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Posted on 9:09pm Aug 15, 2017
OAKLAND, Calif. Takkarist McKinley Falcons Jersey . -- The beginning of Julys first blockbuster trade occurred about a month ago, when Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane called Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein to ask about Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Beane told Epstein he liked the starting pitchers, and he was going to be aggressive in an attempt to improve the AL West leaders. Fast forward to this weekend, when Beane proved just how serious he was during that initial call. Oakland and Chicago announced the big trade on Saturday, with Samardzija and Hammel heading to the West Coast for a package of prospects that included the As first-round selections in each of the past two drafts. "The deal speaks for itself. To pick up two guys like that in early June is pretty fantastic," As manager Bob Melvin said. "We wanted more options and saw the urgency to get it done. This makes us better." The Athletics began the day with the best record in baseball, but Beane felt he needed to add depth to a rotation that responded well to season-ending injuries for Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin. Drew Pomeranz also is on the disabled list with a broken right hand. Samardzija and Hammel join Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray in one of the majors best group of starting pitchers. "We had to dig into our depth really early, and we felt like we needed two (starting pitchers)," Beane said. Samardzija will start for the As on Sunday. He was scheduled to pitch for the Cubs Saturday. In somewhat of a surprise, the As sent left-hander Tommy Milone to Triple-A Sacramento later Saturday to make room for Samardzija. Milone was 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA over his last 11 starts and 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 16 starts overall. "What do you say to a guy like that?" Melvin said. "Hes been terrific his last 10 starts and has meant a lot to us the last three years. I tried to figure out what to say to him. We havent seen the last of him." Oakland will make a move Sunday to clear space for Hammel, who will start Wednesday. Minor leaguers Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily went to Chicago in another painful deal for the lowly Cubs, who have played better of late, but are still last in the NL Central. Chicago also gets a player to be named in its latest July sell-off. The Cubs lost at least 91 games in each of the previous three years. They traded away starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm in July 2012, and Matt Garza and Scott Feldman last July. "We certainly hope that this is the last year that were obvious sellers at the trade deadline," Epstein said. The key piece for Chicago in the deal with Oakland was Russell, a 20-year-old shortstop headed for Double-A Tennessee. A torn right hamstring sidelined the No. 11 overall selection in the 2012 draft earlier this season, but he was batting .333 in 13 games for Double-A Midland at the time of the trade. Chicago and Oakland talked about a Samardzija for Russell deal, but Epstein said the one-for-one framework didnt work. He spoke with Beane on Thursday night, and thats when the trade grew into the larger package. "We felt like Russell was a key for us in any deal with Oakland," Epstein said. The hard-throwing Samardzija had a 2-7 record for the Cubs, but he also had a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 108 innings, making him one of the most coveted pitchers on the market. The former Notre Dame receiver was selected by Chicago in the fifth round in 2006. Chicago recalled left-hander Chris Rusin from Triple-A Iowa. Epstein said the Cubs were still discussing their options when it came to the rotation. "I can say that (after that) its going to stay the same until Tuesday for the doubleheader (at Cincinnati)," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of the rotation after Saturday. Jake Arrieta is set to start Sunday in Washington and Edwin Jackson on Monday at Cincinnati. The Cubs will add a 26th man, Tsuyoshi Wada, for Tuesdays doubleheader. The Cubs talked to the 29-year-old Samardzija about a contract extension, but were unable to come to an agreement. He is set to become a free agent for the first time after the 2015 season. "Jeff has been a bit of workhorse," Beane said. "Hes got a perfect health record. Hes a guy that continues to develop. Hes gotten better and better each year he goes out." Hammel signed a $6 million, one-year contract with Chicago in February and went 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 108 2-3 innings with the Cubs. He pitched six-plus innings in a 7-2 victory over Washington on Friday. Hammel, who turns 32 in September, also has three career post-season starts. "Hes gotten better and better and we think now is a great time to have him," Beane