capable of and what he did in this ballpark for us,” Doolittle said. “He’s a presence in the box anytime he comes to the plate, but especially when he comes to the plate as the go-ahead run in a pressure situation.”

Leading up to the Moss at-bat, Doolittle struck out both lefties he faced — Mike Moustakas on a sharp slider and Eric Hosmer on a 96 mile-per-hour fastball.

But Lorenzo Cain walked and then Salvador Perez singled with two outs and put runners on the corners. Doolittle came through against his former teammate and the A’s took the opener of this three-game series to even their record at 4-4.

“Definitely, the emotions were flying when the three of us were on the stage right there,” Vogt said. “It’s always fun.”

Vogt has that 'rejuvenation feeling' going from A's to first-place Brewers

Vogt has that 'rejuvenation feeling' going from A's to first-place Brewers

After five seasons in Oakland, Stephen Vogt begins a new chapter of his career in Milwaukee.

The 32-year-old was designated for assignment by the last-place A's on Thursday and claimed by the first-place Brewers on Sunday.

On Monday, the two-time All-Star catcher discussed his new opportunity with a contender on MLB Network Radio.

"Obviously I was ecstatic to hear I was headed to Milwaukee. We all watch baseball and they are such a fun team to watch right now. And your buddy Eric Sogard is there, so I've got some familiarity. It's an opportunity to win and I think anybody, when you get to the stage I'm in in my career, where I'm 32, I want to win. I'm at the point where that's kind of the goal in the big leagues where all you care about is winning and that's where I'm at. So, to get the news that I'm headed to a first-place team, I couldn't be more excited," Vogt said.

After making the AL All-Star team the last two seasons, Vogt struggled to the tune of a .217 batting average with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games.

But with a new team in a new league comes a fresh slate.

"You get that rejuvenation feeling, you get that feeling that this is the change you needed especially going to a winning team where when you're winning, everyone plays better, when you're winning, everyones happier. No matter where you are in life, you want to have that feeling that somebody wants you. So to have Milwaukee come in and say 'We wanted you,' Yeah, it recharged the batteries. I'm ready to go," Vogt said.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

BOX SCORE

The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.

They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.

The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.

The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.

They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.

Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.

Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.

Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).

Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.

An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.