Bay Area Baseball

Follow the latest news and notes on the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics

June 30, 2013
Pitching, defense come on late in A's 7-5 win; Crisp (back) exits

OAKLAND -- It did not appear early on Sunday like this would be a game the A's would win with pitching and defense. Tommy Milone gave up a career-high tying three home runs all in the first three innings. The Cardinals took a 5-2 lead in the third when Josh Donaldson lost a Carlos Beltran pop-up in the sun and Jed Lowrie let Matt Holliday's two-out grounder roll through his legs, allowing Beltran to come in from second base.

But the A's tightened things up from there, and after they came back to beat the Cardinals 7-5, much of the talk was about pitching -- a gutty effort by Milone to give the A's three more shutout innings and turn it over to the bullpen -- and defense -- notably two plays in the seventh inning that helped preserve what was then a one-run lead.

Both Lowrie and reliever Sean Doolittle said they thought the key play was Eric Sogard's full-extension catch of a Yadier Molina flare in the seventh. The Cardinals had a runner on second and nobody out, and had the ball fallen it likely would have tied the game.

"Off the top of my head that's one of the better (plays) of the year," said Doolittle, who was pitching. "Battling the sun like that, in no-man's land, full speed on the run -- that was awesome."

"That changes the whole inning," Lowrie said. "I think it's the biggest play of the game."

June 30, 2013
A's pre-game: Parker, Jaso updates, plus Jemile Weeks in CF

OAKLAND -- Jarrod Parker delivered a pre-emptive strike this morning to reporters approaching his locker looking for an update on the right-hander's right hamstring.

"I got nothing," said Parker, who left his start in the fourth inning Saturday with hamstring tightness.

A's manager Bob Melvin wasn't much more enlightening on the subject, saying Parker had "some lingering soreness when he played catch," but that the A's likely won't know more on whether Parker will be available to make his next start until after he throws a bullpen session Tuesday. Which means more waiting.

June 29, 2013
Parker exits A's 7-1 loss with right hamstring tightness

OAKLAND -- Jarrod Parker was somewhat subdued but said, "I don't think so," when asked if he was concerned about his status going forward after the right-hander left the A's 7-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday with right hamstring tightness. Parker went down grabbing at his hamstring after throwing a pitch to Allen Craig in the fourth inning. He was stretched out by a trainer on the field and threw several practice pitches before coming out of the game.

Manager Bob Melvin said the A's are hoping it's just a cramp and nothing that would keep Parker from making his next start, but they won't know more until they see how Parker feels tomorrow.

"If everything feels OK tomorrow, we'll see how he feels in his (next bullpen session) and then proceed from there," Melvin said. "But you know a lot more tomorrow."

Parker said he was "sore" after the game but hadn't undergone any tests or done anything beyond "normal stuff" treatment-wise.

"I think it's just tight and we'll be able to assess it in the coming days," Parker said. "It was something where I just threw the pitch and it just kind of got tight on me."

Melvin said Parker floated the idea of staying in to finish the inning, "but he still felt it, and it's not a prudent thing to do. The unfortunate thing was that might have been as good of stuff as he's had all year."

June 29, 2013
A's, Cardinals lineups: Norris starts, Jaso available off bench

OAKLAND -- The A's still don't feel comfortable having John Jaso catching a full game with his left hand abrasion, so it's Derek Norris behind the plate today against Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright. It'll be the first game action in nearly a week for Norris, who's in a 4-for-39 hitting stretch.

"You want to give him some at-bats to try to stay current, because we do have three left-handed (opposing starters) coming up on the schedule before the break," Melvin said of Norris. "And it's not always about the offensive end. He's had some nice games with Parker."

Norris has caught 13 of Parker's 17 starts this season, and Parker has a 3.94 ERA in 77 2/3 innings in those games. Hitting-wise, Norris has always maintained he'd rather work through slumps while in the lineup than have days off, but said he realizes that's the culture in Oakland with how the A's handle their platoons.

"A lot of people go through it, not just myself," Norris said. "It can get frustrating, but it's part of the game, and the only way to get out of slumps is to get in there and make a positive performance to where you can work off of that and keep working forward."

Here's the full A's lineup today against Wainwright:

June 28, 2013
Vogt ends hitless streak with a bang; Colon makes it 8 in a row

OAKLAND -- In his first at-bat Friday night, A's catcher Stephen Vogt drove a ball to the warning track in center field, only to see the Cardinals' Jon Jay track it down for an out. It extended Vogt's stretch of hitless at-bats to start his major-league career to 32, one shy of the longest by a non-pitcher since 1973.

It also encapsulated what Vogt had been saying about the streak since being called up by the A's earlier this week -- he was pleased with his at-bats in the big leagues, he was hitting balls hard, but none were falling in. John Jaso, who was playing for Tampa Bay last season when Vogt had his first call-ups with the Rays, described it this way: "It was almost like a champagne bottle, waiting for that cork to pop, and you keep shaking it."

Two innings later, the cork popped. Vogt got an 0-2 pitch up over the plate and hit it into the seats in right field for a slough of firsts -- first big-league hit, first big-league homer, first silent treatment in the dugout, which the A's were only too happy to give Vogt for several moments as he filled a cup of water before gleefully mobbing him.

"It's the greatest thing in the world getting the silent treatment," Vogt said. "It's neat to have this team kind of adopt me within three days. They've been treating me really well and it's been really special."

