Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 5, Blue Jays 4 (15)

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 5, Blue Jays 4 (15)

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- It seems nothing can rattle the A's anymore. Prior to the game the team made five roster moves, shocking the clubhouse -- the big move was a trade that sent veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Nationals. They didn't have much time to sulk or feel sorry for themselves. They had a game to play. The A's played their second 15-inning game this week. And for the 13th time this season they won it in walk-off fashion. This time it took a leadoff triple from Jemile Weeks who scored on a Coco Crisp sacrifice fly to win the game 5-4. It's his third walk-off hit this year. He was treated with a two cooler cold shower. Then Spiderman emerged and pied Crisp with two pies. The A's win came at a cost. Yoenis Cespedes left the game with a right wrist sprain. He had two infield singles on Friday -- he has nine this season. He swiped second base for his ninth stolen base, but then got thrown out trying to steal third. He then left the game. He likely injured his wrist when he got caught stealing third. Starting Pitching ReportProfessional baseball's strikeout leader Dan Straily wasted no time getting his first major league strikeout. He struck out the first batter he faced, Brett Lawrie, looking on a 3-2 fastball. Straily, 23, used all four of his pitches effectively. His arsenal included a 92-mph fastball, a 82-mph change-up, a 73-mph curveball, and an 82-mph slider. He struck out five batters -- three with fastballs, one with the change-up, and one on the slider. Straily attacked the strike zone, throwing 13 first-pitch strikes over 24 batters faced. He only walked one batter. The only run he allowed came on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. He worked through his debut jitters and settled into a groove in the fifth and sixth innings and retired eight of the last nine batters he faced. Straily was in line for his first career win but will have to settle for an impressive no decision after the A's gave up the lead in the bottom of the ninth. At the PlateThe A's got two on in the second after Cespedes legged out an infield single and Chris Carter worked an 0-2 count into a walk. Brandon Inge stepped to the plate next and extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games with an RBI-single giving the A's a 1-0 lead. Jonny Gomes swung and missed on Brett Cecil's first two offerings before driving an 0-2 pitch into the left field bleachers. Gomes now has 11 homers this season and his blast gave the A's a 2-0 lead. Carter hit a hanging slider so hard in the fourth inning that it landed about 30 stairs deep in the left field stairwell. It was his ninth homer of the season and it gave the A's a 3-1 lead. At this point it would be wise to put Carter in the lineup daily. Gomes hit the hardest single of his life in the the fifth. It was a screaming line drive that smashed into the very top of the wall in left field. The ball was hit so hard that he had to stop at first. Gomes' single moved Coco Crisp to third base. He ended up scoring on a Josh Reddick sacrifice fly to right field. In the 10th inning Jemile Weeks hit a leadoff single up the middle past the outstretched glove of Kelly Johnson as he dove for the ball. Coco Crisp drew a six-pitch walk and then Weeks and Crisp advanced on a wild pitch thrown by Brad Lincoln. Gomes drew a walk of his own to load the bases for Reddick with one out. Reddick struck out looking on a 2-2 curveball. Brandon Moss stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter but grounded out to short. Weeks led off with a triple in the 15th. This time, Crisp drove him home with a sacrifice fly.Bullpen ReportGrant Balfour brought rage to the right field bleachers and to the Jays hitters. He pitched two flawless innings striking out three batters. Ryan Cook blew the save after allowing a two-out, three-run game-tying homer. He struck out the first two batters he faced but let the Jays rally to tie the game. Cook has allowed six runs in his last six appearances. His six blown saves are tied for the most in the American League. Jerry Blevins started the 10th. He allowed two runners to reach base after hitting Colby Rasmus and walking Edwin Encarnacion. He then got Kelly Johnson to fly out for the second out. Pat Neshek entered in relief of Blevins. He threw two pitches and ended the Blue Jays threat in the 10th. He came back out in the 11th and struck out the side. Not bad for a guy that was pitching in Triple-A all season. Sean Doolittle pitched the 12th inning and got bailed out by some solid defense (read below). Travis Blackley entered the game in the 13th. Having just been moved to the bullpen, he can serve as a very effective long reliever. Blackley flashed his pickoff move, nailing Rajai Davis at first base. He has now picked off seven runners. He ended up throwing three scoreless innings and got the win. In the FieldIn the 12th inning Brandon Moss, who doesn't usually play left field, slightly misplayed a ball hit to left off the bat of Colby Rasmus. Omar Vizquel, attempting to score from first, rounded third as Moss' throw hit the cutoff man Inge who fired the ball home to Norris to get the 45-year-old at the plate. The play preserved the 4-4 tie. In the 15th inning Eric Sogard made a ridiculous play to save a run. He ranged far to the right backhanding the ball and flipping it to third base for the force out to end the inning. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 30,169. Straily Italian Heritage night Fireworks = attendance. Dot RaceWhite wins the dot race.Up NextStraily's Double-A roommate A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.51 ERA) will take the hill for the A's on Saturday. According to the A's game notes Griffin is the first pitcher since at least 1918 to begin his career by tossing six or more innings while allowing three runs or less in each of his first seven starts. Ricky Romero (8-8, 5.69 ERA) will get a chance to redeem himself against the A's after allowing eight runs in one and a third innings last time he faced them. Rehabbing A'sCliff Pennington went 1-for-2 with two walks and one RBI for the River Cats. He also stole a base. This is his first rehab start since hitting the disabled list with left elbow tendonitis on July 20.

