Pratt's Instant Replay: A's drop Game 1 in Detroit

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Pratt's Instant Replay: A's drop Game 1 in Detroit

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DETROIT -- The Oakland Athletics knew they had a tough task at hand while facing reigning American League MVP and Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander. He didn't disappoint. He struck out 11 A's batters, and allowed just three hits while hand delivering the Detroit Tigers a 3-1 victory in Game One of the American League Division Series.Arguably more impressive however was the performance of A's reliever Pat Neshek, who retired two batters just two days after his newborn son passed away.Starting Pitching ReportJarrod Parker looked poised out of the gate. He kept his pitch count low and worked his way out of a tough first inning situation. Austin Jackson hit a leadoff double that was bobbled by Cespedes in the outfield. With the infield drawn in to protect against the bunt, Berry ended up hitting a ball to third that Donaldson made a diving attempt on but couldn't come up with the ball. As the crown chanted M-V-P, Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate with runners on the corners. Parker got him to ground into a double play which pushed across a run but minimized the damage.Parker only threw seven pitches in the second inning, making short work of the Tigers. In the third inning he ran into a some trouble again. The Tigers ended up scoring a run after Omar Infante hit a one-out double and Parker misplayed a slow rolling ground ball hit toward first base. He chased down the ball and scooped it up but it fell out of his glove as he reached first.Parker's only other mistake was a solo home run he allowed to Alex Avila in the fifth inning. The rookie battled through a tough Tigers lineup, and still turned in a quality start. He ended the night with six and one-third innings pitched, allowing seven hits, one walk, and struck out five. All things considered he pitched pretty well. He was just out-dueled by Verlander.Bullpen ReportThe A's were wearing black patches on the right sleeve of their jerseys with the initials "GJN," in memory of Gherig John Neshek, who passed away unexpectedly just 23 hours after he was born on Wednesday. Playing with a heavy heart, Neshek entered the game in the seventh inning in relief of Parker. He got Omar Infante to ground into a force out and then struck out Jackson to end the inning. Neshek must have been pitching on raw emotion.After he finished the inning he touched the patch on his right sleeve with his glove and looked to the sky. He exhaled deeply as he jogged off the mound, a touching moment on the field.At the PlateThe A's started the American League Division Series in style. Coco Crisp connected on a 2-1 pitch for a leadoff home run. Crisp's shot was the second in Major League history to lead off a postseason series. Former A's outfielder Jonny Damon did it while playing for the Yankees in the 2007 ALDS at Cleveland. Crisp joins Bert Campaneris (1973), Rickey Henderson (1989), and Ray Durham (2002) as the only A's to hit a leadoff homer in a playoff game.The A's employed a strategy to work up Verlander's pitch count and it worked. In his previous start against Oakland he tossed 122 pitches over six innings. Oakland got him to throw 26 pitches in the first and got him up to 61 pitches through three, and 105 through six. Problem is, Verlander hit 101 on the radar gun in the sixth inning as he struck out the side. He hit 99 MPH on his 105th pitch, a called third strike on Josh Donaldson to end the inning.
The A's hitters seemed to be upset about home plate umpire Jim Reynolds' strike zone. He called several strikes that were outside of the strike zone on both the game telecast and MLB PITCHfx. Verlander struck out a string of five A's hitters in a row at one point.
Verlander exited the game after the seventh inning. It was a difficult day for A's hitters. Josh Donaldson just missed hitting a home run to the deepest part of the park in the second inning. In any other ballpark he would have gone yard, but in Detroit center field is 402 feet deep. After Verlander left the game, Brandon Moss just missed hitting a game-tying homer on a deep fly ball to right field that Andy Dirks caught with his back up against the wall.In the FieldReddick made a slick diving catch toward the foul line. As the ball was hit someone in the press box muttered "double" and then Reddick leaped head first and caught it. After he landed he laid propped up on his side and held the his glove up for the umpire to see. He looked like he was striking a pose.AttendanceThe Tigers announced a sell-out crowd of 43,323. They were all waving their white rally towels.Up NextRookie pitcher Tommy Milone takes the mound against Doug Fister in Game Two of the ALDS. Milone will be making his postseason debut. He is one of 12 rookies on the A's playoff roster. Milone and Parker finished the season tied with 13 wins, and a share of an Oakland rookie record. Milone is 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA in two starts against the Tigers.Fister is a Merced native. He said on Friday that he is a Giants fan, but did admit to going to several A's games with his father and friends. The right-handed pitcher is 5-4 with a 2.45 ERA in his career against the A's.

