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.

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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.

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.”

[email protected]


Notes: Brewers well-used bullpen was utilized even more in September with fantastic results

Notes: Brewers well-used bullpen was utilized even more in September with fantastic results

Anyone who has watched the Milwaukee Brewers this season can tell you that manager Craig Counsell is not shy to use his bullpen.

But, with twice as many arms available in the month of September with expanded rosters, Counsell pulled the plug on starters earlier than ever. In 26 games, during which the Brewers went 19-7, a starter went as many as six innings just twice – Wade Miley on Sept. 4 against the Cubs and Gio Gonzalez on Sept. 19 vs. Cincinnati.

Starters went less than five innings – and therefore did not qualify for a victory – 12 times, including eight times in the last 11 games. And that’s counting the 3 2/3 innings that Freddy Peralta pitched in St. Louis on the 24th, not the one batter faced by reliever Dan Jennings to open that game.

In the 11-0 romp Sunday over Detroit that guaranteed a game No. 163 against Chicago on Monday for the NL Central crown, Gonzalez went five shutout innings, departing with a 3-0 lead. After his departure, the Brewers broke open the game, avoiding using high-leverage relievers who have worked hard of late.

THE GAME: 5 Takeaways | Box score

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“That’s a huge factor in this,” Counsell said of the 14 relievers he has had available on most nights in September. “If you have a whole another pitching staff … we’ve had guys down there who have started a lot of games for us down there.

“Do you want one more inning (out of a starter) or an at-bat by a position player? That’s not really a hard decision, when you start looking at it like that. Our depth is what has been valuable. We feel it has helped us and allowed us to do that. It doesn’t happen every night, but there have been nights when it gets you runs.”

Even accounting for the extra bodies over the final month, the Brewers have made liberal use of their bullpen this season. The 610 2/3 relief innings rank second in the National League, behind only last-place San Diego (631 entering Sunday). Despite that heavy usage, Milwaukee’s relief corps ranked second in the league with a 3.52 ERA, behind only the Cubs (3.33).

Josh Hader, often used for multiple innings, ranked second in the NL with 79 1/3 innings, just behind leader Robert Gsellman (80) of the Mets. Jeremy Jeffress ranked eighth with 76 2/3 innings.

Though Counsell had more options in the pen in September, the same group of pitchers is deployed in high-leverage situations, and had been ridden hard over the past week as the Brewers pushed toward the playoffs. Corey Knebel had pitched in five of the last six games, a span that included a team off day on Thursday; Jeffress had pitched in three in a row and three of four; Joakim Soria four of the last five; Hader three of the last five; and Corbin Burnes four of seven days.

There was little wonder that Counsell, general manager David Stearns and their staff were trying to figure out a pitching plan for a period that could include game No. 163 as well as the wild-card game on Tuesday, if the Brewers lose to the Cubs.

“Pulling pitchers is always too early if the reliever gives up runs and too late if the starter gives up runs,” said Counsell, stating a can’t-win fact of life for managers. “It’s always judged by results. That’s the fun of baseball, the second guessing. That’s why we love the sport.

“You have to think about (future games). You do have to strategize with that in mind. There are a lot of scenarios that have to be considered. You have to be in position to be at your strongest in the most important games. Ahead of time, you have to make decisions. Not every decision is easy. But there are some that are pretty clear-cut, in our eyes.”

Keeping stiff upper lip: While it was a great week for the Brewers, it was a tough week personally for right-hander Chase Anderson, who was removed from the starting rotation at the outset of the playoff-clinching series in St. Louis. There has been no indication of more action for Anderson, the team’s opening day starter.

“That’s out of my control,” Anderson said. “When my name is called, I’ll go out there and try to do the best I can. I don’t make those decisions. My job is to pitch when they call my name. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Anderson has tried to stay ready to pitch by throwing bullpen sessions but he has no idea if he’d be on a postseason roster, either for the wild-card game or NLDS. It has been a tough pill to swallow but he is trying to adopt an all-for-one attitude in supporting his teammates.

“I was a little frustrated at the beginning but this isn’t about me,” Anderson said. “It’s about the team. I’m trying to do the best I can to put myself aside and try to contribute, make an impact any way I can.

“When you’re part of something, I’ve been here since 2016, kind of part of this whole (rebuilding) process, you want to continue to be out there and pitch. I’m a competitor; I’ve always been a competitor. I’ve competed since I was 5 years old. I love this game.”

Anderson, who had trouble all season getting comfortable with his pitching mechanics, has moved his hands back to where he had them last season in his set-up.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the mound and seeing how that works in a game,” he said. “I know what I did last year was not a fluke at all. I know what I’ve done wrong this year and it has been hard to correct it, outing to outing.”