A's spring training Day 43: Shore K's Trout in surprise big league start

A's spring training Day 43: Shore K's Trout in surprise big league start

TEMPE, Ariz. — Rather than join his minor league teammates for workouts like usual, Logan Shore got word Tuesday morning he would take the ball for the A’s against the Los Angeles Angels.

A few hours later, Shore was striking out Mike Trout to highlight his impressive four-inning outing. What an experience it was for Shore, a right-hander drafted last summer in the second round out of the University of Florida.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “There’s not really any words to describe that.”

The A’s scratched No. 5 starter Raul Alcantara, opting to throw him in a minor league game rather than let a division opponent get another look at him for scouting-report purposes. That presented Shore with a surprise opportunity.

He responded with four innings of one-run ball, holding the Angels to two hits. The game would take an ugly turn as the A’s bullpen got lit up in a 14-3 loss. But Shore’s outing was a glimpse of what Oakland might have to look forward to with the 22-year-old. The righty didn’t come out of college with the same hype as Florida teammate A.J. Puk, who the A’s drafted sixth overall last June. But he’s thought to be more polished than Puk at this stage.

Shore went 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA in seven starts with short-season Vermont in his pro debut. This spring, he’s been grouped with high Single-A Stockton, but he hasn’t received his official regular-season assignment yet.

“That’s the kind of lineup that gets your attention a little bit,” manager Bob Melvin said. “I thought he threw the ball really well. He had great command of his fastball, a backdoor sinker, good changeup, good slider. He probably got a little bit tired at the end, but he was very impressive. That’s the first time I got to see him throw.”

Shore pitched in relief for the A’s earlier this spring as a minor league extra, so that helped him keep his nerves in check Tuesday. Still, it was a different challenge tackling what closely resembled the Angels’ regular-season lineup, which features Trout and Albert Pujols in the meat of it.

Trout struck out and flied to right against Shore. Pujols flied to right and singled.

“I grew up watching all those guys, so it’s kind of cool to get to pitch against them,” he said.

HEALTH UPDATES: Left fielder Khris Davis and third baseman Trevor Plouffe, both nursing minor injuries, won’t return to the field until the Bay Bridge Series which starts Thursday night at AT&T Park, Melvin said. Plouffe has missed the past few games with a groin injury and Davis has a right quad issue.

“We’ll just bubble wrap them right now and send them home,” Melvin cracked.

Right-hander Chris Bassitt took another step in his Tommy John recovery with a 30-pitch session that included two sets of 15 pitches, simulating two innings with a break in between.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s play their Cactus League finale Wednesday on the road against the Cubs, but most of the game will feature minor leaguers. All of the players who are heading north to face the Giants will be leaving for the airport sometime in the latter stages of the game.

On that topic, the A’s announced the 43 players that will make up their Bay Bridge roster. It includes 30 players from the 40-man roster, six non-roster invitees and seven extras from minor league camp. Oakland officially has 36 players still in camp, with Saturday the deadline to cut down to the final 25-man roster.

