Manager’s Decisions

By Jerry Feitelberg

One of the most difficult jobs in all of baseball has to be the manager of the club. The manager has many tasks that he has to perform every day. One of those tasks is making out the lineup for each and every game. Some managers like to use a set lineup so that that the players will be hitting in the same spot every day. The Detroit Tigers, for example have Miguel Cabrera hitting third and Prince Fielder hitting fourth. The Tigers do this as it is most beneficial to the especially in the late innings. Other managers like to make changes daily. A’s manager, Bob Melvin, has used, if you can believe this, 132 different lineups in the 152 games the A’s have played so far this year. Some lineup changes are made by necessity as a player may be injured or may have a personal matter that requires him to be away from the club. Melvin, however, is blessed this season with a deep lineup and he can go with a lineup that meets the clubs need on a given day. For instance, if an opposing club is starting a left handed pitcher, Melvin can use the switch hitters and right hand hitters Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes everyday. Melvin can then use right handed hitters at first base, second base, left field and maybe right field. When the A’s are facing a righty, Melvin uses his lefty bats at catcher, DH, second base, first base  and left field. These moves don’t always work but they give him a lot of flexibility so that the A’s can win.

Another task is deciding what roles the pitchers are to have. Who will be the starters. That again depends on the health of the players. Once  the manager establishes the starting rotation, he has to decide which pitcher will be his “long man.” The long relievers come in when the starter has a bad outing and has an early exit from the game. Decisions have to be made on the “set up “ guys. Who will pitch the seventh inning? Who will pitch the eighth? Who will be the closer ? And who will pitch if any of these key pitchers are unavailable due to a heavy workload. The manager has to make decisions all through the game. Do I bring in a lefty to face a lefty? Decisions are made on how well a particular pitcher gets out a certain hitter. For example, Melvin brought in Jerry Blevins to face the Angels’ Josh Hamilton the other night. Hamilton hits from the left side and has a lot of power. Blevins, however has great numbers against Hamilton. Melvin brought him in to pitch in a key situation and Blevins struck Hamilton out. Melvin is a genius. In another game with the A’s leading 4-2, Melvin brought in his closer, Grant Balfour, to face Hamilton. This time Hamilton won the battle as he hit a two run homer to tie the game in the ninth and the Angels eventually won the game. Have to remove the genius tag.

There are so many more decisions that a manager has to make during the game such having the runner steal a base or putting down a sacrifice bunt to move a runner into scoring position. So many more things going on in the manager’s mind as the game moves along and far too many to list at this time.

So, when you go to the game, it’s fun to see if you can guess what the manager is going to do. Also, keep in the mind, the opposing manager is doing the same game and it is this mind game that makes baseball the magical game that it is.

 

The A’s win, back in first place

By Jerry Feitelberg

The A’s, just a game behind the Rangers, opened a three game series with the Division leaders starting on Labor Day. This is going to be a huge series. The A’s will need to win two out three to be even with Texas for the division lead. The last thing either team wants to be is a Wild Card Entry. The Rangers found that out last year when they lost a one game playoff to the Orioles and were eliminated.

The 23,495 people who were here in attendance were not disappointed as the A’s beat the Rangers 4-2 and  the A’s moved into a first place tie with the Rangers. Dan Straily started for the A’s and went five innings getting credit for his eighth win of the year. The Rangers’ starter, Derek Holland, took the loss. Both teams now have an identical record of 79-58 with 25 games left in the season.

The A’s took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Yoenis Cespedes hit a solo home run for his 21st home run of the year. Alberto Callaspo doubled and scored on a single by Chris Young.  The Rangers tied the game in the top of the fifth. Straily walked Mitch Moreland to start the inning and Moreland scored when David Murphy homered to tie the score.

The A’s came back to take the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth. Michael Choice reached first on a throwing error by Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre. Coco Crisp followed with a home run that barely made it over the left field wall and the umpires called it a home run but decided to review the play. After a minute or two, the umps came back and ruled in the A’s favor. A’s now lead 4-2.

