Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 5, Mariners 2


Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 5, Mariners 2


OAKLAND -- There are a myriad of postseason clinching scenarios to pore over. None of them mean a thing if the A's don't win. If they handle their business then things get a lot less murky when it comes to their potential playoff situation. They did just that against Seattle, sweeping the Mariners out of town with a 5-2 win. Oakland broke out the bats in the eighth inning and hit two mammoth home runs to take the lead. The magic number to clinch a spot in the postseason is now at two. They get the Texas Rangers for the final three games of the season with a chance to potentially win the American League West or force a tiebreaker game against Texas. At the PlateThe A's got on the board first. Stephen Drew walked with one out. Yoenis Cespedes then smacked an opposite field RBI triple to give the A's a 1-0 lead. Brandon Moss drove in the second run with a shallow sacrifice fly to center field. With Cespedes' speed the ball didn't have to be too deep to score the second run. The A's had a good chance to take the lead in the fifth inning. George Kottaras and Cliff Pennington drew back-to-back walks to start the frame. Coco Crisp stepped to the plate next and grounded into a double play. That moved Kottaras to third with two outs. Drew struck out swinging to end the inning. In hindsight it would have been a good move to bunt over the runners. Crisp is one of the team's hottest hitters, though. In the eighth inning Cespedes took matters into his own hands. He crushed a ball into the left field stands to give the A's a 3-2 lead. The bat crack was very loud when he made contact, and he stopped and watched it fly out of the yard. In fairness to the young slugger he was probably just making sure his 23rd home run didn't end up hooking foul. The homer came off Mariners reliever Shawn Kelley, who threw a temper tantrum in the dugout after he left the game.Josh Reddick piled on with his 32nd home run of the season. He hit a tape-measure two-run blast that landed in the second deck in right field. You don't see balls land up there too often. Moss was the last player to hit a ball up there. His bomb gave the A's a 5-2 lead. Starting Pitching ReportTommy Milone was playing with fire. He allowed the leadoff runner to reach base in the first three innings of the game. In the first inning, Franklin Gutierrez hit a leadoff double but Milone stranded him there. In the second frame, Milone allowed three hits but befitted from a huge defensive play by Reddick, who saved a run by gunning down Justin Smoak at home. Milone allowed a leadoff double to Gutierrez again in the third inning. That was the first of three consecutive hits that he allowed in that inning. Kyle Seager drove home Gutierrez with an RBI single to put the Mariners on the board. Milone responded by getting a big double play, but Smoak stroked a game-tying RBI single with two outs. Milone's only clean inning was the fourth. He ended up leaving the game with 85 pitches in the fifth. Milone got the leadoff runner to line out in that inning. He then allowed a triple to Casper Wells that almost got caught by Crisp. With Wells on third and one out he got a big strikeout. A's manager Bob Melvin then pulled him out of the game. Milone ended the day with four and two-thirds innings pitched. He allowed nine hits and two runs. He didn't allow a walk and struck out three batters. Milone finished his rookie season with a 3.74 ERA and a 13-10 record. Milone's 13 wins set an Oakland rookie record. Even without the results he wanted in his final start of the regular season it has been a pretty remarkable year for the lefty. Bullpen ReportPat Neshek entered in relief of Milone in the fifth inning. He walked Jesus Montero on four pitches and was removed from the game. Melvin then sent Jerry Blevins to the mound to face Smoak, who grounded out to third base. Blevins remained in the game for the sixth inning and pitched a clean inning.Ryan Cook pitched the seventh inning. He allowed a leadoff double and a single to center field. Then he struck out the side. The righty got Wells and Seager swinging and then Montero looking on a slider. The crowd went nuts when Cook struck out the side.Sean Doolittle entered the game for the eighth inning. He pitched a clean inning and struck out Miguel Olivo swinging to end the eighth. Grant Balfour entered the game in the ninth inning with a three run lead. He pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save of the season.
In the FieldReddick saved the A's a run in the second inning. Carlos Triunfel singled to right field and Reddick charged the ball but bobbled it while picking it up. Smoak saw the bobble as he was rounding third and Reddick launched a laser from right field that beamed its way directly into Kottaras' glove, beating Smoak by several steps for the out. It was Reddick's 15th outfield assist this season. Crisp made a leaping attempt at the wall on a triple hit by Casper Wells. He just missed catching the ball. Reddick picked up the ball and made a strong throw to Pennington, who made a perfect relay throw to third base. The throw beat Wells to the bag but it looked like his foot jarred the ball out of Donaldson's glove as he tried to apply the tag. Donaldson made a diving stop with runners on the corners and two outs to save a run in the fifth inning. He dove to his left to stop the grounder, popped up and threw out Smoak with time to spare. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 21,057. Dot RaceGreen wins the dot race. The A's were wearing green. It seems the dot that represents the A's jersey color for the day is usually the winner. Up NextHere are the pitching match ups for the series against the Rangers. Jarrod Parker (12-8, 3.44 ERA) vs. Martin Perez (1-3, 5.03 ERA)
Travis Blackley (5-4, 3.91 ERA) vs. Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26 ERA)
A.J. Griffin (7-1, 2.71 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (7-3, 4.64 ERA)