ODDS AND ENDS: After Shore left the game, the Angels struck for five runs in the fifth against Liam Hendriks. … The next inning, highly touted prospect Grant Holmes gave up five runs (four earned) in two-thirds of an inning. Holmes was one of three righties acquired from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick trade. Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas were the others.

 

Revisiting the A's top 5 questions from the start of spring

Revisiting the A's top 5 questions from the start of spring

TEMPE, Ariz. — The A’s moving truck has already left the desert, and the team will be bolting for the airport after Wednesday’s Cactus League finale.

Spring training is quickly drawing to a close, with only the three-game Bay Bridge Series remaining before the games start to count. To mark that reality, here’s a look at the five most burning questions Oakland faced back when camp started in mid-February, and what kind of answers have materialized since …

1) Does Sonny Gray return to his old self?
The A’s absorbed their first major injury blow early when Gray, their potential Opening Night starter, went down with a strained lat muscle after a March 7 start. It wasn’t exactly what the right-hander had in mind coming off a 2016 season that sent him to the disabled list twice. Encouraging news came last week when Gray was allowed to start throwing again one week ahead of schedule.

When exactly he returns is tied to how soon he gets back on the mound. He’s been playing catch out to 105 feet, but manager Bob Melvin stressed the A’s aren’t going to rush things with Gray. Until further notice, the assumption is still that Gray will miss most of April.

2) Can a ‘healthy’ outlook be sustained?
Given what you read in the above item, obviously things haven’t gotten off to a great start in this department. Jake Smolinski, a candidate to make the team as an extra outfielder, showed up to camp with a sore right shoulder and required labrum surgery. Second baseman Joey Wendle, who was ticketed for Triple-A to begin with, also has been set back by a shoulder injury. But the focus, from an injury standpoint, is on Gray. If he were to miss just the first month of the regular season, that’s an absence the A’s should be able to cover. Any longer than that, and his presence really will be missed.

After last year’s roster-wide rash of injuries, better health is the most important first step in the A’s escaping the American League West cellar.

3) Who wins the closer’s job?
Six weeks of spring training has yet to reveal an answer here. If Melvin knows who his closer is, he isn’t saying publicly. Lefty Sean Doolittle, one of the veteran anchors of the relief corps, said Melvin hasn’t discussed roles yet with the relievers themselves. Expect more news on that during the Bay Bridge Series, which runs Thursday through Saturday. Of the four assumed ninth-inning candidates — Doolittle, John Axford, Santiago Casilla and Ryan Madson — none has been lights-out in Cactus League games.

The guess here is Madson, the A’s main closer last season, gets the first crack at the role this year as well.

“I don’t even think it’s on anybody’s radar,” Doolittle said Tuesday. “That’s one of the things that makes our bullpen effective. We’re not as attached to those roles as people might think.”

4) Where does Ryon Healy fit into the puzzle?
He fits in a little at first base, a little at third base and a little at DH. What we know is that Healy’s bat will be in the lineup regularly, it’s just a matter of where. Melvin spread his time pretty evenly between all three spots. Healy responded with a terrific spring at the plate. Entering Tuesday, he ranked third in the Cactus League with 16 RBI, the most spring RBI by an Athletic since Kevin Kouzmanoff also had 16 in 2010. Healy will play first base against lefties, platooning with Yonder Alonso. He’ll spell Trevor Plouffe at third. But it stands to reason a large chunk of his time will have to come at DH.

“I think he’s handled it well,” Melvin said. “It’s not easy, especially for a younger guy that was originally a first baseman. He worked as hard as anybody last year to make himself a third baseman. Now, it’s a little bit different for him and he knew that coming into camp. I think he’s handled his time wisely, worked hard at both positions, and he knows he has to move around a little bit this year.”

5) Can the A’s get their mojo back?
If a positive clubhouse vibe plays any part in a team turning around its on-field fortunes, the A’s are off to a good start. The early indications are that newcomers Plouffe, Matt Joyce, Casilla and Rajai Davis — those latter two are in their second stints with the A’s — all add some nice leadership qualities and mesh well with the returning vets. True, you can’t really read too much in spring training, when everyone always gets along in the spirit and optimism of a new season. But the A’s do seem to have better components up and down their roster to lead to a healthier season-long chemistry.

Just as you’ve read in the past, getting off to a strong start in the standings is the most effective way to maintain that chemistry.