A's MLB-best 11th walk-off win sweeps Yankees

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A's MLB-best 11th walk-off win sweeps Yankees

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OAKLAND --No one can seem to explain it. The A's want to downplay it. Yet as the chatter around this team continues to develop into a deafening roar, the A's keep going out there and finding ways to achieve the improbable. It seems like the same story keeps repeating itself, and with each walk-off win you can tell that the A's players are starting to believe. You can see it in their eyes, you can hear it in their voices, and most obviously you can see it on the field. The most recent demonstration came on Sunday against the team with the best record in baseball. The A's battled back after being down 4-0, tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on a Seth Smith homer. Then Coco Crisp delivered the final blow, giving the A's their MLB-leading 11th walk-off win, a 5-4 victory in 12 innings that completed the franchise's first four-game sweep over the Yankees since 1972. "Everybody was up, everyone was excited, nobody got down," Crisp said. "We always feel we have a chance now.""It seems like every time we play at home we get a walk-off and everybody is waiting for it to happen," Kurt Suzuki said. The A's have two walk-off wins in their last three home games, and six in their last 11. The team has now won five-straight games and are seven games over .500 for the first time since 2008. Predictably, the most recent walk-off hero was rewarded in the customary fashion."You know it's coming, if you dodge it you are going to get something in the clubhouse now," Crisp said of the light and fluffy cream based punishment. "You've got stuff in your nose, sunflower seeds in my nest of hair but that's all part of the enjoyment of a victory like this."If you thought the A's celebration on the field was wild, it wasn't over. They started hollering and cheering again when they saw a highlight of their final hit on the TV in the clubhouse too. "It's exciting," Smith said. "You've got pitchers that will keep you in the game to the end, you've got a bunch of grinders that aren't going to give away any at-bats and are going to try and get the job done every time."It sure seems like a simple recipe for success when it's explained that way. It's much more complicated than that though as it plays out on the field. Starting pitcher Bartolo Colon got into trouble allowing three runs in the third inning and a fourth run in the fourth frame on Curtis Granderson's 26th home run of the season. The veteran pitcher retired the next eight batters he faced and managed to pitch his way into the seventh inning. "A lot of good things happened today," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It started out looking like it was going to be 12 to nothing and Bartolo really deflected some blows." The A's 11 walk-off wins have had 10 different heroes. The A's are using every last player to scrape out these wins. On this day All-Star closer Ryan Cook and rookie Sean Doolittle weren't available out the bullpen. Yet over 5.1 innings the bullpen didn't allow a single run.Suzuki even got in on the act, clubbing his first home run in 78 games. Naturally the team completely ignored him when he got back to the dugout before swarming him in celebration. Just another way the A's are keeping it loose. "I knew it. I didn't care obviously," Suzuki said of the silent treatment. "It's definitely good to get that first home run out of the way."Brandon Inge also hit his second homer in as many days. With his 10th homer he became the sixth player on the A's to reach double-digits in home runs. The A's just completed a six-game home stand against the Rangers and Yankees -- the top two teams, record-wise, in baseball. They ended up winning five games. It's safe to say nobody saw that coming. "To go 5-1 was pretty remarkable," Melvin said. "Beating these guys four games in a row as well as they've been playing coming in here is pretty remarkable.""Probably a little bit unexpected," he admitted.The A's are now tied for the top Wild Card spot in the American League. They embark on a nine-game road trip that will take them to Toronto, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay. On the road they'll have to find a way to win without their trademark walk-off style.

New-look A's continue the youth movement with Maxwell's arrival

New-look A's continue the youth movement with Maxwell's arrival

OAKLAND — The A’s set off for Chicago on Thursday evening to begin their next road trip, and how their dynamic has changed over the course of one week.

They began their most recent homestand by cutting ties with veteran third baseman Trevor Plouffe to make room for hotshot prospect Matt Chapman. On Thursday, catcher Stephen Vogt suffered the same fate as Plouffe, getting designated for assignment to make room for another young player in Bruce Maxwell.

The calendar may still read June, with more than half of the season remaining, but the A’s are cleaning house, undergoing a reboot and playing the rest of 2017 with an emphasis on what lies ahead.

Five of the nine position players in their starting lineup for Thursday’s 12-9 loss to the Houston Astros are what you would consider “future” guys — center fielder Jaycob Brugman, third baseman Ryon Healy, second baseman Chad Pinder, Maxwell and right fielder Matt Olson.

