Inside info helps A's win series finale against Halos


Inside info helps A's win series finale against Halos


OAKLAND -- The Angels were lauded with praise for making a big splash at Major League Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline. They dealt for a Cy Young-award winning starting pitcher. The A's drew criticism for standing pat. All Oakland did was acquire a freshly designated for assignment back up catcher named George Kottaras. Kottaras came from the Milwaukee Brewers. It just so happens that so did Angels' acquisition Zack Greinke. As the A's and Angels met in the finale of their three-game series, Kottaras was able to provide his new teammates with in-depth information on the Angels new pitcher. The intelligence could have been the difference as the A's defeated their American League West rivals 9-8 in a slugfest."I talked to hitting coach Chili Davis and he asked me some questions about his tendencies," Kottaras said. "I kind of told him what we have talked about when we were together in Milwaukee." Fittingly, Kottaras struck the first big blow for the A's -- a two-run homer off Greinke to dead center making it a 2-1 game. "Me hitting that homer was what it was," Kottaras said. Kottaras' homer opened the floodgates as the A's batted around in the second inning scoring four runs. The A's approach at the plate was working. Greinke walked a season-high five A's batters all of which came in the second inning. He had trouble locating his fastball all day.The run support came in handy for Oakland as rookie starting pitcher Dan Straily hit a few speed bumps against a potent Angels lineup. Straily allowed four home runs -- two of which were hit by Kendrys Morales. Morales' two-run blast in the fifth inning knocked Straily out of the game and gave the Angels a 5-4 lead. "I had more confidence today, I felt like I had better stuff, I just made too many mistakes and paid for them," Straily said. "Luckily our offense decided to put up nine runs and get a team win right there." The four home runs Straily surrendered are the most allowed by an Oakland starting pitcher since Gio Gonzalez did it against the Twins on July 20, 2009. The rookie pitcher may have been tagged for five runs but he also showed some flashes of the brilliance on the mound. He started the game by striking out Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, and Albert Pujols -- all swinging. He ended up striking out five hitters. "Like pitching coach Curt Young told me, I started two games and we got two wins on those days," Straily said. "One was a lot better than the other, but at the end of the day we still got two W's there."The A's offense picked up Straily and the pitching staff in a major way. Sunday's game marked the second time in Oakland history that the team has won a game after allowing five or more home runs. "It was a bit of a heavyweight fight there at the end," Melvin said. After Greinke left the game, the A's rallied for five runs in the sixth inning off Angels reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Coco Crisp hit a single to tie the game at five. Then Yoenis Cespedes gave the A's the lead with a two-run opposite field single to right. "He's got a little bit of a flair for the dramatic," Melvin said. "He is not overwhelmed or intimidated by any situation, and I think that the hit he had today certainly shows that.""For me that's the most important thing in the game," Cespedes said through spanish-language broadcaster Manolo Hernndez-Douen. "To have a chance to hit with runners in scoring position." Carter essentially sealed the deal in the next at-bat. He blasted his 10th homer of the year -- a two-run blast to left field that gave the A's their ninth run. Carter is the seventh A's player to reach double-digit homers -- he got there in just 29 games. "He's just confident. The ability is there," Melvin said. "At some point in time you have to accept in your career, 'I am a big leaguer.' I think he is finally doing that."A's All-Star closer Ryan Cook made the game interesting in the end. He entered the game having blown his last two save opportunities, and allowed two runs in the ninth inning before recording the final out. Cook has allowed eight runs in his last seven innings pitched. After the game Melvin said that Cook's velocity was there and it looked like his tenacity was back. The A's will have to hope their closer can regain his form. Maybe getting his 12th save after failing to convert his last two attempts will be a boost. The A's get a much needed day off on Thursday. Their series win over the Angels concluded the longest 10-game home stand in Oakland history. They played a record 104 innings over the last 10 games here at the Coliseum. On Friday Brandon McCarthy will return from the disabled list to take on the Chicago White Sox. He has been on the DL twice this year with right shoulder issues. He is 6-0 in his last seven starts with Oakland.

