Bay Area Baseball

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

August 31, 2013
Gray thrives again at the Coliseum; Crisp, Vogt key 2-1 A's win

OAKLAND -- Before the A's left for their recent seven-game road trip to Baltimore and Detroit, they lost a 5-3 game to Seattle in which manager Bob Melvin said: "Everything we did today is what is wrong with us." At the time, the A's were 8-10 in August, with a serious possibility of finishing the month with a losing record for the first time all season.

With a 2-1 win over the Rays on Saturday, the A's closed August by winning six of nine to finish 14-13. Five of those wins have come in their last six games against Detroit and Tampa Bay, two teams also battling for a playoff spot. This one came with another strong outing by rookie Sonny Gray -- 6 2/3 shutout innings, seven strikeouts -- and two RBIs from Coco Crisp, whom Melvin always refers to as the "igniter" of the offense.

"It was a good night for us," Melvin said this time.

A Rangers loss is the only thing that would have made it better for the A's, but Texas slipped by the Twins, 2-1, to maintain a two-game lead in the West. The A's did add a game to their wild-card lead over the Rays, which is now 1 ½ games, and will go for a sweep tomorrow behind A.J. Griffin.

He'll have a tough act to follow. Gray didn't allow a runner past second base until the fifth inning and came within a James Loney two-out single of completing seven. As it is, Gray has now pitched 21 2/3 innings at the Coliseum in his young A's career and allowed two runs with 23 strikeouts.

August 31, 2013
A's, Rays lineups: Donaldson in the No. 2 spot again

OAKLAND -- A couple things going on at the Coliseum on this Saturday afternoon. It's the first weekend of college football, which had a few A's representing their alma maters with apparel before the game, none more fervently than Josh Reddick, who came out for batting practice wearing a Georgia cycling jersey -- and helmet. It's also a Green Day-themed fireworks night, with members of the band throwing out the first pitch.

"Will I be here for (the fireworks)? Probably not," manager Bob Melvin said. "Day game tomorrow."

Right -- and an evening game tonight, with A's rookie right-hander Sonny Gray opposing Rays righty Alex Cobb. Gray may have some fellow youngsters for company beginning tomorrow, when MLB rosters expand, but Melvin wasn't tipping his hand today about who might be joining the A's. He did say there will probably be three new faces joining the team tomorrow with "a couple more" on Sept. 3.

In other news, Melvin was asked about John Jaso's progress recovering from concussion and said Jaso is "pretty antsy about getting out and getting some swings somewhere." But Jaso still hasn't taken batting practice, though he did cage work before yesterday's game. Melvin said the A's "haven't ruled (Jaso) out as a piece for us in September," but as has already been evident, this is a gradual process of recovery.

August 31, 2013
Welcome back Kurt, plus Lowrie comes up clutch in A's 4-3 win

OAKLAND -- Kurt Suzuki said it hasn't taken him long to form an opinion of new teammate Jed Lowrie upon rejoining the A's via trade a week ago.

"That guy's clutch," Suzuki said.

Suzuki had the loudest blow in the A's 4-3 win over the Rays on Friday -- a three-run homer off David Price in his first game back at the Coliseum since the A's reacquired him. Lowrie had the game-winner, a softly hit double to right field in the bottom of the eighth after the Rays had tied the game with two runs in the top of the inning.

In a way, it was in keeping with Lowrie's contributions all year. As the A's were winning three out of four in Detroit, Lowrie went 8-for-17 with four doubles, a homer and four RBIs. But that was overshadowed by Brandon Moss' power explosion.

On the season, Lowrie is batting .293 with a team-leading 147 hits and 40 doubles to go with 10 homers and 58 RBIs. But he's probably not the most known or feared name in a lineup including Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes.

"He hasn't flown under the radar for us," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's gotten big hits for us and puts together really good at-bats a lot. Went through a little bit of a down period in the second half, but he's been terrific for us in that three-hole."

August 30, 2013
A's, Rays lineups: Suzuki returns to Oakland

OAKLAND -- Kurt Suzuki starts tonight in his first game at the Coliseum since being re-acquired by the A's earlier this week. So what kind of reception is he expecting?

"Bunch of boos," Suzuki said with a smile. "I don't know. I think it's definitely going to be fun. Definitely glad to be back in the Bay and looking forward to finishing the season strong."

Suzuki, who was drafted by the A's in 2004 and played in Oakland from 2007-12 before being traded to the Washington Nationals last season, is 4-for-12 in three games since the A's reacquired him to address their shorthanded situation at catcher. One of their injured catchers, Derek Norris, is expected to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday.

Suzuki was joking around with clubhouse attendants before the A's headed out for batting practice and said it's "definitely good to see everybody again." He doesn't have his old locker -- he's now in a back corner near Seth Smith -- but said he didn't feel the need to make any special requests.

The 29-year-old said the vibe in the A's clubhouse is "pretty much the same" as when he left. Also similar is the pitching staff, which has helped ease Suzuki's transition back into the organization and the staff's work with their newest catcher. Tonight's starter Jarrod Parker, for example, has made 14 career starts with Suzuki behind the plate.

"You refresh a little bit," Suzuki said of getting reacquainted with the staff. "Maybe a day. But you don't lose it that fast.

August 25, 2013
Vogelsong has best outing of the season in Giants' 4-0 win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before Sunday, the Giants hadn't won consecutive games at home since July 19-20. It'd been a little longer since they looked like the Giants that many have come to expect the past few years, but for two days to close out this homestand, as Pablo Sandoval put it, it seemed like "all the pieces came together."

Ryan Vogelsong delivered one of the best outings by a Giants starter this season Sunday, throwing eight shutout innings for the first time in his major-league career. The defense made several sharp defensive plays behind him and the lineup finally broke through off A.J. Burnett in the eighth with two clutch hits with runners in scoring position, including Sandoval's two-run triple that turned a one-run game into a 3-0 lead.

