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Athletics vs. Astros – Game Recap – September 10, 2019

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HOUSTON — The Oakland Athletics could think of no better way to erase the memory of a blowout loss to the Houston Astros than to turn things around on the AL West leaders on Tuesday night.

Matt Olson and Sean Murphy each homered twice, and the Athletics tagged Wade Miley for seven runs in the first inning and scored a season high in a 21-7 rout of the Astros.

After being blanked in a lopsided loss on Monday, Oakland recovered to win its seventh of nine and remained ahead of Cleveland for the second AL wild-card spot.

“It’s awesome to respond to — there’s no other way to put it — the [butt]-kicking that we got yesterday,” Olson said. “To be able to come back. We always know we can compete against these guys, and to do it in the fashion that we did today was nice.”

The Astros were coming off a 21-1 win over Seattle on Sunday and a 15-0 thrashing of Oakland on Monday in which they hit seven homers.

But on Tuesday, the A’s tied a franchise record with 25 hits and built a 7-0 lead in the first inning without an extra-base knock. They still ended up tying a season high with six homers after not hitting any in their previous two games. Their 25 hits were the most they’d hit since 1969.

Khris Davis hit Oakland’s first long ball in the second inning. Olson went deep in the third and added another homer in a six-run fourth that also featured blasts by Sean Murphy and Marcus Semien to push the lead to 17-2. The A’s set a franchise record for runs scored through the first four innings.

Murphy homered again in the fifth, and Semien added an RBI double.

“They executed pretty flawlessly, and they crushed the ball later in the game,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said.

All nine Oakland starters had at least two hits, and six players finished with three each. Olson and Murphy had three hits and four RBIs apiece and Davis and Semien drove in three runs each.

Olson has a career-high 31 homers this season, joining Mark McGwire (eight times) and Jason Giambi (twice) as the only Oakland third basemen to top 30.

The Astros got two homers each from George Springer and Martin Maldonado to give them a franchise-record 252 this season as their five-game winning streak ended.

Houston became the first team in the majors to score 20 or more runs in a game and allow 20 or more runs in a different game in a three-game span since Aug. 6-7, 1894, when the Brooklyn Bridegrooms did it, according to STATS.

The Astros are the third MLB team to have three straight games decided by 14 or more runs and the first since the 1800s when in 1876 the Chicago White Stockings had a streak of four such games and the Cleveland Spiders had three in a row in 1893.

Tanner Roark (10-8) yielded eight hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings for his third straight win.

After Miley (13-5) had allowed five runs without getting an out in his last start against Seattle, Hinch was asked before the game what he’d like to see from his left-hander this time.

“I want him to get an out,” Hinch joked.

Hinch certainly wasn’t laughing when one out was all Miley managed before he was pulled with the Athletics leading 6-0. Miley allowed seven singles and walked one before he was replaced by Cy Sneed. He was charged with seven earned runs, which tied a season worst. The eight hits Oakland piled up in the first inning tied a season high.

“A lot of cutters in and you can either beat it on the ground or you can try to stay inside it and hit it the other way,” Melvin said of his team’s approach against Miley. “Just not trying to do too much and the hole’s open at second and just trying to pass the baton on to the next guy.”

Miley took his first loss since June 17. In his previous tough start, Houston rallied to win in 13 innings.

He was at a loss as to why things have gone so awry after he pitched so well all season.

“I’d be lying if I said I’m not thinking, ‘What the hell is going on,'” Miley said. “[But] it’s just baseball, it’s a humbling game, I’ve just got to get back to work and try to get after it.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: SS Carlos Correa (sore lower back) is progressing, and if his next two days of rehabilitation go well, he will join Triple-A Round Rock for a rehabilitation game on Friday.

MARKING HIS SPOT

A day after Yordan Alvarez became the first Astro to hit a home run to the third deck at Minute Maid Park the Astros marked where it landed by painting the seat in the first row of section 337 orange.

It was the second of two homers he hit on Monday night to pass Carlos Correa for most home runs by a rookie in franchise history with 24.

