A's exit stage left to standing ovation

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A's exit stage left to standing ovation

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- The sellout crowd stood on their feet and roared in applause. This was the scene many A's players expected to see when Game 5 of the American League Division Series was decided in Oakland. They didn't expect to see it happen after they lost the game 6-0, though.

INSTANT REPLAY: A's magical season ends
After the final out was recorded by the Tigers, something special happened. The fans started cheering. As the Tigers celebrated on the field, more and more people rose to their feet and joined in the applause. The A's players took notice and came out of the dugout and tipped their hats to the crowd. Some of the Tigers took a moment to stop what they were doing and salute the A's players as well. One last "Lets go Oakland" chant broke out.
RATTO: Oakland rekindles love affair with baseball
After everything they had been through they deserved it. This 2012 Oakland Athletics team overcame a 13-game deficit to win the American League West. No team in the history of baseball had bounced back from a five-game deficit with nine games to play to win the division, but the A's did. They fought through the losses of key veterans like Brandon McCarthy, Brandon Inge, Bartolo Colon, and ace pitcher Brett Anderson. They survived the surprising trade of veteran leader Kurt Suzuki. They banded together and supported pitcher Pat Neshek and his wife Stephanee after the tragic and sudden death of their newborn baby son. Any one of those circumstances could have crumbled a lot of teams; it didn't slow down the A's. Oakland ended up popping champagne bottles and celebrating like mad men twice in a span of three days. It seemed every time the team was dealt a crippling blow they would rise up and throw a haymaker back. When third baseman Scott Sizemore was injured early in camp, eventually Brandon Inge was acquired and a week after he joined the team he hit four home runs and 16 RBI in a span of five days. When he went down, Josh Donaldson exploded back onto the scene and never looked back. When Brandon McCarthy hit the DL, A.J. Griffin was ready to take the reigns. He went an Oakland record 6-0 to start his career. When Bartolo Colon was suspended, Travis Blackley and Dan Straily stepped in. When Kurt Suzuki was traded, Derek Norris and George Kottaras took over. At one point the team had 18 rookies on the roster. They carried 12 into the postseason. The A's had a Major League-leading 15 walk-offs and 11 different players were responsible. It was in every sense of the word a total team effort. The A's were outmatched, outspent, and undermanned entering the season. Their 55,372,500 payroll was dwarfed by most teams in baseball and the second lowest in the league. They ended up leading the league with 589,069 spent per regular season win. They even tied an Oakland record by winning 12 consecutive road games. The A's took a risk on a toolsy player from Cuba named Yoenis Cespedes; he ended up looking like a superstar in the making. They traded an All-Star closer for a fourth outfielder named Josh Reddick, and he ended up hitting 32 home runs. They traded their best two starting pitchers in the offseason for two rookies named Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone, who ended up tied for an Oakland rookie record with 13 wins each. So how did this roster full of guys that were written off forge a run that caught the attention of the baseball world? They didn't care what was said by the so-called experts outside of the clubhouse and they simply had fun. They got along with each other. They played for the love of the game and not the money. As manager Bob Melvin often said, the A's take it one game at a time. It worked for 166 games and then they ran out of tomorrows. The story of the 2012 Oakland Athletics may have ended on Thursday night, but it might just be getting started. The team only has four free agents -- McCarthy, Colon, Inge, and Jonny Gomes. Stephen Drew has a mutual option for 2013 and could elect to test out free agency. General Manager Billy Beane is known to wheel and deal but he hinted strongly that will not be the case with the core of this team. A bulk of the players are cost controlled and on the rise. We've seen our last 2012 A's Bernie Lean, heard the last eighth inning rendition of 'Call Me Maybe,' and tasted the last sweet victory of a walk-off pie. Now we can only imagine what next year's season will bring. The A's may have lost in the ALDS, but they deserved the applause. This season is over, but it won't be soon forgotten by the fans or the players that took part in it. I know I will never forget it.

A's lineup: Young faces throughout as Athletics start series vs White Sox

A's lineup: Young faces throughout as Athletics start series vs White Sox

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Astros-A's coverage begins at 4 p.m. with Pregame Live on NBC Sports California and streaming right here.

