Bay Area Baseball

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

July 31, 2013
Moss on A's standing pat at deadline: 'They believe in us'

OAKLAND -- For the A's, the big news Wednesday was no news. That is, the trade deadline passed with no further activity in the Oakland front office, which made one move Tuesday to bolster their infield depth with Alberto Callaspo but otherwise made the quiet statement that they're confident going into August and beyond with the players already in tow.

"We feel like we've upgraded a team that's done pretty well to this point," manager Bob Melvin said.

The A's are 63-45 and began Wednesday with a five-game lead in the West over the Rangers, who can narrow it to four if they beat the Angels tonight. The Rangers also have a makeup game against the Diamondbacks on Thursday before they arrive in Oakland on Friday for a three-game series that Melvin acknowledged has a little more importance at this point in the year.

The A's have lost two in a row after falling 5-2 to the Blue Jays on Wednesday and are 7-6 since the All-Star Break, but still went into the series finale with Toronto with one win less than league co-leaders Boston and Tampa Bay. They have pitched particularly well and -- despite an 0-for-12 day with runners in scoring position Wednesday -- more often than not scored the runs that they've needed.

July 31, 2013
A's, Blue Jays lineups: Callaspo meets the A's, Reddick out

OAKLAND -- Alberto Callaspo, the newest A's infiedler, arrived at the Coliseum a little after 10 a.m. after hopping a flight early this morning from Texas, where the Los Angeles Angels were playing the Rangers. Callaspo said he didn't get much sleep last night after finding out he'd been traded by the Angels, but that he's ready to help the A's however necessary. He's not in the lineup -- Jed Lowrie is at shortstop, Eric Sogard at second base facing right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Callaspo figures to mostly platoon with Sogard at second base and play against lefties -- the role formerly filled by Adam Rosales, who was designated for assignment today to make room for Callaspo on the 25-man roster. As a switch-hitter and versatile defender, manager Bob Melvin said Callaspo may also be used to give Lowrie and Josh Donaldson days off. When Lowrie is off, Sogard will play shortstop and Callaspo will play second. Having played third for Los Angeles the past three seasons, Callaspo can slip in when Donaldson needs a break.

Though most of his playing time should come at a position he hasn't played in the majors since 2010, when he had 12 games at second, Callaspo said he's confident he'll be able to make the transition. That's because it's a return to his natural position. He has played 217 games there in his major-league career.

"There is some uncertainty obviously, because he hasn't played there for a couple years," Melvin said. "But he's always been a sure-handed defender. ... My feeling is once a middle infielder, it's kind of like riding a bike. Hopefully that's the case."

Melvin managed Callaspo for a short time in Arizona and called the 30-year-old "a pretty unique player. ...He can play just about anywhere, switch-hitter, good from both sides of the plate, I think one of the most difficult guys in all of baseball to strike out. You can hit and run with him. There's a lot of things you can do with him. So it's an upgrade for us."

Callaspo has more walks (263) than strikeouts (256) in his eight-year career. This year he was hitting .252 in 86 games for the Angels, including .259 against left-handers (compared to .249 against righties). The bigger split is in OPS -- .733 against lefties, .646 against righties.

July 29, 2013
President Obama honors Giants for 2012 World Series victory

The Giants took a break from their tough stretch to revisit a bit of recent glory, making a trip to the White House where President Barack Obama honored them for winning the 2012 World Series. Here's video from the ceremony.

July 28, 2013
Offensive woes persist in 2-1 loss as Giants are swept by Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy said at the start of the Giants' 10-game homestand to start the second half that he didn't want his players thinking about the upcoming games in terms of a homestand -- or even a series. He wanted them focused on the day's game, and when they won the first two against the division-leading Diamondbacks to climb back to within 4 ½ games of first place, it seemed like a sound strategy.

Sunday, after the Giants lost 2-1 to the Cubs to end a three-game sweep and mark their seventh loss in eight games, Bochy was willing to reflect on the homestand as a whole. Asked if it was a missed opportunity, he quickly said: "No question."

The Giants were outscored 31-8 in losing three of four to the Cincinnati Reds, then put up three runs total in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs, who came in 10 games under .500. Now the Cubs own two more wins than the Giants, who are 12 games under .500 and in last place in the West, 10 games behind the first-place Dodgers.

"We just didn't play winning baseball," Bochy said. "We had a tough series against (the Reds), found a way to win one game. But this series, this shouldn't happen. To get that kind of pitching and not only not win a game, but to get swept, that shouldn't happen."

The Giants' starters -- Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum -- combined to allow three earned runs in 22 innings in the series, including Lincecum's seven innings of two-run ball Sunday. None, obviously, earned a win, and only Cain left his outing in line for one. The Giants stranded 24 runners in the three games and went a combined 4-for-23 with runners in scoring position, including 2-for-9 on Sunday.

"In all my years, I haven't seen a team quite go through such a hard time getting runs like we're having right now," Bochy said.

July 28, 2013
Giants, Cubs lineups: Arias gets another start at shortstop

SAN FRANCISCO -- Joaquin Arias is in the Giants' lineup at shortstop again today against a Cubs left-hander. It's the second consecutive day off for Brandon Crawford, who said he's healthy but has hit nearly .100 points lower against left-handers this year than against right-handers. Manager Bruce Bochy said he wanted to get Arias a couple games at shortstop coming off the DL, but also that Crawford's struggles against lefties recently has played a part in his sitting the final two games of the homestand.

Crawford has been as near a lock in the Giants' lineup as Hunter Pence, starting 97 of the Giants' first 103 games. But he's hitting .207 against lefties and has two hits in his last 30 at-bats against them. Bochy said Arias could also see some starts in the second half at first base against lefties, spelling Brandon Belt, though Belt is in the lineup today.

"I think it's fair to say that Crawford recently has had a tough time against lefties," Bochy said. "Doesn't mean he's not going to play against them anymore, but Belt has been swinging the bat a little better against lefties, so he gets the start today."