ODDS AND ENDS

Davis hit his 20th homer on Tuesday to become the first Athletic with four straight 20-homer seasons since Eric Chavez had seven in a row from 2000-06. … Semien scored two runs to give him 107 this season, which are the most since Miguel Tejada scored 108 in 2002. … It was the third multi-homer game of Maldonado’s career and his first since 2017.

UP NEXT

Oakland LHP Brett Anderson (11-9, 4.19 ERA) will pitch Wednesday against Houston’s Jose Urquidy (1-1, 5.33). Anderson allowed eight hits and five runs in five innings of a 10-6 win over the Angels in his last start but did not factor in the decision.

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Cubs, Giants to raise minor league pay early

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The Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants are pushing ahead with pay raises for minor league players this season, days after Major League Baseball mandated salary bumps beginning in 2021.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer and Giants baseball executive Farhan Zaidi confirmed the wage hikes Tuesday.

MLB informed teams on Friday that it would be raising minimum salaries for minor leaguers in 2021, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. Those increases, ranging from 38% to 72% depending on the level, mean players will earn between $4,800 in rookie ball to $14,000 at Triple-A.

Hoyer said the Cubs’ pay bumps will take effect this season and will mirror those made by the Blue Jays in 2019, when Toronto became the first club to boost pay by giving all minor leaguers 50% raises. Hoyer said the idea was pushed by the Ricketts family, which owns the franchise.

“They obviously had read about all the teams talking about changing it,” Hoyer said. “They read about the Blue Jays and they’re like, ‘We need to do this.’ We put a tremendous emphasis on player development. We put a tremendous emphasis on our minor league talent, and the Ricketts family were pretty adamant that we treat them as well as anybody.

“So that’s the move we’re going to make, and we’re proud to do it. I’m really happy and proud that they wanted to do it and they just sort of took it on as kind of an ownership project, which is great.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants’ pay bumps will be slightly more aggressive than the MLB-mandated minimums, with Triple-A players earning $15,000 for the five-month season. By comparison, the major league minimum is $563,500 this year, and the top players make over $30 million annually.

A group of minor leaguers filed a lawsuit against major league teams in February 2014 claiming their meager salaries violated minimum wage laws. While the case has not yet gone to trial, Congress passed legislation in 2018 stripping minor league players from protection under federal minimum wage laws.

San Francisco, which already had a reputation among minor leaguers as being relatively player-friendly after eliminating clubhouse dues and providing nutritious food, is also giving players a hand with housing. Rookie-ball, short-season and low-Class A players will be provided free housing. Class A Advanced players will be placed with host families, and Double-A and Triple-A players will be given $500 housing allowances each month.

Zaidi, entering his second season as president of baseball operations with the Giants, said the club would take feedback from players and could make further adjustments in 2021.

“There was really some momentum behind it before I came into the organization, but just from a personal standpoint, I’m excited that we were able to do it,” he said. “I think that it does a lot of good for the organization. I think it’s the right thing to do, and we’re kind of looking forward to having it in place.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” he added. “It’s a convenience issue. It’s a time issue, and just getting a better sense of all that, something we’ll continue to evaluate.”

MLB’s mandated raises come as the league is negotiating with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the governing body of the minors, to replace the Professional Baseball Agreement that expires after the 2020 seasons. MLB proposed cutting 42 of the 160 required affiliated teams during those negotiations, a plan criticized by small-town fans and politicians at the local and national level.

MLB also has sought assistance from minor league teams in paying salaries and for facility upgrades in those negotiations.

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Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says he’s yet to sit down with Nolan Arenado

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich says he doesn’t feel an urgency to clear the air with third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Bridich displayed no worries about his relationship with his best player Tuesday night when he spoke at the Cactus League media day.

The executive says he’ll have a conversation at some point with Arenado, who recently said he felt “disrespect” from Bridich and disappointment in the Rockies’ direction.

“Today was Day Two, (and) yesterday was Day One with him in camp,” Bridich said. “We’ve seen each other. We haven’t sat yet, but I trust that we will. He’s just like all the other players. We’ll find time to sit down and interact, both with myself and others, so I trust we’ll find the right time for that.”

