Courtesy Nashville Sounds

Oakland A's Minor League Notebook: Zach Neal shines, Henderson Alvarez suffers set-back

Zach Neal was strong in his return to Nashville, but the Oakland A's got some troubling news on rehabbing starter Henderson Alvarez. That news, and more, in this edition of Oakland A's Minor League Notebook.

Sounds breeze past Grizzlies behind Neal's strong effort

In his first Triple-A outing since making his major-league debut, Zach Neal was his typical efficient self in a 4-1 Nashville Sounds' win over the Fresno Grizzlies. Neal needed just 76 pitches to throw six plus innings of one-run ball. He allowed only three hits and one walk and he struck-out one. Neal threw 50 strikes and recorded nine groundouts.

The game was knotted at zeroes until the bottom of the sixth inning, when a two-out error on Fresno left fielder Jon Kemmer paved the way for the Sounds to score four times. Renato Nunez led the way for the Sounds with two doubles. Jake Smolinski and Matt Olson each singled and walked, and Chad Pinder walked twice. Pinder has walked four times over his last six games. He walked only twice over his first 27 games.

Tucker Healy relieved Neal in the seventh inning with one-on and none out. Healy retired the side in the seventh and in the eighth to bridge the gap to J.B. Wendelken for the ninth. Healy retired all six batters he faced and he struck-out three. He has a 2.76 ERA and a 26:6 K:BB in 16.1 innings. Wendelken struck-out the side to record his second save of the year. He has 25 strike-outs in 13.1 innings for Nashville this year.

Alvarez suffers set-back

Henderson Alvarez looked poised to make his return to the big leagues this weekend, but that plan is on hold after Alvarez reported soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder at the end of his rehab start with the Sounds on Sunday. Alvarez allowed two runs in five innings and threw 75 pitches, but he was unable to pitch in the sixth inning due to the soreness in his shoulder. He is back in Oakland to get re-assessed, but he isn't likely to make a start for the A's this weekend, as the team had hoped.

After the A's 3-1 win over the Texas Rangers, the team announced that Jesse Hahn would be promoted from Nashville to make the start on Tuesday. Josh Phegley (knee) is headed to the DL and Eric Surkamp will go back to Triple-A. A's rookie Sean Manaea earned his first major league win on Monday night with 6.2 innings of one-run ball against the Texas Rangers. Manaea didn't allow a run until his final inning and he allowed only four hits and one walk. He struck-out three. It was the first big league start in which Manaea did not allow a homerun.

Bats quiet in Midland loss to Frisco

The Midland RockHounds were held to two runs on five hits in a 4-2 loss to the division-leading Frisco RoughRiders. Raul Alcantara put together another solid start, but he was stuck with the tough-luck loss. In 6.2 innings, Alcantara allowed three runs (one earned) on nine hits. He struck-out four, walked one and lowered his ERA to 4.12. After a slow start to the season, Alcantara has allowed just three earned runs over his last four starts (23.1 innings). 

Unfortunately for Alcantara, the RockHounds couldn't manage any offense after scoring twice in the bottom of the first. Jaycob Brugman led-off the game with a triple and represented most of Midland's offense with two hits and a walk. Quietly, Brugman has a .275/.333/.472 line for the year. Yairo MunozRyon Healy and Matt Chapman had the other three hits for Midland. Franklin Barreto went 0-for-3 and is batting .139 over his last 10 games.

Joey Wagman will be promoted from Stockton to Midland on Tuesday and will make the start for the RockHounds. The RockHounds will face Yu Darvish in a rehab start on Tuesday.

Stockton pounds Bakersfield early, holds on for win

The Stockton Ports scored four times in the first and were up 8-1 after four-and-a-half innings before holding on for an 8-4 win over the Blaze. Sandber Pimentel (4) and Joe Bennie (1) both homered and John Nogowski walked three times and had a single in the game.

Brett Graves got the start, but he was unable to earn a win despite getting eight runs in support. He allowed three runs on five hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. Graves struck-out four. Lou Trivino came on with one-on and two outs in the fifth and recorded the final out of the inning. He allowed a run on three hits and two walks over one inning pitched. Matt Stalcup was credited with the win by the scorer's discretion after he worked 1.1 scoreless innings. Stalcup stranded both inherited runners in the sixth and worked a scoreless seventh. Koby Gauna worked out of a first-and-third, nobody out situation in the eighth and then worked an easier ninth to secure the win. Gauna lowered his ERA to 3.20 with the two scoreless frames.

The Ports had 11 hits and walked seven times. They were also helped by three Bakersfield errors. Bennie, Pimentel and James Harris each had two hits. Harris also walked and he scored twice out of the leadoff spot. Bennie's homer was his first of the year. He had two RBI and raised his OPS on the road to 847. Pimentel's homer was his second in the past four games. Nogowski has now reached base 11 times over his last four games. He has a 950 OPS for the month of May.

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