Bochy was asked if resting Crawford is a two-day thing and he said he'd have a clearer answer when the Giants reach Philadelphia, after their visit to the White House and President Obama on Monday. He did say that having Arias, who had two hits Saturday night and looked sure-handed at shortstop, "allows us to give Crawford a few more days off this second half."

Here's the full Giants lineup against Cubs left-hander Travis Wood:

CF Torres
2B Scutaro
C Posey
3B Sandoval
RF Pence
LF Francoeur
SS Arias
1B Belt
P Lincecum

And the Cubs lineup that Lincecum will face:

July 27, 2013
Bochy: At 11 games under .500, Giants are 'really being tested'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy said this of Saturday night's 1-0 loss to the Cubs, in which the Giants left 10 runners on base -- all in the final five innings and including two bases-loaded situations in the eighth and ninth -- and went 1-for-10 with men in scoring position to waste eight shutout innings from Madison Bumgarner:

"We got what we deserved."

Bochy also said of the Giants' clubhouse, "It's quiet in there, believe me," and he wasn't kidding. Noise was at a minimum after the Giants dropped their sixth of seven games to fall a season-high 11 under .500 and nine out of first place in the N.L. West. They're tied with the Padres for last place, though San Diego actually has a winning percentage that is one-thousandth of a point better.

The Giants have lost 21 of 28 games and still have the worst record in baseball since May 14 at 23-42. They also have a worse record than the Cubs, who ran out a lineup Saturday that featured three former Giants -- Cody Ransom, Nate Schierholtz and Cole Gillespie -- and watched Schierholtz hit the tiebreaking home run off Sergio Romo in the ninth.

"We're trying things," Bochy said. "That's all I guess you can do is keep coming out here and working. But when you get those chances like we had and you don't deliver, you're probably going to get what we got."

July 27, 2013
Bochy: Giants will focus more on fundamentals

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt's ninth-inning error was the most glaring of the Giants' mistakes in their 3-2 loss to the Cubs on Friday night. But it appears the game itself may have been a tipping point of sorts in a trying season.

Belt's was the 74th error the Giants have committed this season, which leads the National League (the Houston Astros lead the majors with 75). Manager Bruce Bochy said he held a meeting with the position players today about an increased focus on fundamentals like defense and baserunning, which "have cost us at times."

"I think my biggest disappointment right now is we're last in the league as far as errors, and that's not us," Bochy said. "That's what we've become, but it's not who we are. So from this point on we're going to spend more time on the basics, good fundamental baseball, and they'll spend more time on the field."

Bochy said that could mean increased time devoted to pre-game drills and days where the Giants skip batting practice completely and just work in the field. That wasn't the case today, as the Giants hit on the field before facing the Cubs, but Bochy made it clear he's not pleased with the defensive issues.

"We've got to get our focus back on catching the ball," he said. "If you look at why we were successful the last three years -- and I'll say even the last four years, playing winning baseball -- we pitched well, sure, and that's gotten away from us a little bit. But we also caught the ball.

July 27, 2013
Colon ties an A's record and MLB's wins leaders in 6-4 victory

OAKLAND -- Max Scherzer pitches for the Detroit Tigers on Saturday with a chance to improve to 15-1, while Matt Moore, who's currently 14-3, is scheduled to throw Sunday for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Yankees. But at least overnight, 40-year-old Bartolo Colon is tied for the major-league lead in wins.

It's a quick turnaround to tomorrow's 12:05 start, so we'll try to keep this like a typical Colon start -- which Friday night in some ways wasn't. Colon trailed 2-0 two batters into the game after giving up his first home run since July 3 to Mike Trout. He threw 96 pitches in six innings and had two walks for only the fifth time in 21 starts this season.

But after the Trout home run, the Angels didn't get another runner past second base until the ninth inning. Colon pitched at least six innings allowing three or fewer runs for the 14th consecutive time he's taken the mound. And he improved to 14-3 this season, with most of it playing out after his 40th birthday.

"I'd be lying if I thought he'd be 14-3 right now," manager Bob Melvin said. "I have a ton of confidence in him, but I really didn't expect this from him at this point and he'd probably say the same thing."

Colon did, in so many words. Through interpreter Ariel Prieto, Colon said he "surprises myself right now" being tied for the majors lead in wins -- with a lower ERA (2.54) than either Scherzer or Moore. In his last 14 starts he's 11-1 with a 1.70 ERA. His explanation for his success this season: "Working hard and throwing strikes."

July 26, 2013
A's, Angels lineups: Colon can play stopper again

OAKLAND -- John Jaso has made 42 of his 55 starts this season batting either leadoff or second for the A's, despite the fact that Jaso -- though not your stereotypical slow-footed catcher -- isn't exactly Coco Crisp on the bases. A main reason: Jaso, who has attempted just three stolen bases this season, has the top on-base percentage on the team at .387.

It may seem logical -- the more the A's have runners on ahead of their middle-of-the-order hitters, the more chances those guys have to drive in runs. But putting a hitter at the top of the lineup just because he gets on base was a progressive idea to Bob Melvin back when he was a bench coach in Milwaukee in 1999 under then-manager Phil Garner.

"Phil was really the first guy ... who would put the on-base guys up at the top of the lineup even if they didn't run very well," Melvin said. "I'd ask, why would you put him there? He doesn't run very well. (Garner) goes, 'What's the difference? He gets on base.'

"I think he was kind of ahead of his time as far as looking at on-base and certain numbers that you see nowadays looked at more so than when he was doing it."

Garner, now a special advisor for the A's, is in town this weekend and was hitting ground balls to the A's infielders during batting practice before they played the Angels on Friday. Melvin said Garner worked a lot with Josh Donaldson on the latter's conversion from catcher to third baseman, a move that has certainly paid dividends for the A's.

July 24, 2013
Bochy joins an exclusive club as Giants split doubleheader

SAN FRANCISCO -- At the end of a really long day of baseball, Giants manager Bruce Bochy shared a hug and a smile with closer Sergio Romo. Romo has closed some of the biggest wins for Bochy's club over the past year, and late Tuesday night he put the final touches on a 5-3 victory over the Reds that was Bochy's 1,500th win as a manager.

