Gomes picks up Doolittle; A's win streak hits five

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Gomes picks up Doolittle; A's win streak hits five

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OAKLAND -- In baseball, when things go wrong, they go verywrong. The As experienced that phenomenon on a season-high nine-game losingstreak from May 22 to June 1.But the opposite is also true. When things are going right, they go very right.The As are currently in the midst of a season-high five-game winning streak,and the latest one, a 6-4 victory over the San Diego Padres Saturday, includedsome shocking twists.With the As leading 3-2 in the seventh, manager Bob Melvin replaced starter TysonRoss with rookie left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle, who was originallydrafted by the organization to play first base. Doolittle worked himself in ajam with a leadoff double and a walk sandwiched by strikeouts. As Doolittle putit himself, he was one pitch away, but hung it. The lucky Padre on thereceiving end of the hanger was Will Venable, who doubled to right to plateboth baserunners and give San Diego a 4-3 lead.Thats when things started to go right for the As.
RECAP: Instant Replay -- A's 6, Padres 4
In line for his first Major League decision, Doolittle saw his L turn into aW thanks to an unlikely hero.Jonny Gomes, a native of Petaluma, was called upon to pinch-hit for Seth Smithin the bottom of the seventh with the game-tying run at third base and thego-ahead run at first. Melvin replaced Smith with Gomes because the Padres hadleft-hander Joe Thatcher on the mound, despite Gomes 0-for-34 streak as apinch-hitter heading into the at-bat. It was more the matchup with me for Thatcher, Melvin said.Smittys history wasnt great off him. Melvin went on to admit that he was unaware Gomes pinch-hitslump was as bad as 34 at-bats.Thatcher threw one ball to Gomes before Padres manager BudBlack decided to bring in right-hander Luke Gregerson.Considering Gomes .223 lifetime average againstright-handers and his struggles as a pinch-hitter, the As hopes seemed slim.But Gregerson bounced his first pitch in the dirt, allowing Cliff Pennington toscore the tying run from third easily, then fell behind 3-1 to Gomes. Thatswhen he threw a fastball that Gomes absolutely pulverized to straightaway leftfor a 6-4 As lead, putting Doolittle in line for his first big-league win.Gomes was asked if the pitching change was akin to a mental180-degree turn.A little more than 180 degrees, he said. From aleft-hander to a right-hander, then the runner on third scores, down one to atie. But I knew the fastball inside was coming.A mid at-bat pitching change is rare, but Black was simply playing the numbersgame. Did it offend Gomes?You dont take it personally, but as a competitor, you gotto dig in a little more and get it done.Gomes got it done, and Doolittle was the beneficiary, despite his ugly inningof work.Its a sign of a team thats pretty confident in whattheyre doing, Melvin said. We got held down offensively early on and had alead and for the first time Sean got hit a little bit. But its the hittersjob to pick him up. The pitchers have been picking this thing up for the betterpart of the season. The way weve been swinging the bats, I dont think anyonethought it was over once we got down.While Melvin witnessed the rally, Doolittle did not.I came back in the clubhouse to do my arm exercises andmissed it, Doolittle said of the game-winning home run. But I heard thecrowd.The As announced a crowd of 17,135 on striped sock giveaway day, then sent thefaithful home happy with another interleague win, their sixth in 11 games thisseason.A big reason for the As recent improvement is a confident offensive unit. TheAs came into Saturdays game with the second fewest runs scored in the AmericanLeague at 247, 36 of which came in Oaklands sweep of the Colorado Rockies andthe series opener against San Diego. It only took six runs to get the job done Saturday.A different guy is stepping up every day, Doolittle said.Its really fun to be a part of.The postgame clubhouse was a perfect portrait of a team having fun, with musicblaring and teammates joking and eating together after a comeback win.Were starting to get some character in here, Gomes said. Hittingis contagious.Gomes may have caught the hitting bug from Smith, the man he replaced in thelineup. Smith scored the first run of the game when he hit a soloshot off Padres starter Ross Ohlendorf in the fourth inning. As a designatedhitter this season, Smith is hitting .178 in 23 games. But when he gets thechance to play in the outfield, as Melvin allowed him to do Saturday, heshitting like an All-Star. Smith owns a .344 average as an outfielder thisseason and all seven of his home runs have come as a two-way player.Melvin said before the game that those numbers were a factor in his decision topencil Smith in as the left-fielder, but that Smiths tendency to block hisview in the dugout as a designated hitter also contributed.Im glad he kicked me out of the dugout, Smith said.Its not clear whether Smith will be in the lineup at all Sunday, and if so, asthe designated hitter or an outfielder. Regardless, hes ready to get back tothe O.co Coliseum as the As go for consecutive sweeps of N.L. West opponents. Winning makes everything better, Smith said. Well come back tomorrow readyto play.

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

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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.