PHILADELPHIA – Mark Kotsay had a game ball on his desk and an Oakland Athletics uniform that reeked of beer in the hamper. Kotsay needed to change into shorts after his players sprayed him with suds for winning his first game as a big league manager.
In what could be a long season in Oakland, which is in rebuilding mode again, Kotsay will take the celebrations when they come.
“I haven't had one of those since my rookie year,” he said of the alcohol shower.
Billy McKinney homered and Daulton Jefferies and four relievers combined on a three-hitter to lead the A's past the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 on Sunday and avert a three-game sweep.
A’s catcher Austin Allen gave Kotsay the celebratory game ball.
“Kots is awesome. He’s like having another player out there,” Allen said. “He’s just leading the ship. His energy and everything is amazing. We all couldn’t be happier for him to be our manager and to get his first win for him.”
Kotsay, 46, was promoted from third base coach to manager and replaced Bob Melvin.
The A’s shut down a Phillies offense that scored 13 runs in the first two games of the series. The Phillies' only two hits through the first five innings came from backups Garrett Stubbs and Johan Camargo.
Jean Segura hit his second homer off the season for the Phillies in the ninth off Lou Trivino.
Jefferies (1-0) tossed two-hit ball over five scoreless innings before he was yanked after he issued a leadoff walk in the sixth. Sam Moll, Domingo Acevedo and Kirby Snead tossed three shutout innings.
A's pitchers threw eight or fewer pitches in four innings.
“I didn’t really have a problem with that because I felt we hit a number of balls hard," Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.
Tony Kemp's two-RBI single in the ninth that made it 4-0 sent most of what was left of 33,507 fans headed toward the exits on a chilly, windy day at the ballpark.
Elvis Andrus hit a one-out double off Bailey Falter (0-1) and scored on Seth Brown’s bloop single to left in the sixth that gave Oakland its first lead of the season.
McKinney, who became the 1,000th player in Oakland A’s history on Friday, hit a solo shot to right off Falter in the seventh. The 1,000-player milestone marks major history for the A’s in Oakland — even more than in Philadelphia. The A’s are in their 55th season in Oakland after playing 54 years in Philadelphia, from 1901-1954 (the A’s spent 13 years in Kansas City).
Phillies starter Zach Eflin, acquired from the Dodgers in 2014 in the Jimmy Rollins trade, made his first start since July 16 against Miami. He was scratched from his next scheduled start because of what the Phillies said was tendinitis in his right knee. The injury turned out worse than expected for the right-hander: Eflin had surgery in September to repair a tear in his right patellar tendon.
“It's just one of those scenarios where I just have to remind myself what I've been though this offseason," Eflin said. “It felt nice to get the training wheels off and move out there with no limitations.”
Eflin still needs time to build arm strength and return to form but was solid over 68 pitches and four shutout innings. He escaped his only jam in the third inning when he loaded the bases with no outs. Andrus lined one back to Eflin that he caught and whirled around to double Christian Pache off second. He retired Sean Murphy on a popup to keep the game scoreless.
SO FRESH, SO CLEAN
“I did shower for you guys." — Kotsay to the media after a delay for his postgame news conference.
Girardi and the Phillies might have a little help from above this season.
Well, at least from Girardi’s top shelf inside the manager’s office, where a Sister Jean bobblehead keeps watch. Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt has become the face of Loyola Chicago during the NCAA Tournament, and her figurine is part of Girardi’s collection as an inside joke.
Girardi played at Northwestern and remained close with his catching coach, Bob Behrns, who didn’t exactly pick Loyola to win it all.
“Bobby didn’t believe in the power of Sister Jean,” Girardi said with a laugh.
Behrns told him, “C’mon, there’s other Catholic and Christian schools playing in this.”
Girardi’s retort, “Sister Jean’s got like a hundred years on them.”
Girardi turned to an inside source to have fun at Behrns’ expense. Girardi asked his old coach’s son, Loyola sports information director Bill Behrns, for two bobbleheads — one for Girardi and his office and another “just to rub it in” and send to the former catching coach.
The A’s head to Tampa Bay for the next four games of a 10-game road trip. They will send RHP Paul Blackburn (1-4, 5.87 ERA in 2021) to the mound on Monday against Rays RHP Luis Patino (5-3, 4.31 in 2021).
The Phillies welcome a more traditional rival and open a three-game set against the New York Mets. The Phillies send LHP Ranger Suarez (8-5, 1.36 ERA in 2021) to the mound against New York RHP Taijuan Walker (7-11, 4.47 ERA in 2021).
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