A's recall two relievers; Cespedes returns to lineup

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A's recall two relievers; Cespedes returns to lineup

OAKLAND -- The A's haven't had a day off since July 23 and even that wasn't much of a day off since it was a travel day. Having played three extra inning games this week including two 15-inning marathon contests the team was forced to make some moves. The A's recalled relief pitchers Evan Scribner and Pedro Figueroa from Sacramento, they placed A.J. Griffin on the disabled list, and optioned Michael Taylor to Triple-A Sacramento. Griffin left Saturday's game in the second inning with right shoulder tightness. His MRI came back clean but the team wants to be cautious with him and not rush him back. Brandon McCarthy pitched on Saturday and struck out nine batters in six scoreless innings. He will throw one more bullpen and then take Griffin's spot in the rotation. A's manager Bob Melvin said the A's were forced to make a move for some fresh arms and outfielder Michael Taylor -- who was recalled Friday -- was the odd man out. Yoenis Cespedes was also deemed healthy enough to return to the lineup after spraining his right wrist so the A's weren't going to be short an extra outfielder. He is in the lineup batting fourth and serving as DH. The A's bullpen has pitched 18 and one-third innings in the past two games and they have played 68 innings this week. The additions of Scribner and Figueroa will protect the team's overworked bullpen. Melvin mentioned that A's closer Ryan Cook will not be available on Sunday. He blew his seventh save on Saturday which is an American League-worst mark. He has blown four saves in his last six appearances. Oakland Athletics (58-49) lineupCoco Crisp, CF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Josh Reddick, RF
Yoenis Cespedes, DH
Chris Carter, 1B
Brandon Inge, 3B
Derek Norris, C
Adam Rosales, SS
Jemile Weeks, 2B
Toronto Blue Jays (52-55) lineupRajai Davis, LF
Anthony Gose, CF
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Yunel Escobar, SS
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Jeff Mathis, C
Yan Gomes, 1B
Moises Sierra, RF
Adeiny Hechavarria, 3B

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.

A's denied sweep of Red Sox but still come away feeling good

A's denied sweep of Red Sox but still come away feeling good

OAKLAND — The A’s opted for the big-picture takeaway from their four-game series with the Boston Red Sox.

They won three of four from a team expected to be a major player for an American League postseason berth, though the weekend’s final chapter didn’t play out as planned.

Oakland surrendered 15 hits and committed three errors in a 12-3 drubbing by the Red Sox that prevented the A’s first four-game home sweep of Boston in 85 years.

If anything, Sunday’s rout proved how an aggressive base running team like Boston can exploit the A’s weaknesses when they play their ‘Mr. Hyde’ version of defense. The Sox stole four bases and gladly took an extra 90 feet whenever the opportunity presented itself.

The first three games of this series featured some nice defensive moments for the A’s, but Sunday they reverted to some bad habits, pushing their major league-high error total to 42.

“It gets you off to a slow start, and there’s a psychology to not playing good defense,” manager Bob Melvin said. “… It costs you when you don’t play good defense. It kind of permeates in the dugout and you know you’ve got some work to do offensively off a pretty tough pitcher.”

Boston lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1), who carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning in a September game at the Coliseum, went eight innings Sunday and held the A’s to three runs, striking out eight.

Still, as the A’s broke for a rare day off in the middle of a homestand, Melvin wanted to make sure he delivered a message to his team:

“It was a good series,” he said. “Enjoy the off-day. Coming in here, if you say give us 3 out of 4 (against) them, you’ll take it. Granted, once you win three games you wanna get greedy and win the last game.”

Andrew Triggs (5-4) didn’t have his sharpest outing, allowing five earned runs and three walks over 5 1/3 innings, but he sure wasn’t helped in the field. The tone was set in the first, when Dustin Pedroia blooped a single to right field and Mark Canha’s throw back to the infield was wide of everybody. That allowed Mookie Betts to score all the way from first. In the fifth, Betts was running on the pitch, from first base, and motored all the way around to score on Pedroia’s perfectly executed hit-and-run.

That was the inning that Triggs said he regretted after the game. Chad Pinder’s two-run homer in the fourth had given the A’s a 3-2 lead, only to have Boston come right back the next inning and jump back ahead.

“It was a really good series,” Triggs said. “I’m just frustrated that I wasn’t able to put an exclamation point on it.”

The last time the A’s completed a four-game home series sweep of Boston came exactly 85 years ago Sunday. That was in 1932 — the year Babe Ruth “called his shot” against the Cubs in the World Series — when the A’s still played their home games at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park.