Bochy is the 21st manager to reach that milestone. Of the previous 20 who did so, 12 are in the Hall of Fame. Only two active managers have more wins -- the manager Bochy's Giants beat in the World Series last season, Jim Leyland (1,731), and the manager who was across the way in the first-base dugout Tuesday night, Dusty Baker (1,638).

"I'll be honest, I don't know what that number means except the fact I'm fortunate to have been doing this as long as I have," Bochy said. "I'm thankful, grateful. Wish we were in a better situation right now, but still you're blessed I think in this game to be playing it."

Surely, longevity has played a part. Bochy is in his 19th season as a manager and pretty soon he'll be marking his 1,500th career loss too -- his overall record currently stands at 1,500-1,497. But you don't stick around that long by being bad at your job, and Bochy has packed some serious credentials with his two World Series titles, two N.L. Manager of the Year awards, six postseason appearances and a round number like 1,500 wins.

"It's huge," said pitcher Barry Zito. "He's been in this game on both sides, player and coach, and he's done so many things already. I think he's a very underrated manager, maybe because he's kind of a quiet guy, doesn't toot his own horn. It's a very special accomplishment and we're all really happy for him."

July 23, 2013
Giants bring up Petit, option Kontos, plus lineups for Game 1

SAN FRANCISCO -- George Kontos helped save the Giants bullpen ahead of today's doubleheader with his career-high 63 pitches in last night's 11-0 loss to the Reds. As a result, he's heading back to Triple-A. The Giants announced today they've purchased the contract of Yusmeiro Petit from Fresno and optioned Kontos down.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Kontos won't be available to throw again for two to three days and the Giants needed to be covered in the bullpen today, particularly with Eric Surkamp starting the first game in his first big-league outing since Tommy John surgery.

Petit last threw three days ago in Fresno and will be available as a long man out of the bullpen, Bochy said. Petit, the 28-year-old right-hander, has pitched exclusively as a starter this season in Fresno, where he was 5-4 with a 5.24 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings over 12 starts.

"I told (Kontos) exactly the truth," Bochy said. "He saved us last night and unfortunately he's not available for a couple days and we don't want to put these guys at risk by using them too much."

July 23, 2013
Lincecum roughed up but says no after-effects from no-hitter

SAN FRANCISCO -- Asked after Monday night's game if the Giants will need to make a move to bring in a reliever ahead of Tuesday's doubleheader, manager Bruce Bochy said he though the Giants' bullpen "actually came out of it pretty good" thanks in large part to George Kontos and his career-high 63 pitches.

And that was pretty much the extent of the positives the Giants could take out of their 11-0 loss to the Reds. Tim Lincecum, nine days after achieving no-hit immortality, turned in his shortest outing of the season while allowing a career-high eight earned runs. Bronson Arroyo held the Giants to seven singles in a complete-game shutout. And the Giants lost a game in the standings on the new leader in the N.L. West -- the red-hot Dodgers, who pounded the Blue Jays 14-5 and now lead Arizona by a half-game in the division.

Lincecum's outing is the focus of tomorrow's game story, but to start there, he couldn't recover from a 31-pitch first inning in which he was one strike away from getting out of it unscored upon before ultimately allowing a bases-loaded double to Todd Frazier. The inning built after the Giants couldn't get an out on Derrick Robinson's bunt following a leadoff double by Shin-Soo Choo.

Lincecum struck out Joey Votto and made an athletic play on a Brandon Phillips ground ball to tag out Choo in a rundown. But he walked Jay Bruce after getting ahead of Bruce in the count and then left a 1-0 fastball up to Frazier, who crushed it over Andres Torres' head in center field.

July 22, 2013
Giants, Reds lineups: Surkamp will start first game Tuesday

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy made it official a little while ago -- Eric Surkamp will start the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader in the left-hander's first game back in Sacramento since having Tommy John surgery last July. Barry Zito will get the nightcap, which will be the game in which the Reds bat last and the Giants wear their road jerseys.

"He's the freshest guy and we just think that's our best choice," Bochy said of Surkamp. Both teams can add a 26th player to their roster for the doubleheader, so the Giants won't need to send anybody down to make room for Surkamp.

It will be nearly a year to the day since Surkamp went under the knife. Surkamp was with the Giants in spring training during his rehab and has made nine minor-league starts this year, including the last four at Triple-A Fresno. His most recent was his roughest -- 4 2/3 innings allowing 10 hits and six runs against Tacoma on July 18.

"My last two I struggled with location a little," Surkamp said. "It's just one of those things coming off surgery, you're going to have your ups and downs. My arm is back to 100 percent, but just getting out there and repeating mechanics every time and stuff like that is just part of the process."

July 21, 2013
Flannery shoulders the blame after Giants' 3-1 loss to D-Backs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner, not one prone to hyperbole, said Sunday that Giants third base coach Tim Flannery "takes his job as seriously as anybody I've ever seen." And indeed, after Flannery's decision Sunday to send Buster Posey home on a double by Pablo Sandoval with nobody out in a 1-0 game backfired with Posey being thrown out, nobody took it harder than Flannery.

"I feel terrible," Flannery said. "With nobody out that can't happen. I feel responsible for the game, I feel responsible for Bum not getting a win and getting a loss. It comes with the territory over there.

"There's days you have a moment that you help win games and then occasionally you're in the middle of helping to lose a game. And that's how I felt today."

While the timing was questionable, the decision gained some weight in retrospect from the fact that the Giants managed little else in the way of offense in their 3-1 loss to the Diamondbacks on Sunday. They scored their lone run in the ninth inning by way of two Diamondbacks errors, an infield hit and a fielder's choice, and couldn't capitalize on four walks by Arizona starter Randall Delgado, who pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

July 21, 2013
Affeldt likely out 4-6 weeks, plus lineups for Giants, D-Backs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt will likely miss four to six weeks after an MRI showed a moderate left groin strain, manager Bruce Bochy said. Affeldt came out of Saturday night's 4-3 Giants win over the Diamondbacks after feeling a pop in his groin delivering a 3-1 pitch to A.J. Pollock.