June 28, 2013
A's, Cardinals lineups: Still no Jaso, Colon goes for 8 straight

OAKLAND -- John Jaso is closer to being able to catch a full game, A's manager Bob Melvin said, but still being bothered enough by the abrasion on his left hand that it'll be Stephen Vogt behind the plate tonight for the A's opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. Melvin said Jaso is still available to pinch hit and could catch tomorrow. If he doesn't, Derek Norris will get a start in the day game despite the A's facing a right-hander.

Norris did not play in the two-game series against Cincinnati and had his last start on June 23. That doesn't make it easy for a player trying to bust out of a slump like Norris, who is 4-for-39 over his last 13 games and hitting .151 since May 1. Melvin said Norris wants to be in the lineup to work things out and the days off are "a little bit of a double-edged sword, in that you do have some time to work on some things and have a little bit of separation from what has been a tough period for him."

Vogt, meanwhile, is still seeking his first major-league hit after 31 at-bats without one, the second-longest such streak to begin a career by a non-pitcher since 1973. The longest was also an A's player -- Chris Carter, who didn't have a hit in his first 33 at-bats.

Here's the full A's lineup tonight against the Cardinals and Shelby Miller:

CF Crisp
DH Smith
SS Lowrie
LF Cespedes
1B Moss
3B Donaldson
RF Reddick
C Vogt
2B Sogard

And the Cardinals' lineup against Bartolo Colon:

June 26, 2013
Neshek rides the adrenaline, Vogt gets first RBI in A's 7-3 win

OAKLAND -- Pat Neshek played a key role in the A's bullpen in the second half last year after being acquired Aug. 3, recording a 1.37 ERA in 24 appearances. And whether Neshek has appeared in fewer high-leverage situations so far this season -- or whether it just seems that way because just about every game for the A's down the stretch in 2012 qualified as a high-leverage situation -- Neshek said he has noticed the same thing.

The A's have their typical three-man combination for innings 7-9 in close games in Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour. And early this season they were winning games by wide margins pretty consistently, meaning middle relievers like Neshek weren't being inserted into a ton of stressful situations. Neshek had pitched in 28 games before Tuesday night and only been credited with one hold, despite an ERA of 2.19 overall and 0.73 in his last 14 outings.

Tuesday night was different. Neshek did come into the game early -- with two outs in the fifth inning -- and the A's held a four-run lead. But the Reds had the bases loaded with two outs, one swing from making what had been a 7-1 game much closer.

"I know last year when I came over I was used in a few more situations like that," Neshek said after the game. "It was kind of nice. I like pitching in those situations. It seems like you have a lot more adrenaline."

June 25, 2013
A's, Reds lineups: Vogt starts, plus new carpet at the Coliseum

OAKLAND -- Stephen Vogt, called up today to fill the roster spot opened when the A's optioned Dan Straily to Triple-A, won't have to wait long to make his Oakland debut. Vogt is in the lineup catching Tommy Milone tonight, with John Jaso's left hand abrasion still bothering him too much to catch a full game.

Melvin said Jaso is "still probably a couple days away" from starting a game, though he should be available to pinch-hit. So with the A's facing Cincinnati Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo tonight, Vogt gets the start. Vogt was hitting .325 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 58 games with the River Cats, and has thrown out 19 of 47 (40.4 percent) prospective base stealers.

"It's good to finally get a look at him," Melvin said.

Vogt, whom the A's acquired from Tampa Bay on April 5, got off to a torrid start, batting .438 in April, before cooling off a little in May. He made his major-league debut last year with the Rays -- but he went 0-for-25 with two walks, so he's still looking for his first big-league hit.

June 23, 2013
Posey: 'Time to crank it up a little' after series loss to Marlins

SAN FRANCISCO -- If this series was supposed to give the defending champion Giants a chance to build themselves up before heading on the road for 11 days, given that they were hosting a Miami team with the worst record in baseball, somebody forgot to tell the Marlins. Miami held the Giants to eight runs over 38 innings, out-homered them five to one and took three out of four at AT&T Park with a 7-2 flourish on Sunday afternoon.

The easiest culprit to point to was the Giants' offense, which went hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position on Sunday and 4-for-32 in the series. They're averaging 3.1 runs in their last 10 games. But the bullpen had its rocky moments as well -- nine runs allowed in 13 2/3 innings in the series -- while the Marlins had three pitchers earn their first win of the season, including Nathan Eovaldi in the finale.

"You look at a club, you look at the record sometimes and you think, well, this is going to be a little bit easier," manager Bruce Bochy said. "But I'll say this: they played great, they pitched outstanding the whole series. ... We got outplayed here."

That was the pervading reaction in the home clubhouse after Sunday's game. The Giants aren't used to losing homestands -- this 3-4 run against the Marlins and Padres was their first since last July 23-Aug. 2. Many of those fans who stuck around after Buster Posey grounded out with a runner on third to end the eighth in what was then a 3-2 game were sent heading for the exits a few minutes later as the Marlins made it a relative blowout with four runs in the top of the ninth off Jean Machi.

June 23, 2013
Giants pre-game: Gaudin still a 'question mark' for Tuesday

SAN FRANCISCO -- A welcome sight for the Giants this morning was that of Pablo Sandoval walking into the clubhouse with his bags packed for the upcoming three-city road trip. Sandoval, who went 3-for-3 with a home run in his second rehab game with Single-A San Jose last night, can come off the disabled list tomorrow for the Giants' opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"It's going to be good to have him going down to L.A. with us and putting him in the lineup," manager Bruce Bochy said. "This lineup needs a little shot in the arm right now and his presence will help."

Since arriving in Atlanta on June 14, the Giants have averaged 3.2 runs in their last nine games, in which they're 4-5. They also haven't hit a home run since Gregor Blanco led off the opener of that Braves series with a homer, a stretch of 84 innings. That clearly won't last forever, but Bochy acknowledged the lack of power is "part of who we are."