A's spring training Day 39: Melvin applauds team's hitting approach

A's spring training Day 39: Melvin applauds team's hitting approach

MESA, Ariz. — Gaudy run totals in spring training usually don’t mean a whole lot once the regular season hits.

For A’s manager Bob Melvin, it’s the manner in which the A’s are going about things offensively that’s encouraging to him.

Oakland jumped on another opponent early, scoring five runs in the first Friday and rolling to an 8-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Granted, Chicago scratched starter Carlos Rodon in the morning and had to piece the game together with its bullpen.

But that only takes so much luster off the way the A’s are going about their business right now. They’ve won four in a row, and over their past five games they’ve racked up 71 hits and are averaging more than eight runs per contest in that span.

“The good thing is it’s contagious throughout the lineup,” Melvin said. “In the first inning alone we had four situational at-bats and four situational plusses. That’s something Bushy (hitting coach Darren Bush) really has been stressing all spring. We’ve had a lot of games where we just pass it on to the next guy, and if we’re gonna be successful this year, that’s what we’re gonna have to do is get contributions throughout the lineup.”

It’s interesting to watch how Melvin utilizes Matt Joyce. Early on he said he prefers the right fielder batting third when he’s in the lineup. But Joyce also is drawing starts at leadoff, as he did Friday, and the No. 2 spot. Increasing on-base percentage is a big need for the A’s, and Joyce entered Friday tied for the Cactus league lead with 10 walks.

He singled to spark a five-run first that included RBI singles from Trevor Plouffe, Yonder Alonso, Mark Canha and Chris Parmelee.

ELITE COMPANY: Melvin threw out some big-time names when asked who young third baseman Matt Chapman reminds him of.

One was Melvin’s former Giants teammate, Matt Williams, a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glover.

“The defense, Matty was as good as anybody I've seen over at third base,” Melvin said. “The power, there are a lot of similarities. That’s probably the best comp I could think of.”

Melvin also mentioned current Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who has won four consecutive Gold Gloves and posted back-to-back 40-homer seasons.

Not a bad couple of guys to be compared to.

“That’s exciting,” Chapman said. “It’s always nice to have people speak well of you. Those are two guys that I’m aware of how good they are.”

NOTEWORTHY: It was another start Friday where Kendall Graveman seemed to be on auto pilot, retiring hitters with ease and holding the White Sox to one run over seven innings. All the more impressive was that A’s hitters put together some very long half-innings, where Graveman had to make sure he stayed loose.

He simply took it as a good challenge to prepare for all those cold night games at the Coliseum. Named the A’s Opening Night starter just a day earlier, Graveman also used this start to focus on his cutter, being that his sinker has been locked in.

“It was good to have some innings where you have to sit for a while and go back out there,” Graveman said.

His ERA is 2.29 through five starts. He has one more tune-up before the April 3 opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

HEALTH UPDATES: Outfielder Jaff Decker continues to progress from his oblique injury. Now the key is whether he can return to games in time to make a final push for the 25-man roster. Alejandro De Aza appears to be his biggest competition to be the fifth outfielder, if the A’s end up carrying five.

“It just depends on when he gets in a game,” Melvin said of Decker. “I mean, he’s done enough obviously to make a big impression on us. But whether or not he’s even healthy enough at the end, we’ll see.”

