Pratt's Instant Replay: A's are postseason bound

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Pratt's Instant Replay: A's are postseason bound

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OAKLAND -- For the first time since 2006 the A's are heading to the postseason. They've clinched a spot in the American League Wild Card game with a 4-3 win over the Rangers. As the A's pop champagne and party in celebration they are now tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the top Wild Card spot and Oakland holds the tiebreaker. On June 30, the A's lost 7-2 to the Rangers and fell a seemingly insurmountable 13 games behind Texas. Oakland responded by going 55-26 from that point on and now sit just one game behind the Rangers with a chance to seize the division title with two games to play.
Starting Pitcher ReportEntering Monday, Jarrod Parker was 2-0 in his career against the Rangers. He was surgical in the first two innings. He carved up the Rangers, retiring six of the first seven batters he faced on 21 pitches.Parker got in trouble in the third inning. He allowed a leadoff walk and a single to Mitch Moreland. With runners on the corners and no outs he struck out Ian Kinsler. Elvis Andrus drove home the Rangers first run with a soft single. Then Parker struck out Josh Hamilton swinging and got Adrian Beltre to ground out to end the inning.With just six pitches Parker struck out Hamilton swinging in each of his first two plate appearances. He got him to fly out to end the inning on three pitches in the fifth.Parker's second run allowed came on a solo homer hit by Michael Young. He went opposite field on a 2-0 fastball and drove the ball over the high wall in right-center field. Crisp actually made a leaping attempt on the play as the ball barely cleared the wall. Napoli hit a towering drive to center field to make it a one-run game. It was Napoli's 24th homer of the season. It came on a 3-2 fastball and knocked Parker out of the game. Parker finished his night with six-plus innings pitched. He allowed three runs on six hits and walked three batters while striking out six. The two homers allowed for Parker tied a season-high mark. The Orioles hit two homers against Parker on July 27 in Baltimore.At the PlateThe A's jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. Oakland collected back-to-back hits from Coco Crisp and Jonny Gomes to start the inning, but Yoenis Cespedes grounded into a double play. With two outs and Crisp on third, Chris Carter drew a walk. Josh Reddick, who has been plagued with runners in scoring position this season, drove a two-out RBI single up the middle to score the first run. Josh Donaldson drew a walk to load the bases. Then Rangers' pitcher Martin Perez balked in the second run of the game.The A's got two off Perez in the first, but five days ago when they faced him in Texas they knocked him out of the game in the first inning by scoring five runs on six hits. The young lefty settled down and held the A's scoreless over the next three innings and retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced.Oakland's offense knocked Perez out of the game in the fifth inning by hitting back-to-back doubles. Adam Rosales scorched a ball into the right-center field gap and scored when Crisp doubled to center field. Crisp stole third base, his 39th of the season, and scored on a shallow sacrifice fly to center field hit by pinch hitter Brandon Moss. Crisp made a perfect slide home barely evading the tag of Mike Napoli after he caught the ball just to the left of home plate.The A's rallied with two outs in the sixth inning. Derek Norris drew a walk and Cliff Pennington smacked a pinch-hit single. Crisp stepped to the plate but popped out to second base to end the inning.Bullpen ReportSean Doolittle entered in relief of Parker. He pitched a clean inning and stuck out one batter. Ryan Cook took over in the eighth. He retired Hamilton to start the inning, got Beltre to pop out, and struck out Nelson Cruz looking.Grant Balfour entered in the ninth inning with a trip to the playoffs on the line. He hit 97-MPH on the radar gun and struck out the side.AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 21,162. The Oakland faithful were very loud on Monday. It looks like they got a large walk up crowd.Dot RaceGold wins the dot race after getting rear-ended across the finish line. There goes my theory that the dot color that corresponds with the A's uniform color wins.Up NextTravis Blackley (5-4, 4.00) takes the mound for the A's. He has struggled mightily in his last two starts lasting just three innings. He was knocked out after just one inning in his previous start, which was against the Rangers in Arlington, after allowing five runs.The Rangers will send left-handed pitcher Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26 ERA) to the mound. Last Thursday he allowed four runs against the A's but got the win.

Kaval: A's considering future move into Raiders' locker room

Kaval: A's considering future move into Raiders' locker room

OAKLAND — The Raiders are likely to play at the Coliseum for the next two seasons at least, but the A’s are daydreaming about the time they can finally call the venue their own.

One idea they’re considering is moving their home clubhouse into the space that currently serves as the Raiders locker room, which would more than double the current space they have.

Beyond that, imagine the possibility of the A’s current clubhouse being transformed into a “club” type area for fans to schmooze and enjoy some beverages. Team president Dave Kaval says both ideas are on the table for after the Raiders move to Las Vegas, which they’re planning to do for the 2020 NFL season.

The No. 1 long-term goal for the A’s, obviously, is to find a location in Oakland and build a new baseball-only stadium. The homework continues on that front, with Kaval maintaining the promise for that announcement to come sometime in 2017.

The Raiders have lease options to play at the Coliseum for each of the next two football seasons, with their plans for 2019 uncertain as their Vegas stadium is built.

Regardless, there will be a gap from the time the Raiders execute their move and the time the A’s are ready to move into their potential new digs. They apparently plan to make the most of that time at the Coliseum, which is the only two-sport complex remaining in major North American professional sports.

