A's Beau Taylor takes a tumble on first big-league hit

A's Beau Taylor takes a tumble on first big-league hit

ANAHEIM – Beau Taylor got his first big-league hit Sunday in the A’s final game of the season, and the catcher was so excited, he stumbled going around first, fell flat on his face and almost didn’t reach second in time to ensure a double.

“You saw that?” Taylor joked when asked about it by a reporter. “No, I’m going to remember for that forever. .. I guess I didn’t see the base right. My bad.”

Second-base umpire Doug Eddings was quick to comment once Taylor made it to the base. “The umpire was right away with the sniper and everything, pointing to the stands,” Taylor said. “I was kind of in the moment when I was running in the dugout because I was so happy about the hit.”

TV cameras caught Taylor’s teammates laughing and cheering in the dugout as the ball was thrown back in for Taylor to keep.

“It wasn’t a home run but when you face-plant going around first base, it’s one you’re never going to forget,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Everyone was pretty excited about it, both ends of it – the hit and the face-plant.”

“That was funny,” DH Khris Davis said. ‘I’m glad he got it out of the way, he’s a really good player and I expect to see good things about him. He’s got a bright future.”

Taylor, 28, was 0 for his first 3 at-bats in limited action in September. He’s now heading to the A’s minor-league complex in Mesa, Ariz., to catch the team’s extra pitchers who might be needed in later rounds and to stay ready in the event of an injury.

Anderson’s day: Using a much-improved slider, Brett Anderson started for Oakland on Sunday, allowed four hits and two runs (on a homer by Jefry Marte with two outs in the first) in three inning and got a bruised backside for his trouble. Shohei Ohtani’s line drive struck Anderson in the rear in the third . Anderson remained in but came out to get treatment after the inning.

“Nice parting gift Shohei left me,” Anderson said, adding of the comebacker off Daniel Mengden’s foot Sept. 24, “My whole goal was to look tougher than when Mengden rolled halfway to home plate the other night.”

Scioscia’s finale?: Sunday was Mike Scioscia’s last as the Angels’ manager after 19 years and A’s manager Bob Melvin complimented his longtime opponent.

“I know from managing against him as long as I have, he’s made me work hard and prepare harder and, I would say get better,” Melvin said. “Because when you manage against Mike Scioscia, you’d better be ready for anything.

“He’s one of those guys I would think he’d go to his grave managing. If it’s done here, I can’t imagine him not doing something somewhere else. He’s terrific at it, it seems like he loves it, he’s into it every inning of every game, even a spring-training game.”

Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

How the Yankees survived a season that went wrong

How the Yankees survived a season that went wrong

BOSTON — If a season goes right — if a team clinches a playoff spot with some days to spare — a full-circle-like regression to spring training occurs.

A club sends out roughly half its positional starters for a few at-bats and pre-programs who will pitch that day pretty much regardless of score or situation. The pace is somewhere between serious and serene. The Yankees lived in this realm the final two days of the regular season, reviving March in late September by clinching home field for the wild card on Friday night.

But here is the thing: It didn’t all go right.

It never does. Not for any team. But good teams overcome, They navigate through the unavoidable DL stints and performance malfunctions to still be viable come October. The bad teams — are you listening Mets? — talk about if “we just would have stayed healthy” or “if (fill in the blank) just would have performed all year like he did in the second half.”

The Yankees persevered because of depth — in the majors and minors — and by relying on a culture of fortitude and honoring high expectations.

The Yankees have 20 of the 104 seasons in which a team reached 100 wins and No. 20 was accomplished despite:

— The catcher (Gary Sanchez) and first baseman (Greg Bird) having just about the most unhealthy/unproductive seasons imaginable.

— The projected third baseman (Brandon Drury) essentially introducing himself and then disappearing.

— The left fielder (Brett Gardner) having arguably his worst season.

— The best player (Aaron Judge) being lost for seven weeks, and the second- (Didi Gregorius) and third-best (Aaron Hicks) players each enduring a DL stint and then missing some more time at the end without the DL being necessary due to expanded rosters.

— Their ace (Luis Severino) turning into as bad a pitcher for the first six weeks of the second half as Neil Walker was a hitter in the first half.

— Jacoby Ellsbury never playing and the hoped-for replacement, Clint Frazier, hardly being available.

— Jordan Montgomery making six total starts.

— Aroldis Chapman, J.A. Happ, Gleyber Torres and Masahiro Tanaka being among those who went on the DL once while CC Sabathia landed on the list twice.

— Sonny Gray falling out of the rotation and Tommy Kahnle dropping out of the major leagues.