Right now the bigger question for the Giants is who will be pitching for them Tuesday. Chad Gaudin is scheduled to throw his bullpen today, but Bochy said Gaudin was still pretty sore yesterday from the line drive he took off his pitching arm in his last start.

"To be honest, he's a question mark," Bochy said.

June 22, 2013
Zito's poignant outing gives way to key performances in 2-1 win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Summing up the Giants' 2-1 11-inning win over the Marlins on Saturday, Bruce Bochy said, "started with (Barry) Zito." Three days after his father's death, the left-hander pitched seven innings of one-run ball to help the Giants snap a nine-game losing streak at home against the Marlins. Tomorrow's print story will be heavy on Zito's performance and the respectful reactions of his teammates.

"Barry's the ultimate professional," catcher Buster Posey said. "But obviously when it's a family member, especially a parent, I can't imagine what he was gong through. But he had his routine and he stuck to it and he gave us a great performance."

Zito departed after the seventh to a standing ovation with the game tied 1-1, which gave a handful of other Giants players opportunities to play key roles in a win Bochy admitted was "right up there at the top" with games the Giants have needed to win this season.

* Sandy Rosario has bounced between Triple-A Fresno and San Francisco three times this season already, with his latest call-up on June 12. Since then he has pitched in five games and thrown at least 1 2/3 innings in each of the last four, allowing one run over those outings.

His outing Saturday "saved us," Bochy said. Rosario entered in the 10th with two on and one out and struck out back-to-back hitters. He also pitched a scoreless 11th with the help of Hunter Pence's diving catch to rob Placido Polanco of an RBI hit.

June 22, 2013
After MRI shows small tear, Pagan awaits second opinion

SAN FRANCISCO -- Angel Pagan addressed reporters before today's game against the Miami Marlins and said the MRI he had yesterday on his left hamstring showed a small tear in the area that wasn't there before he re-aggravated the injury running to first base in a rehab game Thursday night. Pagan is still awaiting a second opinion on the injury before he and the Giants decide their next course of action.

Pagan said the ground ball to second base late in the game was "the only chance I had to test (the hamstring) out." Running to first base, "It was a really loud pop that I felt in my leg. It's hard to explain. I went down (to the ground) because of the frustration." Pagan was carted off the field.

The frustration is understandable given that Pagan, who last played for the Giants on May 25, spent weeks rehabbing the injury and felt he was close to returning, potentially by this weekend. Instead, he's waiting for the second opinion before option whether to undergo more rehab or potentially have surgery, which could keep him out six to eight weeks.

"It's a setback," Pagan said. "It's going back to zero."

June 22, 2013
Bullpen roughed up, Torres exits Giants' 6-3 loss to Marlins

SAN FRANCISCO -- As expected, the first question posed to manager Bruce Bochy after the Giants' 6-3 loss to the Miami Marlins concerned an injured outfielder. But it wasn't about Angel Pagan. Andres Torres injured his right knee diving headfirst into third base in the sixth inning Friday night and had to leave the game, the latest Giants player banged up in what has been a painful last month or so.

Bochy said an X-ray on Torres' knee came back negative and that Torres is day-to-day with a knee contusion. "We'll see how he's doing tomorrow, but we think he's going to be fine in a day or two," Bochy said. Torres said he hit his kneecap hard against the dirt and was "really sore," but also sounded optimistic he could be available tomorrow or the next day.

The news on Pagan sounds less encouraging. Bochy said Pagan re-aggravated a tendon in the hamstring area above his left knee while running to first in a rehab game with Single-A San Jose on Thursday night, and the Giants were "going to talk about our options and what we can do here" with Pagan. One of those options is surgery, Bochy said.

"No question," Bochy said. "It's an option and that's what we'll talk about in the next day or so, figure out what is the best option."

Pagan was at AT&T Park before the game and walking through the Giants' clubhouse without crutches. He declined to talk with reporters.

June 21, 2013
Giants, Marlins lineups, plus Pagan, Crawford, Gaudin updates

SAN FRANCISCO -- Angel Pagan walked into the Giants locker room this afternoon under his own power a day after being carted off the field during a rehab game with the Single-A San Jose Giants when he crumpled running to first base. Pagan underwent an MRI on his left hamstring and had the results, manager Bruce Bochy said -- but hadn't been checked by the Giants' doctors yet, so Bochy was unable to provide an update on Pagan's status.

"He seemed all right, a little down," Bochy said. "I think he's hoping, like the rest of us, for good news. Really won't know until he can get looked at."

Bochy said he'd be able to give an update after tonight's game against the Marlins, for which the Giants are still without Brandon Crawford. Crawford said he played catch today from 120 feet but the two sprained fingers on his right hand "still (don't) feel good when I'm throwing. I feel like there's not as much behind it."

Crawford did say he felt an improvement over when he tried to play catch Thursday and thinks he may be available tomorrow. Chad Gaudin, meanwhile, was wearing a sleeve on his right arm and said he still has some swelling after taking a line drive off the arm last night. Gaudin said he's "optimistic" about making his next start, but that likely won't be determined for a couple days -- he'll rest the arm today, play easy catch tomorrow and throw a bullpen session Sunday, which will give a better indication.