ODDS AND ENDS: Ryon Healy swatted his fifth homer of the spring, a two-run shot, in the second inning. Entering Friday evening, Healy was tied for the major league lead in RBI (16) with Boston’s Pablo Sandoval. … Plouffe is on a recent tear and has lifted his average to .395. … Parmelee, a non-roster outfielder, is impressing in under-the-radar fashion. The left-handed hitter is batting .367. … Melvin is having a heck of a time getting switch hitter Jed Lowrie at-bats from the right side. He purposely switched things up to have Lowrie face the lefty Rodon on Friday, only to have Rodon get scratched. The A’s face lefties each of the next two days, and Melvin also mentioned sending Lowrie over to face minor league lefties if need be.

A's Jharel Cotton among MLB's brightest prospects to watch in 2017

A's Jharel Cotton among MLB's brightest prospects to watch in 2017

CHICAGO -- Corey Seager helped the Los Angeles Dodgers make it all the way to the NL Championship Series last year. Michael Fulmer developed into a reliable part of Detroit's rotation, winning 11 games for the Tigers with a 3.06 ERA.

Here is a closer look at a group of rookies hoping to have a similar impact this season:

-OF Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox: There is a lot to love about the 22-year-old Benintendi, who rocketed through Boston's minor league system after the Red Sox grabbed him with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft. He made it to the majors last August and hit .295 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 34 games. He also went deep in the AL Division Series against Cleveland.

-2B Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox: The Cuban slugger was acquired by Chicago in the blockbuster deal that sent lefty ace Chris Sale to Boston. The rebuilding White Sox plan to go slow with Moncada, who just turned 21 in September. But he could bring his powerful swing and athleticism to Chicago's starting lineup at some point this summer.

-RHP Jose De Leon, Tampa Bay Rays: The chance to bring in De Leon was just too tempting for the Rays, who got the right-hander in a January trade with the Dodgers for second baseman Logan Forsythe. De Leon, who likely will begin the year with Triple-A Durham, made his major league debut in September and was 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA in four starts. He went 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 16 starts last year at Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was sidelined for stretches by ankle and shoulder injuries.

-SS Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees: The speedy Torres was the youngest MVP in the history of the Arizona Fall League last year at age 19. He carried that success into spring training, drawing praise for his impressive skills and maturity. The Yankees appear set at shortstop for now, but Torres could make it to New York soon.

-RHP Jharel Cotton, Oakland Athletics: Cotton dazzled in his first stint in the majors last year, going 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts. He was acquired by the Athletics in the August trade that sent Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers.

[RELATED: Down on the Farm: 10 A's prospects to watch in 2017]

-OF Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians: The 6-foot-5 Zimmer drew praise from Indians manager Terry Francona this spring for his bat and improvement in the outfield. Zimmer, a first-round pick in2014 from the University of San Francisco, batted .250 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs in two minor league stops last season.

-RHP Tyler Glasnow, Pittsburgh Pirates: The 23-year-old Glasnow struggled a bit in his first stint in the majors last year, but the 6-8 right-hander looked great this spring. He went 8-3 with a 1.87 ERA in 20 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2016.

-SS Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves: The Kennesaw, Georgia, native played college ball at Vanderbilt before he was selected by Arizona with the first pick of the 2015 draft. The Diamondbacks traded him to Atlanta six months later, and he hit .302 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 38 games with the Braves last year. He was slowed by back stiffness this spring, but he has the look of a budding star.

-OF Dylan Cozens, Philadelphia Phillies: The 2012 second-round pick had 40 homers, 125 RBIs and 21 steals in 134 games for Double-A Reading last season. He is expected to begin this year with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but his major league debut could be soon.

-OF Lewis Brinson, Milwaukee Brewers: The future of Milwaukee's outfield looks pretty good, with Brinson, Brett Phillips and Ryan Cordell slated to begin the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Brinson, who arrived last August in the Jonathan Lucroy trade with Texas, hit .268 with 15 homers and 61 RBIs over three minor league stops in 2016.

-OF Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres: The 25-year-old Renfroe has big-time power. He was promoted late last year and connected against San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner for his first major league homer on Sept. 24. He also hit the first-ever home run onto the top of the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in left at cavernous Petco Park.

-1B Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers: The son of former Yankees outfielder Clay Bellinger hit 23 homers for Double-A Tulsa last year. With Adrian Gonzalez entrenched at first, Cody Bellinger, 21, also could play in the outfield to speed his ascension to the majors.