Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 9, Twins 4

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 9, Twins 4

BOX SCORE

The A's came out of the gate like a thoroughbred ridden by a maniacal jockey, leaving Twins starting pitcher Brian Duensing in the dust. He was knocked out after just two innings, allowing six runs on seven hits. With their second consecutive four-homer game the A's powered their way to a 9-4 win.The swinging A's have hit nine home runs over the course of this three-game sweep of the Twins. Oakland is now a season-high three games over .500 and a 12 a game behind Baltimore for the second American League Wild Card spot.At the PlateA's manager Bob Melvin is pulling all the right strings -- call him the puppet master. He started Gomes in the second spot in the lineup for the first time this season -- all Gomes did was go 3 for 4 with a two-run homer and three runs scored.Gomes launched one of the A's four homers on Sunday. The A's have so much pop lately that the late, great Orville Redenbacher would be jealous. They now have 92 home runs this season. They hit 114 all of last year.Yoenis Cespedes smashed an outside pitch to dead center for a solo homer in the second inning. Chris Carter upped the ante with a blast to right-center that hit the facing of the second deck. Cespedes and Carter's back-to-back blasts gave the A's a 6-2 lead. In addition to his homer, Carter drew three walks.Cespedes ended up going 4 for 5 with three RBI, his first career four-hit game. He looked unstoppable in this series. The Cuban-born slugger sprayed the ball all over the field, doing a particularly good job of hitting the ball to the opposite field. When he is healthy he is scary good.Seth Smith was moved down to the eighth spot in the lineup -- shocker, another Melvin move that worked. He clubbed his 10th homer of the season in the sixth inning. The A's now have five hitters on the team with double-digit home runs. (Reddick-20, Moss-11, Cespedes-11, Gomes-10, Smith-10.)After Smith's homer in the sixth, Cespedes hit an RBI-single. The A's eventually loaded the bases in that frame, scoring another run on a wild pitch with Brandon Inge batting, making the score 9-2.Inge came to the plate three different times with the bases loaded on Sunday. He went hitless in all three of those plate appearances, ending the day 0 for 5 with two strikeouts. He left eight men on base.Starting Pitching ReportJarrod Parker pitched on a full week's rest and had enough run support to be at ease on the mound. Even though it wasn't one of his best performances, the 23-year-old rookie got his sixth win. He allowed four runs on nine hits, but didn't walk any batters which is a great sign. Parker has all the makings of a frontline starting pitcher, but his one weakness is issuing walks. Bullpen ReportJerry Blevins pitched a clean seventh inning and came back out for the eighth. He got two more outs in that frame before being relieved by Evan Scribner, who got the last out of the inning. Scribner stayed in the game for the ninth inning and pitched a scoreless frame.In the FieldJarrod Parker got charged with an error when he fielded a comebacker and bounced a throw to shortstop Brandon Hicks, who could have turned a double play if the throw was better. When all was said and done it only ended up costing the A's one run.As rough of a day as Inge had at the plate, he made a sensational play to end the eighth inning. The third baseman dove to his right stealing a double off the bat of Trevor Plouffe, then fired to first for the out.Up NextThe A's head home and get the day off on Monday, before beginning a pivotal six-game stretch with two games against the Rangers and four against the Yankees.Oakland will be sending Bartolo Colon (6-7, 3.80 ERA) to the mound against the Rangers. It will be his third start since being reinstated from the disabled list. Colon is 18-6 with a 3.61 ERA in 28 career starts against the Rangers.Roy Oswalt (2-1, 6.26 ERA) will be on the mound for the Rangers. The veteran righty has made four starts this season after sitting out the first two and a half months of the season. He gave up nine runs on July 3 against the White Sox, but allowed just one run against the Twins over 5.2 innings in his last start. Former A'sBen Sheets got his first win since July 10, 2010 -- when he was with the A's. He threw six innings of shutout ball against the Mets. The veteran righty who has returned from "Tommy John" surgery allowed just two hits and struck out five hitters.Trevor Cahill went 5.1 innings for the Diamondbacks agains the Cubs. He allowed three runs on four hits. Cahill was part of the swap that sent Parker to the A's.

Triggs rebounds as A's halt 10-game losing streak to Astros

Triggs rebounds as A's halt 10-game losing streak to Astros

HOUSTON — Andrew Triggs keeps checking off all the right boxes in his first season as a major league starting pitcher.

Coming into the year, manager Bob Melvin said the right-hander’s biggest challenge would be retiring lefty hitters. He’s done that splendidly.

On Saturday, the A’s needed to see if Triggs could bounce back after his first rough outing of 2017. He responded with the best of his 11 career starts, holding a potent Astros lineup off the scoreboard for seven innings as the A’s registered a 2-1 victory that snapped their five-game losing streak.

The effective cutter that eluded Triggs when he lost to the Mariners last Sunday was back. Houston’s hitters waved helplessly at the pitch and began their walk back to the dugout all in the same motion, as Triggs rang up a career-high nine strikeouts. His seven innings also were a career high for the 28-year-old.

“We’re not really swinging the bats right now,” Melvin said. “We score two runs and we’re facing a lineup that you expect to score a bunch of runs. So to pitch as well as he did and go through the lineup three times, give us seven innings of work, is pretty good.