There's little for the Giants to play for collectively in September outside of pride and a sense of duty, and at times lately they've simply looked flat. But the rhetoric after they split their series with the first-place Pirates on Sunday was about not treating the rest of the schedule as a string to play out.

"It's exciting," Hunter Pence said of the back-to-back well-played games, "and that's the thing. We have a lot of baseball left to play, a lot of opportunities to progress. ... We're going to go out there and try to treat every game like it's a playoff game."

"We've got time left," echoed Vogelsong, "and we need to play good baseball going into the offseason."

August 25, 2013
Giants, Pirates lineups: Affeldt to begin rehab assignment

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt came out of yesterday's mound throwing session "fine" and is heading to Arizona to begin his rehab throwing schedule, manager Bruce Bochy said. Affeldt will throw a bullpen session Monday, followed by a couple more in Arizona if the first goes well, with the Giants tentatively planning to have him join them in San Diego and face hitters in a simulated game there.

"Hopefully he's ready after that," Bochy said.

Bochy said Matt Cain will also begin rehabbing in Arizona with Affeldt, but there's no throwing schedule for Cain, who was struck on the throwing arm by a line drive in his last start and placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday.

Meanwhile, outfielder Angel Pagan played all nine innings at Triple-A Fresno last night, going 1-for-4, and is on track to be activated Sept. 1.

"He's passed all the tests," Bochy said.

* The Giants' lineup for their series finale against Pittsburgh on what's shaping up to be a beautiful afternoon in San Francisco:

CF Blanco
SS Crawford
C Posey
1B Belt
RF Pence
3B Sandoval
LF Kieschnick
2B Arias
P Vogelsong

August 24, 2013
Timely hits and just enough Timmy in Giants' 6-3 win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum wasn't at his best Saturday night, but he had his moments. After the Giants staked him to a four-run lead in the first inning, Lincecum came back out for the top of the second and struck out the side. After walking the first two hitters he faced in the fourth, he pitched out of trouble with more nasty stuff, freezing cleanup hitter Pedro Alvarez with a fastball and getting Garrett Jones to swing through a changeup to end the inning.

Lincecum didn't get to leave on his terms Saturday -- he issued his fourth walk with one out in the sixth and gave up a double to Alvarez on his 102nd pitch, bringing Bruce Bochy out of the dugout in a 5-1 game. But he did leave to a standing ovation from much of the sellout crowd at AT&T Park -- a scenario that has played out repeatedly over Lincecum's seven seasons in San Francisco, from the Cy Young years to the trying recent ones.

The Giants won for just the fourth time in Lincecum's last 18 starts Saturday. Lincecum improved to 7-13, but entered the game tied for the league lead in losses and could very well still eclipse his career high of 15, which he set last season. And yet the adulation has not worn off from a fan base that turned out again Saturday to watch a last-place team beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 behind their erstwhile ace.

"He's earned that," manager Bruce Bochy said. "You look at what he's done since he's been here, Cy Youngs, helping us win two World Series. It says a lot about our fans how they stay behind these guys. It's easy to like the players when they're going good and when they have their moments."

August 24, 2013
Giants, Pirates lineups: Belt, Crawford rest against Liriano

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandons Belt and Crawford are both getting a day off against Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano, who has been extremely tough against left-handed hitters this season. Liriano, the former Minnesota Twin and Giants farmhand, is holding lefties to a .137 average during a resurgent season in which he is 14-5 with a 2.53 ERA for the Pirates. Liriano went 6-12 in 28 starts for the Twins and White Sox in 2012.

That means Joaquin Arias at shortstop and Buster Posey at first tonight, with Hector Sanchez doing the catching. Gregor Blanco is the lone lefty in the lineup (aside from Tim Lincecum) -- Bochy said he considered starting Francisco Peguero in center but, with Brett Pill getting the start in left field, that would have been too much inexperience in the outfield behind Lincecum.

Here's the full Giants lineup against Liriano:

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

And the Pirates lineup against Lincecum:

August 21, 2013
Bochy on 12-1 loss: 'I do think we drifted mentally a little bit'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Even manager Bruce Bochy sounded puzzled by the question that was probably on a lot of people's minds who were at AT&T Park for the Giants' 12-1 loss in their series finale against the Boston Red Sox: How does a team that brought so many key pieces back go from winning the World Series one year to looking like they did Wednesday -- offensively inept and at times just fundamentally unsound?

"Every year's different, you understand that," Bochy said. "But still we have a lot of the same club back and for us to probably make so many mistakes I think on the mental side or even physically, I think that has surprised us as much as anything.

"As far as holding up, we're trying to stay positive through this. We're trying to finish on a good note and it's going to be important that we do. We're trying to push that on everybody. I know we looked flat, we looked bad today, but I know they came out and they were going to do all they could to win the game. It just got away from us. It's not lack of effort. It's not."

At times, though, it was lack of executing the basics. A failure to get an out on a sacrifice bunt. A pop-up that fell between three defenders in shallow right field. A hittable pitch to the No. 8 hitter with two outs and an American League pitcher on deck. A double-play ball fielded cleanly and then thrown into center field.

"Today at times I do think we drifted mentally a little bit," Bochy said. "And that shouldn't happen."

August 21, 2013
Giants, Red Sox lineups: Sandoval out, Zito returns to rotation

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval, a late scratch from Tuesday night's lineup with a sore back, is out again today, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy said an MRI on Sandoval came out "clean." Bochy said Sandoval is likely available to pinch-hit today and should be back in the lineup tomorrow when the Pittsburgh Pirates come to town.