Kaval addressed the idea of shifting the home clubhouse into the Raiders’ locker room space.

“Well, it’s considerably bigger than our current locker room, and so we could have a more player-friendly area, more lounge space, be more spread out,” he said as the A’s wrapped up a 10-game homestand Sunday. “Even space for training facilities we don’t have now. And so it just provides a lot more flexibility, and a better draw for players if they want to play here in Oakland.”

That last statement shouldn’t be overlooked. As much as current Athletics would appreciate any upgrades to their day-to-day situation at the Coliseum, the improvements might also help a bit when it comes to attracting prospective free agents, who could be sold the idea of better conditions at the Coliseum and the promise of a brand new ballpark to come.

The A’s try to make use of every inch of space available in the current Coliseum set-up, but it’s an antiquated situation to say the least. Players sprawled out on the floor doing stretching exercises outside the A’s weight room often have to deal with reporters stepping around them as they get off the media elevator.

“I think it could be huge,” catcher Stephen Vogt said of possibly shifting the clubhouse to the Raiders’ locker room. “There’s triple the size of what we have. It’s kind of funny to think that we have the smaller locker room but they’re here for (only) 10 days a year basically. That’s just the way it is. If they are truly leaving and they’re not gonna be here, we could really utilize that space.”

Added Kaval: “We do have space in here, but when it’s a multi-purpose stadium it’s always challenging. Everything we’ve had to do over the years has been temporary.”

One consideration regarding the Raiders’ locker room: It’s a farther walk to the entrance of the field, with an extra flight of stairs to climb. That’s something to consider because baseball players tend to make quick trips back to the clubhouse during a game more so than football players do to their locker room.

But Kaval said he’s already talked to A’s manager Bob Melvin about some of the logistical challenges, and he emphasized that any changes wouldn’t happen without positive feedback from the coaching staff and players.

One change the A’s already have implemented this season with players in mind: They’ve dedicated an expanded luxury suite area solely for players’ families during games and also expanded the nanny service they provide for players’ children during games.

As for the A’s ballpark search, Kaval says the four sites the A’s are considering are all “neck and neck” — the current Coliseum site, Howard Terminal, a site near Laney College and one at Brooklyn Basin, on the other side of Highway 880 from Laney.

“We continue to have meetings with all the key stakeholders,” Kaval said. “I think we’re really happy about the acceleration of those meetings. We’re starting to talk more business terms, starting to get into some of the final feasibility (decisions) so we can make that final announcement this year on a location.”

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

OAKLAND — Some 10-9 records are better than others, and so it is that the A’s can hit the road for a nine-game trip feeling pretty good about themselves.

Their just-completed homestand began with Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman leaving a game early and landing on the disabled list. That was coupled with news that shortstop Marcus Semien would be lost for two months or more with a fractured wrist.

The A’s responded to those developments with a five-game winning streak that was halted by Sunday’s 11-1 rout at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

The A’s went 5-4 on the homestand, holding their ground after a heavy dose of injury misfortune, and now the outlook changes just a bit. The focus shifts from the players joining the D.L. to those that could soon return to provide a boost.

Graveman, who has a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to throw off the mound Monday. If that goes well, expect him to be activated sometime in the early portion of the upcoming trip. Sonny Gray, who has been out since injuring a side muscle early in Cactus League games, is set to throw Thursday for Triple-A Nashville after an encouraging rehab outing Saturday for Single-A Stockton.

If Gray comes out of Thursday’s start well, look for the 2015 All-Star to join the active roster and pitch sometime against Minnesota in the final series of this road trip. Nothing can be taken for granted until both pitchers actually return healthy, but it’s a promising scenario to possibly add two starters of their caliber as April turns to May.

“I think any time you look up and you’re over .500 and you’ve had a great homestand and you’re missing your best two pitchers, that’s something to be pleased about,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Getting Kendall back is huge. And Sonny obviously did great last night, and felt great, which is more important than the results.

“We’re excited to get those two guys back but in the meantime, we’re gonna continue to keep playing the way we are because we’re playing really good baseball and we’ll just keep things rolling.”

It was clear early on Sunday that a five-game winning streak wouldn’t reach six. The Mariners led 2-0 in the third when Andrew Triggs missed location on a 1-0 sinker and Taylor Motter launched a grand slam over the wall in left-center.

Triggs, who excelled at missing the fat part of bats over his first three starts, didn’t have the feel for his cutter Sunday. When he fell behind to Motter, the cutter is normally a pitch he would have gone to had it been working for him.

“I wasn’t commanding well,” he said. “I didn’t wanna go 1-0 to 2-0. I felt better going with the sinker. I got it down, but missed location in and out. In a perfect world, the cutter would have been great to get a groundout.”

But to this point, the A’s rotation has held firm without Gray and with the short-term absence of Graveman. Perhaps the biggest test moving forward is whether an offense that is tied for the American League lead in extra-base hits can continue to produce consistently with Semien’s absence, particularly without anyone having established themselves as the regular leadoff man.

A’s manager Bob Melvin likes what he’s seen from his team in light of the injuries.

“Every game we go out there there’s an expectation to win,” Melvin said, “and when you win multiple games in a row, you get that feeling and it’s a little more significant. So hopefully we can carry that on to the road trip. As a group, we’ve been able to manage these injuries here recently, and once we start getting guys back it’s gonna be a good thing for us.”