The Padres were within arm’s length of .500 at 34-40, having won nine of 15, when the A’s ventured into San Diego and used a ninth-inning, two-out, two-strike, game-tying home run fr om Stephen Piscotty off relief ace Brad Hand to trigger a two-game sweep, winning 4-2 and 12-4.
The Padres now head north well out of contention in the National League West, having lost 11 of 14.
The A’s, meanwhile, have won 12 of 15 to surge well above .500 at 46-39 and into contention in the American League wild-card race.
Oakland has made much of its recent run without standout third baseman Matt Chapman, who has taken time off to allow pain in his right hand to subside.
Two cortisone shots later, Chapman had a pain-free hitting session Sunday and was sent to Class A for an injury-rehab game Monday.
It’s possible he could be reinstated from the disabled list during this series.
“He hit a few off the back wall in center field, so that tells me enough,” A’s manager Bob Melvin observed Sunday. “Getting him back in the lineup will be a nice little kick for us.”
The A’s need no such boost in their pitching. They have allowed two or fewer runs in four of their last five games.
Right-hander Chris Bassitt (1-3, 2.82 ERA) will look to extend that impressive run while at the same time taste his first career success in interleague play.
The 29-year-old began the A’s recent pitching showcase with six innings of two-hit, scoreless ball in a 3-0 win at Detroit last Wednesday.
He has never faced the Padres in his career, and has lost both interleague starts despite a 2.45 ERA.
One intriguing potential matchup in the series is A’s closer Blake Treinen against Padres slugger Eric Hosmer
Then a member of the Kansas City Royals, Hosmer bombed a two-run, go-ahead homer off Treinen in the eighth inning of their first career head-to-head last August.
Treinen then extracted a measure of revenge in the June 19 rematch in San Diego, closing out the 10-inning game by striking out Hosmer as he represented the potential tying run.
Bassitt will be opposed by left-hander Clayton Richard (7-7, 4.29), who had a four-game winning streak stopped in a 5-2 loss at Texas last Wednesday.
He retains a good interleague record (9-5, 3.50) despite not having beaten an American League opponent since 2015.
You have to go back three years before that to find his last appearance against the A’s in Oakland, but it was a memorable one. He shut out a playoff-bound A’s team for 7 2/3 innings in 2012, allowing five hits in a 2-1 win.
He has faced the A’s three times in his career, twice as a starter, and gone 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA.
One A’s hitter that Richard will have to deal with is the aforementioned Piscotty, who played last season for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Piscotty has dominated the head-to-heads, going 3-for-4 with a home run and a flyout to deep center field in the only non-hit of the matchup.
A’s catcher Jonathan Lucroy, another former National Leaguer, also has a successful history against Richard, going 7-for-18 (.389) with two doubles and a homer.
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THURSDAY, March 29
BBO–TIME TO TANK?
Rebuilding -or, to use the less euphemistic term, tanking- has become one of baseball’s most polarizing topics in 2018. When the Astros won the World Series last season, four years removed from a 111-loss debacle, they became a shining example of how short-term pain can lead to long-term gain, but as other teams try to follow Houston’s lead, they’re being met with at least a little bit of skepticism. By Baseball Writer Noah Trister. UPCOMING: 1,000 word, photos.
This Masters is as much about a red shirt as a green jacket. Tiger Woods is back at Augusta National for the first time since 2015, and he even looks so much like the Tiger Woods of old that he has been installed as a co-favorite. As much as golf has missed the excitement that Woods creates at tournaments, Woods has missed golf. ”I love playing Augusta National. There’s no other golf course like it in the world, and there’s no other golf tournament like it. It is literally … it’s a players’ heaven.” Ten months after he was arrested on a DUI charge for taking a bad mix of prescription medicine
FRIDAY, March 30
Sergio Garcia, the Masters champion, never felt any different from the Sergio Garcia who spent nearly 20 years trying to make sure his career would not be defined as the guy who never could win a major. He says he didn’t changed as a person, and he was right. All the change took place before he won the Masters. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 4 a.m. Friday.
GLF–MASTERS-CAPSULES. By Doug Ferguson. A capsule look at 15 contenders for the Masters. UPCOMING: 1,500 words by 5 p.m.
GLF–MASTERS-FACTS & FIGURES. UPCOMING by 5 p.m.
GLF–MASTERS-HOLE BY HOLE. UPCOMING by 5 p.m.
GLF–MASTERS-YARDAGE-PAR. UPCOMING by 5 p.m.
SATURDAY, March 31
It is the only hole at Augusta National that doesn’t have a bunker. No other hole on the back nine is shorter. Rory McIlroy watched the Masters every year when he was younger and didn’t see what was so difficult about the 440-yard 14th hole until he had to try it himself. ”There’s a 3-yard square you have to hit it,” he said. Sitting between the dynamic par 5s on the back nine, the hole called ”Chinese Fir” has played a key role over the years. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 3 a.m.
GLF–MASTERS-ANNIVERSARIES. By Doug Ferguson. A capsule look at key moments over the years at the Masters. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 3 a.m.
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Golf is getting younger, and the PGA Tour is going after its slice of the new generation to build a fan base. That has brought more energy
MONDAY, April 2
HKN–ONE FOR 1,000
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin are the latest of only about 60 NHL players to reach 1,000 games with a single franchise. But that number will grow significantly in the coming years as stars and core players choose to re-sign with their current teams long term because of the collective bargaining agreement and hockey’s lean toward security over movement. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 a.m.
FRIDAY, April 6
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators are having their best season yet through a combination of savvy drafting, surprising trades and a handful of salary cap-friendly contract extensions. General manager David Poile’s crafty moves have the defending Western Conference champs on the verge of what could be a dominant run in the NHL. By Teresa M. Walker. UPCOMING: 725 words, photos. Video.
Again, if you have questions about the Sports Showcase Digest or the material listed, please reach out to Oskar Garcia, assistant sports editor for the U.S. east region, at 215-446-6632 or at ogarcia(at)ap.org.