Pratt's Instant Replay: Angels 7, Athletics 1

874007.jpg

Pratt's Instant Replay: Angels 7, Athletics 1

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- What goes up must come down. No one expected the A's to win every single game for the rest of the season, even after tallying nine wins in a row. That being said, the 7-1 loss resulting in the three-game home sweep at the hands of the Angels is mildly troubling. The A's have much more to worry about than Wednesday's loss. The more immediate concern is the health of pitcher Brandon McCarthy after he took a line drive off the head in the fourth inning. Starting Pitching ReportThe ball hit McCarthy just above his right ear. He was eventually able to walk off the field under his own power. According to the A's, McCarthy never lost consciousness and was taken to a local hospital for precautionary reasons.The ball hit by Angels' shortstop Erick Aybar ricocheted off McCarthy to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who threw to first to make the out. After being struck by the liner McCarthy dropped to the ground and laid prone for a moment. Soon after impact the right-handed pitcher was able to sit up and speak with trainer Nick Paparesta. As the Coliseum went completely silent, McCarthy's teammates and coaches stood around him on the mound before he was able to get up and leave the field. McCarthy's ability to leave the field without assistance was an encouraging sign and surely a relief for many. The frightening moment is a reminder just how vulnerable pitchers are when on the mound. On Tuesday night relief pitcher Sean Doolittle was also hit by a line drive. He was struck on the left shin and was reportedly hobbled after the game. McCarthy allowed three runs, all earned, prior to his departure. The runs all came in the third inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Alberto Callaspo, who was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and a Mike Trout ground out. Callaspo scored on a Torii Hunter single to right field. The next batter was Albert Pujols, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games after he squeezed a double down the third base line that got past a diving Donaldson. The A's chose to take their chances with Howie Kendrick, walking Kendrys Morales to load the bases with two outs. Kendrick came through for the Halos, driving a two-run single to right field, but Morales ran into an out on the play to end the inning. Bullpen ReportTravis Blackley entered in relief of McCarthy. He was given as much time to warm up as needed. The A's long reliever and spot starter kept them in the game. He threw 44 pithes in three innings of scoreless relief. He was able to strand two runners in scoring position in the sixth inning. With runners on second and third with no outs he struck out Mark Trumbo looking and got Aybar to fly out to end the threat. Pat Neshek retired one batter to end the seventh inning. Ryan Cook took over in the eighth frame. He struck out Pujols, walked Morales, then got Kendrick to ground into an inning-ending double play. Cook remained in the game for the ninth, but allowed the Angels to load the bases with no outs.Grant Balfour inherited the bases loaded situation. He walked pinch hitter Maicer Izturis on a close pitch that was called ball four. Balfour responded by striking out Trout looking on a 94-MPH fastball. Hunter then broke open the game with a two-run single up the middle past the outstretched glove of a diving Adam Rosales. Now a 6-1 game, A's manager Bob Melvin brought in Jim Miller. The right-handed pitcher struck out Albert Pujols swinging on a 92-MPH fastball. The Angels then executed a double steal with Hunter taking second and Izturis successfully taking home. Miller eventually ended the inning by getting Morales to ground out to second. At the PlateThe A's put together a third inning rally in response to the Angels' runs. It started with some control problems by Dan Haren. With one out he walked both Derek Norris and Cliff Pennington. The next batter, Coco Crisp, reached on a force attempt after Howie Kendrick didn't even try and touch second after receiving first baseman Kendrys Morales' throw. The Angels argued that Pennington obstructed the throw to no avail. Seth Smith came up next and made the Angels pay for their mistake by driving the first pitch he saw into right field for an RBI single. With the bases loaded Josh Reddick struck out swinging and Yoenis Cespedes grounded out to end the threat. Norris scored the A's first run after a free pass. He ended up with three walks on the day. After Norris' third walk, Brandon Moss entered the game as a pinch hitter and smashed a single to right field. The Angels countered by putting in rookie Nick Maronde. He struck out Crisp and Smith swinging to end the threat. Maronde also struck out Reddick to start the eighth inning. He has retired four batters in his career, all via strikeout. Kevin Jepsen picked up where Maronde left off, striking out Cespedes and Carter to end the eighth inning. A span of five consecutive batters retired via strikeout. In the Field With two on and no outs in the ninth inning, Callaspo laid down a perfect bunt. Donaldson briefly charged the ball before back tracking to third base, while Norris attempted to grab the ball barehanded but couldn't get a grip on it. Norris was charged with an error and the Angels loaded the bases. In the ninth inning with runners on the corners and two outs, the Angels executed a double steal. Miller had the right idea, faking a throw to third as Hunter broke for second, but Drew was late to the bag. As Miller threw the ball to Drew, Izturis broke for home. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 15,404. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's get a day off as they travel to Seattle. On Friday, A.J. Griffin (4-0, 2.26 ERA) takes the mound for Oakland. He will be opposed by Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez (13-6, 2.51 ERA).

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

The A's optioned catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A Nashville Sunday, the club announced

Maxwell, 26, went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the A's 11-1 win over the Brewers Sunday. Both home runs were his lone of the spring. 

In 2016, Maxwell played in 26 games with the A's after his promotion from Triple-A. He hit .283 with one homer. 

The 2012 second-round draft pick is a career .266/.346/.370 hitter in the minors with 25 home runs. Maxwell is the A's No. 10 prospect by Baseball America. 

The A’s now have 37 players in big league camp.