A's not worried after Game 1 loss

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A's not worried after Game 1 loss

DETROIT -- Game One of the American League Division Series went exactly as it was planned. It just didn't work out in the Oakland Athletics favor in the end. Get an early lead? Check. Work up Justin Verlander's pitch count? Check. Get a strong start out of Jarrod Parker? Check. Win the game? Insert TV game show buzzer sound effect hereVerlander was just too good on Saturday. He struck out 11 Athletics batters, including a string of five consecutive punch outs that began when he struck out the side in the sixth inning. As the A's effectively ran up his pitch count, he was still pumping in 99-MPH fastballs and bringing it with swing and miss stuff.
PRATT'S INSTANT REPLAY: A's drop Game 1 in Detroit
"I think most starters you try to get to them before they get into their rhythm," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He certainly got better as the game went along." It appeared the A's had gotten to Verlander early. Coco Crisp hit a leadoff home run to start the game. It was only the second time in Major League Baseball history that the first batter of a postseason series hit a home run. That would be the only run the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young-winner would allow. Verlander left the game after seven innings pitched and allowed just three hits. He threw 121 pitches. "You have to tip your hat, and obviously he gets tipped to a lot," Brandon Moss said. "He made a mistake first batter of the game and he really didn't make any more." Verlander received what looked like a favorable strike zone during the game. Several pitches looked to be outside but were called strikes by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds. The A's didn't make any excuses after the game. Verlander, naturally, didn't object to the strike zone. "I felt like they have that box up there the entire game and that's tough on umpires," Verlander said of the game broadcast. "But I feel he was consistent, both ways. As you guys know I go down the tunnel and in between innings and watch on TV." A's starting pitcher Jarrod Parker isn't happy with a loss in his first playoff start, but he did turn in a quality start in a pressure packed situation against a tough Tigers lineup. Parker, 23, lasted six and one-third innings, and allowed three runs on seven hits, one walk and five strikeouts. He made two mistakes: He gave up a home run to Alex Avila in the fifth inning, and dropped a ball when running to first in the third inning that allowed a run to score. It looked like there was confusion on the play between Parker and first baseman Brandon Moss. "It just came out of my glove," Parker said. "It's something we practice every day in Spring Training and I consider myself pretty athletic and it just came out of my glove."When Parker dropped the ball, it allowed Omar Infante who reached on a double to score. That play gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Parker stifled the Tigers' big hitters. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder went a combined 0 for 7. In the first inning, Cabrera, the American League Triple Crown-winner, came up with runners on the corners and no outs and grounded into a double play, but the runner on third came home to score to tie the game at one. "Obviously you don't want their two superstars to end up with the headlines of multi-homer games or what not," Derek Norris said. "But when it came down to it they came up clutch and sometimes it happens." The A's had their chances to do damage in the D. It just wasn't their night. In the third inning Josh Donaldson hammered a pitch thrown by Verlander to deep center field but it was caught at the warning track. It would have been a home run in any other park but it is 420 feet to center at Comerica Park.
Moss also hit a towering fly ball off reliever Joaquin Benoit that looked like it was going to be a game-tying two-run homer, but it was caught with right fielder Andy Dirks' back against the wall. "I thought it was going out," Melvin said. "I think we all did."The A's won't have time to sulk about their loss with a quick turnaround for a day game on Sunday -- not that they were too concerned with the loss. The A's clubhouse didn't seem phased by being defeated. "We're not worrying," Reddick said. "We've done well against people all year when we go down one game. We're not going to fret over it and panic. We can steal one out of here tomorrow and go back home where the crowd has been good and we've played good the last month."Sunday's Coverage
Tommy Milone takes the mound against Doug Fister. The game will be carried by MLB Network at 9:07 a.m. PST. Make sure to tune into Sportsnet Central: October Quest on CSN California for pre game coverage. Kate Longworth and myself will have the latest from the A's clubhouse, and Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper will offer their insights, plus Shooty Babitt will be breaking it all down.

Hendriks cites travel, readiness as reasons he withdrew from WBC

Hendriks cites travel, readiness as reasons he withdrew from WBC

MESA, Ariz. — In his heart, Liam Hendriks wanted to pitch for his national team in the World Baseball Classic. In reality, the A’s reliever just couldn’t justify it.

So Hendriks withdrew from joining Team Australia for its first-round games in Tokyo. He becomes the second Athletic to bow out of the WBC after left fielder Khris Davis decided not to play for Mexico. Relievers John Axford (Canada) and Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic), and starter Sonny Gray (United States) are still slated to play, though Gray wouldn’t join the American squad unless it advances to Round 2 and Casilla still hasn’t reported to A’s camp because of visa issues, so his exact plans aren’t known.

“When I really sat down and thought about it, I’m not quite where I want to be to be pitching in competitive games yet,” Hendriks said Saturday morning. “I’m not hurt or anything like that. There’s no issues, I feel great physically. But it’s one of those things, I’m not quite ready to go into a game, and I know if I get into a situation where if I push it a little bit more, I’m going to overextend myself and I don’t want to do that. And I don’t want to risk this season coming up with Oakland.”

