Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 4, Mariners 2

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 4, Mariners 2

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SEATTLE -- To sweep or be swept? That is the question. The A's broke out the brooms in Seattle, defeating the Mariners 4-2. Oakland has now swept three of their last four series, and the one series they didn't sweep, they got swept by the Angels. Tommy Milone became the first A's rookie pitcher to reach 12 wins since Joe Blanton in 2005. He is now tied with Blanton and Chris Codiroli (1983) for most rookie wins in Oakland history. Milone is also making history in another significant manner. He's allowed just one walk or less in his last 14 starts. That ties Gil Heredia (1999) for the longest such streak in Oakland history. Starting Pitching ReportMilone tied one of his own personal records as well with 10 strikeouts. He didn't issue a single walk. He lasted six innings and gave up two earned runs on eight hits. Overall, a very good day for the rookie pitcher.Predominantly using his off-speed stuff, Milone struck out five of the first six batters he faced in the game. He didn't really get into a jam until the fourth inning. After allowing two batters to reach with singles, he blew a two-out, full count fastball by Mike Carp to end the inning. After the A's rallied for three runs in the fifth inning, Milone couldn't get a shutdown inning. He gave up a run on a two-out triple hit by Michael Saunders. He struck out the next batter to end the inning.Kyle Seager led off the sixth inning with a solo homer to right field, making it 3-2. Reddick scaled the right field wall but couldn't reach the ball. It was a spider-man-like effort, though. Milone ended the first six innings of the game with strikeouts. At the PlateThe A's were having trouble against Mariners lefty Jason Vargas until the fifth inning. With two outs the A's rallied for three runs. Adam Rosales and Coco Crisp reached on singles and then Jonny Gomes crushed a three-run blast to left field. Gomes has been an essential piece to the A's puzzle. He has 16 home runs in 83 games this season, and eight of them have come since the All-Star Break. It's hard to imagine where the A's would be if Manny Ramirez was taking at-bats away from Gomes. Odds are the 40-year-old slugger wouldn't be sniffing Gomes' stats at this point. The A's didn't score again until the eighth inning, when Josh Donaldson smacked a solo homer to left field. Donaldson now has six home runs and 24 RBI since being recalled on August 20. Bullpen ReportPat Neshek entered in relief of Milone in the seventh inning. He retired two batters and didn't allow a base runner. Jerry Blevins finished the inning. Ryan Cook pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Has not allowed a run in 10 of his last 11 outings. He struck out two batters. Grant Balfour pitched the ninth inning with a two-run lead. He allowed a leadoff double down the left field line to Casper Wells, then pitched around it without allowing a run. He is now a perfect 9 for 9 in save opportunities since regaining the closer's role. In the FieldReddick robbed Seattle's leadoff hitter Franklin Gutierrez to start the game. Gutierrez hit a ball that looked like it might fall in until Reddick made a full extension head-first dive to take away the hit. He saved a potential run in the ninth inning with a sliding catch to rob Eric Thames.AttendanceThe Mariners announced an attendance of 14,403. Up NextThe A's travel to Anaheim to open a four-game series with the Angels. Jarrod Parker (9-8, 3.67 ERA) will be on the mound for the A's. He is 4-5 with a 5.10 ERA in his his last 11 starts. He is one win shy of becoming the 10th rookie pitcher in Oakland history to win 10 games.

Vogt's defensive cameo comes straight out of left field

Vogt's defensive cameo comes straight out of left field

OAKLAND — Stephen Vogt made an unexpected appearance in left field Wednesday night, and his performance got approval from a pretty good outfield authority.

Former A’s teammate Josh Reddick was watching from the Houston Astros’ dugout and thought the catcher-by-trade handled himself very well.

“I was talking to (Houston manager) A.J. (Hinch) and I said, ‘It’s gonna be interesting because you know at least one ball’s gonna get to him,’” Reddick said. “You start laughing because four of the five that were hit that inning were hit to him.”

With the A’s bench short-handed, manager Bob Melvin sent Vogt to left after he pinch-hit for Rajai Davis, and indeed Vogt got a workout throughout the top of the eighth. That added a bit of levity to a 5-1 loss that otherwise provided the A’s very little to cheer about.

They were bottled up by Astros right-hander Mike Fiers and four relievers as the Astros won their ninth in a row at the Coliseum and their third straight in this four-game series. A’s starter Sean Manaea was rolling through five scoreless innings before Houston blitzed him for three runs in the sixth. The Astros tacked on a couple more late runs against Oakland’s bullpen and that was enough on a night the A’s mustered just four hits total.

