Ryon Healy

Spotlight shines on Pinder's athleticism, A's young trio in win over Giants

Spotlight shines on Pinder's athleticism, A's young trio in win over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Unpredictability suits Chad Pinder well.

When he looks at the lineup, the A’s utility man can’t be sure what spot he might be playing on a given day.

On Wednesday night it was left field, where he’d played just once before this season.

Who would have known?

Pinder made a splendid catch in the gap to rob Miguel Gomez to end the fifth and airlift starting pitcher Daniel Gossett from the only real trouble he faced all night in the A’s 6-1 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park.

“Heck of a play. Heck of an athlete,” Gossett said.

Pinder was part of a young trio in the middle of Oakland’s lineup that came up big as the A’s controlled the third game of this Bay Bridge Series from the outset.

Cleanup man Ryon Healy hit a two-run homer to give him 20 for the season. Matt Chapman doubled home a run in the second and added a single. And Pinder, making his presence felt at the plate as well, had an RBI single in the seventh and reached base two other times.

Those three don’t figure to bat 4-5-6 often, at least not in the present. But a hamstring issue with regular cleanup hitter Khris Davis necessitated some shuffling, and manager Bob Melvin went with a righty-dominated lineup against Giants left-hander Matt Moore, which meant Healy played first base over Yonder Alonso.

Watching Healy, Pinder and Chapman click offensively while bunched together in the lineup had to please Melvin. All three are 25 or younger, and all three represent key pieces of the A’s future.

Melvin was asked before the game if he’ll manage these final two months differently with the A’s out of contention and so many young players at his disposal.

“We’re gonna take a good hard look at these guys,” he said. “We gave them a little more prominent positions in the order today and all of them came through.”

Pinder, who returned from a hamstring injury Monday, will be in the lineup often. He just can’t be sure where. He is Melvin’s Swiss Army knife, able to adapt to whatever position he’s most needed on a given day. He’s a shortstop by trade, but he’s shown a surprising comfort level in the corner outfield spots.

He’s got a terrific arm for right field, and in robbing Gomez in left, he adjusted nicely to the slice of the ball off the bat of a left-handed hitter.

Surely his outlook on his utility role agrees with Melvin too.

“I tell you this, any spot on the field is a spot that I want to be,” Pinder said. “Being out on the field is the ultimate thing. Just contributing someplace, somehow, is all I want to do.”

Melvin also says Pinder can expect an occasional look in center field.

“Just probably need to add some more gloves to the collection,” Pinder said with a grin.

He was part of a youthful trio Wednesday that gave A’s fans plenty to smile about.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's take lead in Bay Bridge Series

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's take lead in Bay Bridge Series

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Daniel Gossett made his first start in the Bay Bridge Series a memorable one.

The rookie held the Giants to three hits over seven innings in his best start as a major leaguer, and the A’s backed him with a stellar all-around performance in a 6-1 victory at AT&T Park.

Ryon Healy connected for his 20th home run and Oakland knocked out 11 hits to take two of the first three in this four-game rivalry series. But it was Gossett’s sharp effort that had to be most encouraging for A’s manager Bob Melvin.

The rookie largely has endured rocky times over his 10 starts since making his big league debut in June. But he showed how effective he can be when he keeps the ball in the yard. His 11 homers allowed coming in were tied for fifth most in Oakland history by a pitcher over his first nine career games.

Wednesday’s outing was just the third time in 10 starts that Gossett (3-6) didn’t allow a homer. He didn’t allow his first hit until the fifth, when the Giants scratched out their only run on Gorkys Hernandez’s sacrifice fly.

Here’s five things you need to know as the A’s won for just the sixth time in their past 22 games at AT&T Park.

MILESTONE HOMER: Healy had gone a career-high 24 games without a homer. But he connected off lefty Matt Moore (3-11) in the third for a two-run shot that put the A’s up 4-0. He joins Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso as Athletics who have reached the 20-homer mark this season.

PINDER’S NIFTY GRAB: Chad Pinder’s first start since coming off the disabled list came in left field Wednesday, and he made a terrific catch to end the fifth and save a run. He raced into the gap and hauled in Miguel Gomez’s drive to strand a runner on second, after the Giants had plated their first run to make it a 4-1 game.

Pinder will continue to bounce around the diamond getting his playing time. He’s primarily been an infielder but has routinely made standout plays in the corner outfield spots this season. On Monday night, he made a running catch on a tough liner to right field after entering as a defensive replacement.

CASILLA CLOSES IT OUT: Former Giant Santiago Casilla came on in the ninth to nail down the win. It wasn’t a save situation, and Melvin has indicated he wants to take a look at Blake Treinen as his closer. But it was a chance for Casilla to get his feet back underneath him in the ninth after six blown saves so far this season.

DAVIS SITS WITH A HAMSTRING ISSUE: Pinder drew the start in left partly because Khris Davis is dealing with a hamstring issue that he’d been playing through lately. Manager Bob Melvin described it as a mild injury and said he considered Davis available off the bench.

GRAVEMAN TAKES THE HILL: The Giants will try to take the series Thursday night as Kendall Graveman makes his first big league start since May 19. He’s been out with a strained shoulder.

Healy exits early, Blackburn suffers first loss with A's

Healy exits early, Blackburn suffers first loss with A's

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Michael Conforto hit a pair of two-run homers and Jerry Blevins rescued the Mets' bullpen with a five-out save as New York held off the Oakland Athletics 7-5 on Friday night for its third straight victory.

T.J. Rivera put the Mets ahead in the sixth inning with a two-run single that turned into a Little League home run. Rivera came all the way around to score on the play after third baseman Matt Chapman, trying to get Rivera at second, threw the ball away into right field for a costly error that made it 5-3.

Moments earlier, New York loaded the bases when Lucas Duda's bad-hop infield single struck first baseman Ryon Healy near the temple. Healy left the game and walked off under his own power with a swollen bruise next to his left eye.

Conforto's second homer made it 7-3 in the seventh. Oakland rallied for two in the eighth, but Blevins replaced closer Addison Reed with the bases loaded and got five straight outs against his former team for his fifth major league save and first this season.

Normally a lefty specialist, Blevins recorded five outs in a game for the first time since 2014 with Washington. He retired All-Star slugger Yonder Alonso on a foul popup and struck out Khris Davis to escape the eighth-inning jam.

"We just tried to find some matchups that worked," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Yoenis Cespedes had three hits after raising eyebrows when he told the San Francisco Chronicle before the game that he wants to play the final season of his career in Oakland, his first big league team.

Cespedes, who signed a $110 million, four-year contract in the offseason to remain with the Mets, also said A's manager Bob Melvin is his favorite skipper and he doesn't think there's a better one.

"Bob's a great manager. I don't blame him," Collins said after the game. "This is the first I've heard of it."

After the game, Cespedes clarified his comments while speaking with reporters through a translator and said he meant no disrespect toward Collins or the Mets.