A’s bounce back with unconventional lineup

By Morris Phillips

PhotoSunday afternoon wasn’t like Saturday night for the Oakland A’s.

The A’s shed their recent struggles and produced a solid, all-around effort in beating the Indians, 7-3, to capture the weekend series and move closer to Texas in the AL West.

Tommy Milone returned from the minors and pitched effectively into the fifth inning and left with the game tied at 3. From that point, the Oakland offense and the bullpen handled the rest. Chris Young and Alberto Callaspo homered in the bottom of the fifth to break the tie and A’s relievers kept the Indians scoreless over the final 4 1/3 innings.

“That’s when we’re at our best, when we have equal parts and we can trust everybody up and down the lineup. That’s been our key offensively,” Jed Lowrie said of the fifth inning surge in which the A’s number six and eight hitters went yard.

The A’s left the Coliseum in a haze Saturday night having accumulated just three hits in a 7-1 loss that dropped them below .500 since the All Star break. The lack of offense stands as the biggest reason for the second half slump but on Sunday the A’s banged out 12 hits and saw good swinging bats up and down the lineup. Five A’s had multiple hits including Callaspo who was 3 for 4.

Manager Bob Melvin shook up his lineup for the series finale with Lowrie and Derek Norris at the top the lineup and Nate Freiman spelling Brandon Moss and hitting fifth. Unconventional? Absolutely, but it worked right down to the hits, the mid-game rally and in the absence of a big game from cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes who was 0 for 5 with two strikeouts.

Cespedes made his contribution defensively by throwing out Nick Swisher trying to stretch a single into a double in the seventh. Young made a spectacular catch in the eighth that kept Michael Brantley from getting extra bases.

Scott Kazmir started for Cleveland after an eight-day break and struggled. Kazmir allowed 10 hits and five runs, including both homers in the fifth, and took the loss. Kazmir has resurrected his career in 2013 but the Coliseum brings out the worst in the former Rays’ ace. Kazmir allowed two home runs equaling his home runs allowed over his previous nine starts. On July 10, 2010 Kazmir allowed 11 hits and 13 earned runs in a not-so-memorable start for the Angels at the Coliseum.

The A’s are a half-game out of first place and a half-game behind Tampa Bay in the wild card hunt with 39 games to play. Oakland continues their home stand Monday with the Mariners visiting.

A’s take the series, defeat Jays 5-1

By Jerry Feitelberg

Photo
The Oakland A’s finished an unusual four game series with the Toronto Blue Jays by beating them 5-1 on Monday in Toronto. The series was unusual due to the fact that the fourth game of the series wrapped around the weekend and was played on Monday. Getaway games are not usually played on a Monday but there is a first for everything, I suppose.

The A’s came into the game having won two out of three from the Blue Jays. The A’s lost the second game of the series by just one run but winning three out of four on the road is not a bad thing. The A’s had Dan Straily on the hill and he was opposed by J.A.Happ. Happ was making his second start since coming off the disabled list. Straily,who had not completed five innings in each of his last three starts, was terrific as he went 7 1/3rd innings allowing just six hits and one run. Happ was just as good as he went seven innings allowing just three hits and one run. The game was to be decided by the bullpens as neither pitcher got a decision. The game summary follow below.

The A’s got off to a great start as Chris Young, hitting leadoff, blasted his tenth home run of the year to get it going for the A’s in the first inning.

Toronto tied the game in the bottom of the eighth. Straily retired the first batter in the eighth but Jose Reyes and Maicer Izturis singled to put men on at first and second. A’s Manager Bob Melvin brought in Ryan Cook to pitch. Cook was facing the always dangerous Jose Bautista. Bautista hit a ball that got by Alberto Callapso, playing third base, allowing Jose Ryes to score. The ball was originally ruled a hit by the official scorer but it was changed to an error later. Cook then retired the next to batters to end the inning. Game tied at one after eight innings.

They A’s broke it open in the ninth. The Jays brought their closer, Casey Janssen, in to pitch the ninth. The A’s roughed him up for four runs. Josh Donaldson singled to get things going in the ninth. Yoenis Cespedes the fouled out. Brandon Moss pinch hit for Nate Freiman and drilled a double down the right field line. The Jays walked Josh Reddick to load the bases. That brought up Callaspo. Callaspo atoned for his error as hit lined a double to right field that scored two runners. Catcher Stephen Vogt singled to drive in the third run of the inning. Eric Sogard then hit a sacrifice fly to bring in run number four of the inning. Sean Doolittle was brought in to close out the game. Doolittle Gave up a single with one out but retired the last two batter to secure the win for the A’s.

Ryan Cook got credit for the win while Casey Janssen took the loss for the Jays.

The A’s remain one game back of the Texas Rangers. The Rangers beat Houston Monday afternoon 2-1. The Astros travel to Oakland for a three game set starting Tuesday night at the O.Co Coliseum. 

