A's preserve hand sanitizer, 'wip' out walk-off pie

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A's preserve hand sanitizer, 'wip' out walk-off pie

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- A running theme with the A's this season is the way a defensive play ignites the offense. In the ninth inning at the Oakland Coliseum, that is exactly what played out. With a runner on second base and two outs, pinch-hitter Jesus Montero hit a screaming liner that first baseman Brandon Moss made a full extension, run-saving, diving catch. The A's then stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and tied the game. Josh Reddick drew a walk and Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer to center field that made it a 4-4 game. With the Rangers and Angels huddled in their respective clubhouses waiting out a rain delay in Texas, all they could do is watch helplessly as the A's mounted a comeback of elephant-sized proportion. As the game entered the 10th inning, the Reddi-Wip was, well, ready.
OCTOBER QUEST: Angels-Rangers postponed
Instead of tasting the agony of defeat, Moss delivered a walk-off, three-run home run to defeat the Mariners 7-4, and tasted the sweet post game pie -- two of them to be exact -- hand delivered by Reddick and Brandon Inge."It's whipped cream," Moss said with the stuff still in his beard. "I ate a lot of it. Last time I didn't eat any but this time I ate a lot of it. My mouth was open." Moss' home run was his 21st of the season. It delivered the A's their 90th win, and their Major League Baseball-leading 14th walk-off victory. "There isn't much better a feeling than that," Moss said. "When you are playing a game as a little kid in the backyard that's kind of what you dream of doing. There isn't anything better you can do in the game." Donaldson isn't jealous that he didn't get to taste the pie. When he stepped to the plate with Reddick on base in the ninth inning he had one thing on his mind: Going deep. He took a huge hack at the first pitch he saw and missed. Since Mariners' closer Tom Wilhelmsen threw a fastball for the first pitch, Donaldson says he was expecting a breaking ball to come next and he got it. "I was really trying to hit a home run, I don't know how else to say it," Donaldson said. "It was great to try and tie the ballgame up but Moss was the hero of the game. He won it for us." The A's rallied for six runs in the final three innings but they were stumped by Mariners' starting pitcher Jason Vargas. He lasted seven innings and only gave up one run on five hits. That run came in a very unconventional way. With Yoenis Cespedes on first base, Moss hit a routine single to right field. Cespedes took off on contact and never stopped. As he approached third he ignored third base coach Mike Gallego's stop sign and kept an eye on right fielder Casper Wells who had just fielded the ball. Wells hesitated for a moment, thinking Cespedes would stop, but he didn't. The Cuban-born slugger went barreling for home and beat the throw there on a headfirst dive. "I don't know that he could have stopped him as fast as he was going at that point," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He got from first to home about as quick as you'll see." "He was flying," Moss added. "The way he went into home plate, he was flying."Believe it or not, that was the second weirdest play of the game. In the second inning the A's gave away the lead on a play in which they were charged two errors. With a runner on first base, Moss fielded a ball, tagged first, and tried to throw to second for the double play but missed and chucked the ball into the outfield. Cespedes got to the ball and tried to gun down the runner at third but instead tossed the ball into the A's dugout which allowed the run to score. It looked like a little league play. While most managers would be angry about a play like that, Melvin was relieved."It almost hit our Purell container in the dugout and that would have bothered me because I use that quite often," Melvin said jokingly. "That would have been really devastating if it knocked over the Purell container. We can take a run, we just don't want to lose that." A's starting pitcher Dan Straily's ERA was sanitized of that run, but he allowed three others. They both came as a result of the long ball. Straily lasted just four and one third innings, the shortest outing of his Oakland career. "I wasn't good," Straily said. "I left two mistakes up and that's kind of the story of my day games here at the Coliseum. I just need to continue making adjustments and keep working hard to fix that." Straily fell behind to 15 of the 20 batters he faced. He said afterward that he struggled with his command. He left the game with runners on the corners in the fifth inning and was picked up by another overtime effort of the bullpen. Pedro Figueroa entered the game in relief of Straily and struck out both batters he faced to end the inning. The bullpen ended up throwing five and two-thirds scoreless innings. If Straily has another start this year it will come in the postseason. He is on turn to start the Wild Card playoff game if that is where the A's end up. The magic number to clinch a spot in that game is now at three. Oakland is two and a half games behind Texas. They have three home games against the Rangers to end the season. The Rangers and Angels game got postponed on Saturday, so they will play a doubleheader on Sunday. Oakland could pop the champagne as soon as Sunday if Tampa Bay loses and the Rangers beat the Angels in both games of the doubleheader.

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

The A's optioned catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A Nashville Sunday, the club announced

Maxwell, 26, went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the A's 11-1 win over the Brewers Sunday. Both home runs were his lone of the spring. 

In 2016, Maxwell played in 26 games with the A's after his promotion from Triple-A. He hit .283 with one homer. 

The 2012 second-round draft pick is a career .266/.346/.370 hitter in the minors with 25 home runs. Maxwell is the A's No. 10 prospect by Baseball America. 

The A’s now have 37 players in big league camp.