Aaron Boone had much to work through, including his own rookie season following a successful manager (Joe Girardi). There was the uneven 9-9 start, being swept four games at Fenway to pretty much assure the AL East was beyond reach and a lot of shaky late moments.

But when Sunday came and went, the Yankees were still alive, still in play for their 28th championship.

Luke Voit and Miguel AndujarAP

“This was never about one guy,” said Dellin Betances, whose shaky first four weeks of the season raised concerns he was not over his poor end to 2017. “There are a lot of pieces here, a lot of pieces that helped us win.”

The depth steeled the Yankees as reinforcements initially came from within, most notably Torres and Miguel Andujar, but also at key points Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga. And then the farm was still stocked enough and the front office motivated enough to use prospects to import Zach Britton, J.A. Happ, Lance Lynn, Andrew McCutchen and Luke Voit.

“It bleeds into the room the belief that the guys upstairs will get what you need,” bench coach Josh Bard said. “The guys in here are not blind. They see what management is willing to do.”

That actually was reinforced in the offseason, when the Yankees found a way to acquire the NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, and the largest contract in major league history, and shoehorn him into a payroll they vowed to keep beneath the $197 million luxury-tax threshold. It was a scream to the clubhouse and to the league that the surprise run to ALCS Game 7 last year was not enough.

That the Yankees are still alive for more and better this season — beginning with the wild-card game Wednesday against the A’s — speaks to an ability to trek through injury and underperformance. The ability to amend and rewrite the initial script. The skill and the will to persist through the muck that keeps two-thirds of the league out of the playoffs.

The season did not go as expected in most respects, except for this:

The Yankees are back in the playoffs.

Haniger to join MLB All-Star Tour in Japan

Haniger to join MLB All-Star Tour in Japan

SEATTLE — There won’t be much rest for Mitch Haniger this winter as the Mariners’ right fielder said Sunday he’s accepted an invitation to play for the MLB team in its November All-Star Tour in Japan.

The seven-game tour of exhibition games begins Nov. 8 against the Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyo Dome and runs through Nov. 14-15, with all games broadcast live on MLB Network.

View Full Game Coverage

SEATTLE — There won’t be much rest for Mitch Haniger this winter as the Mariners’ right fielder said Sunday he’s accepted an invitation to play for the MLB team in its November All-Star Tour in Japan.

The seven-game tour of exhibition games begins Nov. 8 against the Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyo Dome and runs through Nov. 14-15, with all games broadcast live on MLB Network.

View Full Game Coverage

MLB has already announced that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich, Braves rookie standout Ronald Acuna Jr., Phillies teammates Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana, Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield and Dodgers infielder/outfielder Chris Taylor will be taking part.

It will be the first MLB All-Star Tour in Japan since 2014.

“It’s something I have to take advantage of,” Haniger said. “It’s cool to be honored and be one of the guys going over to represent MLB.”

The Mariners are opening their regular season in Tokyo as well against the A’s next March 20-21.

“Having a couple days of down time to actually experience everything will be nice,” Haniger said of the All-Star Tour. “I’ll be a lot more focused [for the regular season games in March], so this will be nice to do the tourist stuff and see the country.”

Cano expects to return to second

In the final six weeks after returning from his 80-game suspension, Robinson Cano split time at second base with Dee Gordon and also started 10 games at first base, two at third and two at designated hitter, but said that he expects to return to his natural position next year.

Video: [email protected]: Cano and Gordon turn a 5-4-3 double play

“Next year, it looks like I’ll be back playing second base,” Cano said after Sunday’s season finale. “That’s what I am. It was a situation that happened this year. I was playing other positions. But I feel right now I’m a second baseman.”

Cano acknowledged the difficulty of dealing with a position change in his 14th season in the Majors.

“I’ll be honest, it’s hard,” he said. “When you play your whole career at one position, then you have to change in the middle of the season, it was hard.”

Cano acknowledged it was also difficult watching teammate Nelson Cruz possibly playing his last game with the club before becoming a free agent this offseason.

“You don’t know if he’s coming back or what’s going to happen,” Cano said. “But we all know what he means to the team, what kind of hitter he is and what he brings to the clubhouse. His energy, what he means to the young guys … he’s a great leader.

“If it was up to me, I’d have signed him three months ago.”

Worth noting

• The Mariners final attendance of 2,300,162 — an average of 28,397 a game — marked their highest home total since 2008.

• Five Mariners pitchers combined to strike out nine batters in Sunday’s 3-1 season finale victory over the Rangers, increasing their single-season strikeout record to 1,328. The previous record was 1,318 in 2016.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

JJ rolls dice, ends up stalling in Cup playoff race

JJ rolls dice, ends up stalling in Cup playoff race

CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson went for the win Sunday afternoon, not knowing the consequences.

