Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 6, Mariners 1

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 6, Mariners 1

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- With the No. 32 jersey proudly hanging in the dugout the A's took the field with heavy hearts. A's players found out on their off-day Thursday that their friend and teammate Brandon McCarthy underwent surgery to ease the pressure from an epidural hemorrhage and to stabilize a skull fracture incurred after getting hit in the head by a line drive on Wednesday. With McCarthy in their thoughts the A's opened a critical stretch of games in which they play 17 of their next 20 on the road with a 6-1 win over Seattle. More impressive, they did it in dramatic fashion, scoring all six of their runs with Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez on the mound. At the PlateThe A's plated an usually rare run on Hernandez in the first inning. Seth Smith reached on a single and came around to score on a ball hit by Yoenis Cespedes to right field. The single was a blooper but it was misplayed by right fielder Eric Thames, allowing Smith to score. The A's did the improbable in the fourth inning -- they scored three runs on Hernandez. With the "King's Court" worked into a full on lather, George Kottaras crushed a hanging slider into the right field stands for a three-run homer. With Kottaras' seventh home run of the season, you could almost see the weight of the world lifting off the A's shoulders. It also silenced the yellow triangle that is the fanatical Felix following in left field. The A's piled on in the fifth inning against Hernandez. Josh Donaldson laced a two-out double down the left field line, scoring Brandon Moss. Then Stephen Drew drove home Donaldson with a single to right field making it 6-1. Donaldson rounded third with the throw from right field incoming and didn't slide but still made it safely -- barely -- evoking memories of Jeremy Giambi with his non-slide at home. The Drew single knocked Hernandez out of the game. The A's tallied 11 hits on Hernandez, matching the most he's allowed since May 11 at New York against the Yankees. Hernandez's four and two-third innings is his shortest performance since May 16 when he only lasted three and two-third innings against the Indians. Cliff Pennington went 4-for-4. He is a streaky hitter. If he gets hot, look out. Starting Pitching ReportA.J. Griffin engaged in a duel with Hernandez on the former Cy Young Award winner's turf and upstaged the ace. With thoughts of McCarthy surely heavy on his mind, Griffin dropped his head seemingly in disbelief after a first-inning, line-drive single hit by Kyle Seager flew just over his head. Griffin allowed a run in the second inning on two hits and a walk. The damage was done when Brendan Ryan hit an 89-mph fastball that caught too much of the plate into right field, scoring Michael Saunders. Josh Reddick fielded the ball and came up throwing, but the throw shaded a little too far up the third base line to nail the runner. After giving up the second-inning run, Griffin retired the next six batters he faced. He gave up back-to-back singles with two outs in the fourth inning, but struck out Ryan swinging on a curveball to end the threat. With six runs of support on his side, the rookie righty buckled down and easily dispatched the Mariners in the fifth inning. With 98 pitches he stayed in to start the sixth inning. He allowed a leadoff single and struck out Saunders swinging on a fastball and was removed from the game. He may not have gone as deep into the game as he would have liked, but seven strikeouts, one walk, and just one earned run is still a pretty solid evening of work. Griffin hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 10 big league starts. Griffin is now 5-0 to start his career, joining Todd Burns (1988) as the only pitcher in Oakland history to start his career with five wins and zero losses.Bullpen ReportJerry Blevins relieved Griffin and retired the final two batters of the sixth inning. He came back out and started and finished the seventh inning as well. Ryan Cook pitched the eighth inning. He allowed one hit and a walk but escaped unscathed. Sean Doolittle threw a scoreless ninth inning. On the BasesCespedes tried to zoom from first to third on Moss' single in the fifth inning, but was thrown out. It looked like he might have gone into his headfirst slide a little early. The A's still ended up scoring two runs in the fifth frame, even after Cespedes ran into the out. AttendanceThe Mariners announced an attendance of 17,128. Up NextBrett Anderson (3-0, 0.90 ERA) takes on Hisashi Iwakuma (6-3, 3.14 ERA). Anderson has been unstoppable since returning from a 14-month layoff after Tommy John surgery. The A's won the negotiating rights to Iwakuma prior to last season but couldn't strike a deal. He remained in Japan and ended up a member of the Seattle Mariners this year. Oakland will face the pitcher they could have had on Saturday, and Iwakuma is on a roll. He has won five of his last seven starts for the Mariners.

