A's drop rain-shortened affair to Royals, 3-0

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A's drop rain-shortened affair to Royals, 3-0

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Any fans who toughed the rain for the first seven innings were defeated in the top of the eighth, when a cell moved over the Coliseum resulting in a substantial downpour. The game officially entered a rain delay at 10:01 p.m. as the tarp was rolled onto the field.The rain didn't stop falling all game, and neither did the A's batting averages. They were overmatched at the plate against power lefty and California native Danny Duffy. Cliff Pennington delivered Oakland's only hit, and Duffy finished with eight strikeoutsGraham Godfrey, making his fifth career start, did not fare as well. He was touched up for six hits and two runs.Persistent rain gave Jim Joyce's umpire crew the incentive they needed to officially call the game at 11:07 p.m.
It was the first rain-shortened game in Oakland since the A's were denied a chance to come back from a 16-7 ninth-inning deficit to the Rangers in 2005.
Starting pitching report: A's fourth starter Graham Godfrey had to wait six games before he got the nod, thanks to scheduling. He had to wait an additional 43 minutes to make his first start, thanks to rain.Three-up, three-down innings in the third and fifth book-ended a troublesome fourth, in which the Royals pushed across two runs. Still, it was a flared single and a defensive miscue that spurred the Royals' rally, and Godfrey did well to limit the damage.Godfrey threw 85 pitches to get through six innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs while walking one and striking out one. He took the loss in the first start of his first full MLB season.Bullpen report: Godfrey lasted six innings, giving way to Jerry Blevins in the seventh. The second pitch Blevins threw, an 89-mph fastball, was turned around by Mitch Maier for a solo home run to right field and a 3-0 Royals lead.At the plate: The A's looked patient against Danny Duffy early. Duffy, a California coast native who earned two wins in Oakland last year, was coaxed into 22 first-inning pitches. Jemile Weeks set the tone for the patient approach, seeing eight pitches before flying out in the A's first at-bat.But patience doesn't score runs. The A's managed just one hit against Duffy -- a double by Cliff Pennington in the nine-hole.Duffy looked good, mixing change-ups in the 70s with curve balls in the 80s and fastballs in the mid-90s over six innings of eight-strikeout baseball. He topped out at 97 mph on his seventh pitch of the game.The A's narrowly avoided instant offense in the sixth inning when Yoenis Cespedes smashed a no-doubter just wide of the left-field foul pole.In the field: Bob Melvin penciled Collin Cowgill and Anthony Recker into the lineup for the first time this season. Cowgill made Melvin look good in the second inning when, with two runners on and two away, Chris Getz roped a ball to right. It looked like the Royals would be on the board with extra bases, but Cowgill, who was playing shallow against the nine-hitter, recovered nicely, racing into the right-field corner to make the over-the-shoulder catch and end the inning.Over in center field, Yoenis Cespedes didn't have the same success on his tough play. Mike Moustakas sent one towards the 400-foot sign in dead center field. Cespedes had a beat on it, and tracked it to his glove, but he couldn't squeeze it. The bobbled ball fell safely to the warning track and the Royals were in business in the fourth.With a runner on and no outs in the seventh inning, Getz sharply grounded a ball to the right of second base. Weeks went down to field it on the backhand with delusions of a highlight-reel double play in mind. He failed to glove the ball cleanly, though, and was forced to bat the ball towards second with his bare hand. Pennington picked up the rolling ball bare-handed to record the force out.On the bases: Pennington, hitting out of the nine-hole, got the A's first knock. Standing on second base after he smacked a double, his mind must have strayed a moment, and Duffy took advantage. The Royals picked off Pennington for the one-four putout, and it was back to the drawing board for Oakland.Attendance: If ever you wanted to communicate with the players on the field, Tuesday was the day to do it.Steady rain delaying the battle between two of the four youngest teams in the majors drove down the attendance numbers as the announced crowd of 10,670 seemed much more sparse.That said, the right-field bleacher crowd -- rowdy on the second unofficial celebration of Bacon Tuesday -- showed ample life and could be heard throughout the stadium.Up next: The A's and Royals are scheduled to take the Coliseum field Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. in a rubber match pitting starting pitchers Brandon McCarthy (0-1, 2.25) and Bruce Chen (0-0, 0.00) against each other.

