A's lineup: Crisp returns

834255.jpg

A's lineup: Crisp returns

The Oakland Athletics have won their last six games against the Indians, and have shut them out in their last three contests. The A's are now a season-high 14 games over .500, with two more games remaining against Cleveland before heading home to the Coliseum. Oakland Athletics (71-57) lineupCoco Crisp, CF
Stephen Drew, SS
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Seth Smith, DH
Chris Carter, 1B
Josh Reddick, RF
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Derek Norris, C
Cliff Pennington, 2B
Instant AnalysisCoco Crisp returns to the lineup after a day off to rest and help heal a sore foot. The immediate impact is a return to the sixth spot in the batting order for Josh Reddick. He went 5 for 8 with a homer in two games while batting sixth and it was a surprise to see him batting second for the first time this season on Tuesday. While batting second, Reddick popped out with the bases loaded in the second inning. He is hitting just .185 with runners in scoring position this season, the only blemish in an otherwise fantastic year. The sixth spot in the lineup might be a good place for him to hit even when he turns it around. Seth Smith is the designated hitter yet again. It appears the A's still don't want him in the outfield after straining his left hamstring. Since returning from the DL on August 21 all six of his starts have been as the DH. Smith has struggled all season offensively when not playing in the outfield, but seems to be overcoming the challenge lately. He is hitting .333 (7 for 21) with six runs, a double, a homer, and two RBIs since coming off the DL. Top of the OrderCrisp has become one of the most important players in the A's lineup. He is experiencing improvement across the board in 2012, even after getting off to a very slow start. He attributes his success to a modified batting stance and moving back to center field. He is apparently also killing sliders this year. Here are few statistical breakdowns on Crisp, courtesy of Bloomberg Sports.

Heart of the OrderYoenis Cespedes has been menacing pitchers all season. He is struggling on this road trip though, batting .143 with no walks and five strikeouts. Even with the recent dip in offense, he is hitting .333 since the All-Star Break, which is the eighth best average in the American League in that span.The reason Cespedes has been so successful this season is because he has found ways to quickly adjust on the fly. Pitchers have tried to exploit his perceived weaknesses many different ways this year only to see him modify his approach at the plate. Early this year pitchers tried to fool him on breaking pitches -- it didn't work. Then they tried pitching him outside -- he started going opposite field. Lately he is crushing change-ups.
(Courtesy Bloomberg Sports)Cespedes was 1 for 2 with a home run last time he faced Indians' pitcher Corey Kluber.
Bottom of the OrderDerek Norris is batting .197 with five doubles, two home runs, and 11 RBIs since returning to the A's on August 3. Norris is a rookie with a lot of responsibility behind the plate, so the A's aren't going to worry about his offense too much. That being said, he has been more productive than Kurt Suzuki offensively.
(Courtesy Bloomberg Sports)Norris has a lot to work on. Opponents have been able to successfully steal in 21 of 26 (80.8 ) attempts against him. The young catcher is calling a good game though, as A's pitchers have a 3.02 ERA with him behind the plate. Starting PitchersThe A's will dip into their pitching depth and start Travis Blackley (4-3, 3.52 ERA) on Wednesday. It will be his 19th appearance and 12th start this year. The Australian-born lefty is 3-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts. The Indians will counter with Kluber (0-2, 5.32 ERA). The right-handed pitcher allowed one run against the Yankees over five innings in his last start.

Vogt has that 'rejuvenation feeling' going from A's to first-place Brewers

Vogt has that 'rejuvenation feeling' going from A's to first-place Brewers

After five seasons in Oakland, Stephen Vogt begins a new chapter of his career in Milwaukee.

The 32-year-old was designated for assignment by the last-place A's on Thursday and claimed by the first-place Brewers on Sunday.

On Monday, the two-time All-Star catcher discussed his new opportunity with a contender on MLB Network Radio.

"Obviously I was ecstatic to hear I was headed to Milwaukee. We all watch baseball and they are such a fun team to watch right now. And your buddy Eric Sogard is there, so I've got some familiarity. It's an opportunity to win and I think anybody, when you get to the stage I'm in in my career, where I'm 32, I want to win. I'm at the point where that's kind of the goal in the big leagues where all you care about is winning and that's where I'm at. So, to get the news that I'm headed to a first-place team, I couldn't be more excited," Vogt said.

After making the AL All-Star team the last two seasons, Vogt struggled to the tune of a .217 batting average with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games.

But with a new team in a new league comes a fresh slate.

"You get that rejuvenation feeling, you get that feeling that this is the change you needed especially going to a winning team where when you're winning, everyone plays better, when you're winning, everyones happier. No matter where you are in life, you want to have that feeling that somebody wants you. So to have Milwaukee come in and say 'We wanted you,' Yeah, it recharged the batteries. I'm ready to go," Vogt said.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

BOX SCORE

The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.

They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.

The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.

The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.

They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.

Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.

Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.

Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).

Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.

An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.