In other lineup decisions, Roger Kieschnick gets the start over Gregor Blanco and Brett Pill today in left field even against a left-hander in Boston's Felix Doubront. Kieschnick had three hits Tuesday night. Bochy said he wants Pill to get some more work in left before he starts a game there, particularly during the day when the sun can be tough.

Here's the full Giants lineup for today's finale against the Red Sox, with Barry Zito making his return to the rotation:

CF Torres
2B Scutaro
1B Belt
C Posey
RF Pence
3B Arias
LF Kieschnick
SS Crawford
P Zito

And the Red Sox lineup against Zito:

August 21, 2013
Bullpen lapses in A's 7-4 loss to Mariners; Norris fractures toe

OAKLAND -- Give Sean Doolittle credit. After arguably the worst outing of his career cost the A's in a game they were in a good position to win Tuesday night -- following a four-run first inning and another strong start by rookie Sonny Gray -- Doolittle stood by his locker and wore it after allowing the Mariners' five-run eighth to get out of control and send the A's to a 7-4 loss.

"(Gray) pitched his (butt) off and he goes seven innings, he gives us a chance to win," Doolittle said. "All we've got to do is get six outs and they got four runs before we even got one out. Made a mess of that eighth inning.

"Your offense gives you four runs and Sonny goes out and does his job. We felt like that was a game we should have won. I don't know, just not the right night, not the right time of year to have an inning like that."

Doolittle entered the eighth with the A's leading 4-2, faced four hitters and allowed four hits, with all four eventually coming in to score. It was just the second time Doolittle has failed to record an out in a major-league game. When the inning was over, the A's trailed 7-4, Gray was no longer in line for the win, Ryan Cook had also allowed a run for just the second time in 22 outings and the A's dropped a game in the standings to Texas, which beat Houston at home.

To add injury to insult, in this case, catcher Derek Norris also left the game in the eighth after fracturing his left big toe while trying to apply a swipe tag on Nick Franklin on the run-scoring fielder's choice. Manager Bob Melvin said it's unclear if Norris will have to be placed on the disabled list.

When the A's have taken a lead into the eighth inning this season, they've been nearly unbeatable with Doolittle, Cook and Grant Balfour nailing down the back end of games. They entered Tuesday with a 55-2 record when leading after seven.

August 20, 2013
A's, Mariners lineups: Crisp out, Lowrie back in leadoff spot

OAKLAND -- Coco Crisp is off tonight against Mariners left-hander Joe Saunders, with the A's hoping tonight and Thursday's off day will be enough for Crisp to put a nagging sore wrist completely behind him. That means it's Jed Lowrie in the leadoff spot for the fourth time this season tonight. In his first three starts batting leadoff, Lowrie is 6-for-12 with a .600 on-base percentage.

Small sample size, of course, but it speaks to Lowrie's versatility in the lineup. Although he said himself after his last leadoff start that he doesn't alter his approach aside from the first at-bat, when he'll usually try to see more pitches from the opposing starter. Lowrie has also hit the Mariners well this season -- .396 with nine doubles and 10 RBIs in 13 games -- though he's 4-for-18 lifetime against Saunders.

Lowrie won't play defense, with manager Bob Melvin trying to rest him for September -- part of the design bringing in Alberto Callaspo. Here's the full lineup for the A's tonight:

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

And the Mariners lineup against A's right-hander Sonny Gray, who's making his second start at the Coliseum:

August 19, 2013
Giants' interleague woes continue in 7-0 loss to Red Sox

SAN FRANCISCO -- Here was an indication of how many Red Sox fans were at AT&T Park on Monday night -- when Dustin Pedroia's line drive to right-center got past Hunter Pence and into Triples Alley, half the crowd still in the first level behind home plate rose to their feet at the possibility of Pedroia trying for an inside-the-park home run.

He didn't, settling for a triple. With David Ortiz batting next, a "Let's go, Red Sox" chant started. When Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled to drive in Pedroia, the cheers were at least equal to the "aw's."

And why not? The Red Sox are still playing for a shot at October; the Giants aren't. After Monday night, Boston has the most wins in the American League and looked a lot like a playoff team. Jon Lester allowed six singles and came within two outs of a complete game. Tim Lincecum faced 28 batters against the team with the highest OPS in the majors against right-handed pitchers -- and 14 of them reached base. The Giants put two on with one out in three of the final four innings and couldn't drive anybody in.

"Tonight we just ran into a well-pitched game and our guy wasn't quite on," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're playing a first-place team, and you've got to play your best ball when you're playing a club like this. And we were off tonight."

August 19, 2013
With Red Sox in town, Bochy doesn't relish role of spoiler

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants scored as many runs on their six-game road trip to Washington and Miami (36) as they had in their previous 12 games combined. Pablo Sandoval (11 for 24, seven RBIs) and Hunter Pence (8 for 27, nine RBIs) both broke out while Brandon Belt (8 for 26, two homers, four RBIs) continued his torrid August.

Even Buster Posey showed he might be breaking out of an uncharacteristic slump. Posey went 6-for-16 on the trip after going 9-for-57 (.158) in his previous 16 games, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy said this afternoon Posey looked more like his typical self.

"Buster's getting better swings off, got a day off yesterday," Bochy said. "I think he's seeing the ball better."

All in all, the Giants' lineup is showing signs of life -- far too late to turn them into a contender in September. That's a fact underscored by the presence of the Boston Red Sox at AT&T Park this evening -- the A.L.-East leading Red Sox, who are trying to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays in their division and figure to have a drama-loaded month and a half of baseball remaining.

The Giants -- not so much. They're 13 games under .500 and, with the lowest winning percentage in the league since May 14, and 17 games behind the Dodgers in the West. They can still make a mark on the playoff picture, but only a residual one, depending on how they play against teams like the Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates, who come in for four games on Thursday.