Johnson wrecked in the final chicane while battling Martin Truex Jr. for the win on the new Charlotte Motor Speedway road course. He finished eighth in the Bank of America 400, one spot short of advancing to the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

“It’s a bummer,” the seven-time Cup champion Johnson said. “It’s not what we want by any stretch. … If I knew the outcome was going to be that, no [I wouldn’t have tried the move]. I want to stay alive in the championship points. But I really felt like I could pull that pass off.

“I’m shell-shocked for sure. I wish I could go back in time and let off the brakes a little bit and take that opportunity because the championship is what we’re here for.”

Johnson finished in a three-way tie for 11th in points; only 12 advanced to the next round. He lost the tiebreaker — best finish in the round — to Kyle Larson (second at Las Vegas) and Aric Almirola (fifth at Richmond). Johnson’s best finish in the round was eighth at Richmond and Charlotte. Also failing to advance were Austin Dillon, Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin.

“I thought we had a big enough cushion on points — I thought we were still fine,” Johnson said. “I thought it was going to be OK. I was just going for the win, clearly.

“That’s what I’m here for. That’s what I’m supposed to do. If I didn’t feel like I was better him in the area, I wouldn’t have taken the chance. I felt like I had a shot of executing that pass.”

Johnson didn’t realize he was that close to the cutoff, and the prospect of a victory during a winless season was too much for him not to try as he trailed Truex on the final lap. The Hendrick Motorsports driver even stopped on the apron before the start-finish line in case NASCAR thought he had short-cut that chicane. That was a good choice as NASCAR said afterward, he would have been issued a 30-second penalty for short-cutting the chicane if he didn’t stop.

“Trying to get that win is so important,” Johnson said. “My strongest areas of the track were the back straightaway chicane and here on the frontstretch where I tried to make that pass.

“I had passed the whole field there time after time after time, so I was hopeful I could get that done. I didn’t go into the corner thinking I was going to take Martin out. I really felt I could get in there and race him for it. Unfortunately, I made a mistake.”

Johnson felt the move was there for the taking.

“I thought I was making a good, clean racing move to give myself a chance to win,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, I made a mistake and lost it.

“I feel terrible it took me out, took Martin out and took us out of the championship. … When he got loose through [the oval turns] 3 and 4 and got off the bottom and left that inside lane open, that’s the preferred line. I felt like I had a real shot of making it work.”

Johnson still would have been good if Larson, who blew a tire with two turns left, didn’t get by a stalled Jeffrey Earnhardt, who was creeping toward the finish line and was the last driver on the lead lap.

NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell said there was no concern that Earnhardt stalled on purpose to allow Larson to get by him for that point.

“He was like 100 feet from the start finish line,” Larson said. “I could start to see him creep in when I was getting to 16. I was like, ‘Gosh, don’t go, don’t go,’ and we were able to make it.

“Hey, I was pretty lucky.”

The driver not so lucky besides Johnson was Truex, who lost the chance to earn five additional playoff points to carry over into future rounds.

“Last corner desperation behind us, that’s what you get,” Truex said. “I gave [Johnson] the inside lane and he had the run through [Turn] 4 and I was real tight down there. I let him have the inside going down inside coming out of four there to the chicane.

“He just overdrove it and was never going to make it and used me as brakes and turned us both around. It sucks. We could have raced side-by-side off the last corner for a win and that would have been cool. The fans would have been digging it, but instead we finished 14th and he’s locked out of the playoffs. I guess that’s what he gets.”

Adieu, adieu? Baltimore says farewell to Jones, Showalter during emotional season finale

Adieu, adieu? Baltimore says farewell to Jones, Showalter during emotional season finale

Sunday marked not only the end of the worst season in Orioles history, but potentially the end of an era. Still, in the final day of a lost season, the atmosphere at Camden Yards was one of of mixed sorrow celebration, a final opportunity to embrace a pair of key figures who helped bring winning baseball back to Baltimore in brighter days.

Few cities embrace their sports heroes the way this one does, and saying goodbye to them is difficult, but the largest non-doubleheader crowd at Camden Yards in more than a month gathered to send the team’s longest-tenured player and face-of-the-franchise Adam Jones and manager Buck Showalter out in style in the team’s 4-0 Game 162 win over the Houston Astros.

There will be more difficult moments ahead — the official parting of ways is yet to come as the Orioles take the next step in their rebuild, but given the direction the franchise has taken in recent months, Jones and Showalter likely won’t be a part of it.