Affeldt said he has been pitching with discomfort in the groin area for several weeks but hoped it would go away. He said the pain started to escalate during last night's game and after the 3-1 pitch to Pollock, "the pain threshold went up a little bit and I didn't know if I'd be able to deliver the next pitch."

The Giants placed Affeldt on the 15-day disabled list before today's series finale against the Diamondbacks and recalled Jean Machi from Triple-A Fresno. Bochy said the Giants will go forward with two left-handers in the bullpen and Jose Mijares will likely see an expanded role in the late innings.

Affeldt had a rough stretch of outings beginning June 18 in which he allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings over eight appearances. He said Sunday he didn't want to use the groin discomfort as an excuse -- he has pitched through such nagging issues before, he said -- but the lower-body issue may have caused him to alter his delivery some and gotten into the back of his head.

July 20, 2013
Bullpen pitches in behind Cain as Giants beat Arizona, 4-3

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy said on Friday he didn't want his players thinking in big-picture terms like "series" or "homestand" to start the second half, and instead focus on the game at hand. And in two wins against the Diamondbacks to start the half, Bochy has managed that way. In Saturday night's 4-3 win, after Matt Cain departed in the sixth, Bochy used seven relievers to get the final 12 outs, preserving the win for Cain as the Giants trimmed their deficit in the N.L. West to 4 ½ games.

He might not have drawn it up like that if given the choice. Jeremy Affeldt faced just two hitters in the sixth before leaving with what the Giants announced is a strained left groin. Affeldt hurt himself throwing a 3-1 pitch to A.J. Pollock and left without attempting a warm-up pitch. Bochy said Affeldt had an MRI with results expected back Sunday.

"That's never a good area," Bochy said. "So it's a possible DL."

Jose Mijares came in from the dugout, warmed up on the mound and threw a ball to walk Pollock and load the bases with two outs in a 4-2 game. But Mijares got Adam Eaton to strike out swinging on a 2-2 slider and leave the bases loaded for the second inning in a row. Cain also stranded three runners in the fifth by getting Giant killer Paul Goldschmidt to ground out to third. The Diamondbacks stranded 13 runners overall.

July 20, 2013
Giants, D-Backs lineups: Vogelsong throws to hitters

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong just got done throwing to hitters for the first time since fracturing his pitching hand in May. Vogelsong threw 35 pitches off the AT&T Park mound, including several warm-up tosses, mixed in all his pitches out of the windup and stretch and said he came out of it feeling no discomfort.

That followed 40 pitches in the bullpen. Vogelsong compared the simulated innings -- he went through six "at-bats," with Gregor Blanco and coaches Roberto Kelly and Shawon Dunston as the hitters -- to the early stages of spring training.

"You get a hitter in there and try to do a little too much the first time," Vogelsong said. "I threw some pitches I wasn't happy with, but there was a lot that I was happy with.

"I took out of it what I needed to take out of it, felt some things that I was doing wrong, and came out of it feeling good. My hand feels good, my arm feels good."

None of the three batters hit a ball particularly hard off Vogelsong. Dunston joked he wasn't going to swing so as not to make Vogelsong look bad, then whiffed hard when Vogelsong threw him a first-pitch curveball in his first at-bat. Smiles all around.

July 19, 2013
Giants chip away at division deficit behind Gaudin in 2-0 win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Plugged into the rotation as a stopgap solution for Ryan Vogelsong and his fractured his pinkie finger, Chad Gaudin has now made seven starts for the Giants following their 2-0 win Friday night. In them, Gaudin has a 2.23 ERA in 40 1/3 innings -- including a 0.77 ERA over his last four starts -- and has allowed fewer hits (29) than he has strikeouts (35).

Friday night, which several Giants players acknowledged was a significant jumping-off point for the second half as they gained a game on the division-leading Diamondbacks, Gaudin threw seven scoreless innings, allowed three singles and struck out eight batters -- all on 92 pitches.

The question was posed to manager Bruce Bochy after the game -- when Vogelsong does return (and it sounds like that could happen as soon as the second week of August), can the Giants really take Gaudin out of the rotation if he's still pitching like this?

"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," Bochy said. "He certainly has been consistent and it'd be hard to take him out the way he's throwing the ball. Once we get to a point where, say, Vogelsong's ready, we'll cross that bridge."

July 19, 2013
Giants, D-Backs lineups: Vogelsong eyes early August return

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants begin the second half tonight against the N.L. West-leading Diamondbacks amid encouraging news on right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who is scheduled to throw live batting practice to hitters tomorrow and is eyeing a tentative return date in early August.

Vogelsong, who has been on the disabled list since May 21 with the fractured pinkie finger on his pitching hand, will face hitters Saturday for the first time. Depending on how he comes out of it, manager Bruce Bochy said, Vogelsong could start a rehab assignment at Single-A San Jose early next week.

"That's great news for us," Bochy said.

It sounds as if the Giants are interested in getting Vogelsong back into the rotation as quickly as possible without compromising his health. While his rehab schedule is not set in stone, Vogelsong said he's tentatively eyeing Aug. 9 as a return date.

July 14, 2013
Donaldson, Colon, Balfour punctuate first halves in A's 3-2 win

OAKLAND -- The A's and manager Bob Melvin know there's no point in belaboring the argument that Josh Donaldson -- who is not headed to New York tonight with teammates Grant Balfour, Bartolo Colon and Yoenis Cespedes -- has had an All-Star-caliber half. Donaldson wasn't going to get voted in over Miguel Cabrera and his otherworldly first-half numbers, and a deep field at the position features some more established, better-known names. A.L. manager Jim Leyland acknowledged Donaldson's worthy first half while saying there just wasn't a spot for him on the roster.

Donaldson, who has been realistic about the situation throughout, used Sunday to make one last first-half statement, driving in all three runs in the A's 3-2 win over the Red Sox with a monster two-run home run in the seventh inning and the walk-off hit in the bottom of the 11th, a bloop single to right that scored Chris Young from second and earned him the now customary pie in the face from Josh Reddick.