Bochy was asked about playing the role of spoiler -- an unfamiliar one around here the past few seasons -- and gave a begrudging answer:

August 18, 2013
Young helps A's beat Indians with bat, glove in Milone's return

OAKLAND -- This season has been a trying one for Chris Young. He figured coming in that getting used to not playing everyday in the A's platoon system would be a challenge. But he probably didn't expect to be still trying to work his batting average back up to the .200 mark in mid-August -- where it hasn't been since May 25 -- while dealing with the frustration of not being rewarded for well-hit balls that reached an almost laughable point last week, when he missed walk-off home runs by mere inches on consecutive nights.

Young has kept a pretty even-keel demeanor through it all, sticking by the belief that eventually some of those hits are going to fall in. Sunday was one of those days, and it helped the A's win a series against the Indians and make up a game in the standings on the Texas Rangers.

A night after totaling three hits in a shutout loss, the A's had that many in the first inning Sunday against Scott Kazmir, including Young's single with two outs and runners on first and second -- the kind of clutch hit that gone missing a lot for the A's recently. After the Indians tied the game 3-3 in the top of the fifth, Young then hit a tiebreaking homer off Kazmir in the bottom of the inning that ended up standing as the game-winner, though the A's tacked on three more runs in a 7-3 win.

The 2-for-4 day raised Young's average to .197. He's not the only A's outfielder that has struggled this year -- Yoenis Cespedes went hitless Sunday to drop his average to .229 and Josh Reddick has looked better recently but is still at .217 -- and something Reddick said recently about himself applies to Young too: With the A's in the thick of a playoff race, there'll be a lot of opportunities over the next month and a half to make everyone forget about the first four months of the season.

August 18, 2013
A's, Indians lineups: Anderson edges closer to return

OAKLAND -- Left-hander Brett Anderson was in the A's clubhouse this morning after making his first rehab start at Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday night in his return from a right foot stress fracture. Anderson threw 49 pitches in 2 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts. More important than the results, he said, is that there's no next-day pain in the foot.

"Threw all my pitches and my foot feels fine, my arm feels fine," Anderson said. "It's a big step looking forward."

Manager Bob Melvin said Anderson hit 94 mph and averaged 91 mph with his fastball and echoed that with this start the A's were just looking for Anderson to emerge healthy. Anderson will make another start Thursday, though it hasn't yet been decided where or what his pitch count will be.

After that it gets interesting. The A's were originally leaning toward bringing Anderson back as a reliever so he could return to the majors quicker. But with Bartolo Colon now on the disabled list, Melvin said the A's could bring Anderson back as a starter nearly as quickly and just make sure the bullpen is rested to back him up in his first few outings.

August 17, 2013
Bats go quiet again in A's 7-1 loss to Jimenez, Cleveland

OAKLAND -- In the early innings of Saturday's 7-1 A's loss to Cleveland, black smoke from a car fire started rising from the Coliseum parking lot, visible over the upper deck along the third-base line. In the ninth, two loud explosions startled a few players and what remained of a sellout crowd. Around the seventh inning, that crowd got about as loud as it did all night -- doing the wave.

In other words most of the excitement Saturday -- after the Yoenis Cespedes bobbleheads were handed out, of course -- happened off the field, with the A's doing little in the way of offense. They didn't get a hit off Ubaldo Jimenez until there were two outs in the sixth inning and they finished with three singles.

And yet they stranded nine runners. Jimenez was wild, walking five and hitting a batter in 5 2/3 innings, but A's manager Bob Melvin called it "effectively wild." He stayed out of the strike zone so much that the A's couldn't square up many pitches. Donaldson, whose single in the sixth drove in the A's only run, agreed that Jimenez pitched a stubborn style that worked.

"He throws a lot of offspeed for a guy that throws 94 (mph)," Donaldson said. "When he would throw a fastball he wouldn't throw it over the plate. He's just one of those guys that does not want you to touch the baseball. That being said, for the most part tonight, we didn't."

August 17, 2013
A's will place Colon (groin) on DL, recall Milone; plus lineups

OAKLAND -- The A's will place 14-game winner Bartolo Colon on the 15-day disabled list with what manager Bob Melvin called a left groin strain. Melvin said Colon first felt the strain throwing off flat ground on Friday and felt discomfort again when he arrived at the Coliseum today. Tommy Milone, recently sent down to Triple-A Sacramento, is back in Oakland and will start on Sunday in Colon's place, Melvin said.

"Yesterday was the first time (Colon) felt it throwing his flat-ground (session) and he just abruptly stopped and came in," Melvin said.

"Probably the prudent thing to do is not to push him too much here and give him these 15 days off and see where we go from there."

Colon has been the A's best starting pitcher this season at age 40 but has struggled in his last two outings, allowing a combined 10 runs in 6 2/3 innings. Prior to that he had lasted at least six innings allowing three or fewer runs in 15 consecutive starts. Colon had also seen his velocity dip recently but appeared to be throwing harder in his last start against the Houston Astros.

August 15, 2013
A good day for rookies as Gray, Freiman lead A's to 5-0 win

OAKLAND -- No doubt some of the fans who were on their feet at the Coliseum with two outs in the top of the eighth inning Thursday have followed Sonny Gray's progress through the minors since the A's made him the 18th overall pick in the 2011 draft, waiting for the day of his debut in Oakland.

The debut came Thursday, a little more than two years after the A's drafted Gray out of Vanderbilt and after three previous major-league appearances -- two in relief and all on the road. And Gray, the baby-faced 23-year-old right-hander, didn't disappoint, earning his first major-league win with eight shutout innings against the Houston Astros in the A's 5-0 win.

"I think it sunk in kind of right now," Gray said standing in front of his locker, where the A's lineup card and a box of game baseballs sat for posterity. "This is a great feeling.

"I'm glad we could come away with a win after losing the last two nights -- I feel like that was big, and hopefully we can go on a roll now. It is nice to get the first win."

