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It’s early days yet, but A’s finding replays `maddening’; Chavez goes to changeup more to dominate Twins

If the minds who decided to add the replay and review system into baseball in 2014 thought the game would be somehow be made crisper by getting the calls right, and right away, they were wrong.

Wednesday’s game between the A’s and the Twins was all about replays.

In the second inning, Jed Lowrie thought he was still at the plate after a foul tip. A lengthy discussion determined that he was out, that former A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki had caught the foul tip and the ball hadn’t touched the ground.

“All of a sudden the flow of the game seemed to have stopped,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “We didn’t do anything after that.’’

In the ninth inning Jim Johnson thought he’d struck out Eduardo Escobar, but Derek Norris was ruled not to have caught the foul tip, Escobar remained alive and popped a single to left to score a run.

On that single, Yoenis Cespedes threw to third base in an attempt to get a force out. The call was that runner Kurt Suzuki was safe and that call, after another lengthy review stood.

Donaldson said he felt Suzuki slide into the bag, “while I had control of the ball,’’ which should have meant an out.

Melvin said on the A’s video review of that play, “we were getting the out call. We thought he was out.

“It’s maddening and it’s tough to deal with at times.’’

 

–Jesse Chavez didn’t get his first win of the season Wednesday, but that wasn’t what bugged him after the A’s 7-4, 11-inning victory.

He was annoyed at giving up the one run he did, a solo homer hit by Jason Kubel in the second inning, saying he’d “like to have that one back.’’

For the most part, however, it was another strong argument why Chavez deserves to be in the Oakland rotation. He mostly pitched ahead in the count, he struck out a career-best nine, he didn’t walk anyone and only once did the Twins get men on base at the same time against him, and that lasted for about 10 seconds before Sam Fuld threw out Trevor Plouffe at third base.

He said he was trying to use his changeup more.

His manager admired what he did to keep the Twins in check.

“Chavvy was great again,’’ Melvin said. “that’s what we’ve seen from him every game since spring training. You see the focus he has. He wants to run with this opportunity.’’

 

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Vogt continues to fight for a job that may not be there

It's been a hot spring for A's catcher Stephen Vogt

It’s been a hot spring for A’s Stephen Vogt

It doesn’t seem possible that there have been many players fight harder for a job than the A’s Stephen Vogt, especially when considering there doesn’t seem there’s a job available.

We’re a week away from the A’s having to finalize their roster, and it seems there is no way the club can work it to carry three catchers. And since the other two catchers don’t have options, it seems the A’s will opt to send Vogt to Triple-A Sacramento, keeping lefty John Jaso and right-hander Derek Norris to platoon at the big league level.

Vogt keeps putting pressure on the decision makers. He hit a homer foul with a man on base in the third inning, then came back later in the at-bat to hit the ball out again, this time in fair territory.

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ALDS wrapup: A’s left too much of roster unused; Disappointment follows another Game 5 loss

For a team that prided itself on using its entire roster to get through the 162-game season with the best record in the American League West, the A’s got away from their trademark in the post-season.

Four players, pitchers Jerry Blevins and Jesse Chavez, catcher Kurt Suzuki and outfielder Chris Young, didn’t get into a game. Another catcher, Derek Norris, got one at-bat as a pinch-hitter.

That’s essentially 20 percent of the 25-man roster unused.

This is a quick postmortem, but that’s unlike the A’s.

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Stephen Vogt does where Crash Davis never did

If you don’t think there is something wonderful and downright fun about baseball in the playoffs, then you haven’t met Stephen Vogt.

And if you had seen Vogt six months ago, you wouldn’t have seen someone destined for the limelight. You would have seen a man not feeling the wonder, not feeling the fun, just walking through a shopping mall in Durham, N.C., not far from where another minor league catcher, Crash Davis, made a name for himself.

At the time Vogt had close to 1,900 minor league at-bats in which he averaged .299, but in his only 25 at-bats in the big leagues he was a whopping zero, zilch, nada, nyet for 25.

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Vogt goes from outhouse to penthouse; A’s will turn some pitchers loose on hitters in BP

The A’s will be carrying three catchers in the first round of the American League Division Series.

That one of them is Stephen Vogt is not a surprise at this point, Vogt having more than proved himself since … well, since almost being out of baseball earlier this year.

He was in spring training with Tampa Bay, but the Rays didn’t have a spot for someone who was 0-for-25 as a rookie in 2012. The A’s picked him up for a few bucks at a point in April where the Rays seemed destined to cut him loose.