Here's the Giants' lineup tonight vs. the Marlins and right-hander Ricky Nolasco:

CF Blanco
2B Scutaro
1B Posey
RF Pence
C Sanchez
SS Arias
LF Torres
3B Noonan
P Lincecum

And the Marlins' lineup against Lincecum:

June 19, 2013
Perez builds his case, Crawford sprains fingers in Giants' win

SAN FRANCISCO -- The last Giants rookie to record at least four outfield assists in a season before Juan Perez was Jason Ellison back in 2005. Ellison had five that year -- in 131 games. After throwing out Mark Kotsay at home in the seventh inning Tuesday to preserve a 2-2 tie, Perez now has four in his first seven games in the majors, which leads the team.

"I didn't know that," Perez said. "I guess they're going to keep testing me. Just got to make good throws again and make them stop running."

Oh yeah, Perez also had the game-winning hit in the Giants' 5-4 win over the Padres, and is now 8-for-19 with three RBIs since being called up. All around, Perez is making his presence felt in the absence of Angel Pagan. Pagan (hamstring) ran the bases without problems Tuesday and manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants will likely decide tomorrow what day Pagan will begin his minor-league rehab assignment. A week ago, it probably would have meant Perez's days in a San Francisco uniform were numbered.

Now it may not be so clear. A night after throwing Logan Forsythe out at third in the ninth inning of a tied game Monday, helping send it into extra innings, Perez came up with arguably a better play Tuesday night on Kotsay, who was trying to score from second on a Chris Denorfia single after he led off the seventh with a double. Denorfia's single was fairly softly hit, and Perez had to come a long way to field the ball before launching himself into a throw that bounced twice to Buster Posey, who swiped the tag.

June 18, 2013
Giants, Padres lineups: Scutaro back, Perez earns another look

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants get the first of their walking wounded back tonight with Marco Scutaro in the lineup, mallet pinkie and all. Scutaro said yesterday he might be ready to test the finger tonight, though he's still unsure how it will respond to game action, such as if he has to dive for a ball or tag a runner. It's also the pinkie he drapes over the knob of the bat when he's hitting, leaving it open to reverberation.

"I think it's wait and see," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He feels pretty good, wants to go today, so we'll take a look at it, watch how he gets through batting practice.

"But it is a little bit different when you're at game speed, and we'll see how he handles it. Right now it's going to be really up to him how much he can tolerate and also if he can handle game speed with that not becoming a factor."

Scutaro is not one to talk himself out of a game, but Bochy said he thinks if the finger is bothering Scutaro he'll say something about it. Neither wants to risk re-aggravating the injury to the point where it knocks the Giants' leading hitter out for a more extended period of time.

"You still have to watch (him) yourself, trust your eyes," Bochy said. "Marco being Marco, sure, he's going to do all he can to get out there. I think he feels the club needs him. But at the same time we can't risk hurting himself even more."

Here's the full Giants lineup against hard-throwing Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner:

June 18, 2013
Venable saves the day for Padres, who defeat Giants 5-3 in 13th

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Pence didn't have a lot to say about Padres center fielder Will Venable's game-saving catch in the 12th inning Monday night, but what he did say summed it up pretty well.

"We couldn't believe he caught it," Pence said.

Venable went full extension on the backhanded, over-the-shoulder catch, landing on the warning track, to rob Juan Perez of a hit that would have easily scored Brandon Belt from second base for a walk-off hit. Instead the game went to the 13th, where the Padres scored twice in the top of the inning to win the opener of this series 5-3.

"It's one of the best catches I've seen," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's a hard-fought game, and those plays win games for you. It won the game for them tonight."

Perez said off the bat he thought the ball had a good chance of getting over Venable's head since Venable was playing shallow with the winning run on second. "The guy made an unbelievable catch," Perez said. "You've got to tip your cap."

It may have been the most memorable, but it was hardly the only chance the Giants had to win this game. They took a 3-1 lead into the sixth behind Barry Zito, but gave one run back on a wild pitch by Jean Machi a batter after Zito departed. The Padres tied it in the seventh with three consecutive singles off Machi.

June 17, 2013
Giants, Padres lineups: Crawford hits third, plus injury updates

SAN FRANCISCO -- With the injuries to key Giants players and a cross-country flight that had players arriving home around 4:30 a.m. this morning, it has come to this: Brandon Crawford is batting third tonight against the San Diego Padres for the first time in his major-league career.

"Crawford asked me (why)," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I just said maybe getting into the wine too much last night."

Kidding aside, Crawford is hitting .326 over his last 36 games and the Giants are banged up, though Bochy gave a promising rundown of injury updates that indicated the Giants could be getting back to full strength by the end of the week.

For starters, Marco Scutaro's finger is feeling "much better," and Scutaro could play as soon as tomorrow, both Bochy and Scutaro said. Scutaro has taken batting practice and played catch, and the question now is how the finger will respond to game action, like if he has to dive for a ball or tag out a runner. Still, Scutaro said swelling in the finger is going down. He's still wearing a small splint.

"One of these games soon - tomorrow, next day, I don't know," he said. "We'll see."

June 16, 2013
Melvin: Colon bolsters All-Star candidacy in A's 10-2 win

OAKLAND -- It's mid-June, about the time that All-Star buzz starts to percolate around baseball. And your American League co-leader in wins as of Sunday? You guessed it -- Bartolo Colon, who improved to 9-2 with a 2.89 ERA in the A's 10-2 win over Seattle at the Coliseum.

"How can he not be in the conversation?" A's manager Bob Melvin said after the game. "He was before that start, for me, part of the conversation. The ERA, everything. What he's meant to our team. Yeah, he's definitely, I would think, a guy that's a frontrunner as far as guys in the rotation."

