Pratt's Instant Replay: Orioles 6, A's 1

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Orioles 6, A's 1

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A record-breaking performance sends the A's packing with a 6-1 loss. They should head home with their heads held high though, after going 4-2 on a key East-Coast road trip against two of the American League Wild Card contenders.At the PlateThe A's had a really difficult time solving Orioles starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. The Taiwanese pitcher gave the A's batsmen fits at the plate. He set the tone by striking out the side in the first inning. Then in the fourth inning he struck out the side again, this time on 10 pitches -- Yoenis Cespedes swinging, Chris Carter looking, and Brandon Inge looking.Chen set a new record for strikeouts by a Taiwanese player with 12. His pitch count was high though and he couldn't make it out of the sixth inning. Right after Chen received a standing ovation for setting the new record, Cespedes brought him back down to earth with a sharp line drive RBI-single up the middle putting the A's on the board. The A's loaded the bases in that frame but Derek Norris popped out to end the threat.Starting Pitching ReportTravis Blackley had some trouble locating his pitches in this game. Finding the strikezone ended up being a figurative and literal pain in the neck for the Australian-born starting pitcher. Omar Quintanilla led off the third inning with a bunt single toward first base. Blackley dove for the ball and landed awkwardly. A's trainer Nick Paparesta and Bob Melvin visited him on the mound and examined his neck, but he stayed in the game after a few warm up tosses. Blackley was skipped in the rotation just before the All-Star Break with back stiffness so it was particularly concerning to see him in pain after diving for the ball.Quintanilla would continue to pester the A's after reaching first on that bunt single. He advanced to third when Blackley chucked an ill advised pick off throw past Chris Carter that ricocheted all the way down the right field line. Carter ended up being charged with the error and Blackley's problems were only just beginning. He walked J.J. Hardy next, then gave up an RBI-double on a hard-hit ball off the bat of Adam Jones. Matt Weiters stepped to the plate and struck a fastball down the middle for a three-run homer, giving the Orioles a 4-0 lead.Blackley looked out of sorts early in the game. His problems intensified after he tweaked his neck diving for that bunt attempt. He ended up with four walks and just one strike out. He has only allowed three homers this season, so the fact that Wieters took him deep could indicate the neck injury was bugging him.He ended up with five innings pitched and five earned runs and took the loss.Bullpen ReportJim Miller entered the game in the sixth inning and failed to record the shutdown inning for the A's. He allowed a solo homer to Quintanilla who gave the A's fits in this series. Miller bounced back and pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings. He struck out four batters and threw 49 pitches. Miller gave up a run but did a great job saving the rest of the A's bullpen. The A's don't have a day off until August 9.It seems that the A's relievers have been frequently used in one-plus inning situations.In the FieldThe A's had a chance to turn a double play on a ground ball hit by Wieters in the fifth. Inge fielded the ball and threw to Weeks who had to avoid the sliding runner in the process of throwing to first. Weeks' throw to first was high, and 6'4" Chris Carter jumped to receive the throw but it clanked off his glove allowing Hardy to come around to score. Carter was charged with the error on the play, but he wouldn't have even had a shot at the ball if he wasn't so tall.Up NextThe A's head back home to open up a 10-game homestand against the Rays, Blue Jays, and Angels. A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.25 ERA) gets the ball in the first game. He has gone six innings in all six of his Major League starts. The rookie starting pitcher has yet to allow more than three earned runs.The A's will face yet another left-handed pitcher on Monday, and one of the best in the game, Rays starting pitcher David Price (14-4, 2.57 ERA). Price is 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA in his career vs. Oakland.

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

The Oakland A’s avoided arbitration with right-handed pitchers Sonny Gray and Liam Hendriks and catcher Stephen Vogt when they agreed to terms on one-year contracts for the 2017 season, the club announced today.