Signs of the pie were still on Donaldson's face as he talked with reporters after the game, and he has a few days to savor it and its impact. With Sunday's win, the A's go into the All-Star Break with their most first-half wins (56) since 1973, and in sole possession of first place in the West (by two games over the Rangers) for the first time since 1990.

On an individual note, Donaldson, who a year ago at this time was trying to play his way back up from Triple-A, finishes the first half leading the A's in batting average (.310), RBIs (61), OPS (.901), and tied with Brandon Moss for the team lead in home runs (16).

"It's pretty apropos that not only did he knock in the winning run (Sunday), but knocked in all three runs," Melvin said. "Pretty good first half."

July 14, 2013
A's closer Balfour added to A.L. All-Star roster

OAKLAND -- A's closer Grant Balfour has been added to the American League All-Star team, the A's announced this afternoon.

Balfour has converted all 25 of his save opportunities on the season and is the only closer in baseball without a blown save. The 35-year-old, who will make his first career All-Star appearance, recently broke Dennis Eckersley's Oakland record for consecutive saves and has saved his last 43 chances dating back to last season.

It was not immediately announced whom Balfour will be replacing on the team, but he may well be taking the place of teammate Bartolo Colon on the active A.L. roster. Colon, starting today for the A's against the Boston Red Sox, would only be eligible to pitch one inning in the game and had the option of removing himself from the roster.

-- Matt Kawahara

July 14, 2013
A's, Red Sox lineups: Colon goes for No. 13

OAKLAND -- Bartolo Colon is expected to throw his first pitch against the Red Sox in a little more than an hour, at which point the caveats for his participation in the All-Star Game will kick in. Having pitched the Sunday before the game, Colon will be eligible to throw one inning in the game, and can also choose to opt off the active roster, at which point he'll have to be replaced -- potentially by somebody like A's closer Grant Balfour.

Colon, of course, is not required to make himself ineligible. But Tigers and A.L. manager Jim Leyland has been pretty adamant that he is very much against using any pitcher in the game who has started just two days before, as Colon will have done. Leyland was quoted in the Detroit News as saying: "They can blast me till the cows come home, and I'm not doing it. If anybody doesn't see the common sense in that, then they have a problem." So if Colon does stay on the roster, it'll likely be as a spectator.

A's manager Bob Melvin said he hasn't heard whether Colon is leaning either way, but that it makes sense Colon would want to inform the league by today at the latest. So there may be news on that after his start today. For now, here's the A's lineup for their series and first-half finale against Boston, with Colon trying to become just the third Oakland pitcher since 1975 to win 13 games before the break (the others -- Dave Stewart in 1989 and Bob Welch in 1990):

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

And the Red Sox lineup against Colon:

July 13, 2013
Griffin channels No. 40, throws eight scoreless in A's 3-0 win

OAKLAND -- A.J. Griffin found himself pitching out of the stretch in each of the first six innings of his start against the Red Sox on Saturday night. Four times Boston put a runner on second or third with two outs. His thinking in those situations?

"I just try to act like No. 40," Griffin said, referencing teammate Bartolo Colon. "Not show that they've got me in a situation where they have the upper hand. I just try to stay calm, and that's something I've learned just watching Bartolo pitch."

Colon, whose jersey number matches his age, has the unruffled demeanor of a seasoned veteran and apparently it has rubbed off on Griffin, who isn't easily ruffled himself. The 25-year-old right-hander got out of each of the first six innings unscored upon Saturday and finished with eight scoreless in the A's 3-0 win over the Red Sox, setting Colon up for a chance to pitch Oakland to a series win on Sunday.

Aside from a Mike Napoli double off the wall in the fourth that missed being a home run by a few feet, Griffin didn't really get hit hard. But that was the third time in the first four innings the Red Sox put a runner on second. As in the previous ones, Griffin wriggled out of trouble, getting Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fly out to end the inning.

"That's A.J.," catcher Derek Norris siad. "Whenever he gets in a jam, he's got a knack for getting out of it a lot of the time."

July 13, 2013
A's, Red Sox lineups: Cespedes back in cleanup spot

OAKLAND -- Yoenis Cespedes was in the batter's box at the Coliseum early this afternoon for a Home Run Derby practice run, with third-base coach Mike Gallego throwing and coaches shagging balls in the outfield. Cespedes hit some impressive drives, including a few that neared or reached the luxury box windows beyond the stadium's center-field wall.

Gallego said he's getting used to where Cespedes wants pitches thrown to him -- a little lower than Gallego was originally aiming. A's manager Bob Melvin, who has thrown in previous years of the Derby, said Friday that the format is odd for him -- unlike normal batting practice, there's a catcher and no cage. Gallego said it doesn't bother him.

Cespedes is back in the cleanup spot for the A's tonight after hitting fifth Friday for just the second time this season (he has also hit sixth once). As for the A's representative in the actual All-Star Game, Melvin said he still has no official word on whether Bartolo Colon plans on attending the game or opting out. Colon is scheduled to start Sunday for the A's, and a new rule allows All-Star pitchers who throw the Sunday before the game to throw a maximum of one inning in the All-Star Game or remove themselves from the All-Star roster.

Here's the full A's lineup tonight against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester:

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

July 12, 2013
Little things add up (and in) for A's in 4-2 loss to Red Sox

OAKLAND -- Sean Doolittle hadn't hit a batter in 86 major-league innings before Friday night. After the A's 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, in which Boston put both tiebreaking runs on base against Doolittle in the eighth inning, the inside fastball that caught Shane Victorino around the head in the eighth inning seemed to be what bothered Doolittle the most.

Jose Iglesias led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, meaning Doolittle still had a shot at getting out of the inning with the score tied at 2-2. But his 0-1 pitch was too far up and in to Victorino, who spun around hard and took his time going to first base. A's manager Bob Melvin then brought in Ryan Cook to face Dustin Pedroia, who lined a two-run single to left.

Doolittle said the inside fastball is a "pitch I execute a lot" to right-handed hitters in order to back them off the plate and then use the outside corner to finish the at-bat.

