OAKLAND -- Around midnight things start getting loopy at the Oakland Coliseum. As the crowd of 30,169 started thinning out, the loyal people that did stay were treated to fireworks, the A's MLB-leading 13th walk-off win, and a pie-slinging Spiderman -- or PIEderman rather. Yup, you read that last sentence correctly. After Coco Crisp ended the game in the bottom of the 15th with a sacrifice fly to score Jemile Weeks, he was showered with two coolers, and then wore two pies like earmuffs delivered by a costumed hero who's hidden identity must have been Josh Reddick. "Today it was a little different because we had costumes involved," Crisp said after the A's 5-4 win. "I don't know how to respond to that one quite yet. We'll see what the critics have to say because that is new to baseball right there."Weeks was in position to score because he led off the inning with a ringing triple down the right field line. Mercifully, Crisp wasted no time driving him home on a 1-1 fastball that he hit just deep enough to center field. One run was enough to win the game in the bottom of the 15th, because in the top of the 15th Eric Sogard made a spectacular ranging play to save a run. With two runners on base he scooped up the ball backhanded then flipped it to third baseman Brandon Inge for the force out. Instead of the go-ahead run scoring it ended up being an inning-ending play. "Not only did it save the game it gave us momentum coming back into the dugout," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It juiced us up a little bit. When he made that play we came into the dugout and Weeks right away lines the ball over the first baseman's head for a triple."The story of the game was supposed to be Dan Straily making his Major League debut, by the time the game ended that was yesterday's news. Straily threw six innings, allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly, and struck out five batters. With his family and friends in attendance and a packed crowd at the Coliseum -- needless to say he was a little worked up before the game."I didn't throw a strike in my warmups I was just all over the place," Straily said. "It's been a surreal experience. Something that's been a dream come true, having my debut night be a walk-off win could not have been any better. Got pretty much every experience possible tonight." Fortunately Straily settled down when the game started. He fired a first pitch strike to Brett Lawrie then finished him off by striking him out looking on a fastball. He got a game ball for his first pitch and for his first strikeout. He said he and his fiance Amanda will treasure the keepsakes. Straily didn't get his first career win because Jeff Mathis hit a game-tying walk-off homer in the ninth inning off Ryan Cook. The A's All-Star closer has now allowed six runs in his last six games. His six blown saves are tied for the most in the American League. In the end all it ended up costing the A's was a few hours of sleep. The A's are 58-48, back to 10 games over .500 and one and a half games ahead of the Angels for the top A.L. Wild Card spot. After a day in which the team made five roster moves, the shell shocked A's brushed it off and went back to work. Fortunately they didn't forget the Reddi-wip in their lunch boxes. Injury AlertYoenis Cespedes left the game with a sprained right wrist. "He's day to day, not sure," Melvin said of Cespedes. "He is probably doubtful for tomorrow."
MESA, Ariz. — Khris Davis enjoyed quite an offseason travel itinerary, checking out Toronto, taking in the beaches of Hawaii and dining on lobster in Belize.
However, it was the time spent in his adopted hometown of Oakland that most struck a chord with the A’s left fielder. After finishing his first season with the A’s, Davis followed through on his plan to make his offseason home in Oakland, and he was glad he did.
“I got to just feel the heart of the city,” he said upon arriving at camp Sunday. “That was basically the purpose of why I was there. … I wanted to feel Oakland. I love it, honestly. I love the city.”
He trained at Dogtown Athletic, a gym in West Oakland. He took part in the A’s holiday party for kids at the Oakland Zoo, joined by A’s Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who grew up in the city.
“Just to feel these kids’ happiness,” Davis said. “They didn’t look at me as a baseball player. They just looked at me as a role model kind of.”
It should be music to the ears of A’s fans that the team’s most dangerous hitter has a love affair with the city he plays in. If the A’s ever entertained the idea of trying to sign Davis to a multi-year extension, and that’s purely hypothetical here, it would help that Davis feels comfortable in his surroundings.
Even when he described Oakland in edgy terms, such as when he said it “has its dark side,” he seemed to find it endearing.
In return, Davis felt the love from the fan base in 2016, hitting a career-high 42 homers with a team-best 102 RBI. That was despite the awful start he got off to, hitting .143 and mustering just one RBI over his first 12 games.
Obviously, any chances the A’s have of improving last year’s American League-worst offense rely on the 29-year-old Davis having another big year. But over-analysis is one thing he tries to avoid.