A's lineup: Healy moves into three spot, LaMarre gets first start

A's lineup: Healy moves into three spot, LaMarre gets first start

Bob Melvin has issued his lineup as the A's try to snap a five-game losing streak in Game 2 of a series against the Astros.

Oakland A's (10-13)

1. Jaff Decker (L) RF
2. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
3. Ryon Healy (R) DH
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
7. Stephen Vogt (L) C
8. Chad Pinder (R) SS
9. Ryan LaMarre (R) CF
Andrew Triggs -- RHP 


Houston Astros (15-8)

1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Josh Reddick (L) RF
3. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
4. Carlos Correa (R) SS
5. Carlos Beltran (S) LF
6. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
7. Brian McCann (L) C
8. Evan Gattis (R) DH
9. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
Joe Musgrove -- RHP

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

HOUSTON — Enduring a five-game losing streak is tough enough on its own.

Watching a former teammate play a part in prolonging the misery is worse.

Josh Reddick wasn’t the most dominant player on the field Friday for the Astros, but he picked his spots to make his presence felt, and that added a little salt to the wound for the A’s in a 9-4 defeat that was their fifth in a row. They’ve now lost 10 straight times to Houston.

Reddick was mad at himself after not making the play on Ryon Healy’s double in the sixth inning. He got another chance in the eighth and robbed his former roommate with a terrific catch as he slammed into the wall to end the inning. That stranded two runners and preserved what was a 7-4 lead at the time.

“Any time you’re playing against your former team you wanna do well against them. Beating them makes it a little bit sweeter,” Reddick said. “But when you can make a catch against a guy you became pretty good buddies with in a tight situation, it adds more to that.”

After Healy got his first big league call-up last July, and before the A’s traded Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, Reddick invited the rookie to move into his house as he cut his teeth in the bigs.

“I’m going to be giving Ryon a lot of crap, I guess you could say,” Reddick said afterward. “He gave me a little signal and finger wave and shook his head on the (double). I got him back and a little bit of payback.”

Reddick, who signed a four-year $52 million free agent deal with Houston in the offseason, was a pest to the A’s in more unconventional ways too. Twice he reached base on catcher’s interference calls when his bat hit the mitt of Stephen Vogt, another of Reddick’s closest friends on the A’s. It happened in the bottom of the first and contributed to the Astros’ three-run rally that tied the game off Jharel Cotton after the A’s had grabbed a 3-0 lead on Khris Davis’ three-run homer.

Vogt talked about both interference plays with mild disgust, more upset with the situation itself than Reddick personally.

“Typically I’m pretty far back behind the batter," Vogt said. “Reddick, I guess, has a pretty long swing when he’s trying to go the other way. … It’s just one of those freak things that obviously I’m not real thrilled about. It’s just frustrating. You don’t see it very often. It’s not really how you swing the bat typically, but he does a good job going the other way, and it’s on me. I’ve gotta make sure I’m far enough back and not reaching for the ball.”

As for Reddick’s important catch in the eighth, Vogt said:

“It’s hard to see him in a different uniform, and I know he loved it here as well. It’s hard to see him playing against us 19 times. To see him making catches like that, it’s not very much fun when he’s not wearing green.”

However, the A’s have more pressing issues than getting stung by old friends. They’ve struck out 57 times over the past five games, and with each day that passes, it’s increasingly clear how much they miss the speed and playmaking ability of center fielder Rajai Davis, as well as the offensive production of shortstop Marcus Semien. Both are on the disabled list, Davis for the short term with a strained hamstring and Semien likely for a couple of months due to wrist surgery.

Cotton wasn’t sharp, allowing a career-high 10 hits and failing to protect two early leads he was given. Those are the growing pains that will come for a rookie pitcher. What the A’s can’t afford are three-error nights like they had Friday and continuing to whiff at their current rate.

“When we went through our winning streak, we played real clean games, and now we’re a little shoddy,” manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s a psychological play that goes with that. When you’re not making plays and giving extra outs, it makes it tougher on pitchers and tougher mentally.”