Postgame: Yonder Alonso caps A’s rally with walk-off HR

Oakland Athletics' Yonder Alonso watches his three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. The Athletics won 7-4. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Yonder Alonso watches his walk-off three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning on Friday night as the A’s rallied to win 7-4. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

OAKLAND – As far as major league debuts go, Sean Manaea gave the A’s a chance Friday night as the big left-hander with bushy black hair pitched into the sixth inning before departing with the score tied.

But the prized arm in the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to Kansas City last July had to wait a while to celebrate.

Houston scored three runs in the sixth – all charged to Manaea – to take the lead, but the A’s rallied for two in the eighth to tie the score and won 7-4 when Yonder Alonso blasted a three-run, walk-off home run to right in the ninth.

“He’s got that kind of power,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s been swinging better a little bit in batting practice.”

Stephen Vogt led off the decisive inning with a fly to left-center that got past center fielder Carlos Gomez and rolled to the wall for a double. Three batters later, Alonso smashed a 1-0 offering from Pat Neshek into the seats, putting an end to a slide in which Oakland had lost five of six games.

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A’s Danny Valencia trip to disabled list seems probable; likeliest replacement figures to be INF/OF Tyler Ladendorf

Danny Valencia's next stop may be the disabled list thanks to a hamstring injury.

Danny Valencia’s next stop may be the disabled list thanks to a hamstring injury.

The A’s had to go without third baseman Danny Valencia, as expected, in the final game of their series with the Yankees Thursday after Valencia suffered a left hamstring strain Wednesday.

The question awaiting the club is whether or not Valencia will have to go on the disabled list. There was no decision before the game, but manager Bob Melvin expected to be able to announce a decision one way or another after the game.

It didn’t sound like he was expecting good news.

“Hamstrings are a tough deal,’’ Melvin said. “Hamstrings aren’t a day or two and you’re back in the lineup for the most part.’’

Valencia said he hurt himself popping up from a slide at the plate in the fourth inning Wednesday. He spent all of the pregame Thursday getting treatment on his left leg from the training crew.

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A’s Mark Canha having trouble finding much playing time

Mark Canha isn't getting much of a chance to celebrate or do much else on the field in the early weeks of the A's season.

Mark Canha isn’t getting much of a chance to celebrate or do much else on the field in the early weeks of the A’s season.

As an unknown quantity last year, then-rookie Mark Canha wasn’t supposed to play much. He wound up getting some early chances and capitalized.

Canha is a known quantity this time around with 16 homers, 70 RBI and a slash line of .254/.315/.426 as Rule 5 pickup. He was supposed to get a big contributor, but that’s not how it’s worked.

He played in 10 of the A’s first 13 games a year ago, but in only four of the first 13 this time around and in just one of the last nine. And he was on the bench again Tuesday as the A’s opened a 10-game road trip in Yankee Stadium.

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Knee surgery scheduled for A’s Eric Sogard; on the plus side, infielder’s disabling shoulder injury has now been cleared up

Eric Sogard's left knee will require surgery next week, meaning his stay on the DL will be another 6-8 weeks.

Eric Sogard’s left knee will require surgery next week, meaning his stay on the DL will be another 6-8 weeks.

Infielder Eric Sogard, who began the season on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort, will have his stay on the disabled list extended by perhaps two months by left knee surgery.

An MRI on the knee, which has periodically given Sogard trouble the last two seasons, wasn’t encouraging.

“They found some loose bodies in the knee near the patella tendon,’’ Sogard said Saturday morning. “And they have to take them out. I’ve played through the pain the last couple of years, but this is the time.

“You never want to be on the disabled list, ever, but I’m thinking that I’ll have the surgery and then maybe be back and have a good second half.’’

The veteran infielder left the A’s Saturday morning to get a second opinion, but as manager bob Melvin said, surgery “sounds like it’s going to happen.’’

Sogard said he’d been told to expect to miss between six and eight weeks, which would have him on target for a return sometime around the All-Star break in mid-July.

“It’s not what I’d hoped,’’ Sogard said, “but we’ll get it dealt with now and go from there.’’

This will be just Sogard’s second career appearance on the disabled list. He wound up there from Aug. 7 through the end of the season in 2012 with back trouble.


–Starter Henderson Alvarez will throw a bullpen session Sunday morning, after which he could be headed out on an injury rehabilitation assignment.

Alvarez, who says his arm “feels real good right now,’’ has thrown two successful simulated games facing hitters, his highest level of work since last July’s shoulder surgery when he was with the Marlins.

Melvin said Alvarez has been impressive throughout, and “if all goes well, he’ll be ready to go out on rehab.’’ The manager said the idea was that he’d be ready to join the A’s starting rotation in late May or early June.

“He’s right on the timetable our guys set out for him,’’ Melvin said.



–The Royals made sure to get Ryan Madson’s ring size when they were putting together a World Series ring for him. Even so, the A’s reliever is finding the ring, which he received Friday from Royals’ manager Ned Yost, a tad on the big side. “I thought I might wear it from time to time,’’ Madson said. “But it’s kind of loose and might fall off.’’ No matter, he said “it’s a beautiful thing.’’