"It just got away from me," Doolittle said. "I feel terrible about where I hit him and how I hit him and the fact that I even hit him, but he's a guy that's a good fastball hitter. You want to come inside and move his head a little bit, make him less comfortable in there, and it got away from me a little bit."

July 12, 2013
A's, Red Sox lineups: Could HR Derby help ignite Cespedes?

OAKLAND -- Yoenis Cespedes is hitting fifth for the A's tonight, just the third time this season he hasn't been in either the third or cleanup spot. It's nearly impossible to bump him down much further -- he has hit sixth once -- but clearly his first half has not been what he was hoping for or likely expected at the plate. After going 1-for-11 in the A's series at Pittsburgh, Cespedes is batting .176 in July and, with only this weekend's series to go before the All-Star Break, is hitting .221 on the season, though he does have 15 home runs and 42 RBIs.

Cespedes, of course, was recently named as the fourth A.L. participant in the Home Run Derby, and manager Bob Melvin said before today's game that he believes there's some merit to the idea that participating in the Derby could be good for his left fielder. You'll sometimes hear of teams not wanting their sluggers to take part in the competition for fear it will alter their swings for the worse. Melvin, though, said the circumstances of the event -- in New York, in front of a big nationally televised audience -- may be the kind of thing that could jump-start Cespedes, particularly if he does well.

"He's a guy that is a spotlight-type guy, as we've seen since he first got here," Melvin said. "I know he's excited about it and rightly so. And it gives us a little more exposure too, because it's a heavily watched event. If ever there's a guy that's right for it, it's him.

"I think as much as anything you worry about injury, but that's anybody who's in it," he continued. "But I think it'll be good for him to be in that spotlight."

July 10, 2013
Affeldt: 'Waves are getting pretty high' as Giants' skid goes on

SAN FRANCISCO -- If Monday night's 16-inning Giants loss was like peeling a Band-Aid off very slowly, Tuesday night felt more like yanking it away. One minute the Giants trailed by one in the eighth inning of a back-and-forth game, with Buster Posey due up in the bottom of the inning. One pitch later, they trailed by five due to a Marlon Byrd grand slam and were headed for their 13th loss in 15 games.

The offensively starved Giants scored six runs in a game for the first time since June 14. And still they could not secure a win, even at home, even behind Barry Zito, who began the game with a 1.98 ERA in 10 starts this season at AT&T Park.

The Giants left 11 men on base a night after leaving 18. Several productive outs with runners on kept them in the game. But the bullpen, which allowed one unearned run in nine innings on Monday night, gave up five runs in three innings Tuesday

All five came in the eighth. After Jose Mijares allowed a one-out single, Jeremy Affeldt came on and allowed a single, two walks and a sacrifice fly. With the bases loaded and one out in a 6-5 game, manager Bruce Bochy called in rookie right-hander Jake Dunning, whose first pitch Byrd crushed for a grand slam and five-run Mets lead.

"It just seems like hard work's spitting in our face right now," Affeldt said. "But I don't know if we know what else to do but work hard.

July 9, 2013
Giants promote Tanaka, sign Francoeur; plus Tuesday lineups

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants made a handful of roster moves before today's game, including purchasing the contract of Kensuke Tanaka from Triple-A Fresno. Tanaka is in the lineup tonight, playing left field.

Tanaka came over from Japan this spring, played around the infield in spring training and often did not look comfortable in the field or at the plate. But he was hitting .330 with 11 doubles and 20 stolen bases in Fresno, recently began playing games in left field, and now he represents the latest attempt to shake up the Giants' scuffling offense.

"He's been swinging the bat as well as anybody down there," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I know (Roberto Kelly) is working with him out in our left field today. But he's been swinging the bat as well as anybody, so why not him?"

The Giants designated Cole Gillespie for assignment to make room on the 25-man roster for Tanaka. The Giants also placed Hector Sanchez on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain and recalled Michael Kickham, who gives the bullpen a fresh arm after every available reliever last night combined to throw nine innings in the Giants' 16-inning, 4-3 loss.

July 9, 2013
Bochy on Giants' 4-3 loss: 'As frustrating a game as we've had'

SAN FRANCISCO -- It was just before 1 a.m. Tuesday when Bruce Bochy walked into his post-game press conference, sat down and began rubbing his eyes. They had just watched the Giants strand 18 runners, go 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and lose a 4-3 game to the New York Mets on an unearned run in the 16th inning.

"That's as frustrating a game as we've had," Bochy said.

The Giants put two runners on with one out in the bottom of the 16th against Mets closer Bobby Parnell, but Pablo Sandoval struck out and pinch hitter Guillermo Quiroz hit into a fielder's choice to end the game. That was only the last of it. The 18 runners left on were the most the Giants have left in a game since June 6, 1998 when they left 19 men on in a 14-inning game -- and won.

Monday night, they left 13 runners on in extra innings alone, including the bases loaded in the 13th and the 15th. The lack of clutch hits is a big reason why the Giants have lost 12 of their last 14 games -- they've been held to two runs or fewer in 10 of them -- and they're now 3 for their last 51 with runners in scoring position.

"I think it's caught up with all of us," Bochy said. "We had so many chances and just couldn't get a hit."

July 8, 2013
Giants, Mets lineups: Belt batting third against Harvey

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt makes his first big-league start as a No. 3 hitter tonight against the Mets and their ace Matt Harvey. Belt is one of the few Giants who's hitting right now -- he's 18-for-55 (.327) over his last 17 games -- and Hunter Pence, bumped down to the No. 6 spot tonight, is hitless in his last 22 at-bats. So manager Bruce Bochy said it's an attempt to "tweak things a bit, do something to get this offense going."

Belt said he last hit third in the minors in 2011 and that "it'll be fun. ... It's definitely a challenge," he said. "I've got some good hitters behind me, so maybe I can get on base and let them drive me in."