Gray went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts last year in a season shortened by two stints on the disabled list.  His ERA was more than 2½ runs higher than his previous career high and his five wins follow back-to-back 14-win seasons.  Gray went 33-20 with a 2.88 ERA 76 games over his first three seasons with the A’s and now has a 3.42 ERA in his career, which ranks ninth in Oakland history.

Hendriks compiled a 3.76 ERA and .270 opponents batting average in 53 relief appearances in his first season with the A’s.  He had an 8.27 ERA and .394 opponents batting average in 11 games before going on the disabled list in early May with a strained right triceps.  Hendriks then logged a 2.23 ERA and .222 opponents batting average in 42 games following his return from the DL.

Vogt played in a career-high 137 games last year and hit .251 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI.  He also had career bests with 123 hits, 30 doubles and 46 extra base hits.  Vogt was named to his second consecutive American League All-Star team.

The only remaining arbitration eligible player on the A’s roster is Khris Davis.

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Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

SEATTLE -- Jerry Dipoto's 11th trade this offseason rounded out the Seattle Mariners roster with his top target.

"I've probably spent more time through the course of our offseason trying to acquire Drew Smyly than any other thing that we've done," the general manager said Wednesday.

Seattle made pair of deals on Wednesday that ultimately landed Smyly, a pitcher Dipoto thinks will fill out the Mariners starting rotation. Seattle also landed a potential key reliever, getting right-hander Shae Simmons from the Atlanta Braves.

The Mariners acquired outfielder Mallex Smith from Atlanta, then sent him to Tampa Bay along with infielder Carlos Vargas and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for Smyly. Smith was also an offseason target for the Mariners but when Seattle acquired Jarrod Dyson from Kansas City last week, Smith instead became the conduit in helping to obtain Smyly.

"It became apparent to us over the last two or three days that we were able to access Drew Smyly by making the deal with Atlanta that tapped into Mallex Smith," Dipoto said. "So effectively these were two deals that were interlinked."

Smyly is the centerpiece of what Seattle was trying to accomplish as the Mariners seem to have rounded out a starting rotation that appeared to be a major question at the start of the year. The acquisitions of Smyly and Yovani Gallardo from Baltimore last week appear to have filled out a rotation where Felix HernandezHisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton were the only certainties.

Smyly, 27, made 30 starts last season for Tampa Bay, throwing a career-high 175 1/3 innings and striking out 167. He was 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA, but starting pitching is one of Tampa Bay's strongest assets, and Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander felt comfortable making the deal because of the depth the Rays have in that area.

Smyly was 15-15 with a 3.95 ERA in 49 starts for Tampa Bay after being acquired from Detroit in the 2014 trade deadline deal that sent David Price to the Tigers. He is arbitration eligible after winning $3.75 million in an arbitration hearing last season.

"He fits our ballpark particularly well. He's a pretty extreme fly-ball pitcher with the low walks, high strikeouts, who in our ballpark, with what we think is a greatly improved outfield defense fits us like a glove really," Dipoto said. "If as we expect he shows up and does his thing it should fit very well for us in this ballpark."

What Smith may be able to add was attractive to Neander, who said the trade was made to help position the Rays to be competitive in 2017. He stopped short of saying he expects Smith to make the team coming out of spring training.

"We need to get better," Neander said. "To do that, we need more competition" for jobs.

Simmons is also a key acquisition for Seattle, providing another power arm in the bullpen. Simmons, 26, made seven appearances last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and threw just 6 2/3 big league innings. Before elbow issues, Simmons was 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 26 appearances during the 2014 season.

"He's had a strong history with striking (batters) out and (we're) really excited to plug him in," Dipoto said.

The cost for Seattle to complete to two deals meant giving up two of its top pitching prospects in Yarbrough and Luiz Gohara. Yarbrough, 25, was named the Southern League pitcher of the year after going 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA at Double-A Jackson last season. Gohara, 20, was 7-2 with a 1.81 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 13 starts at two Class A stops.

Seattle also sent lefty Thomas Burrows to Atlanta and designated right-hander Cody Martin for assignment to make room on its 40-man roster.