Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's sweep of defending AL champs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's sweep of defending AL champs

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OAKLAND — As their roster continued to undergo drastic changes Sunday, the A’s found a way to keep things rolling on the field.

They completed their first home sweep of the Cleveland Indians in nearly five years, ringing up a 7-3 victory that gave them three consecutive victories coming out of the All-Star break.

The morning began with players arriving to the Coliseum and finding out that veteran relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson had been traded to Washington. Then the A’s went out and hung four runs on Indians starter Trevor Bauer, chasing the right-hander from the game before the first inning even ended.

Sean Manaea (8-5) made that early lead stand with seven strong innings, and the A’s got the second half started right by sweeping the American League Central leaders, who are trying to gear up for another run at the World Series after finishing runners-up to the Cubs in 2016.

The A’s hadn’t swept a home series from Cleveland since Aug. 17-19, 2012.

Manaea continues his roll: The big left-hander has won seven of his past nine decisions. He went seven innings Sunday and held Cleveland to two runs, striking out eight and walking three. Over his past 11 starts, Manaea is 7-2 with a 2.92 ERA.

Rallying early: Bauer issued three walks to dig himself a hole in the bottom of the first, and the A’s made him pay. Ryon Healy and Jaycob Brugman each delivered two-run singles with two outs, and Indians manager Terry Francona had to go to his bullpen much earlier than he anticipated.

New-look late relief delivers: With Madson and Doolittle out of the picture, the A’s are going to have to mix and match their way through the late innings to transfer a lead to closer Santiago Casilla. Manager Bob Melvin identified lefty Daniel Coulombe and Liam Hendriks as two relievers who will have to take on more prominent roles. Those two combined on a scoreless eighth after Manaea left the game. After the A’s scored twice in the eighth to open up a 7-2 lead, Melvin stayed away from Casilla and let Simon Castro finish up. Castro was making his 2017 debut after being called up from Triple-A before the game. He gave up Abraham Almonte’s homer but eventually nailed down the victory.

Double digits for Jed: Another A’s trade candidate, second baseman Jed Lowrie, hit his 10th homer in the third inning, a solo shot to right-center. It’s the first season Lowrie has cracked double digits in homers since he had 15 in 2013.

Plan for Cotton: Starter Jharel Cotton, on the disabled list with a blister on his right thumb, will throw in a rehab outing Wednesday for Triple-A Nashville. If he comes out of that well, the A’s will decide where to slot him back in the rotation. That means Chris Smith will make a second start Tuesday against Tampa Bay.

Report: A's bringing back former slugger first baseman

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Report: A's bringing back former slugger first baseman

The A's hit a lot of home runs and they appear to be bringing back a player that hits a lot of home runs.

Chris Carter, who played for the A's from 2010 through 2012, is reportedly signing a minor league contract to return to the organization.

News of the deal was first reported by FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

Carter was released by the Yankees on July 10. In 62 games for New York, Carter hit .201/.284/.370 with five doubles, eight home runs and 26 RBI.

Over the previous four seasons between Houston and Milwaukee, Carter hit 131 home runs and drove in 328 runs.

Carter's high-water mark with the A's came in 2012 when he hit 16 home runs in 67 games.

Sonny Gray keeps dealing, A's avoid sweep with win over Rays

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Sonny Gray keeps dealing, A's avoid sweep with win over Rays

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OAKLAND — Sonny Gray struck out six pitching into the seventh in what might have been his final home start in Oakland if the club tries to deal him before the trade deadline, and the Athletics rallied in the fifth inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 on Wednesday.

Matt Joyce hit a towering homer to the right-field seats in the eighth for Oakland.

Rajai Davis doubled home Oakland's first run in the fifth then Joyce followed with a tying sacrifice fly before Davis scurried home with the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

Gray (6-4) won his third straight start and fourth in five. When speculation arose from the White Sox side before his Friday outing that the right-hander had been scratched because of a possible deal, the A's quickly announced that he was indeed taking the mound for his scheduled outing.

After a pair of one-run defeats to begin this series, the A's avoided being swept by the Rays in Oakland for the first time. This already marked just their third lost series at home to Tampa Bay.

Gray allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings with two walks.

The Rays got three straight singles off Gray to start the fourth inning, including an RBI single by Wilson Ramos. Brad Miller also drove in a run on a groundout.

But Oakland finally got to Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Faria (4-1) in the fifth. With seven straight quality starts to begin his career, Faria took his first big league loss.

A's All-Star Yonder Alonso hit an RBI single in the inning, when Faria had two of his four walks. He allowed six hits and four runs in five innings, striking out four.

Alonso was thrown out at home in the first when he tried to go from first on Khris Davis' double to right. The throw beat him so handily Alonso didn't even try to slide and instead ran behind the plate before turning for the dugout.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: RF Steven Souza Jr. exited the game in the first after straining his left hip trying to steal second after drawing a leadoff walk to start the game. Shane Peterson replaced him. X-rays were negative and he will be re-evaluated once the team arrives home. ... Manager Kevin Cash said LHP Blake Snell would make his next turn in the rotation despite still being winless at 0-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 11 starts. "He's going to pitch well," Cash said.

Athletics: The A's hope to have Chad Pinder back from the DL and a strained left hamstring when they return home from an upcoming seven-game trip to the New York Mets and Toronto. Manager Bob Melvin plans to use him as a utilityman. ... RHP Kendall Graveman allowed five hits and four runs with one strikeout and a walk on 46 pitches in 2 1/3 innings with Triple-A Nashville rehabbing his strained pitching shoulder. RHP Jharel Cotton (blister on his right thumb) also pitched in the game, striking out six in 3 1/3 innings, while Pinder was 0 for 2 with a walk and strikeout for the Sounds.

UP NEXT

Rays: With the Rays back home, RHP Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.59 ERA) takes the ball in Friday's series opener against Yu Darvish and Texas having not faced the Rangers since April 6, 2014.

Athletics: After Thursday's day off following a cross-country flight, RHP Paul Blackburn (1-0, 1.83 ERA) pitches the series opener at the Mets in his fourth career start.