Pratt's Instant Replay: Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1 (11)


Pratt's Instant Replay: Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1 (11)


OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen appeared to achieve the improbable. After losing starting pitcher A.J. Griffin to right shoulder pain in the second inning, the A's 'pen pitched six and one-third scoreless innings to keep the team in the lead. This after the 'pen combined for nine scoreless in a 15-inning marathon on Friday night. Then Ryan Cook allowed a game-tying home run in the ninth. As the great Yogi Berra once said, it was deja vu all over again. The A's entered Saturday 9-2 in extra innings games. They couldn't pull it off this time. The Toronto Blue Jays scored two runs in the 11th to take the game 3-1. At the PlateDerek Norris doubled home the A's first run. It was a two-out hit that he smacked over the right fielder's head. As the ball made its way to the wall, Brandon Inge rounded third and scored easily. The A's loaded the bases in the fifth inning with two outs. That sent Michael Taylor to the plate. Taylor was acquired by the A's in exchange for Brett Wallace in a prospect swap with the Blue Jays. Taylor wasn't able to make the Jays pay for trading him, however. He ended up striking out on a check swing. Taylor battled Steve Delabar in an 11-pitch at-bat in the eighth. Delabar won the battle by striking out Taylor looking on a 95-mph fastball. Starting Pitching ReportStarting pitcher A.J. Griffin left the game after just 32 pitches with what the team is calling tightness in his right shoulder.
NEWS: Griffin forced to leave
He was pulled in the second inning with two outs. Griffin had a 1-1 count on Moises Sierra when athletic trainer Nick Paparesta and Bob Melvin visited him on the mound and removed him from the game.Griffin seemed to be fine prior to the game. He was playing music in the clubhouse and was his typically upbeat self.According to the A's game notes, Griffin is the first pitcher since at least 1918 to begin his career by tossing six or more innings while allowing three runs or less in each of his first seven starts. That streak is over. If Griffin has to go on the DL, expect Brandon McCarthy to take his spot in the rotation. McCarthy is pitching a second rehab game in Triple-A for the Sacramento River Cats Saturday night. He would be on turn to fill in for Griffin. Coincidentally, Griffin came up when McCarthy went on the DL.Bullpen ReportAfter a 15-inning game the night before, the last thing the A's needed was for their starting pitcher to get injured. Jordan Norberto did a spectacular job filling the void out of the bullpen. He pitched a career-high three and two-thirds innings on 64 pitches -- without allowing a run. The lefty reliever allowed four hits, struck out four and didn't walk a single batter. Previously, Norberto's longest outing was a two and one-third inning outing against the Yankees. Pat Neshek entered in relief of Norberto and retired the final two batters in the sixth inning. He threw a scoreless seventh inning as well. Neshek looks like a sneaky-good pickup for the A's. He has a deceptive delivery from the right side. Over one and two-thirds innings, he didn't allow a hit. He walked one batter and struck out one. Grant Balfour was the next stop on the bullpen express. He tossed a perfect eighth inning. Ryan Cook entered the game with a one-run lead in the ninth, pitching in his third game in a row. Cook's numbers when pitching on consecutive days are not good. Entering Saturday he had allowed 11 runs in eight innings. The second batter he faced David Cooper clubbed a game-tying solo homer to right field. Cook has now blown four saves in his last six appearances. His seven blown saves are the most in the American League. It might be time for the A's to look elsewhere in the ninth. Jerry Blevins pitched a scoreless 10th inning. He put two runners on base but struck out two batters to end the inning unscathed. In the 11th he put two on again. This time they both scored. The A's had a chance to end the inning with a double play. Jeff Mathis struck out swinging with both runners in motion. Kottaras threw the ball to Inge who couldn't catch it to make the tag. It looked like the throw would have beat the runner but it got by Inge, giving the Jays a 2-1 lead. Moises Sierra followed with a double giving the Jays a 3-1 lead. In the FieldWhen track and field starts in the Olympics, the A's should compete as a relay team. Instead of the baton, the A's passed the ball seamlessly. They combined for a fantastic relay on a double off the wall in center field. Josh Reddick played the ball off the wall and fired it to Adam Rosales, who chucked it home beating Sierra by a good five feet. Catcher George Kottaras caught the ball and absorbed some contact from Sierra but stayed on his feet and held on for the out. The A's ended the 11th inning with a second play at the plate. Anthony Gose hit an infield single but again Sierra was thrown out at home. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 17,121. Up NextTommy Milone (9-8, 3.68) takes the mound for the A's. The last time he faced the Jays he allowed five earned runs over seven innings and took the loss.The Jays will be sending Aaron Laffey (2-2, 4.20 ERA) to the mound. Laffey gave up seven runs on nine hits against the Mariners in his last start. He allowed four runs on July 26 against the A's in Toronto.

