Cahill set to battle defending AL champ Texas

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Cahill set to battle defending AL champ Texas

April 29, 2011

TEXAS (15-10) vs.
A's (12-13)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on CSN Plus

OAKLAND (AP) -- The Texas Rangers' pitching staff has struggled to help the team win consistently since a red-hot start. C.J. Wilson, though, hasn't had a problem earning victories lately and throwing to Mike Napoli seems to be helping.

The left-hander will try to win his third straight start with Napoli behind the plate, but he might have to outduel the Oakland Athletics' Trevor Cahill during Friday night's opener of a seven-game road trip.

The Rangers (15-10) had a 2.22 ERA while winning nine of their first 10 games this season, but have a 5.25 ERA while dropping nine of 15. Their pitchers had a solid performance for most of Thursday's series finale with visiting Toronto before giving up three runs in the ninth inning of a 5-2 defeat.

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While his teammates have experienced their ups and downs, Wilson (3-0, 3.51 ERA) has done enough to win his last two outings. He hasn't allowed more than four runs in any game this season and has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his last four.

Wilson has struck out 19 in his past two starts and received help from the Rangers hitters, who have provided 14 runs of support. He gave up a pair of solo homers over his first six innings Sunday against Kansas City before allowing two to score in his final frame during an 8-7 win.

Wilson escaped that seventh inning without any further damage thanks to his season-high 10th strikeout.

Napoli caught that final strike and Rangers pitchers are 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA during his six starts behind the plate this season.

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"He calls a good game and works well with the pitchers," manager Ron Washington told the team's website.

Facing the A's (12-13) could help Wilson as he was 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts against them in 2010. Oakland has also been shut out three times in its last seven games and scored a combined five runs during a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels to open this week.

Cliff Pennington helped his team earn its only win in that three-game set, 2-1 on Wednesday. He scored the go-ahead run in the 10th inning after his fly ball went off an outfielder's glove for a leadoff triple.

REWIND: A's narrowly avoid sweep against Angels

"We got a break to win the game," manager Bob Geren told the team's website. "I thought really it was our game the whole way."

Even with Napoli as his catcher, Wilson might have to pitch better than Cahill (3-0, 2.30), who is also trying to win a third straight start. The right-hander has allowed one run in four of his five outings this season and in each of his consecutive wins.

Cahill gave up a season-high seven hits Saturday in Seattle but retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced in a 9-1 win.

He is 6-2 with a 2.56 ERA in nine career starts against Texas but was tagged for seven runs over four innings during a 16-9 home loss Sept. 26, the day after the Rangers clinched their first AL West title in 11 years.

Cahill could get some help if Josh Willingham returns from tightness in his back, which has caused him to miss the past two games. The A's also got some good news with outfielder Coco Crisp (left quad tightness) not expected to go on the disabled list.

Padres non-tender former A’s P Ross, former Giants C Sanchez

Padres non-tender former A’s P Ross, former Giants C Sanchez

NEW YORK -- Tyson Ross, an All-Star pitcher for San Diego two years ago, was among 35 players who became free agents when their teams declined to offer them 2017 contracts on Friday.

Washington outfielder Ben Revere and Philadelphia outfielder Cody Asche also were cut loose, along with Arizona catcher Welington Castillo and pitcher Rubby De La Rosa; Baltimore pitcher Vance Worley; and Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Louis Coleman.

Milwaukee first baseman Chris Carter and Pittsburgh pitcher Jeff Locke were non-tendered as well; their teams had already designated them for assignment earlier this week.

Teams cut players at the tender deadline to avoid committing to salary arbitration, in which about one-sixth of next season's salary is guaranteed.

Ross, a 29-year-old right-hander, was 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA in 2014 and 10-12 with a 3.26 ERA the following season. He was limited to one major league appearance this year and had surgery in October for thoracic outlet syndrome. Recovery time was expected to be four to six months, and the Padres deemed him too pricy for arbitration after he earned $9,625,000 this year.

Asche, 26, was designated for assignment earlier Friday to clear a roster spot for left-hander David Rollins, claimed off waivers from Texas. Asche hit .240 with 31 homers and 125 RBIs for the Phillies during 371 games in the past four seasons and would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time.