–Friday Melvin said he didn’t want to move shortstop Marcus Semien out of the No. 9 position in the batting order. But Semien, who leads the team with four homers, had a single and a walk Friday, leads the club’s regulars with a .281 batting average, .378 on-base percentage and .656 slugging percentage, and Saturday he was batting second. “I still like him ninth,’’ Melvin said. “but he had a walk and a knock last night. And with Chris Coghlan out of the lineup, he was the best choice.’’ Coghlan, who has batted second three of the previous five games, is in an 0-for-19 skid.

–Coghlan isn’t the only struggling A’s hitter. First baseman Yonder Alonso is hitless in his last 13 at-bats and is sitting at 3-for-33 (.091) for the season. Even so, his defense has been a major plus and Melvin had Alonso in the lineup again Saturday. “He’s hit a few balls hard lately,’’ Melvin said. “We’ve got a few guys who are struggling.’’


Edgar Martinez offers Warriors some advice on balancing between setting wins record and focusing on NBA title

As the Golden State Warriors head into their last two games with the chance to set the NBA record for most wins in the regular season, we thought it would be a good time to talk to someone who’s been there.

Enter Edgar Martinez, the longtime Seattle Mariner designated hitter, the man for whom the American League DH of the Year title is named. Martinez, now the Mariners’ hitting coach, was a key member of the 2001 Seattle team that set the AL record for most wins in a regular season.

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Gray cures the One-Run Loss Flu in delayed first start

Sonny Gray finally beat the bug that knocked him out of his Opening Day start and made up for lost time against the Chicago White Sox Wednesday night.

Not coincidentally, the A’s also recovered from the One-Run Loss Flu. With Gray allowing just three hits over seven innings and striking out five, Oakland made a meager offensive output stand up in a 2-1 victory over the Sox after two disheartening defeats by a run to open the season.

The A’s ran into a tough pitching customer themselves at the Coliseum in Chicago’s latest left-handed starter, Carlos Rodon (0-1), but Rodon was outpaced by Gray, who other than some slight command rustiness (four walks), only really allowed one hard-hit ball that ultimately became the visitors’ only run.
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Reddick, Axford, Bassitt star in A’s morning shootaround

The A’s got their collective minds off baseball Saturday morning with a trip next door to the Arena, where they had a team free throw and 3-point shooting competition.

There were some serious highlights to be had, including Josh Reddick pulling off a Steph Curry shot from the tunnel leading to the Warriors’ locker room and John Axford channeling his inner Rick Barry with an underhanded bomb from the lower stands.

Forewarning of the competition, an idea proposed by visiting clubhouse manager Mike Thalblum, was given to the A’s earlier in the week by manager Bob Melvin, who threatened to compete in it himself – “I could dunk when I was a sophomore in high school,’’ the skipper said – but ultimately bowed out.

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Chapman reveling in Bay Bridge reward, Graveman looks ready, the surgery lowdown on Jarrod Parker

SAN FRANCISCO – Eleven years is a long time. It’s an even longer time for a baseball team not to develop one of its own draft picks as a fixture position player.

But that’s how long it’s been for the A’s, whose last drafted-and-developed everyday player who played any extended length of time with them was shortstop Cliff Pennington, their top pick way back in 2005.

Most of their top position prospects since either didn’t make the grade, didn’t last long like Jemile Weeks, or were traded to other teams before making it to the majors like Addison Russell.

Enter 22-year-old third baseman Matt Chapman, who looks like the best bet to end that dubious drought. Chapman, who hit 23 home runs in just 80 games for Class A Stockton last year despite fighting a bad wrist, could conceivably be in Oakland by September if his impressive spring carries over into his anticipated next assignment at Double-A Midland.
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Melvin promises lineup mix-and-match, a strong outing for Bassitt and Alonso shows his deft touch at first

SAN FRANCISCO – A’s manager Bob Melvin called a team meeting Thursday night at AT&T Park to remind his position players one last time that the team is likely to have a lineup that changes fairly dramatically from day to day.

Translation: Nobody’s head should be so big that they should consider themselves a lock everyday starter.

Right fielder Josh Reddick may not have to worry much about that, but for just about everybody else, a look at the lineup card will be essential viewing upon arrival in the Oakland clubhouse in 2016. That may even include assumed regulars like designated hitter Billy Butler, shortstop Marcus Semien and third baseman Danny Valencia.

“Starters for us are relative,” Melvin said. “We’ll have two different lineups with what we feel are all potential starters. There will be five different guys in the lineup (Friday night) who we feel are all starters, too. It’s going to be about the collective 25 and these guys need to know that. We need to put egos aside for the team and know if we’re going to succeed, it’s going to take all 25 guys.”
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Gray has a rough day, while Valencia continues to enjoy hot spring

It just wasn’t Sonny Gray’s day Saturday, both on and off the field.

The A’s ace starter was up in the wee hours of the morning to tend to his 1-year-old son Gunnar, and the youngster was still so cranky after his latest spring outing, he had to bolt Hohokam Park without speaking to the media.

Earlier, on the mound, things didn’t go so well, either. Gray pitched 5-plus innings and gave up six runs – five of them earned – on eight hits and a walk. He also committed an uncharacteristic error and threw two wild pitches in the A’s 7-6 split-squad victory over Cincinnati. He didn’t strike out a batter.

Gray did say via text message that – little wonder — he just got a little tired during his third spring outing and that there wasn’t anything to worry about. Manager Bob Melvin wasn’t worried, either.

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