There was no more scoring. Bob Melvin used four relievers to close out the Rangers. The Rangers did threaten a couple of times. Dan Otero worked out of a jam in the sixth and Grant Balfour had men on second and third with two outs in the ninth. Balfour got Beltre to ground out to end the game and earn his 36th save of the year.

Game notes- The A’s have won four straight and seven of the last eight and are in first place since August 9th. Dan Straily is 3-1 with in ERA of 2.63 during day games. Strailly when asked after the game if there was any extra pressure on him for this game replied “Not really, but you understand the magnitude of the situation.”  Coco Crisp hit his 17th home run of the year which is a career high. Crisp has homered 7 times in his last 12 games. Crisp left the game with when he hit a foul ball off his right shin. Bob Melvin said “it is a right shin contusion and we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”  Michael Choice made his Major League debut and walked his first time up and reached on an error. Melvin said Choice reaching on the error”was a huge play in the game.” Melvin used Brett Anderson in relief.  Melvin said that he would keep him there for a while as the starting rotation is ok. Grant Balfour picked up his 36th save of the year but it was not easy. However, Balfour worked out the jam and Melvin commented that “Balfour had to find a little extra will and would have to make a pitch and get out of the game.”

Game two of the three game series will be Tuesday night at the Coliseum. Game time will be 7pm.

Bartolo Colon(14-5) will start for the A’s and the Rangers’ will send  lefty Martin Perez(8-3) to the mound.

Game time 2 hours and 28 minutes.

A’s are ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’ on the Sonny Gray express, beat Rays 2-0

By Emily Zahner and Kahlil Najar

OAKLAND, CA—“Pay attention to the cracked streets and the broken homes… some call it slums some call it nice. I want to take you through a wasteland I like to call my home… Welcome to Paradise.” Well, it may not be the most modern or high-tech stadium in the world, but many still call the O.Co home. Sure, our sewers back up on occasion, and we’ve tarped off the third deck, but hey, to A’s fans, this place is our own personal paradise. In front of a 35,067 sell-out crowd on Saturday evening, rookie Sonny Gray (2-2) with a little offensive help from Coco Crisp (3-4; 2 1B, HR), reminded us of just that. The crowds may have flocked to the coliseum to see Bay Area natives and Academy Award winning Green Day on their themed fireworks night, but they were treated to quite the show and reminded of the true passion this team exudes.

In their final game of August, the Oakland Athletics (77-58) and Tampa Bay Rays (75-59) engaged in a pitchers’ duel that saw a total of 2 runs scored on 12 hits. Sonny Gray had another spectacular outing, pitching 6 2/3 innings, only giving up five hits and striking out seven. After a tough outing his last time out in Baltimore, Gray returned to form and handed the Rays their sixth loss in seven days with a 2-0 dominating pitching performance. Gray appeared to be in control of every pitch and knew exactly where to place it. He started out strong to start the game as he struck out five batters in the first two innings. A’s manager Bob Melvin was impressed with his rookie starter. When asked about his performance, Melvin said he was “Great again, in a game like that, both guys are pitching pretty well and runs might be tough to come by and that was the case. And we got just enough and boy he did his job.”

Rays starter Alex Cobb was equally as impressive. Pitching a complete game loss, Cobb only gave up five hits, striking out seven in the process. Melvin knew what he was up against before the game even started, “Cobb has been tough on us. We did well then he started to settle down on us. He pitches backwards. He’ll get ahead of you and it’s hard to think ahead of him. He’s a tough guy to face.”

It wasn’t until the 6th inning that the A’s were able to solve Cobb. After a leadoff triple by Stephen Vogt, Coco Crisp singled up the middle for the first run of the game. Coco added another run to the tally when he homered off Cobb in the 8th to bring the lead to 2-0. Grant Balfour came in to pitch in the ninth, and made things a little interesting. The Rays tried to make a ball game when after a Myers double and walk off of Grant Balfour in the ninth, Desmond Jennings hit a single to center field that scored Myers but Balfour was able to calm down and get pinch hitting Kelly Johnson to ground out to first to end the game.