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Game 156 wrapup: Beane says depth crucial to A’s West title; Crisp surprises himself with 20-20 output; This celebration means more to Sogard

The fact that the A’s were able to clinch the American League West title on Sunday, the final home date of the regular season, worked out well for Billy Beane.

Securing the title meant the A’s general manager could stay at home and not join the team Monday in Anaheim for a possible clinching party there. Beane isn’t much for road trips these days.

As it was, Beane stayed mostly out of the clubhouse celebration Sunday and was uncontaminated by the sprays of champagne and beer that coated most of the rest of the members of his organization.

He was with his twins, Brayden and Tinsley, when I caught up with him far from the madding crowd.

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Game 137 wrapup: A’s rethinking having Anderson push for rotation?; Straily lights up Texas with Suzuki’s help; Balfour fights through tough stretch

The plan all along was for the A’s to bring opening day starter Brett Anderson back as an addition to the starting rotation after four month on the disabled list.

It’s looking increasing unlikely that will happen with 25 games left in the season and Anderson having pitched well in relief since coming off the disabled list He got four outs in the seventh and eighth innings, easing the transition from middle reliever Dan Otero to late men Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour Monday.

More than that, he starting rotation seems to be on an upsurge without him. After a string of so-so starts in early- and mid-August, the A’s starters are picking up the pace. In a stretch of eight games, seven of them Oakland wins, the starters have a composite 2.70 ERA.

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Game 132 wrapup: Anderson gets in, gets save; Moss opens up stance and ball starts jumping; Straily finds comfort zone throwing to Suzuki

Brett Anderson kept jumping up in the bullpen every time the telephone rang.

Anderson, a starter for virtually all of his career, isn’t used to the rhythms of the bullpen.

“Every call, first to last, I figured I’m in the game,’’ Anderson said. But as the game went along and the A’s lead went from 3-1 to 7-1 to 10-1, he began to calm down.

“I thought they might save me to see how Bartolo does,’’ Anderson said.

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Game 128 wrapup: Parker undefeated streak now at 16 games; Suzuki fits right back in behind plate

The last time the A’s Jarrod Parker lost a game, Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger seemed like a good idea, Kurt Suzuki was playing for the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants were tied for first place in the National League West.

The Lone Ranger is Hollywood’s flop of the year, the Giants are dead last in the NL West and Suzuki is now back in an Oakland uniform.

Yes, time flies and things change when you are a Major League pitcher with a string of 16 consecutive starts without a loss.

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Michael Taylor should get a good look with A’s; Kurt Suzuki back in lineup

The lineups for the A’s-Rays series opener at Tropicana Field:

A’s – Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Reddick RF, Cespedes CF, Gomes DH, Inge 3B, Suzuki C, Ka’aihue 1B, Taylor LF; Ross RHP.

TB – Jennings LF, Upton CF, Pena 1B, Joyce RF, Scott DH, Zobrist 2B, Rhymes 3B, Molina C, Rodriguez SS; Price LHP.

After that plunking Kurt Suzuki took on his left hand, I’m surprised to see him in the lineup tonight. But manager Bob Melvin said Suzuki wanted in there. “When I first saw it, I thought potentially it was something bad,” Melvin said. “His hand is swollen but not too bad. And he wanted to play. He’s a very tough kid. He plays with any number of injuries over the course of the season.”

It looks like Michael Taylor will get his first real shot at extended big league playing time. “At the big league level, you earn playing time,” Melvin said. “But with those lefties coming up (that the A’s face), we’re going to get a good look at him. It looks like this is his best opportunity. I don’t know if there’s going to be a better one at this point.”

It was just last week that Taylor flew to Baltimore to join the A’s just in case Coco Crisp couldn’t play with his inner ear infection. Taylor stayed just one day and was never activated. Crisp’s condition hasn’t gotten better, so he’s back in the Bay Area and will be examined by Dr. Allan Pont, the A’s physician. Taylor was in a Sacramento movie theatre when he got the call he was being promoted. He was watching “Think Like A Man,” but immediately left to go home and pack. “I saw about seven minutes of it,” Taylor said. “We got our money back.”

Playing the outfield at Tropicana Field can be tricky with the roof, the low lights and the rings of catwalks all making it tough to track the ball, but Taylor played some minor league games here while in the Phillies’ system. He attended high school in Apopka, Fla., — near Orlando – so he’s got about 10 people in attendance tonight, including his parents.

The Rays are rolling right now with a major league-best 18-8 record, and David Price has won his past three starts. Needless to say, it’s a pretty stiff test for the A’s this weekend, but they have to be feeling pretty good too after taking two of three from the Red Sox.

That’s all for now …