Nostalgic weekend awaits Reddick in his return against A's

Nostalgic weekend awaits Reddick in his return against A's

KANSAS CITY — The A’s come right off the road and begin a 10-game homestand Friday night, and there will be some emotion tied to the storyline this weekend.

Josh Reddick, now playing right field for the Houston Astros, makes his return to the Coliseum, the ballpark he called home for 4 1/2 seasons and where he blossomed into a starting major league outfielder.

He’s expecting the series to tug at his heartstrings.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Reddick recalled the final home game he played at the Coliseum last season in late July, shortly before he and Rich Hill were dealt at the Aug. 1 trade deadline to the Dodgers for pitchers Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes.

Reddick said he soaked in every last moment he could before leaving the field after that last home game against Tampa Bay.

“I sat in the dugout for probably a good 15 minutes after the game was over, the last one in there,” Reddick told the newspaper. “Kind of emotional. You cry because you've played in some emotional games there. I mean, look at what we did in '12 and '13 and even ’14.”

Reddick hit 32 homers and was a core member of the 2012 A’s team that made a mad rush to a division title in the season’s final week. Injuries ate into his next two seasons, but he was still a key man on the division-winning club of 2013 and the team that earned a Wild Card berth in 2014.

Looking beyond the stats, Reddick built a strong bond with A’s fans, particularly the die-hards in the right field bleachers who set up shop right behind him while he played defense.

“It’ll be a little different,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Thursday’s 3-1 loss at Kansas City. “I’ve never seen him, other than a short time in Boston, in a different uniform than ours.”

With Reddick poised to become a free agent for the first time after the 2016 season, it became apparent as the A’s fell out of contention by midseason that he likely would get traded. He hit .258 over 47 games with the Dodgers, then hit .364 in an NL Championship Series loss to the Cubs, before heading into the offseason and landing a four-year, $52 million contract with the Astros. He’s hitting .333 (9-for-27) with no homers and two RBI so far, serving as Houston’s primary right fielder but drawing one start in left.

In the Houston Chronicle story, Reddick recalled how after signing his deal with Houston, he talked to Melvin and told him that he wanted Stephen Vogt to catch his first game against the A’s so he could give Vogt a hug at home plate. As it turns out, Josh Phegley will get the start at catcher Friday against Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel, but surely Reddick will spread the love around before the game as he catches up with old friends.

But the A’s will quickly shift to the business of a 10-game homestand featuring all AL West opponents — three games against Houston, three against Texas and four against Seattle. Oakland returns home with a 5-5 record, having gone 3-3 on its first road trip to Texas and Kansas City.

One area the A’s really need to tighten up right now is their defense. They’ve committed a league-high 11 errors — five by their pitchers. Starter Jesse Hahn dropped an easy flip while covering first base Thursday night and Mark Canha dropped a catchable liner in right field.

“That kind of skews the hard work we’re doing with our guys,” Melvin said. “That’s a play we should make (in right). I can’t explain the ones on the pitching end right now. In spring training, that’s all we do is work on (pitchers’ fielding) stuff.”

Ryon Healy downplayed a moment in Thursday’s game where he had words with Royals catcher Salvador Perez after an inside pitch from Jason Vargas.

“The way the pitch took me, I kind of looked back to him like, ‘Hey, that was inside,’” Healy said afterward. “There was nothing else that I said. Salvy kind of jumped on me and it escalated form there.”

As quickly as things heated up, the situation was defused.

“I told Salvy (later in the game), ‘Hey, we’re good man,’” Healy said.

A's lineup: In rare move, Melvin makes no changes vs Astros

A's lineup: In rare move, Melvin makes no changes vs Astros

PROGRAMMING NOTE: A's-Astros coverage begins at 4pm with Pregame Live on NBC Sports California and streaming right here.

After winning their fourth straight game on Tuesday, the A's are trotting out the same lineup Wednesday against the Astros.

Oakland A's:
1. Matt Joyce (L) LF
2. Matt Olson (L) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) DH
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) 3B
7. Bruce Maxwell (L) C
8. Franklin Barreto (R) SS
9. Jaycob Brugman (L) CF
Jesse Hahn -- RHP

Houston Astros:
1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Josh Reddick (L) RF
3. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
4. Carlos Correa (R) SS
5. Brian McCann (L) C
6. Carlos Beltran (S) DH
7. Marwin Gonzalez (S) 3B
8. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
9. Norichika Aoki (L) LF
David Paulino -- RHP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros

BOX SCORE

The A’s took a noteworthy step toward changing the narrative in their recent history against the Houston Astros.

Coming through during clutch moments, both at the plate and on the mound, Oakland beat baseball’s best team 6-4 Tuesday at Minute Maid Park to run their winning streak to four.

Ryon Healy hit his first career grand slam to snap a 1-1 tie in the sixth, and starter Sean Manaea notched his first victory in seven career starts against the Astros, throwing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

George Springer’s three-run homer off Liam Hendriks pulled Houston to within two runs in the ninth, but with two runners aboard, Santiago Casilla coaxed a 3-6-1 double play from Brian McCann to end it.

The A’s (35-42), who have stumbled so badly on the road for the majority of this season, moved to 4-0 on this six-game road trip and defeated the Astros (52-26) for just the second time in their past 17 meetings with them.

Key two-out rallies: They came in with a majors-worst .225 average with runners in scoring position, but the A’s delivered in some key at-bats and scored five of their six runs with two outs. Bruce Maxwell singled home Khris Davis in the second to get the A’s on the board. Then with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, with the score 1-1, Ryon Healy capped an eight-pitch at-bat with an opposite-field grand slam, his 18th homer of the season.

Making himself at home: Sean Manaea (7-4) flirted with danger throughout his 5 2/3 innings but wound up registering his first victory in seven career starts against Houston. He stranded two runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, then wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with minimal damage. With no outs and the bags filled, Manaea fell behind 3-0 to Evan Gattis. Gattis chased a low pitch that would have been ball four and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. A run scored on the play but that play defused the rally and Manaea escaped with just the one run scoring that kept it a 1-1 game. The lefty gave up nine hits, but he’s now allowed just one earned run over three career starts at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park (16 IP).

Madson comes up clutch: Ryan Madson took two losses in four appearances at Minute Maid Park last season and allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. But manager Bob Melvin called on him in a crucial situation Tuesday, with two runners aboard and George Springer hitting in the sixth with the A’s up 5-1. Madson got Springer swinging on a 97 mile-per-hour fastball to end the inning and keep Houston from jumping back into the game after Oakland had scored four to command the lead. Madson retired all four batters he faced with three strikeouts.

Maxwell continues his roll: The A’s catcher went 3-for-4 and is 10-for-18 since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville. He also threw out Jose Altuve trying to steal second in the first.

Casilla slams the door: After Springer’s three-run shot in the ninth, Santiago Casilla entered and allowed singles to Altuve and Carlos Correa to bring the winning run to the plate. But Casilla retired pinch hitter Josh Reddick on a foul pop out and got McCann on the game-ending double play, getting over to cover first to cap the play.