While the game is still a month away -- Melvin said this afternoon that A.L. manager Jim Leyland hasn't even contacted him yet for input on possible selections -- it's probably not too early to start looking around the league. Clay Buchholz is off to a stellar start for the Red Sox -- 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA. Max Scherzer is 9-0 for Detroit and striking out more than a batter an inning. Yu Darvish has the most strikeouts in baseball and came within an out of a perfect game in April. Justin Verlander is always in the discussion. And don't forget about the pitcher Colon bested on Sunday -- the Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma, who despite taking the loss against the A's is 7-2 with a 2.06 ERA.

June 16, 2013
A's, Mariners lineups, and the unicorn backpack changes hands

SPORTS_BBA-ASTROS-MARINERS_3_SE.jpgOAKLAND -- Somewhat quietly, the Mariners have to have one of the best 1-2 punches atop their starting rotation in the American League, if not all of baseball. Consider: A day after being shut out by nemesis Felix Hernandez, the former Cy Young winner and owner of a perfect game, the A's today face the pitcher that leads the A.L. in fewest baserunners allowed and strikeout-to-walk ratio, and has its second-lowest ERA.

That's Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who is 7-1 this season and hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 28 2/3 innings. Iwakuma beat the A's on April 2 in Oakland and again on May 10 in Seattle, allowing three runs over 13 innings with 16 strikeouts in the two games. Yoenis Cespedes has homered twice as part of his 3-for-9 career line against Iwakuma. The rest of the A's lineup today is a combined 6-for-43 (.140).

Here's that lineup:

CF Crisp
C Jaso
DH Cespedes
1B Moss
3B Donaldson
LF Smith
RF Reddick
SS Rosales
2B Sogard

And the Mariners lineup against Bartolo Colon, who is looking for his ninth win:

CF Chavez
2B Franklin
3B Seager
DH Morales
LF Ibanez
1B Morse
RF Bay
C Zunino
SS Ryan

June 15, 2013
Griffin 'at a loss for words' after loss; King Felix stifles the A's

OAKLAND -- You could call A.J. Griffin one of the more free-wheeling personas in the A's clubhouse. He has been heard playing the guitar before games on days he starts. He speaks three languages. But after the A's 4-0 loss to the Mariners on Saturday, standing at his locker, Griffin admitted: "I'm kind of at a loss for words."

There wasn't much for to explain after a game that turned on one pitch, or at least a few pitches in one inning. The big one was a first-pitch fastball inside to 41-year-old Mariners catcher Henry Blanco -- signed by Seattle yesterday -- that Blanco crushed for his second career grand slam and first since May 2000, when Griffin was 12 years old.

With Felix Hernandez playing the part of what former Mariner and now A's catcher John Jaso termed "Boring Felix" -- an act the A's know all too well -- it was all Seattle needed to ensure Oakland its first series loss since May 13-15 against the Texas Rangers.

Griffin said he threw the fastball to Blanco, with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning, "just trying to get weak contact, and Henry was looking for a well-placed fastball and hit it and it went out." The pitch appeared to catch a fair amount of the inside corner, but Griffin said that was basically where he wanted it.

June 15, 2013
A's, Mariners lineups: Crisp, Donaldson in against King Felix

OAKLAND -- Coco Crisp (heel) and Josh Donaldson (hamstring) are back in the A's lineup today against the Mariners and nemesis Felix Hernandez. Chris Young also gets the start in right field instead of Josh Reddick. Manager Bob Melvin said that's to get Reddick a day off, along with giving Young a chance to build on his 3-for-3 night at the plate Friday, which included his first home run since May 24.

"Anytime you have a really good night like he did last night it's nice to be able to get some carryover," Melvin said.

Carryover has been the challenge for Young, who has six multi-hit games since April 29 but is still batting .184. And starts may be hard to come by in the next few weeks with the A's beginning a stretch today in which Melvin expects to face 16 consecutive right-handed starting pitchers. Melvin said he'll try to keep his right-handed platoon players -- like Young, Nate Freiman, Adam Rosales and Derek Norris -- involved with pinch-hit opportunities and the occasional start.

One positive -- if you want to look at it that way -- is that the right-handers won't come much tougher than the two the A's face the next couple days. Hernandez is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 27 career starts against the A's, including his 7 2/3 shutout innings at the Coliseum on Opening Day. Tomorrow's Mariners starter, Hisashi Iwakuma, has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season -- he's 7-1 with a 1.79 ERA.

Here's the A's lineup against King Felix:

June 15, 2013
A good night for Young in leadoff spot, though A's lose 3-2

OAKLAND -- The A's tried a few tactics Friday to combat the effects of their 18-inning win over the Yankees the day before. Players were allowed to report to the field later and the A's canceled on-field batting practice. Many were at the Coliseum early anyway.

"A lot of guys were able to do some recovery work and get their legs back under them," said outfielder Chris Young.

Young looked fresh, recording his first multi-hit game since June 1 and reaching base all four times batting in the leadoff spot for the first time this season. The rest of the lineup was not so invigorated in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners that ended Oakland's home winning streak at 11 games -- the third-longest in Oakland history.

Manager Bob Melvin said he didn't see a noticeable dip in energy level and attributed the lethargy of the bats mostly to Mariners starter Joe Saunders. Saunders, who doesn't throw very hard anyway, lulled the A's into one run over seven innings -- and that scored on a two-out Eric Sogard pop-up to shallow right that should have been caught, but turned into a double when Jason Bay and Nick Franklin ran into each other going for the ball.

June 14, 2013
A's pre-game: Donaldson out, Otero up, draft pick works out

OAKLAND -- Josh Donaldson is out of the A's lineup for only the second time this season after leaving yesterday's 18-inning game with tightness in his right hamstring. Donaldson said the hamstring "locked up a little on me" yesterday between innings and he and manager Bob Melvin felt it would be best not to push it. He hit in the cage this afternoon and was going to do some running during batting practice

"He felt a lot better than I thought he'd feel today," Melvin said. "Holding out hope that he can play tomorrow."