After Vogt delivered an RBI groundout that scored the A’s only run in the seventh, Melvin wanted to keep Vogt’s left-handed bat in the lineup, so he asked the veteran catcher if he could handle left.

“I said yeah, absolutely,” Vogt said.

It’s easy to forget that Vogt came up through the Tampa Bay Rays’ system playing a lot of outfield, and he played more than a dozen games in the outfield in 2014 for the A’s, mostly in right.

He sure got tested. The Astros’ first four hitters of the eighth all hit balls in Vogt’s direction. He got a routine fly from Brian McCann, a difficult low liner off the bat of Yuli Gurriel that he smothered for a single, a double from Alex Bregman that he did a good job cutting off and a sacrifice fly to the warning track from Jake Marisnick.

“I had the adrenaline shot run up and I was loose and ready to go,” Vogt said. “Obviously I was a little more focused than probably your average outfielder out there. I’m glad the first one came to me, otherwise I would have been sweatin’ it for a while.”

Vogt has lost time recently behind the plate against right-handers to Josh Phegley, who has done an effective job controlling the running game. And though you shouldn’t by any means expect to see Melvin running Vogt to the outfield often, you also shouldn’t assume it won’t happen at all.

At some point, the A’s figure to call up catcher Bruce Maxwell as part of the crop of young players they’re trying to give more time too. If the left-handed hitting Maxwell were to share catching duties with Phegley, and if the A’s were to trade Yonder Alonso (again, we’re talking ‘ifs’ here), it’s conceivable Vogt’s left-handed bat could be put to use at spots other than catcher, perhaps at first base or, in a pinch, even the outfield.

His old teammate thinks he could pull it off.

“I remember him playing in right in ’14 when I was (injured),” Reddick said. “He did a pretty good job out there, it’s not like he’s foreign to it. He knows what he’s doing.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's third straight loss to Astros

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's third straight loss to Astros

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OAKLAND — As swiftly as the A’s appeared to grab some momentum by sweeping the Yankees, it was snatched from their grasp.

The Houston Astros have taken the first three games of this mid-week four-gamer at the Coliseum, and the A’s will have to win Thursday afternoon’s finale to avoid being on the other end of a sweep.

They generated barely a whisper offensively in a 5-1 loss Wednesday night, advancing just one runner as far as third base. Mike Fiers (5-2), who’s come on strong for an Astros rotation that’s been decimated by injuries, held Oakland to three hits over six innings. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four June starts.

Sean Manaea (6-4) was rolling along for the A’s until the sixth, when the Astros broke a scoreless tie with five hits and three runs off the lefty. Manaea wound up taking his first loss since May 15.

Striking quick: It was 0-0 when the Astros opened the sixth with three consecutive singles. Jose Altuve got things going, then Carlos Correa singled to center and advanced to second on Jaycob Brugman’s throw that went through to third, putting two runners in scoring position. Evan Gattis drove both home with a single to center, and he would score on Jake Marisnick’s single. That was all the offense Houston would need.

Alonso provides a spark: Yonder Alonso, in a fierce fight to win the All-Star vote and be the American League’s starting first baseman, doubled in the seventh and scored on Stephen Vogt’s groundout for the A’s only run.

Outfield arms: The A’s started Rajai Davis in left and Matt Joyce returned to the lineup in right after missing Tuesday with back tightness. Joyce did well to hold Brian McCann to a single in the fourth, retreaving his drive to the right field corner and firing it back to the infield. Davis kept a run from scoring in the third when he fielded Nori Aoki’s single and fired it back to the infield to keep Marisnick from scoring. That sequence was noteworthy given how often opponents have been taking the extra base on Khris Davis when he plays left.

Chapman still day-to-day: As the A’s look to avoid a four-game sweep Thursday, it’s unclear if they’ll have third baseman Matt Chapman back in the lineup. The rookie missed his third game in a row with an infection in his left knee. Manager Bob Melvin said the swelling in Chapman’s knee has gone down, but Melvin was non-specific on Chapman’s return.

“If it’s not tomorrow, hopefully it’s (the) Chicago (series this weekend).”

Stephen Vogt, Mr. Utility: The A’s were working with a two-man bench with Chapman out, which led to catcher Stephen Vogt making his first appearance in the outfield in three seasons. After pinch-hitting for left fielder Rajai Davis in the seventh, Vogt assumed left field duties in the top of the eighth and was immediately put through a workout. The first four Houston batters of the inning all hit balls toward left field, and Vogt more than held his own, including retreating to the warning track to haul in Jake Marisnick’s sacrifice fly and cutting off Alex Bregman’s double.