Athletics blow lead in 13th to complete disastrous road trip

PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 05: Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is hugged by Melky Cabrera #53 as he crosses home plate after hitting a walk-off three run home run in the thirteenth inning during the game against the Oakland Athletics at PNC Park on May 5, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

The silver lining for the Oakland Athletics is that they are still only six games behind the Houston Astros in the AL West despite a 1-8 road trip.

Starling Marte hit a walk-off three-run homer off Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 5-3 victory on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.

This marked the second Sunday in a row in which the Oakland bullpen blew a lead in extra innings. Last week, Blake Treinen gave up four runs in the bottom of the 11th to the Toronto Blue Jays.

A week later, Rodney couldn’t protect a 3-1 lead against the Pirates. Rodney allowed a one-out single to Cole Tucker, walked Jung Ho Kang despite getting ahead 0-2, an RBI single to Adam Frazier and the game-winner to Marte.

All three hits Rodney allowed in the 13th inning came off first-pitch fastballs right down the middle. (Diagram courtesy of MLB)

The Oakland bullpen had retired 14 batters in a row before the 13th inning meltdown.

Tyler Lyons picked up the win. He allowed two runs on in two innings. Rodney suffered his second loss.

The Pirates got on the scoreboard first in the second inning. Josh Bell led off with a double to the gap in left center. Bell advanced to third on a groundout by Melky Cabrera and scored on a sacrifice fly by Colin Moran.

Khris Davis was replaced defensively in the bottom half with a left hip contusion after reaching into the stands for a sensational catch in the opening inning. His hip made hard contact with the side wall on the follow-through and was in obvious pain.

Jordan Lyles started for Pittsburgh and allowed just three hits and two walks in the first 6.2 innings. But Oakland finally broke through with a two-out rally in the seventh.

Nick Hundley doubled down the left field line and scored the tying run on Robbie Grossman’s pinch-hit opposite field single.

Frankie Montas started for Oakland and earned a well deserved no decision. The 26-year-old allowed one run on five hits, walked none and struck out five in six innings. Montas threw 58 of 90 pitches (64.4%) for strikes.

The most stressful inning for Montas came in his final inning when the Pirates put runners on first and third with no outs with the heart of the order due up.

But Gregory Polanco flew out to Ramon Laureano, Bell struck out and Melky Cabrera lined out. Laureano’s reputation forced the Pirates to hold the runner at third twice.

The A’s got two innings each from Lou Trivino and Joakim Soria and an inning each from Ryan Buchter and Yusmeiro Petit.

Lyons was pitching his second inning in the 13th when he issued leadoff walks to Laureano and Chapman.

After Chad Pinder grounded into a force out, Kendrys Morales drove in Laureano with a bloop single into center. Stephen Piscotty drove in Chapman on the next pitch with a double off the out-of-town scoreboard in right.

With Petit on deck, the Pirates walked Jurickson Profar intentionally to load the bases. Then Oakland got unlucky.

Petit grounded sharply up the middle. The ball hit Lyons and caromed to Kang at third. Kang stepped on the bag for a force out and threw to first for a 1-5-3 double play.

The unlucky bounce was a prelude to what was about to come in the bottom half.

The A’s will get a day off before starting a six-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds.

WP: Tyler Lyons (1-0, 9.00)

LP: Fernando Rodney (0-2, 8.78)

Time: 3:58

Attendance: 18,517

Record: 15-21


Bassitt, Piscotty lead Athletics over Rangers

OAKLAND, CA – APRIL 22: Chris Bassitt #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Texas Rangers in the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 22, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Chris Bassitt was just what the doctor ordered for the Oakland Athletics. 

Behind the arm of Bassitt and the bat of Stephen Piscotty, the Athletics defeated the Texas Rangers 6-1 Monday night at the Oakland Coliseum. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Oakland. 

Bassitt made his season debut and allowed two hits, walked four and struck out seven in five scoreless innings. Piscotty went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs. 

With Mike Fiers struggling and injuries to Marco Estrada and Brett Anderson, Oakland needed a solid outing from Bassitt and the 30-year-old delivered. 

Bassitt saved his best for last. He finished his outing by striking out Elvis Andrus, Rangers’ top hitter, with runners on second and third.

