Pratt's Instant Replay: We'll see you Thursday night

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Pratt's Instant Replay: We'll see you Thursday night

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- The A's were down to their final three outs. They were down two runs. They were even down two games to none this series. It is all evened up now. The Oakland Athletics live to fight another day after a 4-3 walk-off win.The A's were on life support. Down 3-1 entering the ninth inning the Tigers sent their closer Jose Valderde to the mound. Josh Reddick hit a leadoff single. Josh Donaldson just missed a game-tying home run. Seth Smith drove them both home with a game-tying double, and Coco Crisp smacked the game-winning single to right field. Their season seamed to be on the brink. They reanimated like Bernie and partied with pie. It was their 15th walk-off win this season. Their seventh in postseason history.At the PlateThe A's hitters had very few answers for Max Scherzer. He struck out five of the first eight batters he faced, and retired a stretch of 12 consecutive hitters starting with two outs in the first and ending with two outs in the fifth when Seth Smith worked a walk.Following Smith's walk, Derek Norris hit a bloop single to put runners on the corners with two outs. Cliff Pennington stepped to the plate with a chance to put the A's on the board but he struck out looking.Even the A's spark-plug Coco Crisp led off the sixth inning by hitting a hard ground ball to first base that Prince Fielder couldn't handle. As the ball bounced off his glove and rolled into foul territory Crisp used his speed to get to second base. Crisp's 10-pitch plate appearance worked Scherzer up to 85 pitches.
On Scherzer's 90th pitch the ball got away from catcher Alex Avila and Crisp moved up to third. One pitch after Crisp reached third, Stephen Drew stroked an RBI double into the right-center gap. The A's got greedy though and tried to send Drew to third and he was thrown out.Running into an out at third with no outs and the best hitter on the team in the on-deck circle is a crippling mistake. A's third base coach Mike Gallego clearly thought Drew could make it but he was out by several steps. The A's ended up with an out instead of having the tying runner in scoring position.The A's put together a two-out rally in the eighth inning that started with a Drew single. Cespedes was pitched carefully by Tigers' relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit and took a walk. Trailing 3-1, Brandon Moss stepped to the plate with two outs and a chance to get the A's back in the game but struck out swinging. He practically swung out of his shoes on the first two pitches he saw.Starting Pitching ReportLast time A.J. Griffin faced the Detroit Tigers he allowed a career-high five runs and a career-high tying eight hits. It was important for him to get out to a good start in order to keep the raucous crowd in the game. Griffin did so by retiring the first five batters he faced. In the second inning with two outs he allowed a soft bloop hit to Andy Dirks that was stretched to a double, but Griffin got Jhonny Peralta to fly out to right to end the inning.Griffin retired six of the first seven batters he faced -- five of them on fly balls. He got into trouble when he gave up a leadoff double to Alex Avila to start the third inning. Griffin was looking for a called third strike from home plate umpire Wally Cooper but didn't get it. Then Avila smacked a ball down the right field line. Omar Infante then sacrificed Avila to third. With one out and Avila on third the A's drew in the infield but Jackson singled to left field to score the Tigers' first run. For the first time in the series Detroit scored first.Prince Fielder led off the fourth inning by launching a ball into the right field bleachers. It wasn't slowing down as it crashed into the stands. Fielders blast put the Tigers up 2-0. It was only his second hit of this series. Griffin allowed back-to-back singles after Fielder's blast. He responded by getting Peralta to ground into a a huge double play and getting Avila to fly out to end the inning with a runner on third.Griffin appeared to be on the ropes in the previous inning but came back out for the fifth. He responded by tossing his second three up, three down inning. He allowed a bloop single to Cabrera to start the sixth inning and was pulled from the game. All things considered, Griffin's end result wasn't too bad. He allowed two runs over five-plus innings on 85 pitches. He gave up seven hits and one walk.Bullpen ReportJerry Blevins entered in relief in the sixth inning. He got a quick three outs after getting Fielder to ground into a double play. He finished the inning by getting Delmon Young to ground out to short. He stayed in the game for the seventh inning and got three straight groundouts. Blevins faced five batters, got five groundouts, and threw 11 pitches.Sean Doolittle entered in the eighth inning. He allowed a leadoff single to Infante that evaded the glove of a diving Drew. Jackson bunted Infante over to second and Tigers' manager Jim Leyland called on Avisail Garcia to pinch hit. He stroked a single to right field that gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead. The single was a major punch in the gut for the A's fans in attendance. Doolittle allowed a single to Young and was relieved by Ryan Cook who quickly got a ground ball to end the inning.Cook tossed a scoreless ninth inning as well.In the FieldDown 2-0 in the fourth inning with runners on first and second and no outs the A's turned a critical double play. Pennington came up with the ball and tossed to Drew who threw to first. Moss had to pick the ball clean to complete the double play.Josh Donaldson made the best play of his career in the seventh inning. He dove toward foul territory to snag a hard-hit ball by Peralta, then from his knees threw across the diamond for the out. When Donaldson made the throw he was about two feet in foul territory. That's a tough throw to make when standing on your feet. AttendanceThe A's announced a sell-out attendance of 36,385.Dot RaceGreen wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's and Tigers play in a win-or-go-home fifth game. Jarrod Parker will be opposed by Justin Verlander.

