A's receive good news about Alonso's knee; Plouffe honors Cornell

A's receive good news about Alonso's knee; Plouffe honors Cornell

OAKLAND — The A’s received encouraging news Thursday night after MRI results showed no structural damage on first baseman Yonder Alonso’s left knee.

Alonso left Wednesday’s game at Seattle after twisting his knee on a check swing. Manager Bob Melvin said after Thursday’s 8-3 win over Boston that Alonso wouldn’t be in Friday’s lineup but could return Saturday or Sunday.

Before Thursday’s game, Alonso said treatment and therapy had the knee feeling better, but that extra rest was probably a good idea.

“I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Alonso said. “One or two more days, depending on what they want to do. We’ll see how it goes, how I react to treatment. I think we’re headed in the right direction to do this stuff for a day or two, then I’ll be ready.”

Ryon Healy started at first Thursday and will likely do so again Friday against Sox lefty Chris Sale.

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Third baseman Trevor Plouffe was among the multitude of rock fans devastated by the death of Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell on Wednesday night. As a tribute, Plouffe changed his walk-up music to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” He said before the game he might keep the Soundgarden theme for a while, and given Plouffe had a three-hit night against Boston, why mess with what’s working?

Actually, Plouffe’s swing has shown gradual signs of coming around. He’s riding a nine-game hitting streak, during which he’s hitting .424. That’s lifted his overall average to .252.

Said Melvin: “Typically when we've been good this year it's been the (Jed) Lowrie, (Khris) Davis, Alonso (combo), and when they're not swinging at times, and that's going to happen, you need some depth in the lineup. Trevor's got a history of hitting. He's swinging the bat now as well as he has all year.”

Before the game, Plouffe made sure to have music from the Seattle grunge era playing over the clubhouse speakers in tribute to Cornell. Plouffe also is a huge fan of Pearl Jam, which helped spawn the grunge movement along with bands like Soundgarden, and said he’s met Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder on multiple occasions.

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Reliever Sean Doolittle has been playing catch to test his strained shoulder, and he’s scheduled to throw a flat-ground session Sunday. If that goes well, he’ll likely throw off the mound toward the middle of next week.

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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-4 and now has a 21-game hitting streak against the A’s. The only Boston player with a longer hitting streak against them since the franchise moved to Oakland is Jim Rice, with a 22-gamer from 1979-81. Peoria also owns the majors’ longest active hitting streak against the A’s.

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

NEW YORK — Jed Lowrie is the counterpoint to the A’s home run-crazed offensive attack.

Sure, the A’s switch-hitting second baseman can muscle up and clear the fence. But Lowrie’s approach is more about spraying base hits all around and using the whole field. He was at it again in Friday’s 4-1 A’s victory over the Yankees, going 3-for-4 and delivering an RBI single that snapped a scoreless tie in the eighth.

“I always have to carry his glove out to second for him because he’s always on base,” shortstop Adam Rosales said. “He looks really good at the plate right now, and he’s kind of just putting us on his back. It’s contagious to see a guy like that doing so well.”

Lowrie bumped his average up to .310 with Friday’s game. Until he grounded out in the sixth, he’d notched hits in seven consecutive at-bats dating back to Tuesday night. That streak fell one shy of the A’s record for most consecutive hits. Three players share the record at eight — Josh Reddick (in 2016), Dave Magadan (1997) and Brent Gates (1994).

“It’s all about the work,” said Lowrie, whose 15 doubles are tied for third in the AL. “Everything comes together when you’re seeing it well. I’m seeing it well but the approach hasn’t changed.”

With two runners aboard and two out in the eighth, Lowrie punched an RBI single to right off Tyler Clippard for the game’s first run. It was the breakthrough the A’s needed after they’d struck out 13 times in seven innings against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. Khris Davis followed Lowrie’s hit by beating out an infield single to score another run. Then Stephen Vogt added a two-run homer in top of the ninth to make it 4-0, and that provided some cushion as closer Santiago Casilla gave up a run and made things tenser than they should have been in the bottom half.

Davis, the most fearsome hitter in Oakland’s lineup, is thrilled to have a productive Lowrie batting in front of him as the No. 3 man.

“Somebody’s gotta hit .300,” Davis said. “All year he’s been our most consistent hitter and best hitter. I hope he keeps going.”

The A’s have won four in a row at Yankee Stadium dating back to last year. It’s their longest winning streak in the Bronx since a four-gamer at the old stadium in 2006. And it was a good way to begin a seven-game road trip for the A’s, who came in with the league’s worst road record at 6-15.

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Rosales had puffiness under his right eye and said he was anticipating a shiner after his hard head-first dive into third base didn’t go as planned in the eighth. He scraped up his face pretty good after going first to third on an errant pickoff throw and taking a hard dive into third, only to find the dirt wasn’t giving.

After addressing reporters, Rosales said he was on his way to find an ice pack.

Manaea's 'big mentality switch' keys success in first Yankee Stadium start

Manaea's 'big mentality switch' keys success in first Yankee Stadium start

NEW YORK — Dealt another dose of injury bad news Friday, the A’s got to temporarily push those thoughts aside once Sean Manaea took the mound.

The big lefty shined in his first career outing at Yankee Stadium, matching Masahiro Tanaka pitch for pitch and spinning his best start of the season in a 4-1 A’s victory.

After he walked leadoff man Brett Gardner on four pitches in the first, it conjured up memories of his five-walk outing two starts ago at Seattle. But from that point on Manaea locked in, allowing just four hits over seven innings and striking out eight. Not a single Yankee advanced past second base against him.

“He was out there chucking,” A’s left fielder Khris Davis said. “He’s got that Chris Sale stuff where people are swinging and missing in the zone. It’s great to see that.”

The day began with news that Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman and fellow starter Jesse Hahn both are likely headed to the disabled list with shoulder and triceps strains, respectively. It continues the cycle of injury woes for the A’s, who have lost every starter except Andrew Triggs to at least one stint on the 10-day DL. With two-fifths of the rotation down for an unknown period of time, Manaea takes on an even more significant role.

“For a young guy we’ve leaned on him pretty hard since he’s gotten here, but now probably a little bit more so,” manager Bob Melvin said.

Yet no matter what is unfolding elsewhere on the pitching staff, the challenge for Manaea always stems from within. He’s talked often this season about the need to be mentally tougher and more aggressive attacking the strike zone. After the leadoff walk to Gardner, Manaea (3-3) said a switch flipped inside of him.

“I was thinking that these guys weren’t gonna hit me at all, and that I just needed to throw strikes and trust the defense,” he said. “I know I can get these guys out. To me it was a big mentality switch, and just believing in myself and trusting everything.”

Tanaka, who has disappointed this season to the tune of a 6.56 ERA entering Friday, put it together against Oakland and rang up a career-high 13 strikeouts without a single walk. But Manaea was more than up to the task, keeping New York off the board until the A’s scored twice in the eighth to snap a scoreless tie off former Athletic Tyler Clippard, who relieved Tanaka to start that inning.

“He was pitching with a lot of confidence, and that’s what I love to see,” A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said of Manaea. “He wants the ball, wanted to keep going out there. It was awesome.”