Piscotty put Oakland on the board with one out in the second inning by hitting his fourth homer of the season off starter Mike Minor. The solo shot snapped a string of 31.1 homerless innings for the A’s. Minor left a 94.1 mph fastball down Hegenberger and Piscotty launched it over the center field wall. 

The A’s scored in back-to-back innings for the first time in eight days. Josh Phegley led off the third with a double. After a groundout, Mark Canha singled to advance Phegley to third. Matt Chapman drove in Phegley with a sacrifice fly. 

Oakland added two runs in the sixth. With one out, Minor issued back-to-back walks to Chapman and Khris Davis. Chad Pinder drove in Chapman with a first-pitch double inside the third base bag. Piscotty drove in Davis with a sacrifice fly to center. The out might have gone for extra bases had Delino DeShields not make a running catch in full sprint. 

Minor suffered his second loss. He allowed four runs on four hits, walked three and struck out four in six innings. 

The Rangers scored their lone run in the seventh off Ryan Dull, who was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the day. Jeff Mathis led off by laying down a perfect bunt for a single. After a flyout and a single by Shin-Soo Choo, Dull was replaced by J.B. Wendelken. 

Wendelken got Danny Santana to lineout, but pinch-hitter Patrick Wisdom lined a double down the left field line that score Mathis. Wisdom was pinch-hitting for Andrus, who finally couldn’t continue after being hit on the right hand by a pitch in the first inning. Wendelken limited the damage to just one run when he induced a groundout from Nomar Mazara. 

Oakland added two insurance runs in the eighth. With two outs and runners on first and second, Piscotty lined a single to right for the first run. The second run came in when DeShields misplayed the ball. 

Joakim Soria and Fernando Rodney pitched the eighth and ninth inning, respectively, for Oakland. WIth his 907th appearance, Rodney took sole possession of 24th place all-time. 

WP: Chris Bassitt (1-0, 0.00) 

LP: Mike Minor (2-2, 3.21) 

Time: 2:48 

Attendance: 8,073 

Record: 12-13 


Jays rout Athletics, Fiers continues struggles

OAKLAND, CA – APRIL 20: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #50 of the Oakland Athletics leaves the field after being replaced in the top of the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 20, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Kendrys Morales was responsible for one run in Saturday’s game between the Oakland Athletics and the Toronto Blue Jays. However, it did not count towards his RBI total, but rather his ERA.

Morales was pressed into action after the Athletics pitching staff gave up nine runs on 14 hits to the Jays in the first six innings in a 10-1 loss to Toronto. The 35-year-old pitched the ninth and allowed one run on one hit with two walks.

It was Morales’ second career pitching appearance. His first career appearance was a scoreless inning against Oakland as a member of the Jays on May 20, 2018 in Toronto. It does come full circle.

Oakland starter Mike Fiers was torched for six runs on nine hits in just 3.1 innings. Fiers has given up six runs in each of his last three starts spanning 10 innings. His ERA ballooned from 3.00 on April 2 to 8.28 on April 20. 

Rowdy Tellez, Brandon Drury and Justin Smoak homered for the Jays, who have won the first two games of the series and five of six overall. 

Sam Gaviglio picked up the win in relief of starter Matt Shoemaker, who suffered a left knee injury after catcher Luke Maile picked off Matt Chapman at first on a ball in the dirt. Shoemaker tagged Chapman after a brief rundown to end the inning, but went down in a heap after realizing the injury.

The former Los Angeles Angel will undergo an MRI on Sunday. Shoemaker allowed three hits in three innings.

Gavliglio more than picked up the slack for his injured teammate. The 28-year-old pitched four perfect innings with five strikeouts. 

Fiers retired the first six batters in order, but allowed back-to-back singles to open the third inning. After a sacrifice bunt, Eric Sogard made his former team pay by lining an opposite-field single to drive in the first run. 

Fiers ran into deep trouble in the fourth. The Jays opened with five consecutive hits, including back-to-back home runs by Tellez and Drury. 

Tellez crushed an 0-1 hanging curve to center for a three-run homer. Two pitches later, Drury lined an 0-1 fastball on the outer part of the plate just over the out-of-town scoreboard in right for his second homer is as many days. 