The 28-year-old Revere was acquired from Toronto in January for reliever Drew Storen but strained his right oblique in his first at-bat of the season, left after four innings and went on the disabled list. Revere returned May 6, hit just .217 with two homers and 24 RBIs in 103 games and would have been on track for a raise from his $6.25 million salary.

Castillo batted .264 with 14 homers and 68 RBIs and would have gotten a big raise from his $3.7 million salary.

Isaiah Thomas continues to show Kings he's the one that got away

Isaiah Thomas continues to show Kings he's the one that got away

The one that got away. 
 
There have been plenty of faces that have come and gone over the last decade of futility in Sacramento. But rarely has there been a player that has gone on to become something more than just a standard role player in the NBA. 
 
Isaiah Thomas is the exception.
 
Selected with the 60th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Thomas went from zero to hero in the strike shortened 2011-12 season with Sacramento. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
 
In three seasons with the Kings, the generously listed 5-foot-9 Thomas became known as “The Pizza Guy” in Sacramento due to his commercials for a local pizza restaurant and his ability to deliver in the clutch. With a million-dollar smile and the presence of a man a foot taller, Thomas became the Kings’ most marketable player. 
 
By his third season, he was much more than just a novelty item. Despite his size limitations, Thomas posted 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game in his final season with the Kings, forming a nice trio with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay under head coach Michael Malone.
 
During the summer of 2014, the Kings, under general manager Pete D’Alessandro, decided to go in a different direction. Sacramento’s regime valued Thomas around the $5 million per season range, although they may not have even gone that high to retain the high-scoring point guard. 
 
When the Phoenix Suns came calling with a 3-year, $21 million deal offer for Thomas, D’Alessandro dealt the fan favorite for Alex Oriakhi (a second round pick that has never played a game of NBA action) and a trade exception. 
 
The Kings went a different direction and basically received nothing for one of their best assets. 
 
Rumors swirled afterwards about Thomas’ departure of discourse was between he and Cousins, but neither has ever substantiated the claims. In fact, both have denied that there was a rift.
 
“That’s all this league is, what people think they know - 99 percent of the time, they don’t know,” Cousins said. “That’s my guy. I’m extremely happy for him. I’m happy for all of the success he’s gotten so far.”
 
To take it a step further, Thomas has even lobbied to have the Kings star center join him with the Celtics.
 
“If he came to Boston, that would be good, really good,” Thomas told the Sporting News over the summer. “The thing is, I’ve got his respect. I’ve always had that."
 
“When I was with him, I didn’t back down,” Thomas added in his conversation with the Sporting News. “I’m a point guard and that was my job. No matter if we did or didn’t get along off the court, on that court we were going to get along, and I was going to hold him accountable. That’s just how it is. It’s how I’ve always been. And he respects me for doing that.”
 
Instead of paying slightly more for Thomas in 2014, Sacramento signed Darren Collison to a 3-year, $15 million deal that summer. The Suns already had two point guards in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe and after 46 games, they dealt Thomas to the Celtics in a 3-team deal for Marcus Thornton and a future first round pick.
 
Through multiple conversations with management at the time, it was clear that Sacramento’s front office didn’t value Thomas as a starting point guard and they also didn’t believe that he would willingly accept a role as a six-man. 
 
Their valuation of Thomas was wrong. 
 
Fresh off his first All-Star game appearance and back-to-back playoff runs with the Boston Celtics, Thomas has taken his game to even greater heights this season under coach Brad Stevens. 
 
Thomas came into Friday night’s showdown with his former team averaging 26.1 points and 6.3 assists. He ranks ninth in the league in scoring and has the Celtics in the mix for a third straight playoff run. 
 
Sacramento made his life difficult, but the pint-sized point guard still managed to post 20 points and seven assists in the win over the Kings.
 
Thomas, 27, is a free agent at the end of the year and looking to cash in off his stellar numbers. Not only does he bring an ability to hit the big shot, but he’s a leader that has proven that he can take a team to the playoffs. 
 
The move to let Thomas slip through the Kings’ fingers goes down as one of the all-time gaffs in team history. Watching him thrive in Boston is a painful reminder to fans in Sacramento and the fact that the Kings got nothing in return makes it that much worse.