SEATTLE -- The gravity of Brandon McCarthy's situation sunk in amongst the A's players and coaches. While the team has to suit up and play a game, the battle for McCarthy and his family is far more serious. McCarthy, 29, is still in stable condition, and he is progressing. A's head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta said that McCarthy has been able to communicate, get out of bed, eat solid food, and drink fluids without issue. Paparesta continued, saying the signs are very encouraging just three days after undergoing a two hour surgery on his brain to ease the pressure from a epidural hemorrhage and to stabilize a skull fracture incurred after getting hit in the head by a line drive on Wednesday. "By no stretch of the imagination are we out of the woods, but everything is going great and he's showing great progress at this time," Paparesta said. "Brandon is progressing well, he actually got out of his bed three times today. He's sat in a chair. He's had a very good, progressive day."Paparesta didn't sugarcoat matters at all. He maintained that the situation is still life-threatening. "First and foremost, we need to look at his life and making sure he stays alive. This is serious stuff and we want him to live." Paparesta said. "The next phase that we'd look at is him being able to go through and have normal gross motor mechanics and a skill set where he can go through his normal life.""You are going to stay cautiously optimistic at this stage," Paparesta added. "The fact that he is able to get up and sit in his bed, he got out of his bed today and sat in a chair and ate food today, he fed himself. Those are obviously great signs that he can have full function again."While the team is in Seattle taking on the Mariners, McCarthy is on everyone's mind. McCarthy isn't just the ace of the starting rotation, he is a friend and a teammate. "It's hard to kind of take in," Tommy Milone said. "A guy like that who has been a real asset to the team and a friend to all of us. It's hard to imagine what he is going through and what his family is going through."Milone says he sent texts to McCarthy's phone that were returned by his wife Amanda. She has been updating fans on Twitter as well. The A's are getting medical updates and keeping the team informed of McCarthy's progress. They held a meeting on the team plane prior to flying to Seattle to let everyone know what was going on. "We definitely have some heavy hearts here," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The good news is it seems like each and every day he is getting better."According to Paparesta, McCarthy will remain in the hospital indefinitely. He says days two and three are the most important, and McCarthy is on his third day. At this time the biggest concern is making sure the swelling in his brain doesn't come back. The A's have overcome some tough obstacles this season. Veteran starting pitcher Bartolo Colon was suspended 50 games for violating MLB's drug policy, veteran leader Brandon Inge had season-ending shoulder surgery on Wednesday, but those events pale in comparison to what McCarthy's is dealing with. Losing McCarthy is a big blow to the A's young roster for a myriad of reasons. "Me and Mac have kind of been road dogs," rookie starting pitcher Jarrod Parker said. "We've done a lot together on the road. He's kind of a guy that took me under his wing and he's taught me a lot in this game.""He's awesome," Milone said. "He's one of those guys that has everything to give. He wants to give knowledge and information and when you have a bad start or good start he wants to talk to you about what happened." While Colon led by example in his time with the A's, McCarthy was the unquestioned leader of the staff because he provided key insight in addition to his skills on the mound."The way he carries himself and the stuff he does off the field and in the weight room and training room," Parker said. "He's been huge for us to teach us how to prepare as starting pitchers."In McCarthy's absence the A's have recalled rookie pitcher Dan Straily. He will be starting on Tuesday against the Angels in Anaheim. Straily described his return to the big leagues as bittersweet based on the circumstances."If I could have stayed down there all the way through the playoffs with Sacramento and have McCarthy still be here, that's the way I would have rather had it," Straily said. Straily has made three starts for the A's this season and the team has won all three of them. In his short time with the team he said McCarthy made an immediate impact on him."My locker was next to his and everyday if I had a question no matter how stupid it might have seemed he answered it with respect," Straily said. "I just hope for the best for him." The A's will move forward with a starting rotation that has four rookie pitchers, the oldest of which is Milone, who is 25. Brett Anderson, the most experienced pitcher in the rotation is 24-years-old. In the thick of a pennant race and without McCarthy, the youth knows they have to mature quickly. "It's something we are going to handle as a team," Parker said. "We've faced a lot of stuff this year and this is another chapter in the great story we've got going."
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.
The A’s showed they can make themselves at home in one of the majors’ most homer-happy ballparks.
A day after Baltimore homered four times, Oakland did the same at Camden Yards to power to a 6-4 victory over the Orioles. Ryon Healy went deep twice and continued his hot streak of late, and Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis also homered. The win ended the day on a good note for the A’s, but they hope they don’t get bad news on starting pitcher Paul Blackburn.
He left the game in the fifth after getting hit on the right wrist by a liner. After the game, manager Bob Melvin said Blackburn has a bruised hand/wrist.
Healy has a 10-game hitting streak, and he’s hitting .375 over his past 14 contests. He entered the night having homered just twice over his last 41 games.
The A’s led 5-2 in the eighth before Baltimore rallied for two runs, helped by a missed check-swing appeal call, on which first base ump Angel Hernandez didn’t ring up Tim Beckham on what appeared to be a sure third strike on replays. That extended the inning and made for a tense ninth inning, but the A’s improved to 2-3 on this six-game road trip that concludes Wednesday afternoon.
EARLY EXIT: Blackburn, after getting knocked around a bit in his previous two starts, was locked in Tuesday and impressed through four scoreless innings. Then Trey Mancini led off the bottom of the fifth by lining a comebacker that appeared to hit Blackburn flush near his right wrist. He walked around the mound in obvious pain as A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta came out to check on him. Blackburn was removed from the game.
EXTENDED DUTY AGAIN: When the Orioles loaded the bases in the eighth with two outs, closer Blake Treinen was summoned from the bullpen in the eighth for the second time in three games. He ended the eighth and stranded three by retiring Adam Jones on a groundout. The bottom of the ninth began with a throwing error from shortstop Chad Pinder, but Treinen closed out the game with help from a 5-4-3 double play and a strikeout of Chris Davis.
UNDERRATED PLAY OF THE GAME: Treinen got the ground ball he needed with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. But it came down to Matt Olson making a great scoop at first base when Pinder short-hopped his throw across the diamond.
ENCORE FROM JED: Jed Lowrie homered for the second day in a row, and the A’s went deep four times total. Along with Healy’s two blasts, Khris Davis connected for his 34th of the season in the top of the ninth to make it a 6-4 game and provide some breathing room.
CONTINUING TO IMPRESS: It was an eventful day for Boog Powell even before he took the field. He enjoyed some barbecue with former Orioles slugger Boog Powell, the man who inspired his own nickname. Then those two held a Face Time chat with a third “Boog” Powell, — a youngster from Tennessee who played in the Little League World Series.
Then Powell, hitting leadoff for the second time in three games, singled in his first two at-bats and scored a run. He’s continued to find ways to provide the A’s a spark since being called up from Triple-A Nashville.