The latest A's youth movement embarks on its first road trip when they visit the south side of Chicago and the White Sox. Manager Bob Melvin has issued his lineup for Game 1 of the series.

Chicago White Sox:
1. Melky Cabrera (S) LF
2. Jose Abreu (R) 1B
3. Avisail Garcia (R) RF
4. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
5. Matt Davidson (R) DH
6. Tim Anderson (R) SS
7. Yolmer Sanchez (S) 2B
8. Kevan Smith (R) C
9. Adam Engel (R) CF
RHP -- Mike Pelfrey 

Oakland A's:
1. Matt Joyce (L) LF
2. Matt Olson (L) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) DH
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) 3B
7. Chad Pinder (R) SS
8. Bruce Maxwell (L) C
9. Jaycob Brugman (L) CF
RHP -- Jharel Cotton

 

New-look A's continue the youth movement with Maxwell's arrival

New-look A's continue the youth movement with Maxwell's arrival

OAKLAND — The A’s set off for Chicago on Thursday evening to begin their next road trip, and how their dynamic has changed over the course of one week.

They began their most recent homestand by cutting ties with veteran third baseman Trevor Plouffe to make room for hotshot prospect Matt Chapman. On Thursday, catcher Stephen Vogt suffered the same fate as Plouffe, getting designated for assignment to make room for another young player in Bruce Maxwell.

The calendar may still read June, with more than half of the season remaining, but the A’s are cleaning house, undergoing a reboot and playing the rest of 2017 with an emphasis on what lies ahead.

Five of the nine position players in their starting lineup for Thursday’s 12-9 loss to the Houston Astros are what you would consider “future” guys — center fielder Jaycob Brugman, third baseman Ryon Healy, second baseman Chad Pinder, Maxwell and right fielder Matt Olson.

They will shuffle around the diamond a bit, and Olson may only stay with the big club until Chapman comes off the disabled list (though Olson’s full-time status in the bigs doesn’t seem far off). Regardless, the plan is crystal clear — the A’s are hitching their wagon to their young core and are prepared to let them develop at the major league level, with whatever successes and failures may come with the growth process.

“We do get excited about giving these guys playing time,” A’s general manager David Forst said before Thursday’s game.

The Astros finished off a four-game sweep of Oakland with their 12-9 victory, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and then holding on after the A’s mounted a late charge. Glance up and down the box score, and those key young players were instrumental in so much that went right for the A’s.

Maxwell went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Olson drove in two runs. Pinder had two hits and an RBI. Brugman chipped in an RBI single and walked twice. That was the silver lining on a day that starting pitcher Jesse Hahn struggled mightily, allowing nine earned runs in just two innings.

“These guys are gonna be important,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “The last thing you want to see when you’re down 10-0 is guys just cash it in, and that wasn’t the case. These guys all have something to play for. They’re playing for jobs. And in the future, starting jobs.”

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, middle infielder Franklin Barreto will join the mix from Triple-A Nashville. For now, an immediate storyline is the health of Chapman, who joined the 10-day disabled list with a case of cellulitis (bacterial infection) in his left knee. The A’s checked him into a hospital Wednesday night to get an intravenous antibiotic, after his condition “plateaued” with oral antibiotics, according to Forst.

He said Chapman is likely to leave the hospital Friday, and the A’s are hopeful the rookie third baseman will be able to return when he’s eligible to come off the D.L. His stint can be backdated to Monday, meaning Chapman is eligible to return next Thursday at Houston.

He’s part of the youth movement that resulted in Vogt getting shown the exit. Maxwell sent Vogt a text message wishing him the best Thursday morning, and Vogt quickly responded, wishing him the best. That meant a lot to Maxwell, who didn’t learn until Thursday morning that his roster spot was coming at Vogt’s expense.

But Maxwell said he’s excited to be surrounded by so many players that he’s advanced through the minors with.

“Once we get everybody acclimated to each other and the game up here,” he said, “I feel like we could potentially set up a turning point for this organization for years to come.”