It probably wouldn't be accurate to say the hype for Gray's home debut was palpable from first pitch -- the Coliseum was about half full, with an announced crowd of 16,487 turning out on a sunny Thursday afternoon. But by the end of his outing, much of the crowd sounded invested in each pitch as Gray tried to close out the eighth with a runner on second and his pitch count rising.

August 15, 2013
A's, Astros lineups: Lowrie at DH; Melvin talks expanded replay

OAKLAND -- Major League Baseball is reportedly looking into expanding instant replay in 2014, giving managers the chance to issue three challenges -- one in the first six innings and two the rest of the game -- with a crew in New York City reviewing the challenged plays and making the final ruling.

According to reports, owners will vote on the changes in November, with a 75 percent vote needed for approval. For that reason, A's manager Bob Melvin said he didn't want to comment until the changes become official. But it sounded as though Melvin, for one, would be on board with the idea of expanding replay for greater accuracy.

"My stance on that has probably changed here in the last year or so," Melvin said. "You want to get it right. And I was a little bit of a traditionalist before, where there's human error involved, but as long as everybody's on the same page with it and the idea is to get it right, then I'm all for that."

The key -- and a hot-button issue for those who argue expanding replay would slow down the pace of the game -- is to make sure reviews are conducted quickly, Melvin said.

"If someone's watching it and is on top of it and has the use of replay very quickly, then that certainly doesn't sound like a bad thing to me," Melvin said.

August 15, 2013
A's fall 2-1 in 'one of the more frustrating losses of the year'

OAKLAND -- In the first answer of his post-game news conference Wednesday night, A's manager Bob Melvin used variations of the word "frustrating" four times. How else to describe a 2-1, 11-inning loss in which the A's saw Melvin get ejected for arguing a close play in the eighth, squandered leadoff doubles in both the eighth and 11th innings, let Jarrod Parker's most efficient start of the season go for naught and watched Chris Young come within inches of a walk-off home run for the second night in a row -- only to have Astros left fielder Robbie Grossman pull it back at the wall?

"It's one of the more frustrating losses of the year," Melvin said.

The A's have dropped the first two games of this three-game series to the Astros, against whom they were 11-1 on the season coming in, and are 4-9 over their last 13 games. The post-game clubhouse Wednesday night was one of the quietest of the season. In that 13-game stretch, the A's have gone from six games up on the Rangers in the division to two games back after Texas improved to 9-1 in its last 10 games on Wednesday night.

"We've had so many opportunities, especially CY coming so close twice," reliever Sean Doolittle, who took the loss Wednesday night, said of the series so far. "It's only going to take one game for us to get back on track. We've been really close two nights in a row, so that makes it frustrating."

August 14, 2013
A's, Astros lineups: Still no timetable for Jaso; Crisp (wrist) out

OAKLAND -- Stephen Vogt starts again at catcher for the A's tonight against Houston Astros right-hander Jarred Cosart -- and it sounds like Vogt can expect to keep playing against righties for the foreseeable future.

John Jaso saw Dr. Michael Collins, an expert in sports-related concussions, in Pittsburgh yesterday and manager Bob Melvin said that while the good news is Jaso is expected "to be fully recovered" from the concussion that has kept him out since July 24, there's still no timetable for a Jaso return to the A's.

Melvin said Jaso has been able to lift weights and do conditioning work, but still hasn't been cleared to do baseball activity and needs to pass visual tests before he can do so.

"He is going to be fully recovered fro m this, it's just not at this point and it's going to take some time," Melvin said.

The A's are covered behind the plate tonight, though, as Derek Norris' back is better and Melvin said Norris is available off the bench tonight and will likely start Thursday's day game.

Here's the full lineup for the A's tonight against Cosart:

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

And the Astros' lineup against A's right-hander Jarrod Parker:

August 13, 2013
Colon exits early again, A's miss walk-off win by inches

OAKLAND -- Chris Young summed up Tuesday night's 5-4 loss for the A's much more succinctly than a blog post could, so let's start with him:

"That's how the game goes sometimes -- it goes from extremely crappy to amazing to unbelievable to crappy again," Young said. "Full process, all in a 3 ½-hour period."

The last shift -- "unbelievable to crappy again" -- occurred in a matter of seconds, the time it took for Young's would-be walk-off home run to drift just foul outside the left-field pole.

Young put his hands on his head in disbelief as third-base umpire Doug Eddings signaled the ball foul, and manager Bob Melvin came out to ask for a review, which the umpires did, though Melvin said Eddings told him he was "100 percent sure" of the original call.

Replays appeared to show the ball did stay just outside the pole, and instead of a dramatic win, Young was left with a two-strike count, and the game ended on the next pitch as he struck out swinging.

August 13, 2013
A's, Astros lineups: Anderson to pitch in rehab outing Saturday

OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson took another step toward returning to the A's today, throwing 28 pitches in a simulated game, and will make a rehab appearance at Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday.

It will be the first appearance in a game for the A's opening day starter since April 29. The River Cats play Tucson at home at 7:05 p.m. Manager Bob Melvin said Anderson will throw two innings in relief.

Melvin said Anderson also did pitcher-fielding drills after his simulated action Tuesday and all went well.

"Each and every time there's been a lot of life on the ball," Melvin said. "His intensity level's there and he wants to get back as soon as he can."

It's sounding increasingly like when Anderson does return, he'll start out in the bullpen. That allows the A's to get Anderson back sooner, since they won't have to stretch him out to a starter's pitch count in the minors. As he builds his stamina back up, he could rejoin the rotation further down the road, but the fact that he'll be pitching in relief on Saturday is an indication the A's want him comfortable in that role right now.

