Tigers notes: Gomes, Carter affecting series from bench, etc.


Tigers notes: Gomes, Carter affecting series from bench, etc.

OAKLAND -- A's righties Jonny Gomes and Chris Carter are yet to enter the playing field in this year's ALDS, but they're affecting how the series is playing out by worming their way into the conscious of Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

"They've got a couple of big bats sitting there," Leyland said. "You have to watch how you play it."

When Seth Smith came to the plate with a runner on and one away in the seventh inning of Game 3 having homered in his previous at-bat against Anibal Sanchez, Leyland was going to the 'pen. But who to call? Call on a lefty and invite A's manager Bob Melvin to employ the services of Gomes or Carter for the first time this series. Call on a righty and keep Smith in the game as the DH.

"If you noticed last night," Leyland explained. "I chose to go to (Octavio) Dotel to Smith rather than (Drew) Smyly to possibly Gomes or Carter.You never know what Bob might do.But that certainly would have been an option for him.And I just felt that Dotel against Smith was a better option for me than Smyly against maybe Carter or Gomes."

Leyland won that game-within-the-game as Dotel induced a popout to the vast foul ground outside third base, but you can be sure he and his staff have discussed how to handle a similar situation in Game 4.

"We've got Smyly to go if something happens to Scherzer," Leyland said.

Look for Gomes or Carter to get a pinch-hitting appearance if Leyland does go to a lefty. Phil Coke is the only other left-hander in the Tigers' bullpen. He is reserved for late-inning situations, but it appears as if Leyland is more comfortable with him facing the A's strong righties.

While most of the Tigers clubhouse had their equilibrium sidekicked by the thunderous A's crowd on Tuesday, one outfielder claims to like it better than the alternative.

"I think I enjoy it more," left fielder Andy Dirks said. "You don't have to sit and get ragged on."

The Oakland Coliseum is known for its right- and left-field bleachers, and the boisterous fans they hold. Over the regular season, it is common for an opposing corner outfielder to hear -- quite clearly depending on the attendance -- grief in each of his nine defensive innings.

But the loud playoff vibe is hiding Oakland's prime ribbers.

"In this atmosphere, you don't deal with that because there's so much noise from the entire crowd," Dirks said. "You can't pinpoint those few people, like traditionally here you've got five guys behind you talking to you the whole game. But not in this situation."

Dirks claims to enjoy it, but he went 0-for-3 in front of A's fans Tuesday.

Not sure how to interpret his message? Get louder.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland does not believe that experience has any bearing on this series' outcome. He said as much five different times in his press conference Wednesday.

"I believe in talent," Leyland insisted.

With the most home runs and runs scored since the All-Star break, the A's have made it plenty clear that talent is one thing they have.

The Tigers, too, have talent, with last year's AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP anchoring their staff and the first triple crown winner since 1967 (Carl Yastrzemski) holding down the lineup. So the question remains: Who will win -- the less experienced talent or the more experienced talent? Don't ask Leyland.

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

ANAHEIM — Sean Manaea is hopeful his left shoulder injury isn’t serious, but the A’s likely won’t have a full read on the starter’s condition for a couple days.

As of Wednesday night, no MRI was scheduled after Manaea left after just two innings of an eventual 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels with tightness in his shoulder.

“I felt it a little bit in the bullpen,” Manaea said. “I thought it was just one of those days where it took me longer to warm up, and that just wasn’t the case. It’s just really unfortunate.”

Just as the A’s are about to welcome Kendall Graveman back to the active roster Thursday, when he starts the series finale at Angel Stadium, and just as it appears Sonny Gray might be ready to come off the disabled list following one more rehab start, the A’s are hoping they don’t see Manaea subtracted from their rotation for any period of time.

Manager Bob Melvin said it was the top of Manaea’s shoulder that was bothering him.

“The velo was down, and it didn’t make sense to have him keep pitching,” Melvin said. “But we won’t know anything probably for a day or two, how he feels.”

Once he started throwing in the game, Manaea said he felt “kind of a little sharp pain. I mean, it’s nothing serious. I’ve dealt with it before and it only took me a few days to get back on the mound. To me, I’m not really worried about it.”

