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Spring Training Game #16: A’s hit 3 home runs, beat Padres

Offense is heating up heading into the season

MLB: Spring Training-Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s beat old friend Sean Manaea and the San Diego Padres today 8-2, winning just hours after sending him over to the other clubhouse at Hohokam Stadium.

The offense continues to take shape with only two spring games left to go before Opening Day on Friday, with Sheldon Neuse making a strong case for a roster spot.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

With the originally scheduled starter now pitching for the opposing team, the A’s turned to reliever Domingo Acevedo to open the game for Oakland. The right-hander wasn’t perfect but he came through on short notice for the A’s, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first thanks to an acrobatic catch by Cristian Pache:

But Pache wasn’t done! Check out this 2-out catch he made the next inning that likely saved another run:

The guy is going to win a few Gold Gloves manning center field for the A’s. The only question now is whether Pache will be able to hit in the big leagues, and based off this spring that shouldn’t be a concern for the A’s going forward.

Oakland would get some help pushing across their first run in the 3rd thanks to a steal of second base by Tony Kemp and a Padres error that allowed him to move to third on an errant throw. Today’s DH Billy McKinney (1-4, RBI) came up to bat and put the A’s on the board with an RBI single in his first at-bat to make it 1-0.

It remained a one-run game until the bottom of the fifth, when catcher Sean Murphy (3-3. BB, HR) launched a ball literally out of the park in left field for a 2-run shot:

It can’t be said enough: Murphy has been tearing the cover off the ball all spring. Even with the offensive departures, Murphy looks like he’s about to have a monster season at the plate to go along with his Gold Glove defense.

Oakland wouldn’t wait long to get another run, with Chad Pinder, playing left field today(!), going opposite field and swatting a ball into the right-center field grass for back-to-back home runs to make the score 4-0 A’s.

The Padres wouldn’t go down without a fight as Padres third baseman Manny Machado launched his own 2-run home run in the top of the 7th to make it a two run affair. Was Oakland about to let their fifth spring win slip away from them late?

Enter Sheldon Neuse: with 1-out and the bases juiced in the 8th inning. All the third baseman did was this:

It would be a major shock to see Neuse not on the roster at this point. He’s gone 11-29 while leading the A’s with 4 home runs and only 6 K’s. Whether it’s manning second or third or flip-flopping between them based on that day’s starter, Neuse needs to be playing for this A’s squad. It’ll be hard to fit Neuse and Kevin Smith (1-2, BB, K) into the lineup everyday, but both have done everything they can to make the roster at this point.

That grand slam would put a nice little bow on the win and what turned out to be a bittersweet day for A’s players and fans, who saw one of the clubhouse’s biggest leaders and a fan favorite traded with mere days to go before the start of the season. Saying the trade of Manaea is a gut punch is an understatement, but Opening Day is on Friday so there’s no time for anyone to whine. Next man up.

It’ll be hard to see him in another uniform, but we here at Athletics Nation wish Sean nothing but the best, and glad he gets to reunite with Bob Melvin. Thanks for the memories, Sean!

Notes:

  • Mark Kotsay said today that minor-leaguer Zach Jackson has made the A’s Opening Day bullpen. The right-hander appeared in 5 games this spring, allowing a run in 5 innings while racking up 8 K’s. Jackson absolutely dominated at Double-A in 2021 before struggling at Triple-A but managed to keep up the huge strikeout numbers. A well deserved promotion for the 27-year old, who will be making his Major League debut in his first appearance.
  • Left-hander Kirby Snead ( 1 13 IP, H, K) replaced Acevedo and looks to still be in contention for a lefty reliever role, while closer Lou Trivino (1 IP, 2 H) made his way into his fourth appearance this spring as he continues his ramp up for the season.
  • Former Rangers 1st-round pick Collin Wiles was the A’s fourth and last pitcher of the day, throwing 5 innings of 2-run ball while racking up 10 K’s against the Padres’ regular lineup. Wiles is ticketed to start the year in the Las Vegas Aviators’ rotation, but could force his way into the picture in Oakland if he keeps this type of performance up down on the farm.
  • Right fielder Stephen Piscotty went 0-3 with 3 K’s and a walk today, not what you’d want from the team’s highest paid player just days before the season starts, but with Ramon Laureano suspended for the first month-ish, expect the A’s to give Piscotty every chance to find his groove in the early going.