Fiers allowed two more hits before being lifted for Liam Hendriks. Freddy Galvis greeted Hendriks with a run-scoring single on yet another 0-1 pitch. Hendriks finally stopped the bleeding by striking out Randal Grichuk and got Justin Smoak to fly out. 

Drury had a two-run double in the fifth. Smoak hit his fourth homer of the season in the sixth. Former Athletic first-round draft pick Billy McKinney added a sacrifice fly off Morales in the ninth.

Galvis provided a defensive gem for Toronto in the eighth when he caught Josh Phegley’s popup on a full sprint over the shoulder with his barehand. 

Fernando Rodney pitched the eighth for Oakland. It was Rodney’s 906th career appearance, tying him with Cy Young for 24th place all-time.

WP: Sam Gaviglio (2-0, 1.57) 

LP: Mike Fiers (2-2, 8.28) 

Time: 3:05 

Attendance: 31,140 

Record: 11-12 


Red Sox rallies past sloppy Athletics, 6-3

The Oakland Athletics gave extra opportunities to the Boston Red Sox and the world champions took full advantage.

Reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts hit a two-out, two-run double off the third base bag in the top of the ninth, and the Red Sox rallied from three runs down to defeat Oakland 6-3 on Wednesday night at the Oakland Coliseum. The victory ended Boston’s four-game losing streak and the A’s four-game winning streak.

Jurickson Profar made a throwing error in the sixth that cost Oakland two runs. He also couldn’t handle Blake Swihart’s hard grounder in the ninth that started the two-out winning rally. The ball was hit with an exit velocity of 98.8 mph, but Profar needed to come up with the ball to atone for the earlier mistake.

Oakland got on the board first in the second inning. Kendrys Morales and Profar opened with back-to-back singles off Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi. Marcus Semien walked to load the bases. After Ramon Laureano struck out, Nick Hundley lined a single off the glove of third baseman Rafael Devers. Devers threw home for the force out, but catcher Blake Swihart couldn’t handle the throw and Morales scored.

The A’s added two runs in the fourth. Eovaldi opened the inning by walking Semien on four pitches. Eovaldi then hung an 83.6 mph curve to Laureano, who crushed it into deep center field for a two-run homer. The ball exited at a velocity of 109.7 mph and had a projected distance of 438 feet.

Boston finally broke through against Marco Estrada in the fifth. With two outs, Swihart crushed a changeup over the right-center field fence for his first homer of the season.

The sixth inning started with a dreaded leadoff walk to Betts. Andrew Benintendi struck out. Devers hit perhaps an inning-ending double-play grounder to second, but Profar threw the ball away to short left and advanced Betts to third. Estrada walked J.D. Martinez to load the bases and that would be the end of his night.

Lefty Ryan Buchter was called upon to face Mitch Moreland and the left-handed slugger lined a first-pitch fastball down the right field line to tie the game.

J.B. Wendelken relieved Buchter and was able to prevent further damage. Eduardo Nunez hit a grounder between third and short. Chapman made a sliding stop to his left, looked the runner back at third and threw out Nunez. Brock Holt grounded out to first to end the inning.

An instant replay review finally went against Oakland in the bottom of the eighth and it cost them a go-ahead run.

Semien singled with two outs, stole second and advanced to third on Swihart’s throwing error. Laureano then hit a grounder to the hole at short. Holt ranged to his right, backhanded the ball and threw a strike to first. Laureano was called safe, but replay showed he was out by a half-step and the call was overturned by New York.  

It was a tie game until two outs in the ninth. Swihart and Jackie Bradley Jr. singled off Fernando Rodney. The runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch and scored when Betts hit the double. Betts scored when Benintendi lined a triple into deep right center field on the first pitch he saw from Yusmeiro Petit.

Ryan Brasier pitched the bottom of the ninth and picked up his first career save.

The offense will need to pick up if Oakland wants to win the series on Thursday afternoon. The A’s picked up only five hits and the first four hitters in the lineup were a combined 0-for-16.

As far as Profar is concern, he came into the game with a career fielding percentage of .975 in 74 games at second base, with eight errors in 578.2 innings. Profar will improve defensively.

WP: Matt Barnes (1-0, 0.00) 

LP: Fernando Rodney (0-1, 10.38) 

S: Ryan Brasier (1, 0.00) 

Time: 3:21 

Attendance: 14,207