A's give up five HRs, drop exhibition opener to Mariners

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A's give up five HRs, drop exhibition opener to Mariners

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PHOENIX -- Manny Ramirez saw just three pitches and took two swings in his Oakland debut. He never got the ball out of the infield. Still, just being there seemed enough for now."I feel good," he said afterward. "I make contact."Then he laughed and laughed.The suspended slugger grounded into a double play and bounced out in the Athletics' 8-5 loss to the Seattle Mariners in their spring opener on Friday.

Ramirez will have plenty of opportunities to refine his form. He will have turned 40 by the time he's sat out the first 50 games of the season for violating MLB's substance abuse policy.Jesus Montero, the touted 22-year-old acquired in a trade with the New York Yankees for Michael Pineda, hit one of Seattle's five home runs. But Montero left in the fifth inning after being hit by a foul.Actually, Montero got hit twice in nearly the same place."He's OK," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "He got hit in the jaw a couple of times. I don't know that I've ever seen that happen two times in a row like that. The first one got him pretty good but obviously the second one right on top of that, so we got him out of there."The A's and Mariners play the major league opener on March 28 in Tokyo.Montero, who also had an error when he dropped a foul ball on a windy afternoon, was one of the few regulars the Mariners brought to the Phoenix Municipal Stadium.Seattle got some big hits, a nice sign for an offense that was awful last year. Montero, Michael Saunders and Carlos Peguero each hit two-run homers and Luis Rodriguez and Johermyn Chavez added solo shots.Ramirez, his trademark locks falling below his helmet, drew a loud mix of boos and cheers when he stepped to the plate in the first inning to face Blake Beaven with a runner on first and one out. On the second pitch, he hit a sharp grounder right to the shortstop, who easily converted the double play.Three innings later, Ramirez led off the fourth and grounded out sharply to second on the first pitch.Someone said he probably didn't plan on hard grounders when he returns to the majors this season."You got that right," he said. "It's been a long time since I haven't faced nobody, but tomorrow's another day. Tomorrow I'll do better."Actually, it will be two days before he has a chance to do better. Manager Bob Melvin said his plan is to play Ramirez every other day through the spring. Then Ramirez will have to stay in extended spring training, with some intermittent trips to Oakland to work out with the team, before he regains his eligibility to play.Ramirez had just 17 at-bats at the start of the season last year with Tampa Bay before leaving with a suspension looming.Before Friday's game, Melvin praised Ramirez's efforts this spring."He's been terrific here," Melvin said. "Every day he tells me how lucky he is to be here and how appreciative he is to be here. He's one of the first ones in the cage every day and one of the last ones to leave. As many younger players and the turnover that we have here, to be able to have an example like that with the history and the numbers that he has makes it pretty easy to get guys to work here."That probably wouldn't have been the description for Ramirez in his final days with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and certainly not in his rocky time in Boston. But Ramirez seems to be cherishing this opportunity."He's certainly not getting paid like he used to," Melvin said, "and he knows that each and every day he's got to prove himself to get to the next step of potentially having him around after 50 games. So, so far, so good."Ramirez said that he felt better than he expected."At least I was seeing the ball pretty good," he said.And he said he loves the uniform."I like the white uniform. It's beautiful," he said. "My friends, they'll be calling, Man, you look so good in green.'"

Hahn's excellence goes for naught as Angels walk off on A's

Hahn's excellence goes for naught as Angels walk off on A's

ANAHEIM — The night should have been about Jesse Hahn, who had every pitch working and rendered Angels hitters helpless over eight innings.

Instead, the A’s postgame comments Tuesday were filled with second-guessing and do-overs that they wish came their way in a 2-1, 11-inning defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.

The game-winner came off the bat of Kole Calhoun, who singled in Danny Espinosa from second to sink the A’s in their first extra-inning contest of the season. Ryan Madson went outside with an 0-1 fastball and Calhoun spanked it into left-center, a pitch that Madson said he never should have thrown.

“I wasn’t comfortable with that pitch,” Madson said afterward. “I should have definitely stepped off and re-thought it, so I didn’t throw it with conviction. It looked like it was off the plate but something he could handle. I learned my lesson to throw a pitch I’m convicted in.”

Calhoun swung through a changeup on Madson’s first pitch. Josh Phegley, who was behind the plate calling pitches, said he didn’t want to go right back to that pitch.

“(You) kind of obviously second-guess yourself after the game-winning hit is hit off a pitch you just called,” Phegley said. “I thought about going back to (the changeup). I saw in my head him kind of making adjustments and just looping one over the infield, getting the same result. … I thought it was a good pitch and I’ll trust that guy’s fastball any day of the year. It just was not the result we were looking for.”

Phegley was set up to be a hero himself, after he came off the bench to pinch-hit for Vogt and smacked the first pitch from Jose Alvarez in the 10th for a homer to right-center that snapped a scoreless tie. But Mike Trout — who else? — answered with a home run to lead off the bottom of the 10th off Santiago Casilla. He sliced a 2-0 pitch off the plate for a drive that cleared the short right field wall just inside the foul pole.

