Pratt's Instant Replay: Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1 (11)

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1 (11)

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OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen appeared to achieve the improbable. After losing starting pitcher A.J. Griffin to right shoulder pain in the second inning, the A's 'pen pitched six and one-third scoreless innings to keep the team in the lead. This after the 'pen combined for nine scoreless in a 15-inning marathon on Friday night. Then Ryan Cook allowed a game-tying home run in the ninth. As the great Yogi Berra once said, it was deja vu all over again. The A's entered Saturday 9-2 in extra innings games. They couldn't pull it off this time. The Toronto Blue Jays scored two runs in the 11th to take the game 3-1. At the PlateDerek Norris doubled home the A's first run. It was a two-out hit that he smacked over the right fielder's head. As the ball made its way to the wall, Brandon Inge rounded third and scored easily. The A's loaded the bases in the fifth inning with two outs. That sent Michael Taylor to the plate. Taylor was acquired by the A's in exchange for Brett Wallace in a prospect swap with the Blue Jays. Taylor wasn't able to make the Jays pay for trading him, however. He ended up striking out on a check swing. Taylor battled Steve Delabar in an 11-pitch at-bat in the eighth. Delabar won the battle by striking out Taylor looking on a 95-mph fastball. Starting Pitching ReportStarting pitcher A.J. Griffin left the game after just 32 pitches with what the team is calling tightness in his right shoulder.
NEWS: Griffin forced to leave
He was pulled in the second inning with two outs. Griffin had a 1-1 count on Moises Sierra when athletic trainer Nick Paparesta and Bob Melvin visited him on the mound and removed him from the game.Griffin seemed to be fine prior to the game. He was playing music in the clubhouse and was his typically upbeat self.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. That streak is over. If Griffin has to go on the DL, expect Brandon McCarthy to take his spot in the rotation. McCarthy is pitching a second rehab game in Triple-A for the Sacramento River Cats Saturday night. He would be on turn to fill in for Griffin. Coincidentally, Griffin came up when McCarthy went on the DL.Bullpen ReportAfter a 15-inning game the night before, the last thing the A's needed was for their starting pitcher to get injured. Jordan Norberto did a spectacular job filling the void out of the bullpen. He pitched a career-high three and two-thirds innings on 64 pitches -- without allowing a run. The lefty reliever allowed four hits, struck out four and didn't walk a single batter. Previously, Norberto's longest outing was a two and one-third inning outing against the Yankees. Pat Neshek entered in relief of Norberto and retired the final two batters in the sixth inning. He threw a scoreless seventh inning as well. Neshek looks like a sneaky-good pickup for the A's. He has a deceptive delivery from the right side. Over one and two-thirds innings, he didn't allow a hit. He walked one batter and struck out one. Grant Balfour was the next stop on the bullpen express. He tossed a perfect eighth inning. Ryan Cook entered the game with a one-run lead in the ninth, pitching in his third game in a row. Cook's numbers when pitching on consecutive days are not good. Entering Saturday he had allowed 11 runs in eight innings. The second batter he faced David Cooper clubbed a game-tying solo homer to right field. Cook has now blown four saves in his last six appearances. His seven blown saves are the most in the American League. It might be time for the A's to look elsewhere in the ninth. Jerry Blevins pitched a scoreless 10th inning. He put two runners on base but struck out two batters to end the inning unscathed. In the 11th he put two on again. This time they both scored. The A's had a chance to end the inning with a double play. Jeff Mathis struck out swinging with both runners in motion. Kottaras threw the ball to Inge who couldn't catch it to make the tag. It looked like the throw would have beat the runner but it got by Inge, giving the Jays a 2-1 lead. Moises Sierra followed with a double giving the Jays a 3-1 lead. In the FieldWhen track and field starts in the Olympics, the A's should compete as a relay team. Instead of the baton, the A's passed the ball seamlessly. They combined for a fantastic relay on a double off the wall in center field. Josh Reddick played the ball off the wall and fired it to Adam Rosales, who chucked it home beating Sierra by a good five feet. Catcher George Kottaras caught the ball and absorbed some contact from Sierra but stayed on his feet and held on for the out. The A's ended the 11th inning with a second play at the plate. Anthony Gose hit an infield single but again Sierra was thrown out at home. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 17,121. Up NextTommy Milone (9-8, 3.68) takes the mound for the A's. The last time he faced the Jays he allowed five earned runs over seven innings and took the loss.The Jays will be sending Aaron Laffey (2-2, 4.20 ERA) to the mound. Laffey gave up seven runs on nine hits against the Mariners in his last start. He allowed four runs on July 26 against the A's in Toronto.

Kaval: A's considering future move into Raiders' locker room

Kaval: A's considering future move into Raiders' locker room

OAKLAND — The Raiders are likely to play at the Coliseum for the next two seasons at least, but the A’s are daydreaming about the time they can finally call the venue their own.

One idea they’re considering is moving their home clubhouse into the space that currently serves as the Raiders locker room, which would more than double the current space they have.

Beyond that, imagine the possibility of the A’s current clubhouse being transformed into a “club” type area for fans to schmooze and enjoy some beverages. Team president Dave Kaval says both ideas are on the table for after the Raiders move to Las Vegas, which they’re planning to do for the 2020 NFL season.

The No. 1 long-term goal for the A’s, obviously, is to find a location in Oakland and build a new baseball-only stadium. The homework continues on that front, with Kaval maintaining the promise for that announcement to come sometime in 2017.

The Raiders have lease options to play at the Coliseum for each of the next two football seasons, with their plans for 2019 uncertain as their Vegas stadium is built.