One-time A's draft pick Aaron Judge now toast of New York

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USATI

One-time A's draft pick Aaron Judge now toast of New York

Long before Yankees rookie Aaron Judge was gracing Sports Illustrated covers and taking part in “Tonight Show” skits, the A’s had visions of the hulking outfielder wearing green and gold.

Oakland was the first team to draft Judge, when he was a three-sport star coming out of tiny Linden High School, about 50 miles southeast of Sacramento.

The A’s took him in the 31st round of the 2010 draft but weren’t able to sign Judge, who was firmly set on attending Fresno State. Three years later, New York grabbed him in the first round of the 2013 draft. Now Judge is the latest Bronx sensation, the major league co-leader with 15 home runs and having shown off his comedic skills by starring in a man-on-the-street skit for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

On Friday, he’ll face the A’s for the first time when they begin a three-game series at Yankee Stadium. But Oakland’s front office and scouting department long have been familiar with the 6-foot-7, 282-pound right fielder.

Jermaine Clark, the A’s area scout who followed Judge during his high school career, recently dusted off a scouting report he filed back in 2010 on Judge.

“Big kid with a body to dream on,” the report read. “Untapped monster.”

While at Linden, Judge also starred in football and basketball, and he was a dominant pitcher and first baseman. The problem was Linden played in a small league against competition that didn’t approach the best prep baseball leagues in California.

Clark recalls entering Judge’s information into the A’s database.

“I remember putting his schedule in the computer, and none of the schools he was playing registered in our system,” Clark said.

But the A’s recognized the physical tools. They invited Judge to take part in a workout at the Coliseum leading up to the 2010 draft, an event they plan annually for some of the best draft hopefuls in Northern California.

“He definitely made a good impression,” A’s scouting director Eric Kubota said. “You’d have to be blind to not see the physicality and athleticism. That’s the kind of thing that jumps out on the field. He’s bigger and more athletic than any guy he’s around.”

Still, he wasn’t a slam-dunk choice to be taken high in the 2010 draft. In a time when the majority of top baseball prospects grow up as one-sport specialists, playing the game year-round, Judge was a throwback to the athlete who dabbled in multiple sports. Therefore, his skills on the diamond weren’t as polished, and his 6-foot-7 height also worked against him.

“The frame was so long that things didn’t look so fluid,” Clark said.

The A’s took a flyer on Judge, as Kubota put it, drafting him in the 31st round but knowing it was a long shot that he would sign. Both of Judge’s parents are retired teachers, and a college education was important to them.

So why waste a draft pick on him at all?

“Many of these kids that get drafted late in the draft, clubs don’t have the wherewithal to go sign them,” said A’s special assistant Grady Fuson, who’s heavily involved in the team’s scouting. “But sometimes you take those guys because things change over the summer” regarding a player’s decision-making.

Attempts to arrange a phone interview with Judge were unsuccessful. But over the winter, he discussed the A’s drafting him with The Record newspaper in Stockton.

“I was drafted in high school but made the choice to go to college,” Judge said. “I wasn’t mature enough at that point to get right into minor league baseball. I learned from some great coaches at Fresno. It really helped prepare me.”

The Yankees drafted him with the 32nd overall pick in 2013, a draft that was deep in quality collegiate outfielders. Eight picks before that, at No. 24, the A’s selected Texas high school outfielder Billy McKinney.

“I think in general we’re always looking for the player we like best when he’s available at that pick,” Kubota said. “That’s how it worked out.”

In July 2014, the A’s packaged McKinney along with their top prospect at the time, Addison Russell, and right-hander Dan Straily and traded him to the Cubs for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, a trade that in hindsight still has A’s fans slapping their foreheads.

Last season, the Cubs dealt McKinney to the Yankees as part of another high-profile trade that landed Aroldis Chapman in Chicago.

How did the A’s and so many other clubs pass on Judge throughout the first round in 2013? Keep in mind that Mike Trout somehow lasted until the 25th pick in the 2009 draft, when the Los Angeles Angels finally scooped him up.