The A’s are feeling good after tonight’s win, Gray can feel the energy changing, “I feel like we’re playing great all around. Great defense, great hitting, this is a fun locker room to be in right now”.

Oakland looks to keep the good vibes going when they finish off the three game series with the Rays tomorrow afternoon before facing AL West leading Texas in a three game series starting Monday.

A’s offense comes up empty, lose to Rangers 4-0

August 4, 2013

by Kahlil Najar and Emily Zahner

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OAKLAND, CA — The Oakland Athletics (64-47) lost the rubber match against the Texas Rangers (62-50) on Sunday afternoon, shortening their American League West division lead to 2.5 games. Rangers’ starter Derek Holland (9-6) continued his dominance against Oakland, keeping the A’s bats quiet through his eight innings pitched, only allowing five hits and striking out 10; this was the third time this year Holland has fanned ten hitters. Through the first six, Holland had only allowed one hit and had already struck out seven, only surrendering a single up the middle to A’s first baseman Nate Freiman in the second. Holland, who recorded his first win since July 13th, is now 5-2 lifetime against the A’s.

“Holland pitched well. Probably the best we’ve seen him pitched in a while. They had a good zone for him and made the change up hard to deal with today ” A’s Manager Bob Melvin had to say on Holland. The game was a pitchers duel, as A’s starter A.J. Griffin (10-8) who was credited with his 8th loss of the season, performed well through six and two-thirds innings. Other than a few costly pitches to Nelson Cruz and Mitch Moreland, Griffin was able to keep the A’s in the game. He tallied 7 strikeouts, five hits and only one walk. “He kept us in the game and played well enough for us to win. We just didn’t give him enough offense.” said Melvin on Griffin’s performance. “We’ve been talking to him about the home runs and we’ve talked about it quite a bit. We’ll be working on it.”

After starting the game strong with two consecutive strikeouts, Griffin threw a four seam fastball to Ian Kinsler that should have been fielded easily by left-fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Whether credit be due to the sun or the impending wall behind him, Cespedes dropped the ball at the warning track and allowed Kinsler to land safely at second. Adrian Beltre then singled on a sharp line drive to left and Kinsler came in to score to make it a 1-0 lead. Nelson Cruz lead off the top of the second by hitting his 20th homer of the season off of Griffin to increase the lead to 2-0. Griffin leads the majors in surrendered home runs, with 28. After five innings of solid pitching by both pitchers, which saw 9 total strikeouts from both teams, Griffin gave up another deep home run to Mitch Moreland with Chris Gentry on first to bring the tally to 4-0 Texas.

The A’s had a chance to bring themselves back into the game in the bottom of the seventh when Nate Freiman and Chris Young hit back-to-back singles, bringing up Josh Reddick. Holland fooled him with a sinker that had him swinging wildly and quietly and efficiently killed the rally. All-Star closer Joe Nathan came in to relieve Holland in the bottom of the ninth and gave the A’s and their 23,263 fans in attendance a glimmer of hope. After giving up a lead off walk to Josh Donaldson and a hard hit single to Cespedes, Brandon Moss grounded into what should have been a double play, but was able to beat out the throw at first to keep runners at the corners. Alberto Callaspo then grounded into a game ending double play that silenced the crowd and gave the Rangers the series victory two games to one, ending the home-stand on a slightly sour note.

On the A’s offense, Melvin said, “We’re having a tough time putting two games in a row together. We’ve been in a little bit of a rut whether it be our defense, our pitching or offense. We haven’t been timely as that goes. The offense has stood out for quite a while now. We do have the guys with the ability to take care of that and we’re confident we will. We just need to sustain it. Not just one game here and one game there. We just need to get on a roll.”

The A’s hope to start that winning momentum when they head out on a seven game road trip Tuesday night in Cincinnati. The green and gold send Dan Straily (6-5, 4.41 ERA) to the mound against Reds ace Mat Latos (10-3, 3.38 ERA) at 4:10pm PST.