Reds edge A’s, 6-5

By George Devine, Sr.August 7, 2013
 
Corky Miller, Alberto CallaspoThe A’s will be glad to leave Cincinnati. They lost 6-5 to the Reds in a hard-fought game to end their series on the banks of the Ohio and now head to Toronto.

The scoring started in the first as Shin-Soo Choo singled to right, beginning a busy day in the position for Seth Smith, then advanced on Todd Frazier’s walk and reached third on Joey Votto’s base hit to right, scoring when Jay Bruce grounded into a 6-4 force.

Josh Donaldson put Oakland on the board in the second with a homer to right, his 17th of the year. In the bottom of the inning Zack Cosart singled to right and scored as Corky Miller hit a double in Smith’s direction.

In the home third, Votto singled to right, and scored on a homer hit over Smith’s head by Jay Bruce, his 24th of the season. Cozart walked and scored when Miller doubled to left.

In the fourth, Brandon Moss singled to short, then Alberto Callaspo doubled to right, so Moss reached third, scoring on Stephen Vogt’s single to right.

In the fifth, Xavier Paul hit a ground rule double to right and scored when Devin Mesoraco singled to third.

The Athletics’ last scoring drive was in the sixth, when Jed Lowrie doubled to center, reached third when Moss singled to right and scored as Donaldson grounded a base hit to left. Eric Sogard tripled to right, plating Moss and Donaldson.

The winner is Homer Bailey (7-10) and the loser Bartolo Colon (14-4). Araldis Chapman picked up his 27th save of the year.

After a travel day, the A’s first game in the Toronto series is at 4:07 p.m. PDT on Friday, August 9, with Jarrod Parker (7-6) facing Esmil Rogers (3-6).

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.

 

Parker brings the funk to Oakland

Saturday, August 03, 2013

O.Co Coliseum

By Emily Zahner

OAKLAND, CA—Saturday morning, Jarrod Parker tweeted to his fans that he would not be showering before the game today. Whether this was an act of superstition, or he just ran out of time, Parker definitely brought the funk to the mound this afternoon. Coincidentally, the A’s had a ticket promotion today, giving fans that purchased special tickets a pair of Oakland “Zubaz” pants, a funky zebra print with green and gold coloring. Whatever Parker’s reasoning might have been, it obviously worked, and Parker might not be showering before starts ever again.

In front of 28,304 Oakland faithful with some Texas red and blue sprinkled in, the A’s (64-46) defeated the Rangers (61-50) 4-2 on the back of Jarrod Parker. Parker threw 107 pitched through six innings, giving up just six hits and two earned runs. Texas newcomer Matt Garza pitched a complete game, throwing 114 pitches, surrendering eight hits and four runs, all earned. With the win this afternoon, the A’s snapped their three game losing streak, the Rangers snap their five game winning streak, and the gap between these two teams in the division increased to three and a half games.

Matt Garza, who normally performs tremendously against the A’s, was out of sorts. The A’s jumped on him quick in the first, becoming the only team to ever score a run against Garza in the first inning. After a smattering of hits by the A’s, Garza added a new pitch to his repertoire when he threw a temper tantrum after two consecutive bunts by A’s hitters in the 7th. Coco Crisp reached first on a bunt and Eric Sogard extended his hit streak to 11 games with a bunt single as well. Garza had some colorful words to say so Sogard, to which Sogard smiled and took it as being “in the heat of the moment”. A’s Manager Bob Melvin said sometimes you have to “create a little havoc… sometimes it’s the right thing to do”. Garza, from the dugout, also had some choice words to say about A’s relief pitcher Ryan Cook pausing the game to have the mound attended to. Melvin laughed, saying the mound took a beating today and he could see his pitchers struggling with it. Commenting on what needed to be attended to on the mound, Melvin explained “some pitchers are just more violent than others”.

Starting in his first game at second for the green and gold, Alberto Callaspo continued to hit the ball well. Although he has yet to put up any numbers, currently 0-for-13, Callaspo has been having great atbats and putting good wood on the ball. This afternoon, he went 0-2 with a walk and a run scored. Crisp and Brandon Moss each connected for two hits, and Yoenis Cespedes crushed his 17th homerun of the season.

Prior to today’s game, the A’s announced they had optioned LHP Tommy Milone to Sacramento, and recalled RHP Evan Scribner. Milone was told he was sent down because off upcoming off days and no need for a fifth starter; he hopes to work on location and keeping the ball down while down in AAA.

The A’s and Rangers complete their three game series tomorrow, Sunday August 4th at 1:05pm PST. Probable starters are AJ Griffin (10-7 3.90 ERA) and Derek Holland (8-6 3.18 ERA)

Game Notes:

Yoenis Cespedes hit his 17th Homerun of the season. Ian Kinsler hit his 10th, the first homerun that Parker has allowed in four games. During the game, the A’s announced the acquisition of RHP Fernando Nieve, whom their acquired from Cleveland for cash. The Venezuela native has a 9.0 ERA and a 0-1 record with 6 innings pitched. Eric Sogard extends his hit streak to 11 games.