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Kurt Suzuki is headed back to the National League.

After three seasons in the American League with the Twins, the former A's backstop has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Braves.

News of the agreement was first reported by SB Nation.

Suzuki will reportedly make $1.5 million, according to Fox Sports. He has a chance to make an addition $2.5 million in incentives.

The 33-year-old Suzuki was drafted by the A's in the second round of 2004 MLB Draft. He made his debut with Oakland in 2007 and was the starting catcher until a 2012 trade to Washington. A year later, the Nationals traded Suzuki back to the A's for the final five weeks of the season.

Prior to the 2014 season, Suzuki signed with Twins. In three seasons with Minnesota, Suzuki hit .263/.316/.364 with 75 doubles, 16 home runs and 160 RBI.

Suzuki will likely serve as a back-up to catcher Tyler Flowers.

Santiago Casilla signs, but who will close for the A's?

Santiago Casilla signs, but who will close for the A's?

Santiago Casilla says he’s returning to his baseball home, which requires only a trip across the Bay Bridge.

The A’s finalized a two-year $11 million contract with the former Giants closer Friday, adding him to a bullpen that has no shortage of late-inning relief options for manager Bob Melvin.

“There’s an old saying that it’s always good to return home, and I’m very happy to get this new opportunity with the Athletics,” Casilla said on a media conference call, via interpreter Manolo Hernandez Douen.

It’s “new” in that the 36-year-old Casilla spent the past seven seasons wearing black and orange. But his major league career is rooted in Oakland. The A’s signed him out of the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent back in 2000, and he spent his first six seasons with Oakland, the first two of those pitching under the name Jairo Garcia.

He’s since won three World Series rings with the Giants, including notching four saves during the 2014 postseason. His final season with San Francisco ended on a sour note last year, however, as he was demoted from the closer’s role during a rough September.

What role will he find in 2017?

Casilla, who reportedly can earn up to $3 million in incentives based on games finished, joins three other relievers in the A’s ‘pen who have legitimate big league closer’s experience — John Axford, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Doolittle was the closer entering last spring but shoulder problems derailed him for a second consecutive season. Madson handled the ninth for most of 2016 and notched 30 saves, but general manager David Forst made it clear Friday that the Opening Night closer has yet to be determined.

“We had a number of different guys save games last year,” Forst said. “… Santiago saved almost 80 games the last couple years. He’s got a lot of experience. As we talked to him and his representatives, he made it clear he’s willing to do anything. It’s great for Bob to have a number of options. It’ll sort itself out in spring training as to who the guy is to start the season.”

Doolittle, Axford, Ryan Dull and Zach Neal combined for 12 saves last season. But even though the A’s are fully stocked with ninth-inning options, it’s fair to question whether any of them is a clear-cut answer for the closer’s role as spring training nears.

Madson’s seven blown saves tied for second most in the American League. Doolittle hasn’t pitched a full season since 2014. Axford issued 4.11 walks per nine innings last year, and Dull’s biggest strength is his ability escape jams when entering mid-inning.

Casilla went 2-5 with a 3.57 ERA and 31 saves last season, striking out a career-best 10.1 per nine innings, but there was some turbulence. He was displeased with Giants manager Bruce Bochy last May after being pulled from a game. Then he struggled mightily in September and lost the closer’s role. Bochy didn’t call on him at all as the bullpen coughed up a ninth-inning lead to the Cubs in Game 4 of the NL Division Series that ended the Giants’ season. That decision had Casilla in tears after the game.

Asked Friday if he harbored any hard feelings toward the Giants, Casilla replied: “It’s a new year, a new team. I have left this in the past.”

Forst pointed to Casilla’s sustained velocity — his fastball averaged 93.6 miles per hour last season — and his expanded repertoire over his career as reasons why the A’s went after him.

“His numbers were really good — 65 strikeouts, 19 walks,” Forst said. “As we got through the offseason I think we thought he was being overlooked a little bit just because of the narrative surrounding his departure with the Giants. I wasn’t around and I don’t know what went on, but it seems like a few blown saves marred what otherwise was a fantastic season for him.”

In other news, the A’s signed veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training. Forst noted De Aza’s ability to play all three outfield spots and his speed as traits that caught the A’s attention.