said. The 19-year-old McKinney, who was selected in the first round a year ago, hit .241 with 10 homers for Class A Stockton this season. He is headed for Chicagos Class A affiliate in Daytona, Florida, where he will share the outfield with another top prospect in Albert Almora. Straily finished 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts for the As last year. He was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento after struggling earlier this season, and Epstein said he likely would be up with the Cubs after a short stay at Triple-A Iowa. Even before the deal, Chicago had one of the richest minor league systems in baseball. The addition of Russell and McKinney just enhances the Cubs impressive group of prospects. "We think we have a real outstanding stable of good young position players that is a stable base to build off," Epstein said. "We like how this positions us." Duke Riley Jersey . Plata blasted a rising shot to the upper left corner for his team-leading seventh goal of the season. He got the kick after referee Allen Chapman ruled Chris Tierney fouled John Stertzer in the penalty area. Duke Riley Youth Jersey .com) - Devin Booker scored 19 points and top-ranked Kentucky put on a defensive clinic in an 83-44 obliteration of UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic.OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jed Lowrie and Oakland are hoping Saturdays ninth inning against Houston will carry over to the rest of the season for the Athletics. Lowrie hit a game-ending RBI single, sending the As to a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros. "We were looking a spark," Lowrie said. "I think thats the type of play that can start something big. We just need to keep that momentum, use that momentum going forward and continue to believe that we can do what we set out to do at the beginning." Lowrie, Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp had two hits apiece as Oakland snapped a three-game losing streak. Josh Donaldson started the As three-run ninth with a leadoff single, stopping an 0-for-15 slide. The Athletics were six games back of the AL West-leading Angels coming into the day, but also were on top of the wild-card standings. It marked the ninth victory for Oakland this year in its final at-bat. "Weve won many games like that this year," manager Bob Melvin said. "Hopefully they remember the feeling." Reddick hit a two-run double off Chad Qualls (1-5) before Lowrie drove him in with a single to left. Oakland is hitting .571 (16 for 28) against Qualls this year. "Its been happening all year, Im tired of it," Qualls said. "Four of my five losses are against them. Four of my five blown saves are against them. Im over it. Theres pretty much nothing to write." Luke Gregerson (4-3) pitched a scoreless inning for the win. Houston wasted a solid start by Scott Feldman, who was charged with three runs, two earned, and seven hits in 8 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA in his last eight starts, including two complete games. The Astros grabbed a 2-1 lead on Jose Alltuves two-run double in the sixth against Scott Kazmir. Takkarist McKinley Jersey. . Altuve extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games and leads major league baseball with a .340 batting average and 197 hits. The All-Star second baseman has hit safely in 22 straight games against the As and in 34 of 37 contests against Oakland in his career. Kazmir gave up three runs and three hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out eight and walked five. Brandon Moss sacrifice fly in the third gave Oakland a 1-0 lead. But Houston increased its advantage to 3-1 on Robbie Grossmans sacrifice fly in the sixth. BONDS VISITS ASTROS Home run king Barry Bonds watched Astros batting practice from behind the cage as a guest of outfielder Dexter Fowler, and spent most of his time giving tips to Houston first baseman Jon Singleton. TRAINERS ROOM Astros: Manager Tom Lawless said outfielder Alex Presley (right oblique strain) is expected to start Sunday and play five innings, marking his first extended action since returning from the disabled list Tuesday. Athletics: Closer Sean Doolittle (intercostal strain) played long toss and is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Monday in Chicago. ... Catcher Stephen Vogt (sprained left ankle) wore a walking boot in the clubhouse and will be sidelined for "a little while," according to Melvin. ... C John Jaso (concussion) is on track to be activated from the disabled list soon but likely wont be catching. UP NEXT Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (10-9, 3.03 ERA) has pitched at least seven innings in seven of his past eight starts. Athletics: RHP Jason Hammel (2-5, 4.98 ERA) is 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA his past five outings after going 0-4 with a 9.53 ERA in his first four starts with the As. 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