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A’s will skip Hahn one turn in rotation to let his blister heal

Jesse Hahn threw 51 innings before a blister shut him down Saturday; now he'll be skipped a start to let the blister heal.

Jesse Hahn threw 5.1 innings before a blister shut him down Saturday; now he’ll be skipped a start to let the blister heal.

The A’s will skip starting pitcher Jesse Hahn one turn in the rotation to see if they can deal with the blister that forced him out of Saturday’s game.

Jesse Chavez, who threw the last 3.2 innings of a 5-0 win in Kansas City in relief of Hahn Saturday, will get the start Thursday in the finale of this 10-game, 11-day road trip.

“The blister looks better today than I thought it would,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “But we want to make sure that he puts this behind him. We’ll have him skip a turn, then see where he fits in.’’

Once the A’s decide Hahn, 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in three starts, is ready to return, they will have to fit him in around the day off the club has on April 27 between home series against the Astros and the Angels.

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Zobrist injury doesn’t appear serious, but he will miss time

Second baseman Ben Zobrist won't be able to plant and throw for at few days at least after suffering a knee injury.

Second baseman Ben Zobrist won’t be able to plant and throw for at few days at least after a left knee injury.

Ben Zobrist isn’t in the starting lineup Monday and probably won’t be for a few days more, but the left knee injury the A’s second baseman suffered Sunday in Kansas City isn’t as bad as it could be.

At least he doesn’t believe it is based on a similar injury that sidelined him in the early days of his career in the Houston organization, the year before he was traded to Tampa Bay. That time he suffered a torn cartilage, and there is no evidence of a repeat this time through.

“I was playing for Salem and I hurt my knee with a slide, like this,’’ Zobrist said Monday. But then, I couldn’t walk for a week. Today, I can walk just fine. After that season was over, I had surgery. I haven’t had anything like this since then.’’

Zobrist had an MRI Monday morning, after which he said he was told “my ligaments are perfect,’’ and suspicion fell on the bone-jarring nature of the slide for the pain. The A’s will give him a cortisone shot Monday evening and he’ll be out at least until Thursday. Not great, but better than it looked when he was taken out of the game mid-fifth inning.

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A’s not likely to forget Herrera’s head-tapping gesture

Home plate umpire Greg Gibson restrains A's Brett Lawrie after a Kelvin Herrera fastball was thrown behind him. Gerrera wound up being ejected.

Home plate umpire Greg Gibson restrains A’s Brett Lawrie after a Kelvin Herrera fastball was thrown behind him. Gerrera wound up being ejected.

The Royals were the best feel-good story of 2014, a scrappy, hustling team that put a full-court press on opponents and ran them out of the gym, in the process running themselves into the World Series.

Six months later, the Royals have an entirely different persona. They’ve become angry. They’ve become nasty.

Not that they aren’t still a handful for opposing teams to play, but games like Sunday, when they had five ejections (two players, two coaches and the manager, Ned Yost) suggest they don’t have it all together yet.

It was one thing for Yordano Ventura to hit Brett Lawrie with a pitch in the elbow Saturday. Rightly or not, the Royals believed that Lawrie committed a dirty slide into shortstop Alcides Escobar Friday.

Ventura’s pitch was payback. And the A’s could live with that.

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A’s could find out Monday if Zobrist is going to miss time

Ben Zobrist was running fine here on his first RBI single Sunday, but he jammed his left knee later.

Ben Zobrist was running fine here on his first RBI single Sunday, but he jammed his left knee later.

The A’s may be without second baseman Ben Zobrist for a while, and that could hurt, because he’s been as steady a hitter as the club has had this first couple of weeks of the season.

Zobrist had two run-scoring singles, one in the third inning and one in the fifth inning Sunday, but hurt his left knee unsuccessfully trying to break up a double play with a slide later in the fifth.

He took the field in the bottom of the fifth, but as soon as there was a man on base, Zobrist signaled to the bench that he needed a trainer. After he was examined, he was lifted from the game.

Manager Bob Melvin said that Zobrist will be checked out Monday before the team opens a three-game series in Anaheim.

Zobrist said he didn’t know if an MRI or any other test might be needed, but he said he knew he had no business being in a close game when he couldn’t move as well as expected on defense.

“I jammed it pretty good on the slide,’’ Zobrist said. “I didn’t feel right to stay in the game.’’

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It was Ventura’s smile after HBP that set A’s off Saturday

Craig Gentry and Josh Reddick were the two A’s players most visibly agitated by seeing the Royals’ Yordano Ventura hit Oakland third baseman Brett Lawrie with a pitch in the fourth inning Saturday.

Umpires put up barrier to Craig Gentry getting closer to the action after Royals' Yardano Ventura hit A's third baseman Brett Lawrie with a pitch Saturday.

Umpires put up barrier to Craig Gentry getting closer to the action after Royals’ Yardano Ventura hit A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie with a pitch Saturday.

Both had to be talked down by teammates and coaches after strongly reacting to what the A’s perceived as a purpose pitch from Ventura, payback for Lawrie’s slide that took Alcides Escobar out of the starting lineup with a left knee injury for the last two days of the weekend series.