Belt is also one of the few Giants with a previous look at Harvey, whom the Giants beat last season in his only start against them. Harvey has been a different pitcher in his second big-league season, though, with a 2.27 ERA in 18 starts and league-leading 141 strikeouts in 123 innings. His 7-2 record is a reflection of how little support the Mets have given him. He has six starts already this year where he allowed two or fewer runs and got a no-decision.

July 7, 2013
Dodgers get to Romo in 4-1 win; Gaudin strong in return

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sergio Romo sat with his head hidden in his locker as reporters entered the home clubhouse following the Giants' 4-1 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday. Romo, the losing pitcher of record in the game, then dressed quickly and brushed past media without comment on his way out the door.

The Dodgers broke open a 1-1 game in the ninth against Romo on A.J. Ellis' three-run double with two outs, and while an ill-advised flip by Buster Posey -- playing first base on a day game -- played a part in the inning escalating, the Dodgers had already put a runner on in the form of Yasiel Puig, who led off the inning with a single.

Puig, who had struck out against Romo in the ninth inning on Saturday, flipped his bat as if the ball was headed for the seats before running to first. When Ellis' double cleared the bases, Andre Ethier crossed home plate and jumped into Puig's arms. This all came a day after Romo was seen on TV cameras copying Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez's "I see you" move while in the Giants' handshake line after saving Saturday's 4-2 win.

After Sunday's game, the L.A. Times' Dylan Hernandez tweeted this quote from Puig talking about Romo: "Yesterday, he struck me out, he controlled Hanley, and he celebrated. Today, it was our turn to celebrate."

July 7, 2013
Giants, Dodgers lineups: Kickham optioned as Gaudin returns

SAN FRANCISCO -- A Giants team that has scored two or fewer runs in 11 of its last 15 games doesn't get any favors from the pitching matchups over its next two games. Today they face nemesis Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers left-hander who owns the lowest career ERA (1.33) against San Francisco of any pitcher. Tomorrow they get Matt Harvey when the Mets come to town. Both are leading candidates to start the All-Star Game for the National League.

As it happens, that decision belongs to Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Bochy was asked today if his decision could be swayed at all by what he sees from Kershaw and Harvey over the next two days. His answer: "Maybe slightly," but he already has a pretty good idea of which way he's going (he didn't tip his hand).

Not that Bochy needs to see any more of Kershaw, who has allowed three earned runs in 24 innings over three starts against the Giants this season. Brandons Belt and Crawford are both getting the day off today against the Dodgers left-hander. Here's the full Giants lineup for today's game:

CF Torres
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
1B Posey
RF Pence
SS Arias
LF Gillespie
C Quiroz
P Gaudin

And the Dodgers' lineup against Gaudin:

July 6, 2013
Bochy explains batting order mishap; Giants' All-Stars react

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's a strange day when the Giants play the Dodgers at AT&T Park and the biggest villain in the building is -- a piece of machinery in the home clubhouse. But here it is, the culprit behind the batting order snafu that led to Buster Posey's RBI double in the first inning being taken off the board.

Thumbnail image for giants board.jpg

It didn't end up costing the Giants in a 4-2 win over the Dodgers, thanks in large part to a desperately needed pitching performance from Madison Bumgarner, who struck out nine over seven innings and drove in two runs himself. But it was by far the oddest scene of the day, and a topic of much discussion after the game.

Here's what happened: With one out in the bottom of the first, Posey doubled to drive in Gregor Blanco, who had led off with a double and gone to third on Marco Scutaro's bunt. After the play, Dodgers manager Don Matingly came out of the dugout holding his lineup card and talked with the umpires, who huddled and then came away signaling an out and motioning Blanco back to third base.

The Giants, it was ruled, had batted out of order. On the lineup cards given to the umpires and Dodgers, Pablo Sandoval was third and Posey fourth. That was how Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted it, and Bochy later said that was how it showed up on his card in the Giants dugout, too.

The problem: The Giants just installed a new electronic system in their clubhouse where they type in the lineup, which then gets displayed on a board in the clubhouse and used for the printouts handed out in the press box and on the scoreboard in center field.

July 6, 2013
Giants receive three All-Star nods, A's get one

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants catcher Buster Posey was named to the N.L. All-Star team for the second time, while pitcher Madison Bumgarner and second baseman Marco Scutaro both made it for the first time as rosters were announced this afternoon. Scutaro's first All-Star selection comes at the age of 37.

Posey, the reigning N.L. MVP, enters today's game against the Dodgers batting .310 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs. He was edged out for the start at catcher by the Cardinals' Yadier Molina, who led all N.L. vote-getters with more than 6.8 million votes, Major League Baseball announced.

Bumgarner, who starts today against the Dodgers, is 8-5 with a 3.08 ERA. Scutaro, who makes his first All-Star team in his 12th major-league season, is batting .313 with two homers and 18 RBIs despite missing time this season due to injury.

The A's received one All-Star nod for right-hander Bartolo Colon, who is 11-3 with a 2.78 ERA. Closer Grant Balfour, who is perfect this season in 22 save opportunities, and third baseman Josh Donaldson, who ranks among the league leaders in most offensive categories and leads the A's with a .317 average, 15 home runs and 57 RBIs, were not named to the team.

The A's also did not have any players in the five candidates for the final vote-in spot, which is determined this week by fans. Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is among the five vote-in candidates in the National League. Giants manager Bruce Bochy will manage the N.L. team.

-- Matt Kawahara

July 6, 2013
Giants pre-game notes, lineups: Waiting for the breakthrough

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's kind of an unusual day here at AT&T Park. Along with the 4:15 p.m. start, the Giants are having their family day on the field, meaning no team stretch or on-field batting practice. Bruce Bochy had his pre-game media session in his office, and he spent much of it discussing the general mood of the Giants amid a skid that has seen them lose 10 of their last games and 15 of 19 to fall seven games under .500, including last night's 10-2 drubbing in the series opener against the Dodgers.

Bochy's main message: The Giants aren't moping and the mood in the clubhouse and dugout has been "pretty good despite what we're going through." Bochy has maintained, and repeated this afternoon, that what it often takes for a team to snap out of a funk like this can be as simple as one well-pitched game or one clutch hit. Something like that, he said, can be "viral," and lead to a run like the Giants made in 2010.