The pitcher added that he experienced a similar situation with his shoulder while a minor leaguer in Kansas City’s organization, toward the end of spring training, and he missed minimal time.

Things didn’t get better for the A’s (10-11) after Manaea exited, as they struck out 13 times and played sloppy defensively in dropping their third in a row. Catcher Stephen Vogt couldn’t handle Ryan Dull’s glove flip to the plate on a seventh-inning squeeze play, ending a streak of six errorless games for Oakland, but Melvin can live with occasional physical misplays. More problematic were occasions when right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker both seemed caught by surprise to see Angels runners take off for an extra base. Whether it was a lack of communication from infielders or the outfielders themselves needing to be more aware, the A’s can’t afford those kinds of mistakes.

“As a group, we can’t let that happen,” Melvin said. “We talk about it in advance meetings the way these guys run the bases. It’s not something we can do and expect to beat this team.”

Added Vogt: “We were on our heels quite a bit. This was obviously not the prettiest baseball game we’ve played.”

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels


ANAHEIM – The A’s endured one of those nights Wednesday when the scoreboard couldn’t convey the extent of their blues.

The tone of an 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels was set early, when starting pitcher Sean Manaea left after two innings with what was announced as tightness in his throwing shoulder.

From there, things gradually unraveled as the A’s lost their third in a row and took on what looks to be another injury to a key player. The seriousness of Manaea’s injury wasn’t immediately known, but his early exit added to the recent run of medical misfortune, as center fielder Rajai Davis, shortstop Marcus Semien and starter Kendall Graveman have all hit the disabled list over the past 12 days.

Graveman will be activated Thursday and start against the Angels, but Manaea’s condition will loom large as the 25-year-old lefty is considered a foundation piece for the A’s, now and for the future.

The A’s trailed 4-3 in the seventh when the Angels pulled away with four runs off Ryan Dull. Matt Joyce’s two-run homer in the eighth pulled them closer but they lost for the second night in a row at Angel Stadium and will have to win Thursday night to avoid a sweep. Wednesday’s loss dropped them back below .500 at 10-11.

Starting pitching report:
It was obvious early that something was bothering Manaea. His fastball, which usually sits in the low 90’s and gets into the mid-90’s, was hovering in the 88-89 range. The A’s led 2-0 before the Angels struck for three runs in the second. Danny Espinosa and Martin Maldonado each delivered RBI doubles that landed just past the diving reach of right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker, respectively. Another run scored on Cameron Maybin’s single.

Bullpen report:
Frankie Montas gave up a run over 2 1/3 innings after being called into early duty when Manaea got hurt. Dull, trying to keep it a 4-3 game, did not have his command in the seventh. He threw a wild pitch, hit Danny Espinosa with a 1-2 pitch and then allowed Maybin’s two-run single that keyed Los Angeles’ four-run seventh.

At the plate:
It was a big night for Yonder Alonso, who had a two-run single in the first and then homered in the sixth to pull Oakland within 4-3. Alonso already has four homers, putting more than halfway to his 2016 total of seven in the season’s first month. The A’s struck out 13 times, giving them 24 strikeouts over the first two games of this series.

In the field:
It took until the seventh inning for the A’s to be charged with an error that snapped their streak of six consecutive errorless games. Stephen Vogt couldn’t hold on to Dull’s glove flip on Martin Maldonado’s squeeze bunt. But even before then, this wasn’t a sharp defensive effort. Joyce got caught off guard in the fourth when Maybin tagged up and made it to second on a fly to right. Joyce’s gesturing afterward seemed to suggest nobody was letting him now the runner was tagging. An inning later, Decker seemed stunned as the lumbering Albert Pujols went first to third on Andrelton Simmons’ single.

The announced crowd was 30,248.

Up next:
Kendall Graveman (2-0, 2.00) is set to come off the D.L. on Thursday and make his first start since April 14, when he was lost to a strained right shoulder. He’ll be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.76), who took the Opening Night loss against the A’s at the Coliseum when he allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.