Talking about it Sunday, Gentry said it wasn’t the pitch, as such. It was Ventura standing on the mound smiling after throwing it.

“We expected them to hit him,’’ Gentry said. “Not that we thought it was justified. But to stand there smiling about it, too, that was uncalled for.’’

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Pitchers set blistering pace with five shutouts in 12 games

Stephen Vogt congratulates Jesse Chavez after he wraps up fifth A's shutout in 12 games this season

Stephen Vogt congratulates Jesse Chavez after he wraps up fifth A’s shutout in 12 games this season

The A’s got a combined shutout Saturday, the fifth shutout by the A’s staff in 12 games to start the season.

It’s not a sustainable pace. Of course, it seemed unsustainable when Oakland had four shutouts in nine games, too. But the pitchers, particularly the starters, just seem to be on a roll.

Sonny Gray, Jesse Hahn, Scott Kazmir, Kendall Graveman and Drew Pomeranz have each started one of the shutouts, so it’s not like the A’s are riding one or two hot hands.

The A’s seem to believe that the quality of pitching, if not the number of shutouts, is sustainable.

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Some bitterness lingers over Lawrie’s slide into Escobar; Royals prove it with Ventura hitting Lawrie with fastball

Alcides Escobar of the Royals was not seriously hurt when taken out on this Friday slide by the A's Brett Lawrie, but some bitterness remained Saturday between the two sides.

Alcides Escobar of the Royals was not seriously hurt when taken out on this Friday slide by the A’s Brett Lawrie, but some bitterness remained Saturday between the two sides.

Bitter feelings eased some Saturday in the Kansas City clubhouse over the slide of A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie into Royals’ shortstop Alcides Escobar, but things are far from being smoothed over.

Proof was served up as a 99-mph fastball into Lawrie’s right side in the fourth inning Saturday night from Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura, a teammate and friend of Escobar.

Lawrie’s reaction was to drop his bat and move to first base while the umpires ejected Ventura. Both teams wandered onto the field, but with the exception of A’s outfielder Craig Gentry, no one seemed too worked up about it. Gentry, though, had to be held back.

Escobar, who said his immediate thought after the seventh inning collision at second base Friday was that his left leg was broken, checked out as mostly healthy and could have played, although he was held out of the starting lineup.

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Did hostile crowd impact the outcome of A’s challenge Friday?

Brett Lawrie, his hand on second base, was called out because New York officials checking the challenge  said they couldn't say for sure Lawrie's had was on the base.

Brett Lawrie, his hand on second base, was called out because New York officials checking the A’s challenge of the ruling that said Lawrie was out said they couldn’t say for sure if Lawrie’s hand was on the base. Also, Escobar, who was hurt on the play, doesn’t appear to be tagging Lawrie.

Baseball players always say they like to play in front of large crowds. After what happened in the seventh inning Friday, you have to wonder if the A’s were hurt by playing in front of a packed Kauffman Stadium crowd.

The almost 40,000 people in the stadium were incensed that Brett Lawrie slid into second base and Royals’ shortstop Alcides Escobar hard to the point where Escobar hurt his left knee and had to be assisted off the field.

The crowd was in a fury at that point, the game being tied and a player vital to the Royals’ cause being taken off the field.

So it didn’t go over particularly well in the stadium when Oakland manager Bob Melvin challenged the out call made by second base umpire Greg Gibson.

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A’s ability to control running game to be tested by Royals

Drew Pomeranz got a pickoff Wednesday; A's will need more of those to control Royals' running game.

Drew Pomeranz got a pickoff Wednesday; A’s will need more of those to control Royals’ running game.

Ten games is too small a sample size to make any judgments on the A’s ability to control the running game.

Three games is even a smaller grouping, but the next three days, starting with Friday’s series opener against the Royals, could tell a better story in the A’s battle against the running game.

The Royals are a running team, and it was that ability, combined with the A’s inability to defend against the run, that led Kansas City to a 12-inning 9-8 win in the American League Wild Card game last year over Oakland, ultimately catapulting the Royals into the World Series against the Giants.

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Bullpen’s penchant for giving up homers is troubling

Evan Scribner is one of the A's relievers troubled by early season homers, although manager Bob Melvin likes his performance overall.

Evan Scribner is one of the A’s relievers troubled by early season homers, although manager Bob Melvin likes his performance overall.

Evan Scribner and R.J. Alvarez combined to throw the final three innings for the A’s Wednesday in a 6-1 loss to the Astros.

Both men gave up solo homers, adding to a trend the A’s never saw coming.

Five different A’s relievers have allowed a home run. Overall, the bullpen has been roughed up for 11 runs, and all of those have come on homers, including Luis Valbuena’s deep fly off Scribner and Evan Gattis’ missile off Alvarez Wednesday.

In themselves, the Wednesday homers don’t mean much. They just took the score from 4-1 to 6-1. But that’s not true across the board for the relief corps, which Oakland was counting on to be its backbone in much the way it was a year ago.

Saturday saw Dan Otero raked for a three-run Nelson Cruz blast in the eighth inning just moments after the A’s had taken the lead with two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Oakland had to rally to tie and force extra innings, but lost in 11.

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