A's spring training Day 10: Canha doubles off Gray in intrasquad game

A's spring training Day 10: Canha doubles off Gray in intrasquad game

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s had four lineups sketched out for two intrasquad games taking place simultaneously Thursday.

You couldn’t help but notice that one of the lineups in particular was packed with Oakland’s regulars, and there were plenty of highlights delivered by notable names during the two-inning game at the A’s minor league facility.

Sonny Gray gave up a run on Mark Canha’s RBI double to right-center in his inning of work but also struck out Ryon Healy with a good breaking ball. Gray’s stuff earned solid reviews from manager Bob Melvin.

Overall, Melvin was pleasantly surprised with some of the hard contact generated by his hitters, who had seen just two days of live batting practice prior to Thursday.

“Canha hits a pitch down that’s moving all over the place to right-center,” Melvin said.

In the same game, Rajai Davis hit a leadoff triple to center off Kendall Graveman and came home on Stephen Vogt’s single. Graveman got Matt Joyce looking on a fastball but gave up some hard contact in a brief 15-pitch outing. He’ll start Sunday’s game against the Angels, so Thursday’s outing acted like a between-start bullpen session.

In the other game, Sean Manaea got his three outs so quickly that they had to extend the inning a bit for him to get his work in. That game was highlighted by a long home run from infield prospect Yairo Munoz off Daniel Coulombe.

Melvin said bench coach Mark Kotsay handled duties of sketching out the rosters for the two intrasquad games, and while it will be interesting to see how Melvin writes out the lineup for Saturday’s exhibition opener against the Chicago Cubs, keep in mind that the early Cactus League games will only feature a handful of regulars in each of them.

PROSPECT WATCH: Shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s top-rated prospect, will also see some time at second base this spring but not in the outfield, Melvin said. Barreto has played some center field in winter ball, but general manager David Forst, during an offseason interview with CSN California, said the team envisions Barreto as an infielder. The A’s have Marcus Semien entrenched at shortstop right now, and there’s been some feeling among scouts that Barreto — whose bat is his biggest strength — is better suited for second base long-term anyway. Another highly touted prospect, Richie Martin, is a possible shortstop of the future as well.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s have expressed optimism that reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive in camp shortly after being delayed by the visa process in the Dominican Republic. But Casilla remains day-to-day, with Melvin not giving a timetable for his arrival.

“We were going to slow-play him this spring anyway. He’ll throw some bullpens and probably throw to some hitters before we get him in a game,” Melvin said. “At this point in time I’m still not that concerned. I’ll start to be a little bit if we get into games (and he’s not in camp), but I still think we’re on a good schedule with him.”