Regardless, there will be a gap from the time the Raiders execute their move and the time the A’s are ready to move into their potential new digs. They apparently plan to make the most of that time at the Coliseum, which is the only two-sport complex remaining in major North American professional sports.

Kaval addressed the idea of shifting the home clubhouse into the Raiders’ locker room space.

“Well, it’s considerably bigger than our current locker room, and so we could have a more player-friendly area, more lounge space, be more spread out,” he said as the A’s wrapped up a 10-game homestand Sunday. “Even space for training facilities we don’t have now. And so it just provides a lot more flexibility, and a better draw for players if they want to play here in Oakland.”

That last statement shouldn’t be overlooked. As much as current Athletics would appreciate any upgrades to their day-to-day situation at the Coliseum, the improvements might also help a bit when it comes to attracting prospective free agents, who could be sold the idea of better conditions at the Coliseum and the promise of a brand new ballpark to come.

The A’s try to make use of every inch of space available in the current Coliseum set-up, but it’s an antiquated situation to say the least. Players sprawled out on the floor doing stretching exercises outside the A’s weight room often have to deal with reporters stepping around them as they get off the media elevator.

“I think it could be huge,” catcher Stephen Vogt said of possibly shifting the clubhouse to the Raiders’ locker room. “There’s triple the size of what we have. It’s kind of funny to think that we have the smaller locker room but they’re here for (only) 10 days a year basically. That’s just the way it is. If they are truly leaving and they’re not gonna be here, we could really utilize that space.”

Added Kaval: “We do have space in here, but when it’s a multi-purpose stadium it’s always challenging. Everything we’ve had to do over the years has been temporary.”

One consideration regarding the Raiders’ locker room: It’s a farther walk to the entrance of the field, with an extra flight of stairs to climb. That’s something to consider because baseball players tend to make quick trips back to the clubhouse during a game more so than football players do to their locker room.

But Kaval said he’s already talked to A’s manager Bob Melvin about some of the logistical challenges, and he emphasized that any changes wouldn’t happen without positive feedback from the coaching staff and players.

One change the A’s already have implemented this season with players in mind: They’ve dedicated an expanded luxury suite area solely for players’ families during games and also expanded the nanny service they provide for players’ children during games.

As for the A’s ballpark search, Kaval says the four sites the A’s are considering are all “neck and neck” — the current Coliseum site, Howard Terminal, a site near Laney College and one at Brooklyn Basin, on the other side of Highway 880 from Laney.

“We continue to have meetings with all the key stakeholders,” Kaval said. “I think we’re really happy about the acceleration of those meetings. We’re starting to talk more business terms, starting to get into some of the final feasibility (decisions) so we can make that final announcement this year on a location.”

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

OAKLAND — Some 10-9 records are better than others, and so it is that the A’s can hit the road for a nine-game trip feeling pretty good about themselves.

Their just-completed homestand began with Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman leaving a game early and landing on the disabled list. That was coupled with news that shortstop Marcus Semien would be lost for two months or more with a fractured wrist.

The A’s responded to those developments with a five-game winning streak that was halted by Sunday’s 11-1 rout at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

The A’s went 5-4 on the homestand, holding their ground after a heavy dose of injury misfortune, and now the outlook changes just a bit. The focus shifts from the players joining the D.L. to those that could soon return to provide a boost.

Graveman, who has a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to throw off the mound Monday. If that goes well, expect him to be activated sometime in the early portion of the upcoming trip. Sonny Gray, who has been out since injuring a side muscle early in Cactus League games, is set to throw Thursday for Triple-A Nashville after an encouraging rehab outing Saturday for Single-A Stockton.

If Gray comes out of Thursday’s start well, look for the 2015 All-Star to join the active roster and pitch sometime against Minnesota in the final series of this road trip. Nothing can be taken for granted until both pitchers actually return healthy, but it’s a promising scenario to possibly add two starters of their caliber as April turns to May.

“I think any time you look up and you’re over .500 and you’ve had a great homestand and you’re missing your best two pitchers, that’s something to be pleased about,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Getting Kendall back is huge. And Sonny obviously did great last night, and felt great, which is more important than the results.

“We’re excited to get those two guys back but in the meantime, we’re gonna continue to keep playing the way we are because we’re playing really good baseball and we’ll just keep things rolling.”

It was clear early on Sunday that a five-game winning streak wouldn’t reach six. The Mariners led 2-0 in the third when Andrew Triggs missed location on a 1-0 sinker and Taylor Motter launched a grand slam over the wall in left-center.

Triggs, who excelled at missing the fat part of bats over his first three starts, didn’t have the feel for his cutter Sunday. When he fell behind to Motter, the cutter is normally a pitch he would have gone to had it been working for him.

“I wasn’t commanding well,” he said. “I didn’t wanna go 1-0 to 2-0. I felt better going with the sinker. I got it down, but missed location in and out. In a perfect world, the cutter would have been great to get a groundout.”

But to this point, the A’s rotation has held firm without Gray and with the short-term absence of Graveman. Perhaps the biggest test moving forward is whether an offense that is tied for the American League lead in extra-base hits can continue to produce consistently with Semien’s absence, particularly without anyone having established themselves as the regular leadoff man.

A’s manager Bob Melvin likes what he’s seen from his team in light of the injuries.

“Every game we go out there there’s an expectation to win,” Melvin said, “and when you win multiple games in a row, you get that feeling and it’s a little more significant. So hopefully we can carry that on to the road trip. As a group, we’ve been able to manage these injuries here recently, and once we start getting guys back it’s gonna be a good thing for us.”