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.

Pinder's potential 'coming to fruition' in chance with A's

Pinder's potential 'coming to fruition' in chance with A's

OAKLAND — With so much attention focused on who might be the next wave of A’s infielders coming up from the minors, Chad Pinder is making quite a statement in the present.

Pinder enjoyed another big day at the plate Sunday with a two-run homer and a double in the A’s 12-3 loss to Boston. That came on the heels of Saturday’s 460-foot home run that made him just the fifth player to reach the second deck just above the Coliseum’s first level of luxury suites.

For fans around the country who might have seen that mammoth blast on highlight shows, it likely was their first introduction to the 25-year-old Virginia native. However, those within the organization witnessed Pinder’s steady rise through the farm system since he was drafted as a sandwich pick between the second and third rounds of the 2013 draft out of Virginia Tech.

“I don’t think it’s a shock what he’s doing,” said A’s designated hitter Ryon Healy, who was part of that same draft class. “I think he’s always been that caliber of player. He’s always had that potential and it’s coming to fruition right now and it’s really fun to watch.”

Pinder, who made his big league debut in September but began this season with Triple-A Nashville, is hitting .286 over 21 games with Oakland. He’s homered in four of his past eight, and he provided a boost over the weekend as the A’s took three of four from the Red Sox.

The right-handed hitting Pinder was in the lineup all four games — with the Red Sox starting lefties on the mound for the final three contests, the A’s stacked their lineup with righties, giving Pinder a stretch of consistent playing time.

He’s provided enough of a spark that he warrants consideration to remain in the lineup even though the A’s are scheduled to face right-handers during their two-game series with the Miami Marlins that begins Tuesday at the Coliseum.

Granted, it’s not the biggest sample size either way, but Pinder is actually hitting better against righties (.348, 8-for-23) than he is against lefties (.231, 6-for-26). Four of his five home runs also have come against right-handers.

Asked whether Pinder could draw more starts against right-handers, A’s manager Bob Melvin replied: “Potentially, yeah. You want to try to stay consistent with the lineups you have, but if you have a hot hand, you look for ways to get him in there.”

Working in Pinder’s advantage is the versatility he’s shown since being recalled from Nashville on April 16. The A’s always knew Pinder could handle second, shortstop or third as needed, but he’s also shown to be a capable option in right field with a strong arm for the outfield.

Pinder was the Texas League (Double-A) Player of the Year in 2015 and ranked No. 7 on Baseball America’s preseason list of A’s prospects. He’s making the most of his time in the majors.

On the minds of many Oakland fans is when a couple more infield prospects who are impressing at Triple-A — middle infielder Franklin Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman — might get their first crack in the bigs.

Barreto, ranked as the No. 25 overall prospect in the majors in Baseball America’s most recent ratings, is hitting .311 with six homers and is tied with Matt Olson for Nashville’s RBI lead at 27. Chapman, ranked the 95th overall prospect, missed two weeks earlier this season with a wrist injury but has shown signs of heating up offensively. He’s hitting just .237 but has eight homers and 15 RBI.

Two other Nashville players, who have both seen time with the A’s, are putting up noteworthy numbers: Olson, a first baseman/outfielder, is hitting .276 with 10 homers and 27 RBI, and corner infielder/outfielder Renato Nunez is tied for the Pacific Coast League lead with 12 homers to go with a .245 average and 25 RBI.

The A’s are working with Barreto and Chapman to hone their approach at the plate and control the strike zone. General manager David Forst maintains the A’s will be patient with both, noting that Pinder benefited last year from a full season at Triple-A before his promotion.

“The calendar needs to turn over,” Forst said. “They need at-bats. Matt missed a couple weeks with the injury, but they just need more days and more at-bats. We don’t have an ‘X’ on the calendar anywhere where this is the day. We’ll know when it’s time.”

Axford makes his 2017 debut; Doolittle takes step forward to return

Axford makes his 2017 debut; Doolittle takes step forward to return

OAKLAND — The A’s officially welcomed John Axford back into their bullpen fold Sunday, and they got some encouraging news about another reliever.

Sean Doolittle was expected to only throw a flat-ground session before the series finale against Boston, but he wound up throwing 15 pitches off the mound as well. That’s the first time Doolittle has thrown from the mound since joining the disabled list May 3 with a strained left shoulder. Next up is a 25-pitch session off the mound Wednesday.

The early indications are that Doolittle’s current shoulder woes aren’t as severe as the ailments that sidelined him for major portions of the past two seasons.

Axford was reinstated from the 10-day DL Saturday for his own shoulder strain, but his season debut came Sunday, when he handled the eighth inning and allowed one run. He was sidelined during the season-opening series against the Angels when he hurt his shoulder while warming up in the bullpen.

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All indications are that first baseman Yonder Alonso will be available to return to the lineup Tuesday for the opener of a two-game interleague series against the Miami Marlins. A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Sunday’s game that he considered Alonso as potentially being available off the bench. Given the A’s are off Monday, it’s reasonable to assume Alonso will be ready Tuesday when the Marlins start right-hander Jose Urena on the mound.

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The A’s are plenty familiar with Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from his days with division rival Texas. But Moreland continues to do damage against Oakland even though he’s out of the AL West. Moreland’s two-run homer in the sixth off Andrew Triggs marked his third homer of the four-game series, and his 19th homer in 80 career games against the A’s. That’s his most homers against any major league club.

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The run Axford allowed in the eighth snapped a streak of 27 scoreless innings at home by the A’s bullpen. Josh Smith allowed five runs in the ninth.