Instant Replay: Early errors prove costly, A's blanked by Astros

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Instant Replay: Early errors prove costly, A's blanked by Astros

BOX SCORE

The A’s suffered a loss Monday that featured a couple costly defensive miscues, some squandered offensive opportunities and a starting pitcher leaving because of an injury.

That’s not the kind of script that leads to success, and unfortunately for the A’s it’s not the first time such a scenario has played out in 2016.

The Astros, scrapping to keep pace in the American League Wild Card race, rang up a 6-0 win in the opener of this three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

Oakland mustered just four hits and couldn’t carry over the momentum from a seven-run output in Sunday’s series-clinching victory at St. Louis. Third baseman Ryon Healy committed back-to-back errors that contributed to Houston’s two-run second inning that gave the home team all the runs it would need.

A’s starter Sean Manaea departed in the fourth inning with what was diagnosed as a strained muscle in his upper back. There was no immediate word on the seriousness of the injury.

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Starting pitching report:
Manaea wasn’t helped by the Healy errors, both of which came with two outs and put him in a bases-loaded situation. But the rookie left-hander didn’t help himself when he followed up by issuing consecutive walks that forced in the game’s first two runs. It wasn’t apparent to the naked eye when exactly Manaea injured himself prior to leaving.

Bullpen report:
Chris Smith did well when called upon on short notice, eating up 2 2/3 innings. He allowed Jose Altuve’s solo homer in the sixth. He struck out five after relieving Manaea. Smith started the seventh by giving up a double to Teoscar Hernandez, walking Jake Marisnick and giving up a single to George Springer. J.B. Wendelken relieved Smith and promotely gave up a two-run single to rookie Alex Bregman. Following a double play, Carlos Correa knocked in Springer with a single to right. All three runs were charged to Smith.

At the plate:
The A’s had their best chances in the fifth and sixth to jump back in the game. They loaded the bases in the fifth with one out, but Coco Crisp and Danny Valencia both went down on strikes. In the sixth, with the score still 2-0, Oakland put runners on the corners with one out but Yonder Alonso bounced into a 1-6-3 double play to douse that rally.

In the field:
Healy has impressed with the glove since coming up from the minors, but he had a rough night Monday. He mishandled Marwin Gonzalez’s bouncer to his right, then couldn’t come up with Teoscar Hernandez’s grounder to his left, opening the door to the Astros’ first scoring rally.

Attendance:
18,613

Up next:
The Astros’ Collin McHugh (8-10, 5.01) has been very solid, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 14 of his past 18 outings. He’ll take the mound Tuesday with Kendall Graveman (10-8, 3.97) going for the A’s. First pitch is 5:10 p.m.

A's option RHP Hahn to Triple-A; LHP Detwiler opts out of deal

A's option RHP Hahn to Triple-A; LHP Detwiler opts out of deal

MESA, Ariz. —The A's optioned starter Jesse Hahn to Triple-Nashville on Sunday and announced that lefty Ross Detwiler has opted out of his minor league contract to become a free agent.

Hahn’s demotion brings Oakland's rotation into focus, with Andrew Triggs and Raul Alcantara lined up as the fourth and fifth starters, respectively, behind Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton. Sonny Gray will begin the season on the disabled list.

Hahn got off to a strong start this spring but struggled mightily in his last two starts, giving up 12 earned runs combined. It’s the second spring in a row that he’s entered camp looking to lock down a rotation spot before getting sent down, but the right-hander believes he’s better equipped to handle this setback.

“It’s disappointing for sure, because I set a goal this spring and that was to make the rotation,” Hahn said. “I didn’t do that, but I can’t get down on myself. I have to stay positive. I think I did a lot of positive things this spring. … I’m not going to let this one get me down. I’ve been through that situation last year. I learned from it. So I’m not going to make the same mistakes that I did last year.”

Gray’s injury, a strained lat muscle that’s expected to sideline him most of April, left two spots at the back of the rotation. The A’s are turning to right-handers Triggs and Alcantara, who have combined for just 11 big league starts between them.

Certainly with Triggs, this scenario had been developing for a while. Front office officials had talked him up since the beginning of the offseason as a rotation possibility. He's posted a 5.06 ERA in five exhibitions (three starts), but he looked very sharp in his last outing Wednesday against the White Sox.

Alcantara is out of minor league options, and the A’s wanted to keep him whether it was in a starting or relief role. His ERA is 4.50 over six appearances (three starts), but like Triggs, his most recent start was his most effective.

“Both of these guys will get an opportunity they haven’t had before,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

Sunday’s developments could have a trickle-down effect with other parts of the roster. The A’s are in a better position now to keep five outfielders if they want and go with the standard seven relievers. Going with eight relievers and four outfielders seemed more likely when Alcantara was still a bullpen consideration just to keep him from hitting the waiver wire.

Non-roster invitees Alejandro De Aza and Jaff Decker, who is slated to return Monday from an oblique injury, are the primary candidates to be the fifth outfielder, although Chris Parmelee, another non-roster player, has quietly had a good spring.

The seventh bullpen spot could go to Daniel Coulombe if the A’s deem it important to have a second lefty, or they could go with impressive right-handed prospect Frankie Montas, who would be more of a multi-inning reliever asked to get both lefties and righties out. Of course, they could still opt for an eight-man ‘pen if they want a second lefty and think it’s necessary to keep Montas as a length guy.

Detwiler was on the fringe of the rotation competition and also could have been a bullpen consideration. But he posted an 11.88 ERA over eight appearances. The lefty is now free to sign with any club, though Melvin didn’t rule out the chance of Detwiler returning at some point.

**

Khris Davis, out recently with right quad soreness, will play in a minor league game Sunday along with Decker. If Davis comes out of it well, Melvin said he will DH on Monday.

In another injury update, third baseman Trevor Plouffe is doing OK after tweaking an abductor muscle in his groin. Melvin is aiming to get him in one more game before the A’s fly north Wednesday, and then Plouffe will have the Bay Bridge Series to make sure he’s ready.

 

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.