Athletics

Stinging loss makes bittersweet night for A's rookie in front of family

Stinging loss makes bittersweet night for A's rookie in front of family

ANAHEIM — It could have been a storybook night for Matt Chapman, but he and his A’s teammates were left pondering the plays —and pitches — they didn’t make Friday.

The A’s rookie third baseman, who grew up in nearby Lake Forest, smacked a three-run homer in his first at-bat before a cheering section that he estimated to be a couple hundred strong at Angel Stadium.

All that was needed to finish the night in proper fashion was a victory. Somehow that slipped through the A’s grasp in the form of a bullpen meltdown that saw a four-run lead evaporate in an eventual 8-6 loss to the Angels.

“We made our own bed as far as that one unfortunately,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

Along with the good, Chapman also played a part in Oakland’s undoing with a two-out error that scored a run in the second inning. In the Angels’ go-ahead rally in the seventh, he couldn’t come up with the handle on Yunel Escobar’s slow roller that went for an RBI single, though he may not have been able to get Escobar even with a clean play.

So terrific has Chapman been with the glove since his call-up from Triple-A that it’s a bit of a shocker to see him muff a play or two.

“I think those are both plays that I expect myself to make,” Chapman said. “It’s never a good feeling when you feel like you missed a play you could make and it ends up costing your team some runs and you lose a tight ballgame.”

But the game turned when reliever Daniel Coulombe, who’s taken on a more prominent bullpen role following the trade of fellow lefty Sean Doolittle, walked three in a row to begin the bottom of the seventh and the A’s leading 6-4.

That opened the gates to a four-run Angels’ rally.

“I don’t know,” Coulombe said in a hushed tone at his locker. “I think it was just one of those nights. You’re going to have those nights. (But) you really hope to not have those very often.”

Center fielder Jaycob Brugman made a splendid diving catch but also committed an error that set up an Angels run. And Melvin referenced “a couple of bad pitch selections in some situations.”

There’s been many a night the A’s have regretted inside Angel Stadium, where they’ve lost seven in a row and 23 of their past 32.

A telling stat: Oakland’s 15-28 record against its own division is the worst in the majors this season.

The end result off-set what will still go down as a memorable night for Chapman, who attended nearby El Toro High School and played his college ball just up Highway 57 at Cal State Fullerton.

Along with hitting his seventh homer, he doubled and scored in the sixth and made an impressive running catch of Albert Pujols’ foul pop-up to strand the bases loaded in the bottom half of that inning.

“It was a great feeling obviously to be able to do something like that in front of all my friends and family,” Chapman said.

In other news, it remains to be seen whether the A’s add catcher Dustin Garneau to their 25-man roster. He was claimed on waivers Friday from Colorado and could take the roster spot of catcher Ryan Lavarnway if the A’s so choose. But also worth noting: Bruce Maxwell is in a 5-for-46 (.109) slump since the All-Star break and struck out twice Friday.

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

OAKLAND — Bruce Maxwell’s gesture to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday night at the Coliseum was no knee-jerk reaction by the A’s catcher.

It was something he’s considered for a long time, balancing his own personal convictions to make a statement with how it might affect his teammates and organization.

Think it was bold of Maxwell to become the first player in baseball to kneel during the anthem, in protest of racial discrimination and the inflammatory remarks of President Trump? It took just as much guts to stand before his teammates, manager Bob Melvin and GM David Forst and explain why he felt he needed to do it.

He did so in a pregame meeting Saturday that made for a degree of discomfort in the room, but also seemed to have played out in a healthy way.

“I didn’t want them to sugarcoat or aid me when it comes to the media and their personal feelings,” Maxwell said, “because the whole point of this is the ability to protest (based on) our personal beliefs and our personal choices.”

Many athletes have been critical of the President, with things intensifying across the sports landscape Saturday after Trump, among other things, withdrew an invitation for the Warriors to visit the White House and harshly criticized athletes who have knelt during the anthem, saying they should be booted off their teams.

After blasting Trump on both Instagram and Twitter, Maxwell took the field for the anthem and took the action that will define him in the eyes of the baseball world. Maxwell had been wanting to make a statement in some way. He said he and his sister dealt with racial discrimination growing up. Watching Trump’s rally play out in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. on Friday further persuaded Maxwell to finally do so.

“This goes beyond the black community, it goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having … a racial divide in all types of people,” said Maxwell, who is African American. “It’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country and it’s basically saying it’s OK to treat people differently. And my kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I’m kneeling for a cause. But I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”

A’s outfielder Mark Canha stood next to Maxwell during the anthem with his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, a show of support. Canha said he’s considered kneeling before in protest himself but had chosen not to. As he listened to Maxwell address the team, Canha wasn’t going to let his teammate make his statement on his own.

“I could tell he was getting kind of choked up and emotional about his beliefs and how he feels about the racial discrimination that’s going on in this country right now,” Canha said. “I felt like every fiber of my being was telling me that he needed a brother today.”

Canha added that he sensed some “discomfort” in the room as Maxwell addressed the team. But he also said there was support.

“It was an open forum to ask him questions. It was as articulate as I’ve seen him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “This wasn’t an emotional thing just today for him. … I think he handled it really well and everybody was comfortable after the session. I’m proud of him for the fact he went about it the way he did.”

Maxwell, who was born in Germany while his father served in the Army over there, said he will continue to kneel for the anthem. He doesn’t expect his teammates to do the same, only to stick to what they believe in.

“I have plenty of family members, including my father, who have bled for this country,” Maxwell said. “At the end of the day, this the best country on the planet. My hand over my heart symbolized that I am, and will forever be, an American citizen. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don't have a voice.”

MLB issues statement on A's Bruce Maxwell kneeling during national anthem

MLB issues statement on A's Bruce Maxwell kneeling during national anthem

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell made history Saturday night in Oakland. The 26-year-old became the first player in big-league history to kneel during the national anthem. 

Below is the official statement from Major League Baseball:

Major League Baseball has a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games. We also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions. We believe that our game will continue to bring our fans, their communities and our players together.

MLB media services contributed to this report