Athletics

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

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

BOX SCORE

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.

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

OAKLAND — Bruce Maxwell’s gesture to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday night at the Coliseum was no knee-jerk reaction by the A’s catcher.

It was something he’s considered for a long time, balancing his own personal convictions to make a statement with how it might affect his teammates and organization.

Think it was bold of Maxwell to become the first player in baseball to kneel during the anthem, in protest of racial discrimination and the inflammatory remarks of President Trump? It took just as much guts to stand before his teammates, manager Bob Melvin and GM David Forst and explain why he felt he needed to do it.

He did so in a pregame meeting Saturday that made for a degree of discomfort in the room, but also seemed to have played out in a healthy way.

“I didn’t want them to sugarcoat or aid me when it comes to the media and their personal feelings,” Maxwell said, “because the whole point of this is the ability to protest (based on) our personal beliefs and our personal choices.”

Many athletes have been critical of the President, with things intensifying across the sports landscape Saturday after Trump, among other things, withdrew an invitation for the Warriors to visit the White House and harshly criticized athletes who have knelt during the anthem, saying they should be booted off their teams.

After blasting Trump on both Instagram and Twitter, Maxwell took the field for the anthem and took the action that will define him in the eyes of the baseball world. Maxwell had been wanting to make a statement in some way. He said he and his sister dealt with racial discrimination growing up. Watching Trump’s rally play out in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. on Friday further persuaded Maxwell to finally do so.

“This goes beyond the black community, it goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having … a racial divide in all types of people,” said Maxwell, who is African American. “It’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country and it’s basically saying it’s OK to treat people differently. And my kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I’m kneeling for a cause. But I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”

A’s outfielder Mark Canha stood next to Maxwell during the anthem with his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, a show of support. Canha said he’s considered kneeling before in protest himself but had chosen not to. As he listened to Maxwell address the team, Canha wasn’t going to let his teammate make his statement on his own.

“I could tell he was getting kind of choked up and emotional about his beliefs and how he feels about the racial discrimination that’s going on in this country right now,” Canha said. “I felt like every fiber of my being was telling me that he needed a brother today.”

Canha added that he sensed some “discomfort” in the room as Maxwell addressed the team. But he also said there was support.

“It was an open forum to ask him questions. It was as articulate as I’ve seen him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “This wasn’t an emotional thing just today for him. … I think he handled it really well and everybody was comfortable after the session. I’m proud of him for the fact he went about it the way he did.”

Maxwell, who was born in Germany while his father served in the Army over there, said he will continue to kneel for the anthem. He doesn’t expect his teammates to do the same, only to stick to what they believe in.

“I have plenty of family members, including my father, who have bled for this country,” Maxwell said. “At the end of the day, this the best country on the planet. My hand over my heart symbolized that I am, and will forever be, an American citizen. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don't have a voice.”

MLB issues statement on A's Bruce Maxwell kneeling during national anthem

MLB issues statement on A's Bruce Maxwell kneeling during national anthem

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell made history Saturday night in Oakland. The 26-year-old became the first player in big-league history to kneel during the national anthem. 

Below is the official statement from Major League Baseball:

Major League Baseball has a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games. We also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions. We believe that our game will continue to bring our fans, their communities and our players together.

MLB media services contributed to this report