Donaldson's absence is mitigated some by Yoenis Cespedes' return to the lineup tonight at designated hitter. Melvin said he hopes Cespedes, who missed the past two games with hamstring soreness, will "be guarded enough running around the bases." Coco Crisp, who pinch hit yesterday but is still feeling soreness in his heel, is out.

Here's the A's lineup against Mariners left-hander Joe Saunders:

CF Young
LF Smith
SS Lowrie
DH Cespedes
1B Freiman
C Norris
RF Reddick
3B Rosales
2B Sogard

And the Mariners' lineup against A's left-hander Tommy Milone:

RF Bay
2B Franklin
3B Seager
DH Morales
1B Morse
LF Ibanez
C Zunino
CF Saunders
SS Ryan

* It was a pretty busy afternoon at the Coliseum, especially for a day when the A's weren't even required to show up until 5 p.m. after yesterday's marathon win. For starters, the A's made a move to bolster their bullpen after the 18-inning game, selecting Dan Otero from Triple-A Sacramento, optioning Hideki Okajima to Sacramento and transferring Brett Anderson to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Otero.

June 13, 2013
No rust for A's lefties in 5-2 win; Straily earning more rope

OAKLAND -- The A's finally faced a right-handed starter Wednesday after seeing five left-handers in a row, meaning Bob Melvin finally got to run out his left-handed lineup, which surely had accumulated some rust over the last week.

Or not. Consider these numbers from the left-handed halves of the positions where the A's regularly platoon: catcher John Jaso, left fielder Seth Smith, first baseman Brandon Moss and second baseman Eric Sogard combined to reach base in 13 of 18 times at the plate Wednesday, drive in all five of the A's runs in their 5-2 win over the Yankees and draw seven of the A's nine walks.

"They looked like they hadn't missed a beat," Melvin said.

Sogard hadn't had an at-bat since June 5, but went 1-for-2, walked twice and scored two runs. Smith -- 2 for 24 over his last 10 games -- reached base all five times Wednesday, including a career-high four walks.

Moss was mired in as bad a slump as anybody, with three hits in his past 36 at-bats and having not started a game since June 5. So naturally, he hit the first pitch he saw from Yankees starter Phil Hughes, a changeup in the second inning, over the right-field wall for a two-run homer.

June 12, 2013
A's, Yankees lineups: Crisp, Cespedes out

OAKLAND -- A's manager Bob Melvin is fond of calling Coco Crisp the team's "energizer" atop the lineup and Yoenis Cespedes a confidence-breeding influence in the middle. The lineup is missing both tonight against the Yankees.

Cespedes left last night's game with left hamstring tightness that he felt after running out a first-inning groundout. Melvin said it doesn't seem like a substantial injury -- Cespedes was expected to take batting practice tonight and looked to be moving well in pre-game agility drills -- but the A's don't want to take chances with turning it into a bigger problem.

"It's a big hamstring on top of that," Melvin said. "We don't want to see that thing pulled."

Crisp felt some discomfort in his foot last night. Melvin said it just popped up during the game but wasn't enough to warrant taking Crisp out of the game, since he could still run. It was still bothering him this morning, Melvin said, and though he felt better after getting to the park and getting treatment, the A's -- again -- don't want to take chances.

Melvin said both could "potentially" be available to pinch-hit.

When both Crisp and Cespedes are in the starting lineup this season, the A's are 27-8. But both have missed time with injuries -- Cespedes has played in 52 of the A's 66 games, Crisp in 48 -- and the A's are 12-19 when one of them is out.

"Obviously the results would suggest we do very well when they're both in there," Melvin said. "But again, we have to try to keep them healthy. Even if it is a day or so, if we give htem an extra day, we want to make sure they're not playing on something that's bothering them for an extended period of time, because both of them have to use their legs in what they do."

Here's the A's lineup tonight against Hughes:

C Jaso
LF Smith
SS Lowrie
3B Donaldson
RF Reddick
1B Moss
CF Young
2B Sogard
DH Freiman

And the Yankees lineup against Dan Straily:

CF Gardner
2B Cano
1B Teixeira
DH Hafner
LF Wells
3B Youkilis
RF Ichiro
SS Nix
C Romine

-- Matt Kawahara

June 12, 2013
Norris doesn't wait around, Cespedes (hamstring) exits 6-4 win

OAKLAND -- A's catcher Derek Norris said he wasn't surprised to get a first-pitch slider from C.C. Sabathia with two on and two outs in the fourth inning Tuesday night.

"With runners in scoring position, especially with two outs, he's not going to serve you up a nice fastball over the middle where you can hit it out of the park," Norris said. "He's going to try and pitch."

Sabathia threw a backdoor slider -- and Norris hit it out of the park, or at least over the wall in left-center to put the A's up 4-0 in their eventual 6-4 win. While Norris wasn't surprised by the pitch, Sabathia and the Yankees had reason to be surprised by the swing. The plate appearance was Norris' 179th of the season. It was just the fifth time he has swung at the first pitch (he also has one first-pitch sacrifice bunt).

Norris has been the most patient hitter on the A's this season in terms of pitches seen per plate appearance -- an average of 4.40 pitches entering Tuesday. That's been healthy for his on-base percentage (.313 before Tuesday, in part because of 23 walks in those 167 plate appearances), but hadn't done much for his batting average, which had fallen to .194 due to a 14-for-93 (.150) mark since May 1.