August 11, 2013
Giants' home struggles continue with 10-2 loss to Orioles

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants' struggles of 2013 are deconstructed down the road, they'll likely have to be broken down into phases -- the early rotation struggles, the injuries, the midseason swoon brought on by a rampant slump. The last two and a half weeks will go down as the phase of not doing enough to support a starting rotation that is once again performing like in seasons past.

Matt Cain gave the Giants their 13th quality start in 16 games Sunday, retiring 15 of the first 16 hitters he faced and allowing three runs in seven innings -- two on a seventh-inning home run by J.J. Hardy that looked like a routine fly ball before it carried in the San Francisco afternoon over the wall in left field.

And the Giants dropped to 6-10 in those games as the offense did nothing after a two-run first inning and the bullpen imploded in the late innings. Manager Bruce Bochy pointed out himself that it's an explanation he has given several times: "What's encouraging is our starters are doing a real nice job ... but it's just a case where we're not doing a lot offensively."

The Giants scored 17 runs on their seven-game homestand against the Orioles and the Brewers and went 3-4. They haven't won a homestand since May 20-26, when they went 4-2 against the Nationals and the Rockies. They've lost 11 of their last 15 home games, 19 of their last 27, and they're 31-31 at AT&T Park, where they only lost 31 games all of last season.

August 11, 2013
Giants, Orioles lineups: Pagan eyeing September return

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants were five games over .500 and tied for first place the day Angel Pagan legged out an inside-the-park home run to beat the Rockies in the 10th inning on May 25. Pagan hasn't played since. The Giants, meanwhile, spent one more day tied for first, and it has been a steady decline from that point to their current state of 12 games under .500 and 14 behind the Dodgers in the West.

Pagan has been rehabbing in Arizona since undergoing surgery to repair a tendon in his hamstring, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy said this morning Pagan could be ready to rejoin the Giants in September.

"He's doing well, he's running bases," Bochy said. "He's getting close."

But Bochy stressed the Giants aren't going to rush Pagan's return. There's no point, with the Giants all but out of the playoff hunt -- and after getting a sense this summer of just how valuable Pagan is atop the Giants' lineup.

When Pagan went down, he was batting .263 with three homers and 24 RBIs out of the leadoff spot in 45 games. Those aren't eye-popping numbers, but Bochy acknowledged that something went missing with Pagan's absence. Gregor Blanco filled in admirably for a couple weeks, but fell off precipitously of late and Andres Torres wasn't much more effective batting first. Marco Scutaro is 3-for-24 in the leadoff spot.

August 10, 2013
Giants get the hit they've searched for in 3-2 win over Orioles

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sergio Romo made an interesting observation after saving the Giants' 3-2 win over the Orioles on Saturday. The win gave the Giants a 6-5 record in their last 11 games, a stretch that began on July 31 -- the date of the trade deadline -- and Romo said that shouldn't be taken as a coincidence.

"Once the trade deadline went it seemed to be more relaxed," Romo said. "You get better results when you're more relaxed, more free, and you're actually going out and enjoying it. And it seemed like we're just enjoying playing baseball."

It's almost certainly too late for that relaxed atmosphere to buoy the Giants into a second-half run that could make them into a factor in September. But as Javier Lopez pointed out Friday night -- and Romo echoed Saturday -- the Giants are playing a style of baseball in the past two weeks that more resembles "the Giants way."

It starts with the pitching. In the 11-game stretch, the Giants have allowed two or fewer runs in six games, including Saturday despite Chad Gaudin not being his usual strike-throwing self. They've won games in that time by scores of 2-1, 4-1 and 3-2. They've also lost by scores of 2-1, 3-1 and 4-3, but they're not getting "crushed," as Lopez said.

That may be little consolation for a team that's still 12 games under .500 and started play Saturday a full 14 games behind the first-place Dodgers -- their largest deficit in the West since the end of the 2007 season. But games like Saturday seem to show the Giants still feel they have something to play for.

August 10, 2013
Giants, Orioles lineups: Hot August keeps Belt third

SAN FRANCISCO -- They say not to mess with a good thing, and right now Brandon Belt is the best thing the Giants' lineup has going for it. So Belt, who's hitting .458 (11-for-24) in August, is batting third again today against a left-hander in the Orioles' Wei-Yin Chen.

"Shoot, the way he's swinging the bat, can't take him out of there," manager Bruce Bochy said of Belt, who has homered in each of the last two games.

Buster Posey catches Chad Gaudin despite it being a day game after a night game since the Giants have a day off Monday. Brandon Crawford still gets the day off today, with Joaquin Arias starting at shortstop.

Here's the full lineup:

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

And the Orioles' lineup against Gaudin:

LF McLouth
3B Machado
1B Davis
CF Jones
RF Markakis
SS Hardy
2B Flaherty
C Teagarden
P Chen

* Gaudin has allowed two or fewer runs in eight of his 10 starts for the Giants. Overall the rotation has 12 quality starts in the last 14 games, and the Giants are still 5-9 in those games. Four is their magic number. When the offense scores four or more runs this year, the Giants are 40-11.

* The Giants woke up this morning 14 games behind the first-place Dodgers. Last time they were that far out of first in the West -- the last day of the 2007 season, when they finished 71-91 and 19 games behind the Diamondbacks.

-- Matt Kawahara

August 10, 2013
Davis v. Lopez goes Orioles' way in Giants' 5-2, 10-inning loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Prior to Friday night, Javier Lopez had allowed one earned run in his last 37 appearances. Left-handed hitters were batting .169 against him this season in 65 at-bats with four extra-base hits, and six hits in their last 49 at-bats.

So Bruce Bochy said he felt confident walking Adam Jones with a runner on second and two outs in the 10th to bring up major-league home run leader Chris Davis to face Lopez. Lopez got ahead in the count 1-2, but Davis hit a fly ball into the gap in right-center that fell in for a two-run double, the big blow in the Giants' 5-2, 10-inning loss.

