A's lineup: Crisp returns

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A's lineup: Crisp returns

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OAKLAND -- The A's may not have made a deadline deal but they are still shaking up their roster. Multiple sources say that Dan Straily is joining the A's and starting on Friday in place of Travis Blackley. The A's likely won't announce the move until Friday prior to his start but Blackley is already listed among relievers on the lineup card.The A's also recalled infielder Adam Rosales and optioned shortstop Brandon Hicks to Triple-A. This will be Rosales' third time with A's this season. He is batting .167 in 13 games in Oakland with a .394 on-base percentage. He was hitting .280 in Sacramento with eight homers, 47 RBIs and 26 walks.Brandon Hicks hit a game-tying homer that helped the A's win a 15-inning contest against the Rays on Monday, but badly misplayed a ball that lead to a run in Tuesday's 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay. He hit .183 in Oakland with his first three career homers in 20 games.In other noteworthy news, Coco Crisp who has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury is back in the starting lineup.Oakland Athletics (56-48) lineupCoco Crisp, CF
Seth Smith, DH
Josh Reddick, RF
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Brandon Moss, 1B
Brandon Inge, 3B
George Kottaras, C
Adam Rosales, SS
Eric Sogard, 2B
Instant AnalysisCoco Crisp's return to the lineup should provide a spark for an A's team that scored just six runs total over the four games he missed. The fact he is starting in center field is a very good sign that he has recovered from the hamstring issue that held him out.Eric Sogard is starting at second base for Jemile Weeks who has been struggling a little offensively and defensively. The A's likely chose to keep Sogard instead of Hicks because he is more versatile in the field. Rosales' addition might be a temporary one because Cliff Pennington is taking batting practice on the field and then likely starting a rehab assignment on Friday. In case you are wondering that is just one reason why Grant Green wasn't called up.Top of the OrderThe A's were 16-2 in July with Crisp atop the lineup. The veteran center fielder caught fire last month hitting .342 with three homers, two doubles, two triples, 11 runs scored.Heart of the OrderJosh Reddick is struggling lately offensively. He is stuck in an 0 for 21 slump since crashing into the wall in Baltimore. The A's say there is no reason for concern regarding Reddick's issues at the plate.Brandon Inge has an A's season-high 11-game hitting streak. He has been a steady source of RBIs since the A's acquired him. In his 54 hits with the A's Inge has 47 RBIs.Bottom of the OrderGeorge Kottaras is back in the lineup. The left-handed catcher will be used primarily in a platoon role with Kurt Suzuki. Expect to see Kottaras starting most times there is a right-handed pitcher on the mound. He went 1 for 3 in his A's debut. Catching Bartolo Colon should be a simple task. All the throws are fastballs. Starting PitchersColon (7-8, 3.78 ERA) will begin the four-game home series with the Jays. He will be making his 21st start of the season. Colon's 2.65 ERA in July was the 10th lowest in the American League that month.The Blue Jays will be sending Henderson Alvarez (7-7, 4.43) to the mound. Alvarez is 0-1 in his career against the A's with a 3.09 ERA in 11.2 innings.

Vogt's defensive cameo comes straight out of left field

Vogt's defensive cameo comes straight out of left field

OAKLAND — Stephen Vogt made an unexpected appearance in left field Wednesday night, and his performance got approval from a pretty good outfield authority.

Former A’s teammate Josh Reddick was watching from the Houston Astros’ dugout and thought the catcher-by-trade handled himself very well.

“I was talking to (Houston manager) A.J. (Hinch) and I said, ‘It’s gonna be interesting because you know at least one ball’s gonna get to him,’” Reddick said. “You start laughing because four of the five that were hit that inning were hit to him.”

With the A’s bench short-handed, manager Bob Melvin sent Vogt to left after he pinch-hit for Rajai Davis, and indeed Vogt got a workout throughout the top of the eighth. That added a bit of levity to a 5-1 loss that otherwise provided the A’s very little to cheer about.

They were bottled up by Astros right-hander Mike Fiers and four relievers as the Astros won their ninth in a row at the Coliseum and their third straight in this four-game series. A’s starter Sean Manaea was rolling through five scoreless innings before Houston blitzed him for three runs in the sixth. The Astros tacked on a couple more late runs against Oakland’s bullpen and that was enough on a night the A’s mustered just four hits total.

After Vogt delivered an RBI groundout that scored the A’s only run in the seventh, Melvin wanted to keep Vogt’s left-handed bat in the lineup, so he asked the veteran catcher if he could handle left.