Arenado and the Rockies are one week shy of the anniversary of the five-time All-Star’s agreement on an eight-year, $260 million contract extension with his only big league club. The three-time NL homers leader’s relationship with the Rockies has undeniably deteriorated in the ensuing months, with Arenado being frustrated by hearing his name in trade rumors and by Colorado’s relatively inactive winter.

Bridich publicly believes he can smooth over any differences with his most important player and asset.

“I think it’s a natural part of being a team and competing as a group from year to year,” Bridich said. “You try to be on the same page as much as you can, and that takes a conversation. It takes time, and sometimes there are natural disagreements or there is miscommunication over time, and so you continue to work to right the ship.”

Bridich didn’t acknowledge he’s got to do any repair work with Arenado, and the GM remains confident in Arenado’s professionalism. He doesn’t expect any on-field reflection of the slugger’s dissatisfaction.

“You think back to less than a year ago when you were on the dais and you’re talking about (Arenado’s) extension,” Bridich said. “All those things we said publicly in terms of the elite level of talent, the elite level of production, the elite level of work ethic, the elite level of his own expectation to play well and to be one of the best players in the game, all of that still rings true right now. I mean, there’s absolutely no wavering in the confidence in him.”

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Slumping Chris Davis considered retirement after 2019 season

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SARASOTA, Fla. — Chris Davis was so despondent last September about his prolonged woes, the slumping slugger considered drastic action: He thought about walking away from the Baltimore Orioles, the game of baseball and a rich contract.

A two-time major league home run champion with a seven-year, $161 million deal, Davis has struggled mightily the past two seasons.

In 2018, he hit just .168 — the lowest among all qualified major league batters — with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs, along with 192 strikeouts in 128 games.

Last year wasn’t much better. Davis hit only .179 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 105 games. He also began the season hitless in his first 33 at-bats, extending an overall hitless streak that reached 54 at-bats.

Those sad stats were a long way from the 53 home runs he hit in 2013 and the 47 more he launched in 2015. That last bunch of long balls persuaded the Orioles to hand him the biggest contract in team history, a seven-year pact worth $23 million per season.

His overall totals in the first four years of the contract: a .192 batting average with only 92 homers, 230 RBIs and a .679 OPS. Plus a whopping 745 strikeouts, more than one-third of his plate appearances.

After his numbers fell so dramatically, Davis acknowledged he had contemplated retirement.

“I’d be lying if I told you that wasn’t at least talked about towards the end of the season last year and this offseason,” Davis said. “I know what I’m capable of. I know what I expect of myself and I don’t want to continue to just struggle and be a below-average, well-below-average producer at the plate.”

Davis, who will be 34 on March 17, decided to return to the Orioles. He’s added 25 pounds of muscle with hope that it will help bring back his lost power.

“I was really, really thin at the end of the season,” Davis said. “I think it was a combination of just physical and mental stress, and I just got back to kind of some of the basics. I wanted to get my weight back up, get my strength back up, and not focus so much this offseason on trying to stay lean but really trying to get as strong as I could. Feel a little bit more physical, physically strong, physically fit. And felt like I did what I wanted to do.”

But there’s pressure on Davis. Including deferred money, Baltimore still owes him $93 million, and he says he wants to earn that money.

“I don’t think that’s fair to these guys,” Davis said. “And I don’t think, honestly, it’s fair to our fans, or to anybody that’s associated with Baltimore. But I still think that there is something left in the tank and I think that that’s really a conversation that we’re going to have to have at the end of this season.”

“I have three years left after really two just grinding years, but I still think that there’s some time to kind of right the ship. So that’s a conversation I’ll have to have again at the end of the season.”

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde says he likes what he’s seen from Davis so far.

“The ball really came off his bat,” Hyde said after Davis’ first batting practice on Monday. “I talked to him quite a bit in the offseason. He worked really hard in the gym and in the weight room.”

Davis conferred with his wife, Jill, and he’s ready for another attempt to equal those eye-popping numbers of the past.

“The only reason I would walk away, or would have walked away at the end of the season last year, is if I physically felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, and that’s not the case,” Davis said.

NOTES:

RHP Hunter Harvey and INF/OF Trey Mancini, who had been sidelined by illness, were cleared to return to the field, Hyde said.

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