"It just hasn't happened to this point," Bochy said. "I don't think they're doubting themselves that it will happen."

One thing that Bochy made pretty clear -- big changes to the roster aren't expected, especially if the Giants keep playing like they are right now. Yesterday's move of swapping Juan Perez out for Cole Gillespie in the outfield was an attempt to shake things up. Otherwise, Bochy said, "These are our guys."

July 6, 2013
Bochy after Giants' 10-2 loss: 'Sometimes you get humbled'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Cain was asked after the Giants' 10-2 loss to the Dodgers on Friday night if he'd go back and watch the game on film to pinpoint any specific issues.

"You try to really not watch any part of this one," Cain said.

Across the board, the Giants are going to want to forget this one as soon as possible. Cain matched his shortest outing since 2009, allowing eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. The Giants went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded five men in the first three innings alone. Juan Uribe nearly hit for the cycle while becoming the first player in AT&T Park history to drive in seven runs in a game -- and he was missing the single.

There seemed to be a fair amount of optimism around the Giants before the game, being back home after the 1-8 road trip -- they're still a .600 team at AT&T Park this season -- with Cain throwing and the normal buzz generated by a visit from the Dodgers. But the same anemic offense from the trip reared its head, Cain -- who had allowed a combined seven runs in his previous five starts -- couldn't put hitters away after the first inning, and the Giants continue to find new depths at a season-high seven games under .500.

July 5, 2013
Giants pre-game: Gillespie called up, starting in LF; Perez out

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cole Gillespie, who last played in the majors in 2011 with the Diamondbacks, is here and starting in left field tonight against the Dodgers after the Giants purchased his contract from Triple-A Fresno today. Juan Perez was optioned back to Triple-A, and the Giants transferred Angel Pagan to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot for Gillespie on the 40-man roster.

Manager Bruce Bochy stated pretty clearly the move is an attempt to shoot some life into the Giants' offense. The Giants' 1-8 road trip ended with them totaling seven hits in their last three games, just the second time they've had so few hits in a three-game span in the San Francisco era (April 18-21, 1978 was the other). Gillespie was hitting .277 with nine homers and 11 doubles in 74 games in Fresno.

"He's got some experience up here and he's got pop in his bat, so we'll see if he can provide some offense here," Bochy said. "We'll be seeing some lefties and that's why we brought him up."

Bochy said there's no set plan for how the Giants will use Gillespie. But with Gregor Blanco one of the many Giants in a funk at the plate -- Blanco is 0 for his last 22 -- it's likely you'll see Andres Torres in center and Gillespie in left against left-handers for the time being. Gillespie is hitting .303 against lefties in Triple-A.

July 4, 2013
Cespedes' arm, Norris' legs back Straily in A's 1-0 win

OAKLAND -- Baseball can be a quirky game. Wednesday night, the A's lost 3-1 to the Cubs after Bartolo Colon's first wild pitch in 443 starts helped Chicago take a one-run lead in the first inning. Thursday, the A's won 1-0 scoring one unearned run on a passed ball. According to A's media relations, it was the ninth time in Oakland history the A's have won a 1-0 game without an RBI, and the first time they did so with a passed ball as the only scoring play.

"That's the way it bounces sometimes," manager Bob Melvin said with a shrug.

A lot, of course, went into making that score stand up. Dan Straily, recalled from Triple-A on Thursday morning, one-hit the Cubs for seven innings in arguably his best major-league start. Straily credited catcher Derek Norris with guiding him through the Cubs lineup, saying he arrived at the park Thursday not knowing the righties in the Chicago lineup from the lefties. You can read more about that here.

Straily also benefited from some strong defense, including two key plays in the fourth. Yoenis' Cespedes throw to nail Starlin Castro at the plate with one out is the subject of tomorrow's print story, but this was Castro's take on the play:

"It surprised me," he said. "I thought I was going to be easy safe. I'm running hard right away, I saw the ball doing my secondary lead. ... The guy made a great throw."

July 4, 2013
Straily holds Cubs to one hit over seven in return to A's rotation

Cubs Athletics Baseball.jpgBy Kristopher Rivera

OAKLAND -- Right-hander Dan Straily made a quality start Thursday in his fourth stint with the Oakland Athletics this year after he was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento earlier in the day. He helped lead the A's to a 1-0 rubber match win over the Chicago Cubs.

"I got to the ball park earlier today because I didn't know who was right-handed and who was left-handed," Straily said. "I had to actually go look up everybody real quick."

Straily threw 87 pitches in seven innings with one hit from Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano at the top of the fourth inning. He had solid support from A's catcher Derek Norris, who served as his guide during his time on the mound.

"I got out there today and Deno just said, 'I'm going to be your Crash Davis today, just throw whatever I call,'" Straily said. "I knew that he's done his homework a lot. He knows the hitters a lot better than I did. I guess you could say we were on the same page which was his page all day."

July 4, 2013
A's, Cubs lineups: Straily recalled, starts today; Vogt optioned

OAKLAND -- As expected, the A's recalled right-hander Dan Straily this morning to make today's start against the Chicago Cubs and optioned catcher Stephen Vogt back to Triple-A Sacramento. Manager Bob Melvin said Jarrod Parker, who would normally be on turn today but has been pushed back, is still on track to pitch Saturday.

Vogt made a strong impression during his time in Oakland. He was called up June 25 and played in just four games, but the A's were 4-0 in those games. Vogt also homered for his first major-league hit, snapping an 0-for-32 start to his career, and built some familiarity with the A's pitching staff, most of which he hadn't caught before, as the A's acquired him after Opening Day this year.

"He had the confidence of the staff -- not only the starters he caught, but the relievers as well," Melvin said. "Got his hit out of the way and had some other good at-bats for us too. So it was a good showing for him."

There wasn't going to be room for three catchers on the roster when the A's brought back Straily to be their fifth starter. But Melvin made a point of saying that Vogt being sent down was because of the numbers, not because "he did anything to suggest he needs to go down."

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.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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