Athletics

Melvin pleased to see A's 'find some grit' in comeback victory

Melvin pleased to see A's 'find some grit' in comeback victory

SEATTLE — When all was going against the A’s on Tuesday, they found a way to counter-punch.

On a wild night in which shaky bullpen work and a game-changing error nearly doomed them, A’s manager Bob Melvin was most pleased that his team found a way to overcome adversity and claim the kind of game that’s been snatched away from them too often.

“When you go through streaks like this, you’ve got to find some fight,” Melvin said after Oakland’s 9-6 win over the Mariners. “We’ve been losing games by a defensive play, one pitch, little things through this whole stretch. At some point you’ve got to overcome it and find some grit and do some good things late in games when we’re behind. We finally did it tonight. Hopefully this is something we can build on.”

To say the A’s are a work in progress is an understatement. Until they find a way to cut down on errors and tighten up their relief work, they’ll be challenged to keep opponents down after they jump ahead of them. But, unlike three previous games on this road trip when they relinquished leads in the late innings, they found a way to overcome their mistakes.

Matt Joyce provided the biggest swing of the game with a two-run homer off Steve Cishek in the top of the ninth that turned a 5-4 Oakland deficit into a 6-5 lead. Then Mark Canha added a three-run homer for cushion, which proved important when closer Santiago Casilla gave back a run in the bottom half.

But the consensus in the A’s clubhouse was that Rajai Davis’ leadoff single in the ninth was the spark for it all. Davis pinch-hit for Josh Phegley and singled to right-center. With the A’s biggest speed threat representing the tying run with no outs, Cishek had to split his attention between first base and the next hitter, Joyce.

“With Rajai on first, being a base stealer, I was pretty confident I was gonna get a heater to hit,” Joyce said. “He fell behind 2-0 there. He kind of had to throw a strike. He gave me a fastball, a good fastball over the plate to hit.”

Added Davis: “Me getting on base, I think it caused a little bit of a distraction. Now he’s gotta throw a strike, and Joycie was ready for it.”

Canha, drawing his first start of the season in center field, went 3-for-5 with his three-run shot to left-center. It was his first homer of the season after he was sent down to the minors April 15 and was just recalled on the most recent homestand. He’s now 7-for-14 over his past four games.

Though it was easy to forget about after the A’s let a 4-1 lead slip away, Phegley was a big factor early in the game. He threw out two runners trying steal second, including one as part of a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play, and singled home a run to give the A’s a 4-1 lead in the fourth. Those caught base stealers helped propel Andrew Triggs to yet another impressive start. The right-hander threw six innings of oen-run ball, lowering his ERA to 2.12, which ranks in the top five in the American League.

Seattle’s three-run game-tying rally was aided by third baseman Ryon Healy’s two-run error, not to mention a replay overturn in which Jean Segura was ruled safe at first after it appeared the A’s had turned an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to preserve a lead.

“I don’t know how that’s overturned,” Melvin said. “I really don’t, because it feels like we’ve been burned on that all year long. Just a lot of unlucky stuff. You’ve got to make your own breaks and you have to overcome it, and they did tonight.”

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