Athletics

Instant Replay: Bullpen coughs up lead, A's fall to Rangers again

Instant Replay: Bullpen coughs up lead, A's fall to Rangers again

BOX SCORE

The A’s put themselves in position for victory for the second night in a row, only to be dealt Texas-sized heartbreak once again.

The Rangers scored four runs in the seventh off an Oakland bullpen that’s suddenly looking very vulnerable, and Texas pocketed a 6-5 win at Globe Life Park.

Sonny Gray was in line for his first victory since last summer as the A’s took a 4-2 lead entering the bottom of the seventh. But the Rangers struck big off Ryan Dull and Liam Hendriks. They loaded the bases off Dull, who began the inning, then Elvis Andrus tied the game with a two-run single off Hendriks and Nomar Mazara added a two-run double for a 6-4 Rangers lead.

The bullpen opened this six-game road trip not having allowed a run over three consecutive games. But closer Santiago Casilla coughed up a 2-1 lead Friday and the ‘pen couldn’t hold Saturday’s lead, zapping the momentum the A’s had built on a 4-2 homestand. At 16-20, they fell back into sole possession of last place in the American League West.

Starting pitching report:
Gray was in line for his first victory since July 26 after throwing six innings of two-run ball. It was his best of three starts since coming back off the disabled list. He held the Rangers to five hits, walking two and striking out three over 106 pitches.

Bullpen report:
Dull’s results have not been great when pitching on the back end of back-to-back outings. His ERA shot up to 14.40 (8 ER in 5 IP) when pitching on no days’ rest. He loaded the bases on a single and two walks when Melvin called for Hendriks with one out. The righty had been excellent of late with nine consecutive scoreless outings, but he gave up the costly tying and go-ahead hits, with three of the four runs that inning charged to Dull (1-2).

At the plate:
The A’s, 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position over their previous four games heading into the night, got a couple hits in the clutch in building their lead. Yonder Alonso delivered a two-out run scoring single in the fourth to tie the game. Then Matt Joyce’s two-run single in the fifth gave them a 3-2 lead. Trailing 6-4 in the eighth, Alonso struck again with his 12th homer, turning around a 97 mile-per-hour fastball from Keona Kela.

Roster note:
Jaff Decker cleared waivers and the A’s outrighted the outfielder to Triple-A Nashville.

In the field:
Neither team committed an error.

Attendance:
37,898

Up next:
Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.67) takes the ball as the A’s close out this three-game series Sunday at 12:05 p.m. Former Athletic A.J. Griffin (4-0, 2.45) has been excellent for Texas this season, helping to make up for the injury to Cole Hamels.

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