ODDS AND ENDS: Oscar-nominated actor Mahershala Ali, an Oakland native who threw out the first pitch at an A’s game last season, arranged for a screening of his movie “Moonlight” on Thursday night for A’s players at a Scottsdale theatre. Ali is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie, which is also up for Best Picture.

“It’s nice of him to think of that and want to set that up,” reliever John Axford said. “I’ve already seen it and I’ll be there again.”

Axford, a movie fanatic and Film & Television major in college, has created a social media buzz in recent years by doing incredibly well predicting the Oscar winners. He has yet to reveal all of his picks for Sunday’s show, but he gives rave reviews to “Moonlight.”

Patience is A's motto with touted 3B prospect Matt Chapman

Patience is A's motto with touted 3B prospect Matt Chapman

MESA, Ariz. — When the A’s finally sent Matt Chapman to the minors at the end of spring training last year, it seemed his return ticket to Oakland wouldn’t be far off.

So good was the young third baseman during his first big league spring camp, it was easy to assume he’d arrive in the majors shortly. But Chapman, the No. 3 prospect in the A’s system, found the road bumpy during a full campaign with Double-A Midland, even as he put together a season that landed him Texas League Player of the Year honors.

Chapman is back for his second spring with the A’s, a year wiser having discovered what it takes to navigate the peaks and valleys of a full professional season.

“I learned that no matter how high or how low you get, it’s important to maintain an even keel,” said Chapman, who only played 80 games in 2015 due to a wrist injury. “You can have a bad week or a bad couple weeks, and it doesn’t ruin your season.”

The A’s believe they have a potential star on their hands, a Gold Glove-caliber defender who can hit for power and eventually become a fixture at the hot corner. Yet their signing of veteran third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the winter shows that they also believe Chapman, 23, still has developing to do.

The power numbers were marvelous last year, as Chapman hit the third-most homers in the minors (36) to go with 96 RBI. But he also struck out 173 times in 135 games, dealing with some timing issues that had him swinging through a ton of pitches.

A’s player development officials rave about Chapman’s work ethic and desire to excel. But his manager at Midland, Ryan Christenson, also said Chapman’s electrifying spring performance last year (he led the A’s with six homers) may have worked against him early on when he arrived at Double-A. The A’s took Chapman north with them for the Bay Bridge Series just before Opening Day, giving him a chance to take the field at the Coliseum and AT&T Park.

“You talked to him, and he thought he was gonna go right to Midland and dominate the league and be in the big leagues by July,” Christenson said. “For sure, he thought that. But that didn’t happen, and he struggled and got his butt handed to him. And he understood there was still some work to be done at that level.”

But Christenson liked how Chapman dealt with the adversity, and he was all the more impressed with Chapman’s final stats given that his season wasn’t marked by numerous hot streaks.

“If you watched him it wasn’t a consistent, successful season to the eye,” Christenson said. “Now, the numbers at the end just shows you what kind of special talent he is.”

Chapman, who played 18 games with Triple-A Nashville in a late-season promotion, will be reunited with Christenson this season as Christenson takes over as Nashville’s manager. The A’s brass will be watching closely, though the comments from A’s GM David Forst all offseason stressed a theme of patience with not only Chapman but the team’s other top position-player prospect, middle infielder Franklin Barreto.

“We’re making sure guys are ready when they get here,” Forst said. “Matt has fewer than 100 at-bats at Triple-A. I don’t know what his timeframe is as far as getting to the big leagues, but it’s clear from a development standpoint he still needs some time at Triple-A.”

Christenson said any struggles Chapman had offensively in 2016 never carried over into his play at third base. And Christenson attests to the defensive talent the A’s saw when they drafted Chapman in the first round in 2014 out of Cal State Fullerton.

“One of the best I’ve ever seen,” Christenson said. “He’s lateral, he can go back on a pop-up and make a play. He’s very adept at coming in to barehand the slow roller. You put him over at shortstop in the shift and he can make the play, and the arm is about as good as you’re ever gonna see at third base.”