Royals-A's: What to watch for


Royals-A's: What to watch for

SAN FRANCICSO -- After four games against the Seattle Mariners spanning two continents to open the season, the Oakland A's get a crack at a different major league opponent in the Kansas City Royals.The 1-3 A's host the 2-1 Royals for three games at the Oakland Coliseum, starting Monday night with Tommy Milone starting opposite Luis Mendoza. Tuesday's game will match up Graham Godfrey against Danny Duffy, while Brandon McCarthy and Bruce Chen will start in Wednesday's finale.But the pitching matchups will take a back seat to A's rookie sensation Yoenis Cespedes, who has introduced himself to the big leagues with prodigous power.Cespedes, a Cuban defector who signed a four-year deal worth 36 million to come to Oakland, has hit three home runs in his first four games, including towering shots in both A's losses to the Mariners on Friday and Saturday.The bomb he hit Friday traveled an estimated 462 feet, the longest home run at the Coliseum since 2006, when began measuring distances.Cespedes is just the third player in major league history since 1920 to hit a home run in three of his first four career games. With a home run Monday, Cespedes would join Jimmie Foxx (1932) as the only player in A's franchise history to hit four home runs in the season's first five games.Another A's hitter to keep an eye on is leadoff man Jemile Weeks, who is hitting just .222 so far, but killed the Royals last season. Weeks, who hit his first home run of the season Saturday, had four doubles, a triple and six RBIS in six games against Kansas City in his rookie year. He hit safely in all six contests for a .462 average.Weeks led American League rookies with his .303 average last season, just ahead of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who hit .293. Hosmer is off to a fast start to 2012, with two home runs in three games, and is a fan of facing the A's. In eight games against Oakland last season, the third overall pick in 2008 hit .355 with a home run, three doubles, five RBIs, four walks and two steals. Hosmer's major league debut came against the A's on May 6, 2011.While Hosmer's bat is hot out of the gate, his teammate Alex Gordon is a major-league leader in the wrong type of category. Gordon has the most at-bats (13) without a hit so far this season. He is not in manager Ned Yost's lineup for Monday, replaced in the leadoff spot and in left field by Jason Bourgeois.A new name in the A's lineup is first baseman Daric Barton, reinstated from the disabled list on Monday. Barton was activated a day after hitting a grand slam for the A's Triple-A affiliate. Barton hit just .212 with no home runs and 21 RBIs in 67 games last season, but figures to be Bob Melvin's regular first baseman moving forward, especially now that the club has designated Brandon Allen for assignment.
Rael Enteen is a web producer with Follow him on Twitter @RaelEnteenCSN.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's streak-extending win over Astros


The A’s took a noteworthy step toward changing the narrative in their recent history against the Houston Astros.

Coming through during clutch moments, both at the plate and on the mound, Oakland beat baseball’s best team 6-4 Tuesday at Minute Maid Park to run their winning streak to four.

Ryon Healy hit his first career grand slam to snap a 1-1 tie in the sixth, and starter Sean Manaea notched his first victory in seven career starts against the Astros, throwing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

George Springer’s three-run homer off Liam Hendriks pulled Houston to within two runs in the ninth, but with two runners aboard, Santiago Casilla coaxed a 3-6-1 double play from Brian McCann to end it.

The A’s (35-42), who have stumbled so badly on the road for the majority of this season, moved to 4-0 on this six-game road trip and defeated the Astros (52-26) for just the second time in their past 17 meetings with them.

Key two-out rallies: They came in with a majors-worst .225 average with runners in scoring position, but the A’s delivered in some key at-bats and scored five of their six runs with two outs. Bruce Maxwell singled home Khris Davis in the second to get the A’s on the board. Then with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, with the score 1-1, Ryon Healy capped an eight-pitch at-bat with an opposite-field grand slam, his 18th homer of the season.

Making himself at home: Sean Manaea (7-4) flirted with danger throughout his 5 2/3 innings but wound up registering his first victory in seven career starts against Houston. He stranded two runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, then wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with minimal damage. With no outs and the bags filled, Manaea fell behind 3-0 to Evan Gattis. Gattis chased a low pitch that would have been ball four and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. A run scored on the play but that play defused the rally and Manaea escaped with just the one run scoring that kept it a 1-1 game. The lefty gave up nine hits, but he’s now allowed just one earned run over three career starts at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park (16 IP).

Madson comes up clutch: Ryan Madson took two losses in four appearances at Minute Maid Park last season and allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. But manager Bob Melvin called on him in a crucial situation Tuesday, with two runners aboard and George Springer hitting in the sixth with the A’s up 5-1. Madson got Springer swinging on a 97 mile-per-hour fastball to end the inning and keep Houston from jumping back into the game after Oakland had scored four to command the lead. Madson retired all four batters he faced with three strikeouts.

Maxwell continues his roll: The A’s catcher went 3-for-4 and is 10-for-18 since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville. He also threw out Jose Altuve trying to steal second in the first.

Casilla slams the door: After Springer’s three-run shot in the ninth, Santiago Casilla entered and allowed singles to Altuve and Carlos Correa to bring the winning run to the plate. But Casilla retired pinch hitter Josh Reddick on a foul pop out and got McCann on the game-ending double play, getting over to cover first to cap the play.

A's rookie Chapman most likely sidelined until next week

A's rookie Chapman most likely sidelined until next week

The A’s aren’t expecting rookie third baseman Matt Chapman to return to the lineup until next week most likely.

Manager Bob Melvin told reporters in Houston that Chapman will rejoin the A’s and work out with the team Friday when they return to begin their next homestand against the Atlanta Braves. Chapman was placed on the 10-day D.L. Thursday with a knee infection that landed him in the hospital for a couple of days.

“He has not done any baseball activity yet,” Melvin said. “We're for sure going to do a couple of days worth of baseball activity. Whether or not he goes out for a (minor league rehab) game or two, we're still deciding on that depending on how he feels Friday.”

Melvin said he’s kept in touch with Chapman via text message, which keeps him in tune with how eager the rookie is to return to the lineup. The highly touted prospect received his first major league call-up June 15 and started four games before being sidelined with cellulitis, a bacterial infection, in his knee. The A’s checked him into a hospital so he could receive an intravenous antibiotic.

“He texts me all the time, after almost every game,” Melvin said. “He tells me he feels better than some of the reports I get sometimes. He's laying in a hospital bed telling me he's ready to play, so I take that with a grain of salt."