"I've got a guy who's throwing the ball very well and instead of having to go to (closer Sergio) Romo at that point (to face Jones) I've got a match-up that you like, a lefty-on-lefty," Bochy said.

"He got a fly ball. (Davis) just hit it where we couldn't get to it. That's a tough break and I think the way Lopez is throwing, we had the right guy out there for the match-up."

Matt Wieters followed with a single off Lopez to score Davis. Lopez has now made 217 appearances since joining the Giants in 2010, and in only three of them has he allowed three or more runs. The last was last May 24, when the Marlins tagged him for four runs in an inning.

August 9, 2013
Giants, Orioles lineups: Belt third, Vogelsong makes his return

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval was out early this afternoon getting in some work with hitting coach Hensley Meulens and with manager Bruce Bochy looking on. Bochy said Sandoval has been over-striding on swings so the work today was trying to "quiet things down."

"He's just been over-striding, getting out there a little too fast, and that's kept him from taking the swing that he normally does," Bochy said.

Sandoval is 3-for-31 over his last eight games and is bumped down to sixth in the Giants' lineup tonight against the Baltimore Orioles. Unlike Brandon Belt, who was given a few days off while the Giants were in Philadelphia to digest and work on some mechanical changes to his swing, Sandoval is staying in the lineup because his issue is just trying to get back to "his normal rhythm, stride, timing," Bochy said.

That means Brandon Belt, who made his first career start batting cleanup yesterday with Buster Posey out, is hitting third tonight ahead of Posey. It's Belt's third major-league start in the No. 3 spot -- and it makes for consecutive Brandons with Brandon Crawford hitting second. Here's the full lineup:

2B Scutaro
SS Crawford
1B Belt
C Posey
RF Pence
3B Sandoval
LF Kieschnick
CF Blanco
P Vogelsong

August 8, 2013
Giants split series with Brewers behind Lincecum, Belt

SAN FRANCISCO -- The word Bruce Bochy used to describe the Giants' 4-1 win over the Brewers on Thursday was "crisp." Tim Lincecum allowed one hit in eight innings, the Giants took a 3-0 first-inning lead on one whip of a swing by Brandon Belt and the game wrapped up in two hours, 29 minutes. Crisp, indeed.

What was the difference after the Giants fell apart in the eighth inning of a 6-1 loss the night before? Bochy said finally getting an early lead -- on the Giants' first home run at AT&T Park in 12 games -- probably helped the team relax, while allowing Lincecum to attack the Brewers without having to worry about one mistake costing him a game. And Lincecum agreed with that.

Lincecum also said, though, that before the game Bochy called the team together simply to stress the importance of coming to the field every day with a purpose and playing all nine innings. Those aren't necessarily things a major-league baseball player needs to be told. But Lincecum acknowledged that when a team is in the kind of tailspin the Giants have had the last two months, "It's one of those things that just needs to be reiterated."

The Giants then went out and delivered some vintage performances, none more so than Lincecum, who gave up a leadoff double to Juan Francisco in the third inning and a one-out walk to Jeff Bianchi in the fifth -- and nothing else. It allowed the Giants to split their four-game series with the Brewers and, for an afternoon, stop trending the wrong way in the division standings.

August 8, 2013
Giants, Brewers lineups: Sanchez recalled, Quiroz DFA'd

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants recalled catcher Hector Sanchez today from Triple-A Fresno, and Sanchez won't have long to settle in. He's starting and catching Tim Lincecum in today's series finale against Milwaukee.

Guillermo Quiroz was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Sanchez, who went on the disabled list in July with a strained right shoulder that had bothered him since spring training and has played 13 games at Fresno since coming off the DL. Sanchez went 7-for-35 in those games but said today the important thing is his shoulder feels as strong as at any point last year, particularly when he's throwing to bases.

Manager Bruce Bochy said it was important for Sanchez to stay at Fresno for a while to get regular playing time before rejoining the Giants, as the injury setbacks this season "slowed down his development." He'll give Buster Posey the occasional day off and give Bochy a switch-hitting pinch-hit option.

Here's the rest of the Giants' lineup today:

2B Scutaro
SS Crawford
3B Sandoval
1B Belt
RF Pence
LF Kieschnick
C Sanchez
CF Blanco
P Lincecum

And the Brewers' lineup against Lincecum:

August 4, 2013
Melvin on A's offense after 4-0 loss: 'We just need to sustain it'

OAKLAND -- After being shut out for eight innings by Derek Holland on Sunday, the A's tried to mount a rally in the ninth against Rangers closer Joe Nathan. Josh Donaldson drew a leadoff walk and Yoenis Cespedes followed with a single, giving the A's a runner in scoring position with nobody out for the first time all game.

But Nate Freiman hit into a fielder's choice and Alberto Callaspo, who's still hitless since joining the A's, grounded into a game-ending double play. The A's, who lost 4-0 Sunday to finish their homestand 5-5, are in that kind of offensive rut right now, hitting .212 and averaging 3.2 runs in their last 22 games.

They're still 12-10 in that span, thanks largely to a pitching staff that has allowed two or fewer runs eight times. But whether it's running into a well-pitched game like Holland's on Sunday or squandering opportunities with runners on -- and the A's were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the game -- they're not getting consistent production from the offense right now.

"We're having a tough time putting two good games in a row together," manager Bob Melvin said. "We do have the guys and the ability to take care of that and we're confident we will. We just need to sustain it, not just one game here and one game there. We need to get on a roll with it."

August 4, 2013
Garza, Rangers apologize for Twitter comments about Sogards

OAKLAND -- Bob Melvin sat down for his pre-game meeting with reporters today and said with a smile: "No Twitter questions, right?"

Wrong.