A's lineup: Healy moves into three spot, LaMarre gets first start

A's lineup: Healy moves into three spot, LaMarre gets first start

Bob Melvin has issued his lineup as the A's try to snap a five-game losing streak in Game 2 of a series against the Astros.

Oakland A's (10-13)

1. Jaff Decker (L) RF
2. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
3. Ryon Healy (R) DH
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
7. Stephen Vogt (L) C
8. Chad Pinder (R) SS
9. Ryan LaMarre (R) CF
Ryan Triggs -- RHP 

Houston Astros (15-8)

1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Josh Reddick (L) RF
3. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
4. Carlos Correa (R) SS
5. Carlos Beltran (S) LF
6. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
7. Brian McCann (L) C
8. Evan Gattis (R) DH
9. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
Joe Musgrove -- RHP

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

HOUSTON — Enduring a five-game losing streak is tough enough on its own.

Watching a former teammate play a part in prolonging the misery is worse.

Josh Reddick wasn’t the most dominant player on the field Friday for the Astros, but he picked his spots to make his presence felt, and that added a little salt to the wound for the A’s in a 9-4 defeat that was their fifth in a row. They’ve now lost 10 straight times to Houston.

Reddick was mad at himself after not making the play on Ryon Healy’s double in the sixth inning. He got another chance in the eighth and robbed his former roommate with a terrific catch as he slammed into the wall to end the inning. That stranded two runners and preserved what was a 7-4 lead at the time.

“Any time you’re playing against your former team you wanna do well against them. Beating them makes it a little bit sweeter,” Reddick said. “But when you can make a catch against a guy you became pretty good buddies with in a tight situation, it adds more to that.”

After Healy got his first big league call-up last July, and before the A’s traded Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, Reddick invited the rookie to move into his house as he cut his teeth in the bigs.

“I’m going to be giving Ryon a lot of crap, I guess you could say,” Reddick said afterward. “He gave me a little signal and finger wave and shook his head on the (double). I got him back and a little bit of payback.”

Reddick, who signed a four-year $52 million free agent deal with Houston in the offseason, was a pest to the A’s in more unconventional ways too. Twice he reached base on catcher’s interference calls when his bat hit the mitt of Stephen Vogt, another of Reddick’s closest friends on the A’s. It happened in the bottom of the first and contributed to the Astros’ three-run rally that tied the game off Jharel Cotton after the A’s had grabbed a 3-0 lead on Khris Davis’ three-run homer.

Vogt talked about both interference plays with mild disgust, more upset with the situation itself than Reddick personally.

“Typically I’m pretty far back behind the batter," Vogt said. “Reddick, I guess, has a pretty long swing when he’s trying to go the other way. … It’s just one of those freak things that obviously I’m not real thrilled about. It’s just frustrating. You don’t see it very often. It’s not really how you swing the bat typically, but he does a good job going the other way, and it’s on me. I’ve gotta make sure I’m far enough back and not reaching for the ball.”

As for Reddick’s important catch in the eighth, Vogt said:

“It’s hard to see him in a different uniform, and I know he loved it here as well. It’s hard to see him playing against us 19 times. To see him making catches like that, it’s not very much fun when he’s not wearing green.”

However, the A’s have more pressing issues than getting stung by old friends. They’ve struck out 57 times over the past five games, and with each day that passes, it’s increasingly clear how much they miss the speed and playmaking ability of center fielder Rajai Davis, as well as the offensive production of shortstop Marcus Semien. Both are on the disabled list, Davis for the short term with a strained hamstring and Semien likely for a couple of months due to wrist surgery.

Cotton wasn’t sharp, allowing a career-high 10 hits and failing to protect two early leads he was given. Those are the growing pains that will come for a rookie pitcher. What the A’s can’t afford are three-error nights like they had Friday and continuing to whiff at their current rate.

“When we went through our winning streak, we played real clean games, and now we’re a little shoddy,” manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s a psychological play that goes with that. When you’re not making plays and giving extra outs, it makes it tougher on pitchers and tougher mentally.”