Hendriks told Australian officials he could be available for Round 2, but it will be a joint decision between how he was feeling and whether the Aussie pitching staff needs him.

The right-hander was originally scheduled to pitch in Saturday’s Cactus League opener, in an effort to get him into game shape for the WBC. Now that he’s not playing in the first round, the A’s are slowing him down just a bit. Hendriks will throw on the side a bit more and then throw live batting practice before pitching in an exhibition.

“I could pitch in a game right now … but I’m not confident in all my pitches,” he said. “I’m confident in my spring training pitches, but it’s not midseason form like I’d want to be to be able to perform for that (Australian) team.”

The 30-hour round trip travel to Tokyo also complicated things, with Hendriks saying his throwing schedule would have been thrown out of whack upon his return.

Now 28, Hendriks pointed out that he got to pitch in the 2009 WBC as a wide-eyed 20-year-old, getting his roster spot because a veteran backed out. He’s hopeful another youngster now gets the same opportunity.

Hendriks posted a 3.76 ERA in 53 appearances last season, but pitched particularly well over the second half of the season, setting him up as an important piece of this year’s A's bullpen.

“It’s just a better decision for my career and my season,” he said.

 

Mailbag: Will A's find Healy regular playing time?

Mailbag: Will A's find Healy regular playing time?

MESA, Ariz. — The start of Cactus League games will provide some tangible results and statistics, and that will eventually give us some clarity on how the A’s 25-man roster will shake out.

Until then, it’s all speculation. And there’s no shortage of questions to ponder. With that in mind, I’ll periodically open it up to whatever is on your mind regarding this team and try to shed as much insight as I can.

And we’re off …

From @Mr_Peach33: Is Yonder Alonso going to be taking at-bats away from Ryon Healy?

Maybe it’s more accurate to say the signing of third baseman Trevor Plouffe is what threatens to eat into Healy’s playing time. By inking Plouffe to a one-year deal off the free agency market, the A’s took away a position that was solely Healy’s over the second half of 2016. This is going to be interesting to watch play out, because GM David Forst says there can still be 500 at-bats for Healy between first base, DH and occasional starts at third.

It’s hard to fathom the A’s not making it a priority to find Healy regular playing time somewhere on the diamond. I don’t buy into any thoughts that taking Healy off third somehow stunts his growth. The guy’s biggest contribution to this team will be with his bat, not his defense. And he’s played more first base over the years than third anyway, going back to his college days at Oregon. But, he absolutely needs to be in the lineup somewhere on a regular basis, based on his impressive showing in his major league debut in 2016. Maybe it’s Healy that will be taking at-bats away from Alonso.

From @mikemendonca22: Is Andrew Triggs a lock for the rotation? Where do you see Mark Canha fitting in?

Slick effort from Mike to squeeze two questions into one. I’ll try to quickly address both …

Triggs is by no means a lock for the rotation. He’s got to pitch well in exhibitions to nail down the No. 5 starter spot. But Jesse Hahn has a say in this too. He’s also got a legitimate shot to win this job, beginning with Saturday’s start against the Cubs. Triggs’ advantage is that the front office is a big believer that he can get the job done in a starting role. Hahn’s advantage is that the A’s have seen a body of work from him as a successful big league starter, when he posted a 3.35 ERA over 16 starts in 2015. That included a shutout of the Detroit Tigers.

Right now, Canha fits in as a platoon partner in right field with the left-handed hitting Matt Joyce. He could also play some left field when Khris Davis is serving as DH. Canha is an option at first base too against left-handed pitchers.

From @KennyPaul68: What are they doing bringing old guys back? Let the kids play and learn. Second base and third base should be the kids!!

I generally agree with your stance, Kenny, about going young and letting the prospects get experience and learn from their mistakes. If it’s going to be another long year in the bottom half of the AL West, and the objective viewpoint says it will be, you might as well let these talented kids play and develop. But in the A’s defense, switching Healy off third and putting him at first is OK in my book because Healy would eventually be moving to first anyway when Matt Chapman is ready. Thing is, the A’s simply don’t think Chapman is ready to take over at third base yet. His 173 strikeouts at Double-A last year would suggest perhaps they are right. So that’s why they signed veteran Trevor Plouffe to play third as a place holder until Chapman is ready.

As for second base, let’s allow this scenario to play out. Jed Lowrie is in the final year of his contract, and if he’s healthy and turns in a productive first half, you have to think he’s a legitimate trade candidate at the Aug. 1 deadline. The A’s could go with a combo of Joey Wendle/Chad Pinder at second base if Lowrie is dealt. Or, if top prospect Franklin Barreto tears it up at Triple-A, he could force the A’s hand by making them clear a spot for him to get promoted and take over at second base.