“He had the one off-outing, and every outing (besides that) has been pretty spotless.”

Triggs, whose 1.84 ERA ranks seventh in the American League, doesn’t blow people away with his fastball. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot that suggests it might be easy for left-handed hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand. Last season, the batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage were all roughly 40 to 50 points higher for lefties than for righties off Triggs.

All he’s done coming out of the gate this season is hold lefties to an .087 batting average (4-for-46). Another revealing stat: Opposing cleanup hitters are 0-for-14 off him.

Triggs credited catchers Stephen Vogt, Josh Phegley and, when he’s been up with the big club, Bruce Maxwell for their expertise in calling pitches against lefties.

“They’ve done such a good job keeping the sequences unpredictable,” he said. “You command pitches, you’re gonna get guys out. I know the stereotype is when you throw from the angle that I do, you’re gonna struggle with lefties. I’ve been aware, at least of that profile, for a while. I’ve worked on it quite a bit.”

Triggs had his entire repertoire working Saturday, according to Vogt.

“He was keeping them off-balance. Even when it seemed they were starting to sit on his slider, he starts sneaking some heaters by them. He was outstanding.”

But he had help. First baseman Yonder Alonso made a terrific leaping grab of Josh Reddick’s liner in the fifth that might have gone for extra bases. An inning before that, Jaff Decker made an on-the-money throw to third from deep right field to nail Carlos Beltran tagging up on a fly ball.

“He’s got a good arm so don’t sleep on him at all,” Triggs said.

Given how their month has gone, it’s no surprise the A’s got both their runs on homers. They’ve gone deep 31 times in April, their most homers in the month since they clubbed 34 in 2006. Lowrie, who’s spent two stints with the Astros and owns an offseason home in Houston, went deep to right to give the A’s a 1-0 lead. Khris Davis mashed his 10th homer in the eighth for what wound up being an important insurance run when Jose Altuve followed with a homer off Sean Doolittle.

Davis’ teammates by now are accustomed to seeing the left fielder flaunt his opposite-field power. He’s hit three homers this series, all to straightaway right or right-center.

Said Lowrie: “I think at this point it’s fair to call it special.”

 

Instant Replay: A's use Davis homer vs Astros to snap five-game skid

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AP

Instant Replay: A's use Davis homer vs Astros to snap five-game skid

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON – The clean game that manager Bob Melvin had been seeking from his team finally came Saturday night.

Andrew Triggs was excellent in rebounding from his rough previous start, and home runs from Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis powered the A’s 2-1 victory over the Astros. That snapped Oakland’s five-game losing streak, along with a 10-game losing streak against Houston.

A night after committing three errors, the A’s played mistake-free defense and got a couple of highlight-reel plays in support of Triggs (4-1), who blanked the Astros over a career-high seven innings and set a new career high with nine strikeouts.

Lowrie, facing the team with which he’s spent two separate stints, launched a homer off the facing of the second deck in right field in the fourth to break a scoreless tie. Davis padded the lead in the eighth with his signature opposite-field prowess, clearing the wall in right for his third homer of the series and 10th of the season, tying the Yankees’ Aaron Judge for the American League lead.

But it all started with Triggs, who won his first three starts but gave up six runs against Seattle last weekend. He ate up seven innings and turned it over to his bullpen.

Jose Altuve homered off Sean Doolittle in the eighth to cut the A’s lead to 2-1, but Santiago Casilla closed it out in the ninth for his fourth save.

Starting pitching report

Triggs retired 10 in a row to finish his outing, but the key to the early part of his night was stranding runners. He wiggled out of a one-out jam with men on second and third in the first inning, striking out Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran. He stranded runners on first and second in the third, then got another big strikeout to end the fourth with a man on third. Before Saturday, Triggs hadn’t recorded an out in the seventh inning of a game he’d started in the majors.

Bullpen report

Casilla gave up Beltran’s infield single to lead off the ninth. But after a replay reversal negated an A’s double play, Casilla ended it by getting Brian McCann to hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

At the plate

Two big swings of the bat were all it took for the A’s to notch their first win in five games of this three-city road trip. Lowrie, who came in hitting .375 over his previous eight games, hit a towering shot to right off Joe Musgrove (1-2) for his second homer of the season. Then Davis did his thing, blasting a shot to the opposite field for his 10th homer of April. He had just nine homers in 83 career April games entering this season.

In the field

There was no shortage of highlight plays turned in defensively. Jaff Decker, starting in right field, made a perfect throw from near the warning track to nail Carlos Beltran trying to tag up on a fly ball in the fourth. The next inning, former Athletic Josh Reddick fired a strike to home to nail Chad Pinder trying to score from second on Lowrie’s single. But the A’s got Reddick right back when first baseman Yonder Alonso made a leaping grab on Reddick’s liner headed for right field.

Attendance

The announced crowd was 32,147.

Up next

The A’s face a tough task in Sunday’s series finale, going against lefty Dallas Keuchel (4-0, 1.22). He’s the first pitcher in Astros history to go seven-plus innings and allow two or fewer runs in each of his first five starts. Jesse Hahn (1-1, 2.08) takes the ball for Oakland. First pitch is 11:10 a.m.