Still, no single day this season could compare to the emotional slices of Sunday afternoon.

“There’s a lot of [emotion],” Showalter said of the day. “I’ve had enough of it for a year. Not just today but … that was … you know, a lot of people talk about putting on a moment. Some of them are put together by good music and things that create some environment. Here in Baltimore, it’s put on by people, by the emotion and the deep love they have for Adam.

“Guys like Adam are very special to people here in our city,” he said. “You’ve got to really make sure that you take that responsibility very seriously, whether you’re a coach or a player or a manager. I’m not saying somebody else doesn’t. I love getting things that other people don’t get. If you don’t get Baltimore … it’s just people that are very passionate about the Orioles doing well. There’s always a payback for it.”

Jones took his spot in right field in the top of the ninth inning and was replaced by Joey Rickard, trotting off the field in an Orioles uniform for maybe the final time. His teammates on the field clapped into their gloves, Jones gave first baseman Trey Mancini a hug, then Astros first base coach Alex Cintrón before going into a welcome line of teammates and coaches waiting outside the dugout.

Before the game, Jones walked along the outfield and handed out balls and bats to fans. Fans gathered along the front row, cheering for Jones as he made his way around the field. Before the game, he was awarded the annual Most Valuable Orioles award for the third time in his career.

“I got too much stuff in [my locker], didn’t want to take it with me,” Jones shrugged and explained after the game. “Might as well give some people some balls.”

Showalter placed Jones back in center field — he shifted to right in August to make room for rookie Cedric Mullins — to start Sunday’s game. Three minutes before the national anthem, the other starters were told to hold back on taking the field and let Jones go on his own.

When Jones did, he looked back to see him alone on the field, his teammates and coaches joining the crowd in a standing ovation from the dugout to give Jones the spotlight to himself.

“Weird, because I’m never out on the field by myself, but I’m very appreciative of my friends and my teammates for acknowledging my hard work and dedication to the game.”

Jones received standing ovations before each of his four plate appearances, and Astros pitchers walked off the mound to allow him to be celebrated, Jones nodded to the pitcher to get back onto the mound.

But after he was removed before the stop of the ninth inning, Jones couldn’t hold off his final standing ovation without giving in to the moment, tipping his cap to the crowd and before shaking hands with his teammates and disappearing into the dugout.

“[It was] cool,” Jones said. “I tipped my hat and showed my appreciation to the crowd. I saw [the New York Mets’] David Wright do it last night, seen a lot of players do it throughout their career, and I just did what came to my mind.”

“Lot of years here, lot of games, lot of blood, sweat and tears,” Jones said. “I greatly appreciate it from the fans standpoint, my teammates for sending me out there on the island all by myself. Buck for letting me get an inning in CF where I started at. It’s been a cool weekend. Very appreciative and humbled that people care.”

Orioles fans have forged a deep connection with Jones throughout his 11 years with the club. They’ve embraced his hustle and dedication to playing every day, his consistency on the field and his impact in the community. He might be the player who fans see as most epitomizing “The Oriole Way” since Cal Ripken Jr.

Setting up moments for the crowd to recognize Jones wasn’t easy, Showalter said, but it was worthwhile.

“It’s about doing what’s right for Adam. OK, and really for Baltimore,” Showalter said. “So it was pretty easy.”

There was the lasting image of Showalter hugging his players before disappearing into the dugout. He stood on the warning track, as he did after every win, but the hugs were different.

There weren’t as many opportunities to hail Showalter, but the fans did so when he came out of the dugout in the third inning to talk to plate umpire Chad Whitson. Asked whether Showalter heard the fans cheering, he said, “What do you think?”

“We won the game. They were happy we won,” he added, his eyes getting watery. “I’m not going to go there. Thanks. You know how much it means to me.”

For a fan base that’s become frustrated by a season that ended with 115 losses, tied for fourth most in the modern era, a crowd of 24,916 could celebrate an era of winning instead of being consumed by a future full of questions.

“It was one of the coolest things I was ever a part of and just for three hours there it made you forget about everything this year,” Mancini said. “And obviously, it didn’t go nearly how we wanted it to, but today was definitely a good day out here and it was an honor to be a part of that.”

And inside the Orioles clubhouse after the game, lockers were cleared out and players went their separate ways for the offseason. For an already overhauled roster, it was the end of a season. For Baltimore, this was the end of a memorable chapter in Orioles history.

“It just goes to show how much these fans love their teams through thick and thin,” Mancini said. “It says a lot about them, the attendance today, and especially the love they showed for Adam.”

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