Athletics

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's walk-off win vs Indians

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's walk-off win vs Indians

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — The long ball reigned supreme once again for the A’s on Saturday night.

Rookie Matt Chapman homered twice and Khris Davis lined a two-run walk-off shot in the ninth inning as the A’s notched a thrilling 5-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The bottom of the ninth began with dominant Indians closer Andrew Miller on the mound. Miller entered for the eighth and left after walking Yonder Alonso to lead off the ninth. Bryan Shaw entered and Davis connected for one of his patented opposite-field shots that sent a crowd of 33,021 into a frenzy on Rickey Henderson Night at the Coliseum.

It was the second walk-off homer of Davis’ career.

Chapman, in a 3-for-27 rut entering the night, connected for the first two homers of his career. Both came off Corey Kluber, who struck out 12 and allowed just five hits over 7 1/3 innings. Chapman hit a frozen rope to left-center in the third, then unloaded on a 455-foot blast to straightaway center in the eighth to tie it 3-3.

KD DELIVERS: Davis had struck out in two of his first three at-bats, but he connected off Shaw for his 25th homer of the season, raising his arms in celebration as he rounded first. It was the A’s seventh walk-off win of the season.

TRADE RUMOR OF THE DAY: It’s no surprise at all to see the Washington Nationals targeting the A’s bullpen for possible upgrades. But MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the Nats want both Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Washington is leading the National League East by a mile, but the Nats’ bullpen remains a glaring weakness, so they’re expected to aggressively pursue relievers. Madson threw a scoreless inning Saturday.

SOLID START: Rookie Paul Blackburn delivered his third quality start in as many outings in the bigs, though he wasn’t as dialed in as the first two. Blackburn walked four after issuing just two free passes combined over his first two outings. Two of those batters wound up scoring, with Edwin Encarcion’s two-run homer in the fourth the most damaging blow. Still, Blackburn gave the A’s every chance to win with his effort. He held the Indians to three runs over six innings, giving up five hits and striking out four.

GRAVEMAN SETS HIS GOAL: Sidelined since late May with a shoulder strain, Kendall Graveman sounded upbeat before the game about his recovery. The right-hander is scheduled to throw off the mound Sunday. If that goes well, his first rehab start will come Wednesday, possibly with Triple-A Nashville. That would most likely be a three inning/45-pitch outing. As he builds up his pitch count, Graveman estimates he’d make three starts in the minors if all according to plan, meaning the A’s could get their Opening Night starter back in early August.

ANOTHER RETURN COMING?: Chad Pinder ran the bases before the game to test his left hamstring. He’s likely to stick with the A’s for a couple more days of baseball activity and then begin his own rehab assignment.

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