Norris said Tuesday's first-pitch swing was part of his "looking to make a few changes." That includes some mechanical adjustments made with hitting coach Chili Davis to "free up my hands," as well as "trying to be a little more confident, a little more aggressive at the plate, not being so passive."

June 11, 2013
A's, Yankees lineups: A's facing yet another left-hander

OAKLAND -- The A's face Yankees left-hander C.C. Sabathia in the teams' series opener at the Coliseum tonight, meaning manager Bob Melvin found himself writing out his right-handed lineup yet again this afternoon. It's the fifth game in a row the A's have faced a left-handed starter and the 11th time in their last 16 games. They're 7-3 in their last 10 games against a left-handed starter and 14-10 overall on the season.

That has meant inconsistent playing time and at-bats for the left-handed halves of the A's platoons, such as Brandon Moss, John Jaso, Eric Sogard and Eric Smith. But that figures to change soon. The A's face right-handers the final two games of this series (Phil Hughes tomorrow, Hiroki Kuroda on Thursday). After that they're scheduled to see a left-hander in the Angels' Joe Saunders -- and then they're lined up to see 16 right-handed starters in a row, Melvin said.

"I'm telling our lefties they'll start to be exiled tomorrow," Melvin said.

Melvin said he still plans on mixing in some starts for the right-handed hitters during that long stretch, including taking advantage of day games after night games to get Derek Norris starts behind the plate. Norris starts tonight against Sabathia, as part of this A's lineup:

CF Crisp
2B Lowrie
LF Cespedes
3B Donaldson
1B Freiman
DH Young
RF Reddick
C Norris
SS Rosales

And the Yankees lineup against Bartolo Colon

June 2, 2013
Parker wins a duel, rotation rounding into form as A's sweep

OAKLAND -- With apologies to Bartolo Colon and his complete-game shutout Friday night at the age of 40, Sunday's pitching matchup between Jarrod Parker and Chris Sale may have offered the most intrigue of a series the A's wound up sweeping with a 2-0 win in the finale.

Both are 24 years old and coming off promising seasons in their first year as full-time starters (Parker was 13-8 for the A's as a rookie in 2012; Sale went 17-8 for the White Sox after spending a season and a half in the Chicago bullpen). Both are power pitchers whose teams clearly feel have front-of-the-rotation ability. Sunday likely won't be the last time they pitch against each other. And actually, it wasn't the first.

Parker made his A's debut last April against the White Sox -- and Sale. Neither figured into a 5-4 decision that went 14 innings. But Parker stoked expectations by allowing one run in 6 1/3 innings, while Sale pitched eight innings and gave up just two runs.

Sunday, Parker came in with a 5.40 ERA that has been dropping steadily since the end of April, while Sale entered on a 23-inning scoreless streak. It led A's manager Bob Melvin to predict before the game that runs would be at a premium, which turned out to be the case. The starters swapped zeroes until the sixth, when Sale blinked first. Parker pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowed two hits and two walks, struck out seven and got the win.

"It's fun," Parker said. "I didn't even know he had a scoreless streak until somebody mentioned it, but obviously we know coming into this game it's going to be a battle and we've got to try to scratch a few here and there. And we did a great job of just staying on it all day and not giving up."

The A's pushed across a run in the sixth when Coco Crisp walked, moved to third on Jed Lowrie's single and scored on Josh Donaldson's sacrifice fly. It was a determined at-bat by Donaldson, who fouled off two two-strike pitches and took a changeup out of the zone before hitting a 95 mph fastball the other way deep enough to score Crisp.

"It'd be one thing if he just pitched to the outer part of the plate against right-handers, but he just bullies you inside and opens up the outer part of the plate, whether it's a backdoor slider or a changeup or a sinker when he needs a ground ball," Melvin said of Sale. "He really creates room on the plate for himself based on the fact that he's not afraid to pitch inside to right-handers. He's awfully good."

Parker, meanwhile, allowed a single and a walk with one out in the first inning, but struck out Dayan Viciedo and Adam Dunn back-to-back to end the inning. He allowed just one more runner to reach second, on a two-out double by Dunn in the fourth.

"He takes the mound today knowing, 'I've got to be pretty good,' because there's not going to be many runs scored on the other side -- you could see the stuff that Sale had right away would suggest that," Melvin said.

"You try to stay with the guy and put a run on the board to keep them down, you get a chance to potentially win against the bullpen. But as good as Jarrod was, he matched up and pitched better than Sale."

Parker has now won back-to-back starts for the first time this season and has a 1.98 ERA over his last four starts. The right-hander said having his sinker working Sunday allowed him to pitch inside and keep hitters from stepping into his changeup and slider. Since finishing April with a 7.36 ERA, Parker attributed his improvement to "a combination of things -- feeling healthy and cleaning a few things up mechanically, and just attacking.

"It's just staying within myself, pitching to my strengths and following (catcher Derek Norris)," he said. "Derek's been great behind the dish. He does a lot of research and I've been able to just follow him, and he's done a great job."

* Crisp, back in the lineup after getting a day off Saturday, scored both the A's runs. After breaking the scoreless tie in the sixth, he singled with one out in the eighth and scored when Lowrie lined a single into center that John Danks bobbled. Crisp, running on the pitch, came all the way around from first to score.

"You're just a little bit more on edge on the other side when he's on base," Melvin said.

Though it looked like a designed play that worked to perfection -- Lowrie hit the ball just to the right of shortstop Alexei Ramirez and Ramirez moved to cover second base on the steal -- Lowrie said it wasn't a hit-and-run. He noticed Crisp in motion, but got a fastball he felt he could handle, he said.

