Athletics

Instant Replay: A's shut down by old friend Griffin, drop fourth straight

Instant Replay: A's shut down by old friend Griffin, drop fourth straight

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – The A’s looked like they could have used another rainout Monday.

Their performance in a 7-0 loss to the Texas Rangers matched the listless environment inside the Coliseum, as they mustered just three hits and made Rangers starter A.J. Griffin look like a Cy Young candidate.

Jharel Cotton struggled over 5 1/3 innings on the mound, and Oakland advanced just one runner as far as third base. Griffin (2-0), the former Athletic who had allowed seven runs over 9 1/3 innings entering the night, limited the A’s to one hit over six innings. He struck out eight, including five in a row bridging the second and third.

After Sunday’s game against Houston got washed out and rain throughout Monday afternoon threatened this game, the A’s uninspired effort wasn’t entirely out of place before a crowd that looked to the naked eye to be less than 5,000.

The A’s have lost four in a row, and coupled with a heavy dose of bad injury news lately, it’s put a damper on the early stages of their season.

Starting pitching report:
Coming off seven dazzling innings against Kansas City, Jharel Cotton wasn’t nearly as dialed in Monday night. He couldn’t be faulted heavily for a first-inning run, as an infield single and a bloop RBI double by Nomar Mazara did damage against him. But Cotton (1-2) walked four — one intentionally after he fell behind in the count 3-0 — and the Rangers made him pay for those free passses. Carlos Gomez and Mike Napoli each victimized him for two-run doubles in the fifth inning. Cotton’s original start was rained out Sunday. Perhaps that threw the rookie off a bit, perhaps not. But over 5 1/3 innings he was charged with five earned runs, tied for the most he’s allowed over his eight career big league starts.

Bullpen report:
Frankie Montas gave the A’s two scoreless innings of relief to at least provide one highlight.

At the plate:
Griffin had the A’s perplexed, and he showed you don’t have to blow up the radar gun to be effective. Playing off his curve that sometimes registers in the 60’s, he struck out three straight hitters looking on fastballs that didn’t crack 90. The A’s only threat came in the eighth, when they put runners on second and third. But pinch hitter Jaff Decker grounded out to short and the A’s wound up with their second shutout loss of the season.

In the field:
On Gomez’s two-run double, Rajai Davis’ throw from deep center somehow got by both Adam Rosales and Jed Lowrie, the ball rolling across the infield as Gomez took an extra base. That kind of sloppiness is not a good look, and it accounted for the 10th consecutive game in which the A’s have committed at least one error.

Attendance:
The announced crowd was 10,406. About 8,000 of them must have spent the entire game out by the food trucks.

Up next:
Andrew Triggs (2-0, 0.00) takes the hill opposed by Yu Darvish (1-1, 2.33), who brings a career 5.72 ERA at the Coliseum over five starts. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.

 

New A's ballpark likely wouldn't be as pitcher-friendly as Coliseum

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USATSI

New A's ballpark likely wouldn't be as pitcher-friendly as Coliseum

With all the speculation about where the A’s will build their new ballpark, much less attention has been given to the potential characteristics of the playing field itself.

It appears all of that vast foul territory that is a hallmark of the Coliseum — and such a safety net for pitchers — will be left in the past.

A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said he anticipates the foul ground to be reduced considerably once the A’s start designing the playing surface in a potential new ballpark.

“I think most people would say that you’re trying to create intimacy, so minimizing foul territory is probably the direction most teams and stadiums have gone and are gonna continue to go,” Beane told NBC Sports California. “You want to create an experience for fans that’s as close to the field (as possible).

“Some of that is stuff, it’s utilitarian — what’s the advantage baseball-wise for us? (But) what we would consider as baseball guys, (team president) Dave (Kaval) will be looking at from the fan standpoint.”

Before any of this becomes a factor, the A’s first need to announce their location in Oakland to build. Kaval says that will happen before this calendar year ends. The three locations being considered: one right across the street from the Laney College baseball field, just off Interstate 880; the Howard Terminal site that’s a short walk from Jack London Square; and the current Coliseum site.

Beane said in-depth conversations about the playing field itself have yet to take place, such as the outfield dimensions, location of the bullpens, etc. But he talks as if a much smaller foul territory is a given, and that would mark a significant change for the A’s when they play at home.

Seats at the Coliseum are located so far back from the field, and that spacious foul ground makes the venue arguably the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the majors. Pitchers who join the A’s often comment on the foul territory being a huge positive in their decision to sign with Oakland.

Of course, there’s a flip side. Free agent hitters who get frustrated that so many Coliseum at-bats result in foul pop-outs might view the A’s more favorably if they provide a more hitter-friendly home ballpark.

Beane said he believes he and his baseball operations staff will definitely get their say in what characteristics they want the new field to have. But creating a cozier atmosphere, with fans sitting closer to the action, is a key element for the A’s wherever they build.

“To take fans farther away from the game in this day and age would probably be crazy,” Beane said. “… I think we’re all gonna be on the same page. When you get a new stadium, the reason you build it is to get people to come watch games. You have to keep in mind that the fan experience is probably the first thing.”

A's adjust rotation in order to give one struggling starter extra rest

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AP

A's adjust rotation in order to give one struggling starter extra rest

The A’s announced a shuffling in their upcoming starting rotation, with Daniel Gossett being called up from Triple-A to start Wednesday at Baltimore and Sean Manaea being pushed back to get some extra rest.

Following Thursday’s day off, Kendall Graveman will now take the ball in Friday’s series opener against Texas at the Coliseum, with Manaea going Saturday. That gives Manaea three extra days of rest from his originally scheduled turn Wednesday. The lefty has seen his fastball velocity diminish in recent starts, even though he had better results Friday at Houston, when he went six innings and gave up three runs.

Gossett was sent down to Nashville on Aug. 3 because the A’s had an upcoming day off in the schedule and they wanted him to keep pitching on turn in the minors. He’s coming off back-to-back strong starts in the minors, striking out 16 with just four earned runs over 12 innings.

Inserting Gossett into the rotation will temporarily give the A’s six starters and also provide a little extra rest for Paul Blackburn, who left Tuesday’s start against Baltimore in the fifth inning after he was struck on the right wrist/hand area by a line drive. X-rays afterward showed no fracture, and Blackburn appeared visibly relieved by that as he addressed reporters in Baltimore after the A’s 6-4 win.

“It’s definitely sore, but I got X-rays and they were negative, so that’s good,” Blackburn said. “But it’s definitely sore. I’m just glad it’s not broken. When I was out there, I couldn’t move my hand. I couldn’t squeeze.”

He said he was hopeful of being able to make his next start but did not know the chances of that.