“I don’t want to get caught up in last year — the slow start and the strong finish, whatever,” he said. “However it was, I’m just ready to do this year.”
Davis decided to back out of his plan to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, saying his main priority was preparing for his A’s season.
“My main focus is to perform for the organization,” he said. “I feel like I want to get off on the right foot this year.”
NOTEWORTHY: Heavy showers continued to pelt Mesa on Sunday, spoiling the A’s first full-squad workout. The hitters were relegated to swinging in the cages and playing catch, while pitchers were scheduled for a day off from throwing on the mound anyway.
“If ever there was a day, at least for the pitchers, that you don’t need to (work out), it’s today,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But when you have everybody there on the first day, you wanna get out on the field and do everything. Hopefully we can incorporate everything tomorrow.”
The A’s have a whopping 70 players in camp, more than in any other spring Melvin can remember as a big league manager. He addressed the full team in a meeting Sunday morning.
“We’re gonna have to outwork, out-hustle everybody like we have in the past,” he said, “and get back to playing the game with the same tenacity that we did a couple years ago.”
FAMILIAR FACE: Longtime A’s second baseman Mark Ellis is back for the second year in a row as a spring infield instructor. The plan is for Ellis to spend a week with the team now, then another week later in camp.
“I’ll take Mark Ellis as many days as I can have him,” Melvin said.
LIGHTER SIDE: Nursing his broken right foot, starting pitcher Daniel Mengden has been making his way through the clubhouse on a knee scooter in order to keep pressure off his foot.
Apparently, it looks more fun than it really is.
“I contribute to society Friday, when I can start walking again,” Mengden quipped.
MESA, Ariz. — The research and fact-finding continues for the A’s as they work toward deciding where to build their new ballpark in Oakland.
Team president Dave Kaval, in Arizona to briefly soak up the spring training vibe, says the team is still gathering all the information it can on the four locations being considered — the current Coliseum site, Howard Terminal, Laney College and Brooklyn Basin, which like Howard Terminal is a waterfront site.
Place an asterisk next to “four,” because as Kaval explains, there’s multiple spots a ballpark could be built at some of the locations.
For example, “there’s a couple different ways in the Lake Merritt area to orient a ballpark,” he said Sunday. “Each one has to be studied individually, because there’s traffic and parking issues that change depending on where you put it. There’s a couple ways it can work in and around Lake Merritt. So we kind of are looking at it as two different options.”
The research will continue for the “next couple of months,” according to Kaval, meaning it doesn’t seem any decision is forthcoming soon. But he reiterated that an announcement will come during 2017.
Kaval was asked how important it was for a ballpark to be near a BART station.
“I think if you’re in a certain range of a BART station, it doesn’t matter if it’s one block or two blocks,” he said. “But if you start getting a little farther, it does change people’s willingness to actually take that public transportation to the venue.”
Howard Terminal, located just north of Jack London Square, is a 20-25 minute walk to the nearest current BART station (12th Street). There’s been speculation that a new station could be built closer to Howard Terminal if a stadium went up. Kaval also said the A’s would consider some sort of shuttle service were they to build at Howard Terminal, and they’re researching the ferry options for such a location.
Long story short, there’s still plenty of transportation and environmental issues to sort out before the A’s settle on a site to build. In the meantime, fans will be in for a treat in the upcoming season when they arrive at the Coliseum.
The A’s gutted the West Side Club and are rebuilding it as Shibe Park Tavern, named after the franchise’s former home in Philadelphia. It will include bricks and other materials from the old ballpark, obtained from the Philadelphia Historical Society.
The A’s will also launch “Champions Pavilion”, which will include anywhere from eight to 16 local food trucks that will be stationed between the Coliseum and Oracle Arena during most home games. Ticket holders will have in/out privileges, with video monitors outside showing the game.
Nights when there’s a Warriors home game could make it tougher to pull off the full operation — Warriors playoff games will be a particular challenge, Kaval said — but the A’s will work with the Coliseum’s Joint Powers Authority to smooth things out as much as possible.
According to Kaval, the A’s are spending between $600,000-$700,000 to improve the current in-house concession stands, making it possible to cook inside the stands themselves as opposed to transporting food from the kitchen.
The efforts received a thumbs-up from A’s manager Bob Melvin.
“We’re there until we’re not,” Melvin said of the Coliseum. “We’re gonna be there for a period of time, so I appreciate the fact that he’s trying to spruce it up a little bit for our fans, give them more options for food and just create a better atmosphere in our ballpark.”