The draft is an inexact science in which some players blossom, some fail, and some wind up starring for other teams. But when Judge takes the field against the A’s this weekend, Kubota said he won’t be watching through the lens of what could have been.

“I think in general we root for kids from Northern California, we root for kids we drafted,” he said. “Ideally we’d love them to be doing it in white spikes, but we’re happy to watch them succeed no matter where they’re at.”

Gray strikes out 11, Davis homers in A's 4-1 win over Marlins

Gray strikes out 11, Davis homers in A's 4-1 win over Marlins

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OAKLAND -- Sonny Gray wanted to lighten the mood in the Athletics' clubhouse before the game so he lit a few candles in an adjacent locker, lowered the lights and had peaceful, pan-flute music piped into the overhead speakers.

Then the Oakland ace went out and put the Miami Marlins' offense to sleep with his best outing in two years.

Gray struck out a season-high 11 over seven innings, Khris Davis homered and the A's beat the Marlins 4-1 on Wednesday.

"We were just getting everybody nice and relaxed," Gray said of his pregame routine. "It was a good way to start the day. If we're going to put this thing together here . we're going to have to get everyone together and that's just a little way to do that."

Jed Lowrie matched his career high with four hits including two doubles, and Matt Joyce reached base three times and scored to help the A's earn a split of the two-game interleague series.

Gray (2-1) was dominant while earning his second straight win. The right-hander, who began the season on the disabled list because of a strained lat, retired the first nine batters, struck out the side twice and pitched out of a pair of jams to strand runners at third. Gray walked one and allowed three hits.

The 11 strikeout were one shy of Gray's career-best.

"That's what the really good ones do," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They have a level and they have another level when they need it. We saw everything that makes him who he is today."

Ryan Madson pitched the eighth and Santiago Casilla got the last three outs for his seventh save, getting Tyler Moore to foul out with two runners on base to end the game.

Edinson Volquez (0-7) allowed three runs over six innings and tied the Marlins franchise record for most consecutive losses to open a season. The 33-year-old right-hander has dropped eight straight decisions overall dating to 2016, the longest drought of his career.

"When I signed on here I was hoping to be better than what I am right now," Volquez said. "The longer I'm pitching the way I did tonight, I'm good with it. I think I threw the ball pretty good today. One mistake. I threw a fastball to Davis and the ball keeps going."

The A's won despite three errors. They have 46 this season, most in the majors.

Dee Gordon singled and scored Miami's lone run.

LOWRIE WARMING UP:
Lowrie doubled and scored on Davis' 14th home run of the season, a two-out opposite field shot off Volquez. Lowrie added an RBI double in the fifth then singled in Adam Rosales in the seventh. It was Lowrie's team-leading 16th multi-hit game of the season and extended his modest hitting streak to six games. "Really consistent the whole year," Melvin said of Lowrie, who went 13 for 25 on the homestand. "Physically he feels better than he ever has. Durability-wise he's been out there more. I consistently talk to him about DH, but no, he wants to play."

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Marlins: LF Christian Yelich did not play and is day to day after suffering a right hip flexor injury during Tuesday's win.

Athletics: 1B Yonder Alonso wore a protective wrap around his right wrist and was held out of the lineup after getting hit by a pitch. Melvin expects Alonso to be in the lineup Friday in New York. . RHP Jesse Hahn, who left his start Tuesday with a triceps strain, underwent an MRI test but results were unknown . LHP Sean Doolittle (left shoulder strain) will throw live batting practice Saturday in extended spring training in Arizona. . RHP Bobby Wahl was placed on the 10-day disabled list with soreness in his shoulder and biceps tendinitis. RHP Zach Neal was called up from Triple-A Nashville.

UP NEXT:
Marlins: RHP Dan Straily (2-3) faces the Los Angeles Angels for only the second time in his career Friday in Miami. Straily has failed to make it past the fifth inning in seven of his nine starts this season.

Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman (2-2) pitches against the Yankees on Friday when Oakland begins a three-game series in New York. Kendall is winless in five starts since coming off the disabled list.