Players’ Weekend came and went in a disappointing thud, but the week prior was the kind of A’s baseball we dream about: Taking down the Astros 3 out of 4, then turning around and sweeping the red hot Goliaths, the New York Yankees. Blips like this weekend are frustrating, but you trip, and you get up again. You’re not going to win them all, but it’s crunch time, and there’s no better time than now to use bitter defeat as a spark to the fire and push past.
At the start of the week, it was a four-game set against the Astros, of which the A’s took three. Next up, the Yankees came to town, hot and high on their laurels, but JUDGEment Day was no match for a Bailey-Fiers-Roark roundhouse and they succumbed to the sweep.
I got to go to the Coliseum for the Mike “Smoky” Fiers outing on Wednesday, which also happened to be AJ Puk’s Big League debut. Though he wasn’t in long, watching him saunter onto the field, followed by a cape of flowing hair and an uproar from the crowd was spectacular. His family was on the screen, cheering and beaming as Puk made his first few warm up tosses, all lanky limbs and pure precision. Once the inning started, Puk did not disappoint with his velocity, almost cracking triple-digits with a 99.5 mph heater.
Puk was put in a high pressure situation, in the 8th inning with the A’s up by just two. He gave up a hit and a walk, and his sole out was wrapped up by a tumbling Jurickson Profar. It may not have gone lights-out, but at last Puk finally got to pitch in the actual majors and get at those debut jitters out of the way.
Liam Hendriks charged in to his thumpin DJs from Mars “Queen vs RATM vs Skrillex” Mash Up. As if he was feeding off of Puk’s debut electricity, Hendriks hunkered down and worked five outs with gusto. On the final out, Hendrik’s jumped into the air as AC/DC cranked over the sound system and the players flooded the field.
I also got the pleasure of going to Saturday and Sunday’s games courtesy of the Battle of the Bay Art Show! While the games themselves didn’t turn out... good... the event was a lot of fun! Getting to meet up with some of the other artists and seeing their artwork made up for what was going on on the field — or, in the bullpen. The whole experience was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to submit a piece again for next year’s considerations!
Canha had an insane weekend. One dinger in the first game, and then two in the next, plus a great catch in center field on Sunday. He was a bright light in the darkness, and no, I’m not talking about the white uniforms.
The idea of Monochrome A’s vs Monochrome Giants was probably a little cooler on TV (editor’s note: it wasn’t), but from my spot in the “view level” seating, it was a little unnerving. The A’s were white blobs, and you couldn’t make out their cool Players Weekend names. And whenever the Giants took the field, I had an irrational fear that a horde of umpires was storming the grass like some baseball version of a Lord of the Rings battle. However, I did enjoy the idea of the matte solid white batting helmets — they looked gravity defying, since the matte finish barely picks up light and shadow. Very future-y, especially with the silver logo on the front.
That’s my hot take, but I probably sound like an old coot, so I’ll go back to yelling at kids to get off my darn lawn — which I don’t have, because I live in a blocky apartment.
Marco Estrada was released this week. Estrada was an offseason gamble that fell flat. He only made five starts before his back pain flared up and took him out of the rotation. In the hunt, there’s no room to gable on Estrada if he is available to return from the IL. There is also no reason to. The A’s love to bargain bin hunt, and while they may have come away with one dud, many more selections came up shiny.
Mike Fiers alone would have been enough to brush away the failed Estrada experiment. Fiers is undefeated since his no hitter back on May 7th.
Tanner Roark has roared in with a 2.63 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and a saucy 8.6 K/9 since joining the A’s. He has pitched in four games for the Athletics, three of which they won. The fourth was a tough 3-2 loss to the White Sox. All that, and a bag of Arby’s!
Brett Anderson hasn’t shone as bright as the others, but he still has delivered this season and held up a solid rotation spot.
Homer Bailey has picked up a surprising 4-2 record since signing on with the A’s back in July. He certainly has been rocked a few times but has overall exceeded expectations. And to Homer’s credit, even his current 5.68 ERA is on the lower end of his performance spectrum in the past several seasons.
Bob Melvin trotted through another milestone after Wednesday’s victory over the Yankees, when he picked up career win number 1,200 of his MLB managerial career. He currently is sitting pretty at 1,201. Go, Bob!!
Ramón Laureano is on his way back from the IL, and so is Sean Manaea. While the A’s lineup will drool at the idea of Laureano’s return, Manaea is finally healthy enough to... not yet have a fixed spot in the crowded rotation. Not to mention, September could be the first breath of Big League air for top prospect Jesus Luzardo. In the middle of a playoff burst, too many quality arms is not a bad problem to have. Only time will tell where the pieces will fit.
After this weekend, the A’s can shake off their bad feelings and head to Kansas City for a four game set against the Royals, who are somehow not in last place. Getting their mojo back will be important, as the next stop on the road swing is three against the Yankees.
Homer Bailey kicks off the extravaganza today at 5:15 p.m. Bailey has faced every team in the MLB, except for the Reds and the Royals, his two former clubs, so this will be a first for the big Texan. If that wasn’t motivation enough, his next start will be a rematch against in the middle of the New York set after he stunned the Yankees last week, so time to keep that ball rollin’!