Still, both A's rallies -- the eighth inning especially -- hinted at the potential of a Crisp-Lowrie 1-2 combination at the top of the lineup. Lowrie has bounced around the A's lineup so far but has said he considers himself a No. 2-type hitter and shown he can handle the bat. Melvin said he does like the pairing -- but Lowrie's versatility makes it tough to assign him to one spot in the order.

* After Parker left the game with one out in the seventh, Jerry Blevins retired Dunn as his lone assignment, Ryan Cook got the next four outs -- three on strikeouts -- and Grant Balfour made it 31 successful save opportunities in a row. There's a reason why the A's stress the importance of their starters keeping them in games. They're now 25-1 on the season when they lead after seven innings.

"The more they can go out there and throw those six, seven innings, we feel confident with that we've got down in the bullpen," Balfour said. "Today was a great example."

A reporter started to ask Balfour about his saves streak, which is the second-longest in franchise history, but he cut that short with a genial: "Don't talk to me about that."

* Norris had to be checked by trainers in the sixth inning after Ramirez's backswing caught him on the glove hand, but he stayed in the game. Norris said afterward the bat got him on his left pointer finger and he was about to go get ice for it.

"It was barking a little bit on him, but there was no way he was coming out of that game," Melvin said. "My guess is he'll be OK."

As for the series sweep, in which the A's pitchers combined to allow three runs in 28 innings and the starters gave up one run in 21 1/3, Norris said he would "sum it up to Oakland A's baseball.

"This is what we do well is we have a good starting rotation, scratch a couple runs across and close the door with our bullpen," he said. "That's what we strive for and we're doing a great job of it."

Now it's on to Milwaukee for three interleague games and then Chicago, where the A's will play four more against a White Sox team that is struggling offensively. When the A's get back, they host the New York Yankees in what, for a mid-June series, offers some tantalizing possibilities. Back on June 11.

-- Matt Kawahara

June 2, 2013
Doolittle 'not beating myself up' over two outings, plus lineups

OAKLAND -- A's reliever Sean Doolittle was so consistent for the first two months of the season -- two runs allowed total in his first 23 outings -- that manager Bob Melvin said he thinks Doolittle right now is somewhat a victim of his own early success. That is, Melvin isn't fretting much over Doolittle's last two outings, in which the left-hander allowed two runs each to the Giants last Wednesday and the White Sox yesterday.

"We're just not used to seeing him get hit," Melvin said.

Doolittle said before today's series finale against the White Sox that he's also trying to keep the outings in perspective. He said he didn't locate well in the outing against the Giants, who scored twice against him in 1 1/3 innings.

"It was one of those games you feel a little too good and you start going a little too quick, and your ball stays up in the zone and comes back over the middle of the plate rather than staying on the corners," Doolittle said. "And they made me pay for it."

On Saturday, the White Sox tied the game in the seventh off Doolittle with two runs. Jeff Keppinger lined a single up the middle, catcher Hector Gimenez pulled a double down the left-field line and both scored on Alejandro De Aza's single to center.

"Yesterday I thought I pitched better," Doolitlte said. "I thought I was on location better for the most part, I was down in the zone when I wanted to be, especially early in counts.

June 1, 2013
A's giving themselves lots of chances, capitalize late in 4-3 win

OAKLAND -- A's manager Bob Melvin wore his cap to his post-game press conference Saturday. So it wasn't clear how much of his hair he'd pulled out during the A's 4-3 win over the White Sox. If he did, most of it probably went over the final three innings, when the A's put 10 runners on base -- and one of them scored.

Granted, that was the important one. After squandering a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the ninth, the A's won it in the 10th on Josh Reddick's bases-loaded, two-out walk to score Chris Young, who had doubled. It was the lone hit in the A's game-winning rally, and it made sense Saturday that they took the literal approach to their fourth walk-off win of the season. The A's had 16 hits but were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position and stranded 18 runners.

"You keep putting guys on base and somebody's going to score at some point," Melvin said. "It took a little longer than usual today, and it was painful at times. But at the end of the day it's a win, right?"

That's true, and the A's are now a season-high nine games above .500, having won 13 of their last 15. Tomorrow's print story looks at the rate the A's are drawing walks this year -- 240 through their first 57 games, which puts them on pace for 682 on the season -- and whether that's a product of the hitters or the philosophy. They drew eight on Saturday -- including three intentional and three in the 10th inning -- and lead the majors.

June 1, 2013
A's, White Sox lineups: Crisp gets a day, Cespedes a half-day

OAKLAND -- The A's, playing for the ninth day in a row and on a quick turnaround after a night game, didn't hit on the field this morning to ease the effects -- but already had some help with that last night. Bartolo Colon tossed his complete-game shutout in two hours, 14 minutes -- the A's shortest game of the season. So really, the A's should be downright refreshed today, right?

"We don't have many of those," manager Bob Melvin acknowledged. "Especially, we were all a little bit tired from the four-game series against the Giants. And to get a quick game like that knowing that you have a quick turnaround today for a Saturday day game was awfully nice."

Coco Crisp still gets a day off and Yoenis Cespedes a half-day as the DH. That means Seth Smith and Josh Reddick, who drove in the go-ahead run last night in his first game back from the disabled list, are both in the lineup against the White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana.

Here's the full A's lineup:

2B Lowrie
CF Young
DH Cespedes
3B Donaldson
1B Freiman
RF Reddick
C Norris
LF Smith
SS Rosales

And the White Sox lineup against A's right-hander Dan Straily, who tries to make it three strong starts in a row:



About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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