“I said yeah, absolutely,” Vogt said.

It’s easy to forget that Vogt came up through the Tampa Bay Rays’ system playing a lot of outfield, and he played more than a dozen games in the outfield in 2014 for the A’s, mostly in right.

He sure got tested. The Astros’ first four hitters of the eighth all hit balls in Vogt’s direction. He got a routine fly from Brian McCann, a difficult low liner off the bat of Yuli Gurriel that he smothered for a single, a double from Alex Bregman that he did a good job cutting off and a sacrifice fly to the warning track from Jake Marisnick.

“I had the adrenaline shot run up and I was loose and ready to go,” Vogt said. “Obviously I was a little more focused than probably your average outfielder out there. I’m glad the first one came to me, otherwise I would have been sweatin’ it for a while.”

Vogt has lost time recently behind the plate against right-handers to Josh Phegley, who has done an effective job controlling the running game. And though you shouldn’t by any means expect to see Melvin running Vogt to the outfield often, you also shouldn’t assume it won’t happen at all.

At some point, the A’s figure to call up catcher Bruce Maxwell as part of the crop of young players they’re trying to give more time too. If the left-handed hitting Maxwell were to share catching duties with Phegley, and if the A’s were to trade Yonder Alonso (again, we’re talking ‘ifs’ here), it’s conceivable Vogt’s left-handed bat could be put to use at spots other than catcher, perhaps at first base or, in a pinch, even the outfield.

His old teammate thinks he could pull it off.

“I remember him playing in right in ’14 when I was (injured),” Reddick said. “He did a pretty good job out there, it’s not like he’s foreign to it. He knows what he’s doing.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's third straight loss to Astros

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's third straight loss to Astros

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — As swiftly as the A’s appeared to grab some momentum by sweeping the Yankees, it was snatched from their grasp.

The Houston Astros have taken the first three games of this mid-week four-gamer at the Coliseum, and the A’s will have to win Thursday afternoon’s finale to avoid being on the other end of a sweep.

They generated barely a whisper offensively in a 5-1 loss Wednesday night, advancing just one runner as far as third base. Mike Fiers (5-2), who’s come on strong for an Astros rotation that’s been decimated by injuries, held Oakland to three hits over six innings. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four June starts.

Sean Manaea (6-4) was rolling along for the A’s until the sixth, when the Astros broke a scoreless tie with five hits and three runs off the lefty. Manaea wound up taking his first loss since May 15.

Striking quick: It was 0-0 when the Astros opened the sixth with three consecutive singles. Jose Altuve got things going, then Carlos Correa singled to center and advanced to second on Jaycob Brugman’s throw that went through to third, putting two runners in scoring position. Evan Gattis drove both home with a single to center, and he would score on Jake Marisnick’s single. That was all the offense Houston would need.

Alonso provides a spark: Yonder Alonso, in a fierce fight to win the All-Star vote and be the American League’s starting first baseman, doubled in the seventh and scored on Stephen Vogt’s groundout for the A’s only run.

Outfield arms: The A’s started Rajai Davis in left and Matt Joyce returned to the lineup in right after missing Tuesday with back tightness. Joyce did well to hold Brian McCann to a single in the fourth, retreaving his drive to the right field corner and firing it back to the infield. Davis kept a run from scoring in the third when he fielded Nori Aoki’s single and fired it back to the infield to keep Marisnick from scoring. That sequence was noteworthy given how often opponents have been taking the extra base on Khris Davis when he plays left.

Chapman still day-to-day: As the A’s look to avoid a four-game sweep Thursday, it’s unclear if they’ll have third baseman Matt Chapman back in the lineup. The rookie missed his third game in a row with an infection in his left knee. Manager Bob Melvin said the swelling in Chapman’s knee has gone down, but Melvin was non-specific on Chapman’s return.

“If it’s not tomorrow, hopefully it’s (the) Chicago (series this weekend).”

Stephen Vogt, Mr. Utility: The A’s were working with a two-man bench with Chapman out, which led to catcher Stephen Vogt making his first appearance in the outfield in three seasons. After pinch-hitting for left fielder Rajai Davis in the seventh, Vogt assumed left field duties in the top of the eighth and was immediately put through a workout. The first four Houston batters of the inning all hit balls toward left field, and Vogt more than held his own, including retreating to the warning track to haul in Jake Marisnick’s sacrifice fly and cutting off Alex Bregman’s double.