Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 9, White Sox 7

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 9, White Sox 7

BOX SCORE

The A's decided to shake up their starting rotation and bullpen on Saturday. Their plan worked as they defeated the White Sox 9-7 in Chicago. Two Australian-born pitchers filled in to start and close the game. Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless inning of relief in place of Ryan Cook to earn his eighth save, and Travis Blackley started the game in place of Tommy Milone.At the PlateFrancisco Liriano struck out 15 batters in his last start versus Oakland on July 13. On Saturday he was at it again, striking out the A's first four hitters. Chris Carter came to the plate and knocked him off his rhythm with a double.In the third inning, the A's loaded the bases with two outs. Carter again stung Liriano with a two-out, two-run single to tie the game at two apiece. Derek Norris smashed a two-run ground rule double down the left field line to put the A's up 4-2. Then Adam Rosales added an RBI single to left field, giving the A's their fifth run of the inning. Oakland batted around in the frame with Jemile Weeks flying out to center field to start and end the inning.Coco Crisp led off the fourth inning with a double. He turned on the jets and came around to score from second after getting a great read on a bloop single by Josh Reddick. The A's took a 6-2 lead on Reddick's single and subsequently knocked Liriano out of the game.Liriano, who threw a no-hitter in 2011, was replaced by Philip Humber, who threw a perfect game in 2012. Humber walked Norris in the fifth inning. The A's catcher then stole second base, his fourth stolen base this season. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, but the A's couldn't drive him home.The A's got an unlucky break in the seventh inning when Cliff Pennington smacked a pinch hit double that got stuck under the padding at the top of the fence. As a result of the ground rule double, Brandon Inge, who would have easily scored from first, got held up at third. Weeks struck out to end the inning, and the A's missed a chance to take the lead.In the next inning, the baseball gods repaid the A's for their misfortunes. Jonny Gomes clubbed a solo homer to left field, tying the game at seven. Yoenis Cespedes and Carter reached on back-to-back singles, then Inge hit a ball down the right field line that landed just fair, giving the A's an 8-7 lead.The A's added an insurance run in the ninth inning after Crisp doubled and Gomes drove him home with a single. The run was huge for Oakland as they just demoted their closer before the game.Starting Pitching ReportTravis Blackley made a spot start for the A's allowing the team to skip Tommy Milone's start and get Jarrod Parker extra rest. Blackley pitched five innings and allowed five runs. He gave up six hits, struck out six batters, and walked one.Blackley got in trouble in the second inning. After back-to-back hits put runners on second and third with no outs, he allowed a run to score on an RBI ground out. Then Tyler Flowers hit a double, driving in the first of three RBIs on the evening.Flowers also smacked an RBI single in the fourth inning that preceded a very close play at the plate. In the fifth inning, Kevin Youklis muscled a low fastball over the wall in center field for a two-run homer. The pitch Youklis took deep didn't look like a mistake on Blackley's part. The White Sox slugger's homer might have been aided by the famous Chicago wind.Bullpen ReportJordan Norberto entered in relief of Blackley and surrendered the lead on a Flowers home run. It was the White Sox's sixth homer of the series. The lefty reliever pitched one and one-third innings.The A's freshly demoted closer Ryan Cook entered the game in relief of Norberto with a runner on and one out. He allowed back-to-back singles, the second hit being an A.J. Pierzynski RBI that gave the White Sox a 7-6 lead. Cook was able to induce an inning-ending double play after yielding the lead. Cook remained in the game for the eighth inning. He left with two outs and a runner on base. He pitched one and one-third innings, hit a batter and struck out one. The run he allowed was charged to Norberto. Jerry Blevins got the final out of the eighth inning.Grant Balfour entered the game as the A's closer with a two-run lead. He hadn't earned a save since May 5. The Australian-born righty started the inning by hitting Youklis in the hand. He then got Adam Dunn to fly out to left. He struck out Alex Rios, and got Pierzynski to pop out to shortstop to end the inning.It was Balfour's eighth save of the season. Ironically, Cook got the win.In the FieldReddick made a strong throw home on a single hit by Flowers, and had Dayan Viciedo nailed at home plate. But Viciedo avoided Norris' tag as he slid home safely. Norris went for a swipe tag and Viciedo executed a perfect hook slide reaching in to tap the plate with his left hand before the catcher's glove touched him on the forearm.Inge made a diving stop in the seventh inning on a ball hit by Alex Rios. Inge landed then held his arm frozen in a strange manner without trying to make a throw. After some examination from the A's athletic trainer and manager Bob Melvin, he remained in the game and ended up with a big hit. After the game, Inge told A's radio announcer Vince Cotroneo that his shoulder popped out of the socket on the play. Inge somehow managed to pop his shoulder back in and finish the game.Up NextBartolo Colon (9-8, 3.38) will face another one of his former teams on Sunday. Colon, 39, hasn't allowed an earned run since July 22. The veteran had his 22 13 scoreless innings streak snapped in his previous start on an unearned run.He will be opposed by left-handed pitcher Chris Sale (13-3, 2.59 ERA). Sale pitched eight innings of two run ball against the A's on April 25.

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

MESA, Ariz. — Something flipped a switch inside Sean Manaea in the third inning Saturday, and the A’s left-hander pitched with the aggressiveness he’s shown most of spring training.

It was a different story before that, as Manaea issued five walks, two of them forcing in runs, against the Cincinnati Reds. His final Cactus League outing ended after just three innings, his pitch count at more than 70, and he was charged with five earned runs.

“I was trying to nibble at the corners too much,” Manaea said. “The third inning I finally just said, ‘Throw it right down the middle and let them hit it.’”

The plan was to get Manaea close to 90 pitches, so he went to the bullpen and threw 10 more after he was pulled from the game. He entered the day with a 2.81 ERA in his first five outings, walking just one in each of those games.

He downplayed his struggles Saturday in Oakland’s 11-6 split-squad defeat at Hohokam Stadium, and manager Bob Melvin wasn’t expressing major concern either.

“He was just out of sync,” Melvin said. “Typically you don’t see him walk guys like that, let alone multiple guys in a row. It was just a tough day for him. We wanted to try to get him close to 90 pitches. But when you’re throwing that many pitches in three innings, I just couldn’t risk sending him back out there.”

Manaea was stressing the positives of his camp afterward. As he preps for one final tune-up start at AT&T Park against the Giants in the Bay Bridge Series, he particularly likes the way his slider has rounded into form.

“Just being able to have that confidence to throw it for a strike and get weak ground balls and swings and misses, it’s huge,” he said.

CAMP BATTLE: The A’s lost their other split-squad matchup by an identical 11-6 score to the Dodgers in Glendale. Jesse Hahn took the hill and struggled for the second consecutive outing, allowing two homers — including a grand slam by Andrew Toles — and surrendering seven runs (five earned) over 3 1/3 innings. Competing for one of two open rotation spots, Hahn hasn’t shown his best in the Cactus League stretch run. He gave up seven runs against Colorado in his previous start.

ODDS AND ENDS: Third baseman Trevor Plouffe had two more hits against the Reds to raise his average to .425 but left the game after tweaking an abductor muscle in his lower body. “He felt like he’s OK. We just didn’t wanna risk that,” Melvin said. … Rajai Davis connected for his first spring home run and scored three runs. … Sean Doolittle gave up two runs in his inning of work but struck out three. He sported his new eyeglasses for the first time in a major league game. … Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer off former Athletic Rich Hill in the game at Glendale.