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God Bless the Rebels – A’s fans put up a rousing fight and the team responded, earning its seventh straight victory. We also look at a few other teams that are struggling and/or on the rise, including the red-hot Giants. I’m Levi Weaver, with Ken Rosenthal here — welcome to The Windup!
I like contacts and you got my attention
I’ve been saying it: The attendance problem in Oakland isn’t because the A’s lack fans. They are just rational. When the team is good, they show it. When the franchise ordered another purge of the roster, they didn’t. John Fisher reaches into his pockets, pretends to have drawn a chance card, and forces the team to move to Las Vegas by paying a damning $15 tax… and they revolt.
Last night there was a “reverse boycott” where fans came and Fisher & co. They decided to reminisce about what could have been. With 27,759 fans in attendance, former stadium staple Hall The Hot Dog Guy threw shirts to those in the Diamond Club. Fan Sponsored: Kelly green shirts with “SOLD” in white letters on the front.
For context, the A’s have averaged 8,555 fans per home game this year and just 3,913 for Tuesday home games.
Oh, and the A’s won their seventh straight game, defeating the mighty Rays 2-1 in an absolutely electric (and would have been) game. big if not Terrible traffic/parking issues)
Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong also showed up, at one point shown on the big screen chanting “sell the team” (that’s wrong Not repeated) At one point in the top of the fifth inning, the chants were so loud that A’s pitcher Hogan Harris Couldn’t hear his PitchCom device.
Oh, and I have to give credit to whoever decided to donate the night’s ticket proceeds to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and the Oakland Public Education Fund.
It was a beautiful reminder that Oakland fans are — and always have been — pretty good. They have long been better qualified; Hopefully a miracle will appear and save their team (it probably won’t, but at least the politicians are trying.)
On the opposite side, A’s fans show MLB and John Fisher where the team is
A’s fans unite in social protest: ‘It means a lot to a lot of people’
‘One of the Last Few Modes We Have:’ Four Families, Four Tales of the Tragedy of Losing Ace
Ken’s Corner: Paying Giants Farm System Dividends
Early in spring training, I wrote a note about the Giants pointing out that despite missing Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa, they spent nearly $200 million on seven free agents to add depth.
At the end of the note, I added, “Beyond the major-league roster, the Giants are encouraged by their young talent.” I mentioned three players who have already contributed (catcher Blake Sabol, infielder Brett Wisely and infielder Casey Schmidt) and one who has yet to make his major league debut (left-hander Kyle Harrison).
And I’m not referring to catcher Patrick Bailey, who has taken over as a Giants regular at this position. And that’s not to mention outfielder Luis Matos, who is expected to be called up for his major league debut after Mitch Haniger fractured his right forearm last night.
The Giants lost third baseman JD Davis to a sprained right ankle during an 11-3 win over the Cardinals, their 18th in their last 27 games. They are three games over .500 in a division currently led by the Diamondbacks and two playoff teams from last season, the Dodgers and Padres. But president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi isn’t trolling the waiver wire to fill his roster. He can return to his farm mode.
Matos, 21, was 43-for-107 (.402) at Triple-A Sacramento with six home runs in his last six games. Schmidt slumped after a hot start, but at least remains a top-quality defender. Right-hander Keaton Wynn, a fifth-round pick in 2018, made his major league debut Tuesday night and earned a four-inning save.
Will Matos prove an adequate fill-in for Haniger, whose three-year, $43.5 million free-agent deal was the team’s most expensive over the winter? Probably not. But the Giants are attracting young talent like they haven’t in years. While growing pains are inevitable, the team is better for it.
More Giants: Brandon Crawford has become a reassembler
I’m hot, you’re cold
We already talked about the A’s winning their seventh straight game. With that win, they wouldn’t have the worst record in baseball. Sure, they’re still only 19-50, but that’s six percentage points ahead of the 18-49 Royals.
Meanwhile, the Angels are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have pulled within a game of the Astros for second place in the AL West (and the final AL wild-card spot). Houston’s last two wins at Texas have left them 3 1/2 games behind the Rangers, who suddenly went cold after losing five of their last six.
The Red Sox (3-7) and Cardinals (2-8) can be put in the 10-game ice bucket because their playoff hopes are “dim” and “on life support,” respectively.
With those two losses in Oakland, the Rays’ lead in the AL East has dropped to four games, thanks to the streaking Orioles. The O’s have won five straight, including beating the Blue Jays last night.
But three teams, in particular, are starting to resemble baseball’s Arthawks in mid-June. A swamp of sadness. The Tigers, Royals and Mets are 1-9 in their last 10 games. Perhaps the first two are not a big surprise, but wow. Man, the Mets. In last night’s 7-6 loss to the Yankees, things got even tougher: They’ll be down a man in the bullpen for 10 games while Drew Smith is suspended — he was ejected for violating the sticky.
Meanwhile, the Phillies are 8-2 in their last 10, suddenly joining the Braves (7-3) and Marlins (7-3) at the hot top of the NL East. Speaking of bills…
That American creation I feed on
One thing that has become de rigueur in major league clubhouses is a team nutritionist. After all, these are world-class athletes, and the old adage of “garbage in/garbage out” exists for a reason.
So, you’d be surprised to hear what the Phillies prepared to celebrate Jack Wheeler’s 10-year tenure in service. To quote from Matt Kelp’s story: “Double cheeseburgers, McNuggets and French fries. Followed by cake.”
For Wheeler – junk food lover – catcher J.T. Realmudo knew his pitcher well and tipped the clubhouse attendants, resulting in food. The fact that Wheeler achieved this goal can be attributed to his ability to adapt and evolve as he ages.
At 33, he’s still the best in the game and has thrown more innings than all but three pitchers since signing his contract before the 2020 season. His 2.96 ERA in that stretch was eighth best in the game.
He was at it again last night, snapping the Diamondbacks’ six-game hitting streak with one run over 6 innings: Philly won 15-3.
Texts with Grant Brisbee
(In the intervening game Cardinals and Dodgers (On May 18, 1950, St. Louis third baseman Tommy Claviano made three consecutive errors in the ninth inning, allowing the Dodgers to win.)
Maybe Grant, Andy McCullough and Mark Carrick will invite “Al” as a guest round table. This week, they talk about inverse neglect and position-player pitching performance.
Handshakes and high fives
Hal Steinbrenner spoke yesterday, which is always good for three stories. Namely: The Yankees haven’t demoted Anthony Volpe, they can “still be Yankees” with the salary cap and the debate over the team’s star players.
As he looks forward to Father’s Day, Doug Glanville compares umpiring with baseball’s new rules to parenting.
Growth isn’t linear, but for the Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson, it’s definitely moving forward. The same can be said for Will Brennan in Cleveland.
The league seems hellbent on figuring out what their antitrust waivers will finally cost. If it’s not an A’s-inspired “moneyball clause,” it could be an agreement that limits spending on technology, personnel and scouting.
Trevor Bauer is back in the news.
The Giants and Cardinals will play a game at Rickwood Field (home of the Birmingham Black Barons) in 2024.
(Top photo: Brandon Vallance/Getty Images)