It was Trout’s 23rd career homer against the A’s, his most off any team.

“I don’t know anybody that hits a home run right down the right field line on a ball that looks like it’s by him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “There aren’t too many guys that are gonna do that. Maybe he and Khris Davis. It’s not like it’s a bad pitch.”

Hahn wound up with a no-decision from an outing that might have been his sharpest as an Athletic, perhaps even more so than his shutout of Detroit on Memorial Day, 2015. He allowed just one hit over eight innings, facing two batters over the minimum in that time, striking out six and walking two.

“I feel like I literally had everything working for me today,” Hahn said. “I think it might have been my best command I’ve had of all pitches.”

Hahn, who didn’t make the 25-man roster coming out of spring, is finding his groove since replacing Raul Alcantara in the rotation. In three starts he’s allowed just nine hits and four earned runs over 20 innings, for a 1.80 ERA.

“He pitched as well as we’ve seen him,” Melvin said. “He had his best sink of the year by far. His best sink in a while, and a good curve ball. He really had it working tonight.”

Unfortunately for Hahn and the A’s, his excellent start didn’t come with a ‘W’ attached.

**

Melvin said center fielder Jaff Decker felt something in his foot on a steal attempt of second in which he was thrown out easily without a slide attempt.

“He got taped up and he was OK,” Melvin said.

 

Instant Replay: Casilla blows save in 10th, Angels walk off in 11th

Instant Replay: Casilla blows save in 10th, Angels walk off in 11th

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ANAHEIM – After the A’s appeared to deal a knockout blow in the 10th inning, the Angels countered and ended up handing the A’s their first walk-off loss of 2017.

Kole Calhoun’s two-out single off Ryan Madson in the 11th scored Danny Espinosa and Los Angeles hung a 2-1 loss on the A’s on Tuesday to open a three-game series at Angel Stadium.

Mike Trout hit a game-tying homer off Santiago Casilla to lead off the bottom of the 10th. That came right after A’s pinch hitter Josh Phegley broke a scoreless tie by hitting the first pitch of the top of the 10th for a homer to right-center off Jose Alvarez.

For two teams who didn’t advance a single runner past first base through the first nine innings, the A’s and Angels packed a lot of excitement into the extra frames.

Phegley delivered the A’s first pinch homer in extras since Chris Carter hit one against Seattle on July 6, 2012. After Trout answered with his homer, Albert Pujols lined a single off Casilla, who came in having allowed opponents just one hit over 23 at-bats this season. Ben Revere pinch-ran for Pujols and stole second, representing the winning run with no outs. But Casilla buckled down and stranded him there to keep it a 1-1 game.

Espinosa led off the bottom of the 11th with a single off Madson, then Martin Maldonado executed a two-strike sacrifice bunt to move him to second. With two outs, Calhoun lined his game-winner to left-center, and Espinosa easily beat Jaff Decker’s throw to the plate.

A’s starter Jesse Hahn was outstanding, facing just two batters over the minimum over eight innings and limiting the Angels to one hit. The only problem was the A’s couldn’t get anything going on their end against right-hander J.C. Ramirez, who threw seven scoreless innings. All told, they struck out 11 times against five Angels pitchers.

Starting pitching report:
Hahn was as dialed in as he’s been wearing an A’s uniform. Manager Bob Melvin talks often of the upside he thinks the right-hander has, and Hahn demonstrated that Tuesday. He coaxed 12 ground-ball outs but also showed a good curve ball and struck out six. Hahn walked two, but after the one single he gave up to Marte in the fifth, he promptly picked Marte off first.

Bullpen report:
Sean Doolittle threw a perfect ninth to send the game into extra innings scoreless, and he struck out Kole Calhoun with two nasty sliders. Looking to protect a 1-0 lead in the 10th, Casilla fell behind Trout 2-0 and Trout sliced a homer to the right field corner that landed just inside the foul pole.

At the plate:
The A’s mustered just five hits total.

Ryon Healy, hitting .524 over his previous seven games entering the night, got a start in the No. 2 spot and struck out swinging four times in five at-bats.

The A’s got the leadoff hitter aboard in four of five innings from the fourth through the eighth but couldn’t cash in. And with the strong-armed Martin Maldonado behind the plate for the Angels, Oakland couldn’t jump-start things on the bases. Jaff Decker was thrown out at second so easily in the fourth that he didn’t even bother to slide, as it appeared either him or Healy missed a sign.

In the field:
In line with how well Hahn was dealing, the A’s defense played stingy. Matt Joyce made a diving catch in right to rob Jefry Marte to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Jed Lowrie made a nice play from the outfield grass to retire Danny Espinosa in the sixth. Credit Hahn for keeping his infielders engaged with so many ground-ball outs.

Attendance:
The announced turnout was 30,124.

Up next:
In the middle contest of this three-game set, Sean Manaea (1-1, 4.43) squares off against Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.98) on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. Shoemaker’s six homers allowed are tied for third most in the American League.