They will shuffle around the diamond a bit, and Olson may only stay with the big club until Chapman comes off the disabled list (though Olson’s full-time status in the bigs doesn’t seem far off). Regardless, the plan is crystal clear — the A’s are hitching their wagon to their young core and are prepared to let them develop at the major league level, with whatever successes and failures may come with the growth process.

“We do get excited about giving these guys playing time,” A’s general manager David Forst said before Thursday’s game.

The Astros finished off a four-game sweep of Oakland with their 12-9 victory, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and then holding on after the A’s mounted a late charge. Glance up and down the box score, and those key young players were instrumental in so much that went right for the A’s.

Maxwell went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Olson drove in two runs. Pinder had two hits and an RBI. Brugman chipped in an RBI single and walked twice. That was the silver lining on a day that starting pitcher Jesse Hahn struggled mightily, allowing nine earned runs in just two innings.

“These guys are gonna be important,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “The last thing you want to see when you’re down 10-0 is guys just cash it in, and that wasn’t the case. These guys all have something to play for. They’re playing for jobs. And in the future, starting jobs.”

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, middle infielder Franklin Barreto will join the mix from Triple-A Nashville. For now, an immediate storyline is the health of Chapman, who joined the 10-day disabled list with a case of cellulitis (bacterial infection) in his left knee. The A’s checked him into a hospital Wednesday night to get an intravenous antibiotic, after his condition “plateaued” with oral antibiotics, according to Forst.

He said Chapman is likely to leave the hospital Friday, and the A’s are hopeful the rookie third baseman will be able to return when he’s eligible to come off the D.L. His stint can be backdated to Monday, meaning Chapman is eligible to return next Thursday at Houston.

He’s part of the youth movement that resulted in Vogt getting shown the exit. Maxwell sent Vogt a text message wishing him the best Thursday morning, and Vogt quickly responded, wishing him the best. That meant a lot to Maxwell, who didn’t learn until Thursday morning that his roster spot was coming at Vogt’s expense.

But Maxwell said he’s excited to be surrounded by so many players that he’s advanced through the minors with.

“Once we get everybody acclimated to each other and the game up here,” he said, “I feel like we could potentially set up a turning point for this organization for years to come.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Astros' sweep of once-hot A's

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Astros' sweep of once-hot A's

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OAKLAND — Under some circumstances, a 4-4 homestand against the Yankees and Astros wouldn’t seem so bad for the A’s.

This wasn’t the way they would have preferred it however.

After sweeping New York in four at the Coliseum, the A’s proceeded to drop four in a row to Houston, including Thursday's 12-9 loss, making this an historic stay at home whether they wanted it that way or not. Only one other time in the past 106 years had the A’s played back-to-back four-game series and swept the first while being swept in the second.

The first time it happened was in September 1977, when they were swept by Texas before taking the broom to Kansas City.

Thursday’s contest got out of hand early, with the Astros jumping out to a 10-0 lead by the second inning before Oakland came roaring back late.

Jesse Hahn (3-5) was out of whack from his first batter and lasted just two innings, getting hammered for a career-high 10 runs (nine earned) and allowing two home runs.

On the same day Oakland designated Stephen Vogt for assignment, another noteworthy former Athletic enjoyed a huge day against his old team as Josh Reddick finished just a single short of the cycle and scored four runs.

But the A’s came alive for a six-run rally in the eighth to close to within 12-9 and make the Astros sweat it.

But Oakland wound up falling a season high-tying 11 games under .500 at 31-42. A six-game road trip is up next to play the White Sox and, once again, the Astros, who ran their winning streak at the Coliseum to 10 and have won 15 of their past 16 against the A’s.

Short day for Hahn: It was clear early that Hahn didn’t have his ‘A’ game. He hit George Springer with a 3-1 pitch to begin the game — Springer exited with a left hand contusion — then walked the next two batters to load the bases with no outs. He limited the damage to two runs in the first, but the Astros poured it on for eight runs in the second, including three-run homers from Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez.

Maxwell returns with strong game: With Vogt designated for assignment, Bruce Maxwell was promoted to assume catching duties alongside Josh Phegley, and Maxwell enjoyed a 3-for-4 day, including an RBI double as the A’s rallied in the eighth.

The other new arrival also shines: Matt Olson, also called up Thursday as Matt Chapman went on the 10-day disabled list, went 2-for-3 with two RBI.

Reddick has big day: Reddick doubled in the second, homered in the sixth and tripled in the eighth, but didn’t get a chance to complete the cycle against his former club.

Smith steadies things on mound: : Josh Smith took over after Hahn left the game and threw three scoreless innings, striking out four and keeping manager Bob Melvin from having to empty his bullpen.