Notes: A's OF Smolinski sidelined by sore right shoulder

Notes: A's OF Smolinski sidelined by sore right shoulder

MESA, Ariz. — Outfielder Jake Smolinski is dealing with a right shoulder issue that’s keeping him out of games right now.

A’s manager Bob Melvin is hopeful Smolinski might be able to serve as designated hitter soon, but he's having trouble throwing. The issue was bothering Smolinski when he reported to camp.

“It may take a little time,” Melvin said Sunday morning.

Depending on how long Smolinski is sidelined, it could impact his bid to make the club as a fifth outfielder. Khris Davis, Rajai Davis and Matt Joyce are projected as the starting trio, left to right, with Mark Canha likely to platoon with Joyce in right.

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Melvin finds his catching depth thinning out a bit. Matt McBride isn’t able to get behind the plate because of a sore lat muscle, and non-roster catcher Ryan Lavarnway will be leaving soon to join Team Israel for the World Baseball Classic.

That means Sean Murphy, a third-round draft choice last June, will see plenty of time in early exhibitions. Melvin has spoken highly of the strong-armed Murphy so far.

“We’re a little short, so Mr. Murphy is going to get some opportunities for a younger guy,” Melvin said. “It’s a nice little showcase with him to back up some of these games.”

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Ryon Healy will draw his first start of the spring, playing first base, Monday against the Giants in Scottsdale. He’s been nursing a sore quadriceps but ran Sunday and is cleared for Monday.

 

A's Gray won't pitch in WBC due to insurance company issue

A's Gray won't pitch in WBC due to insurance company issue

MESA, Ariz. — Sonny Gray won’t be an option for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, after the tournament’s insurance carrier declined to cover the A’s right-hander for the tournament.

Gray feels great physically now, stressed Oakland general manager David Forst, but last season Gray spent more than 60 days on the disabled list for trapezius and forearm issues, and he also finished August on the D.L. Both of those criteria landed him on the “chronic condition player” list that keeps players out of the WBC.

Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin was denied eligibility for the WBC based on similar criteria.

As it was, Gray was only scheduled to join Team USA for the second round if the Americans made it that far.

“I know Sonny’s bummed, he wanted to pitch,” Forst said. “Again, we were excited to let him do that.”

‘It’s an unfortunate thing, but at the same time it allows me to slow down here and get myself as ready as I can for the beginning of the season,” Gray said. “I know it didn't work out but to have that opportunity to be asked to play is humbling and something that maybe in future can work out.”

MLB pushed for an exception to let Gray pitch, according to Forst, but it wasn’t granted by the insurance company.

“Nobody can play in the tournament if you’re not covered by the insurance carrier,” Forst said.

With Gray now out of the WBC for certain, the A’s pushed his first exhibition start back from Monday to Wednesday since there’s less urgency to have him ready for possible WBC duty. That had a ripple effect on Oakland’s rotation.

Minor league right-hander Daniel Gossett will now start Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. Kendall Graveman, originally set to pitch Sunday, goes Monday against the Giants, with Sean Manaea also taking the mound in that game as was planned. Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs remain in line to both pitch Tuesday.

It’s an unusual turn of events, but the upshot is that three of the five players from the A’s 40-man roster scheduled to participate in the WBC ultimately will not. Left fielder Khris Davis (Mexico) and reliever Liam Hendriks (Australia) voluntarily withdrew. Reliever John Axford is pitching for Canada and fellow reliever Santiago Casilla is still scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, though the longer Casilla remains out of camp while his visa process plays out in his home country, the more it would seem to possibly put his WBC status in jeopardy.

“At some point it may become an issue, but it’s not yet,” Forst said.