Twitter was the main topic of discussion before today's series finale between the A's and the Texas Rangers due to comments posted to the Twitter account of Rangers pitcher Matt Garza on Saturday night after Garza was the losing pitcher in the A's 4-2 win.

If you haven't seen it by now, a condensed version: Garza apparently took issue with the A's frequent bunting in Saturday's game, particularly a squeeze play executed by Sogard in the seventh inning that gave the A's their fourth run. Garza yelled at Sogard as Sogard jogged back to the A's dugout. Sogard said after the game he hadn't heard exactly what Garza said, but wrote it off as being said "in the heat of the moment."

Later Saturday night, comments posted to Garza's protected Twitter account -- viewed on a screen grab -- continued to disparage Sogard and his wife Kaycee. Among the posts by Garza's handle @Gdeuceswild were calling the Sogards "chumps," calling Eric Sogard "childish" and telling Kaycee Sogard -- who earlier had Tweeted that her husband was "probably the last person to respond to getting called names" -- to "keep you (sic) trap shut".

Garza addressed reporters Sunday morning and offered an apology to the Sogards but did not take questions. A Rangers spokesman said the statement offered a "general theme of regret."

Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said the team had spoken with Garza regarding the Twitter comments, which the Rangers found "totally inappropriate."

August 3, 2013
Small ball yields big results in 4-2 win; A's lead back to 3 1/2

OAKLAND -- Eric Sogard played it safe when asked for a family-friendly version of what Rangers starter Matt Garza yelled at him after Sogard's squeeze bunt gave the A's their insurance run in the seventh inning of Saturday's 4-2 win.

"I couldn't really make it out exactly," Sogard said. "He was just yelling at me going by. Part of the game."

The gist seemed to be Garza taking issue with the A's playing a conservative offensive style for much of the game, starting with back-to-back bunts by Coco Crisp and Sogard leading off the first inning. Crisp bunted for a hit, Sogard bunted him to second and Jed Lowrie followed with an RBI single. Yoenis Cespedes then homered to give the A's a three-run lead on Garza's first six pitches.

The A's have had trouble coming up with the big hit in recent games, including a 1-for-19 mark with runners in scoring position in their last two losses, and the bunts seemed to energize them in the first inning. Sogard said the plan going in was to make Garza field his position, as the A's noticed Garza "has some trouble throwing to first sometimes."

August 3, 2013
A's, Rangers lineups: Milone sent down, Scribner recalled

OAKLAND - The A's this morning optioned Tommy Milone to the River Cats and recalled right-handed reliever Evan Scribner for bullpen depth.

Milone had one of his worst starts of the season Friday night, lasting 3 2/3 innings and allowing six runs on a season-high nine hits. With two off days next week, the A's can shuffle their rotation to get by with four starters until mid-August. And with Dan Otero throwing 3 1/3 innings last night in relief of Milone, manager Bob Melvin said the A's didn't want to get caught short in the bullpen this weekend, so Scribner is here.

Melvin said Milone, who hasn't completed four innings in two of his past four starts, "just needs to go down there and do his thing. He went through a little period recently where he hasn't been pitching great, but he's still pretty good. When you're sending a guy like Tommy Milone down it means we have some good pitching."

Melvin said Milone's "command maybe isn't like it was earlier," but added, "We still have a lot of confidence in Tommy. He's still a big part of this team."

Milone said he was "not really" surprised by the move and knows he needs to "be more consistent, stay aggressive. ... I feel like what's been hurting me is being up in the zone so take this time to kind of work on that, throw quality strikes instead of just throwing strikes."

August 3, 2013
Milone roughed up in A's 8-3 loss; Rangers narrow the gap

OAKLAND -- The A's, who used the home run to fuel their second-half surge last year, have taken on a different sort of offensive identity this season. They're 10th in the league in home runs (109), relying more on timely hitting to back up a pitching staff that began Friday with the A.L.'s lowest ERA.

So when they have games like the last two -- in which they're a combined 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position, stranding 20 runners total -- it's tough to overcome. That's especially the case when the team on the other side is flexing its power like the A's of 2010 2012, as the Texas Rangers did in an 8-3 win on Friday night.

The Rangers were 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position but hit two two-run home runs off Tommy Milone while building a 6-3 lead through the first four innings. Texas starter Alexi Ogando allowed a career-high five walks, threw 60 pitches in the first two innings, and still left after four innings with a three-run lead.

"I felt like we were having good at-bats, we were making him work, but even though he was getting into trouble and getting his pitch count up ... he was still able to get outs," A's first baseman Brandon Moss said.

"I don't think he had many strikeouts, so you can't say we weren't putting the ball in play. Once you put it in play, you can't control where it goes. Sometimes it happens."

August 2, 2013
A's, Rangers lineups: Anderson faces hitters, Rosales on move

OAKLAND -- A's left-hander Brett Anderson faced hitters for the first time since April this afternoon, throwing live batting practice before the A's opened their series against the Texas Rangers. Anderson threw 30 pitches off the mound in two "innings" and threw all his pitches, with his breaking pitches looking especially sharp for a guy who hasn't pitched in a game since April 29, manager Bob Melvin said.

"Looked like everything went smoothly to me," Melvin said. "No complaints from him as far as physically. The next step, I'll probably have more on that tomorrow based on how he comes in and how he feels."

Anderson, recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot, has been able to keep his arm strong by throwing off a knee and playing catch. Melvin said that with Anderson's work in that area, "it certainly looks stuff-wise like he's close to midseason form. It's just taking the proper steps to make sure we don't get that foot back in a position where stressing him could make it worse."

There's still no timetable for when Anderson might be able to rejoin the A's. Melvin said the next step for him would likely be another live BP session, possibly with a bullpen session in between, but Melvin said there hasn't been discussion yet about a possible rehab assignment.



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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