A's pull away, get 6-2 win against Detroit


A's pull away, get 6-2 win against Detroit


OAKLAND (AP) Dallas Braden helped pitch the Athletics to their second home win of the season, but it might have come at a price.Braden combined with four relievers on a six-hitter but had to leave early in Oakland's 6-2 victory over the Detroit Tiger on Saturday night after complaining of tightness in his left shoulder.A's manager Bob Geren said that Braden, who threw a perfect game on Mother's Day in 2010, would undergo further evaluation. The pitcher was terse when asked about his health afterward."Shoulder stiff," Braden responded coldly before repeating himself. "Shoulder was stiff. I couldn't continue. Show up tomorrow, we'll evaluate then."Braden's health was the only dark lining on an otherwise solid day for the A's, who dropped the first two games on this homestand before knocking around Detroit ace Justin Verlander.David DeJesus and Hideki Matsui had two hits apiece as Oakland smacked six doubles, five against Verlander (1-2).The A's also overcame their major league-leading 17th error to win for the second time in six games at the Coliseum this season. They ended Detroit's four-game winning streak."Our pitching staff's been doing their thing all year so we have to start scoring some runs for them," Oakland shortstop Cliff Pennington said. "You always want to win at home. Now we have to try to go out here tomorrow and try to split this series."Braden wasn't as crisp as he has been this season and had to pitch out of jams in the second and fourth.Coming off six sharp innings against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, Braden (1-1) struck out five and walked two. He left after five innings and only 67 pitches when his shoulder tightened up."He was throwing the ball well that inning, then started going to his changeup a lot more," Geren said. "That gave you the indication that maybe he didn't want to use his fastball for one reason or the other."Braden said he knew he couldn't continue after the fifth. That put the game in the hands of Oakland's bullpen, which had come under scrutiny after failing to support strong outings by starters Gio Gonzalez and Brandon McCarthy in the first two games of this four-game series.This time, the relievers didn't give in.Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow, Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes pitched one inning apiece to complete the six-hitter.Oakland needed the strong outing to help overcome a throwing error by first baseman Daric Barton that gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead.It was the A's eighth error in their past five games. Fortunately for Oakland, the offense got to Verlander in the fourth.DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Matsui hit consecutive doubles to open the inning and give the A's a 2-1 lead. Kurt Suzuki followed with a single and when left fielder Ryan Raburn bobbled the ball for an error, Matsui raced around third to score.The game took a quirky turn in the bottom of the fifth.Verlander walked Barton, then was on the mound when he suddenly jumped off the rubber and fired toward the plate. The ball hit DeJesus in the foot and he was initially awarded first base while Barton moved to second.Detroit manager Jim Leyland came out to question the call, and after the four umpires conferred, the play was ruled a balk. DeJesus was sent back to the box and Barton remained at second.Verlander explained that he was trying to make a pickoff throw to first base but his body was caught out of position, so he thought if he just threw home he could avoid a balk."I saw the video of it and I couldn't help but laugh at myself," Verlander said. "It might be the first time it happened in general. I thought nothing could happen at the plate. It was funny talking to the umpires. They gave me a hard time about it, too."Verlander got out of the jam but was gone an inning later after an RBI double by Coco Crisp. The right-hander allowed eight hits and four runs - three earned - in six innings, finishing with six strikeouts.Oakland scored a pair of insurance runs in the eighth off reliever Enrique Gonzalez. Detroit then loaded the bases in the ninth and scored one run before Fuentes retired the final two batters.Designated hitter Magglio Ordonez went 1 for 4 in his return to Detroit's lineup. He had been out since Monday with a tight Achilles' in his right foot.NOTES: The Tigers have doubled in all 15 games this year, the franchise's longest streak to start a season since at least 1919. ... Verlander needs eight strikeouts to reach 1,000 for his career. ... Leyland said he plans to give 3B Brandon Inge the day off Sunday. ... The seven runs scored by Detroit in the 10th inning Friday were the most the Tigers have scored in extra innings since 1991. ... Barton's error was his fifth this year. The first baseman had 10 total in 2010. ... Oakland had not hit three consecutive doubles in one inning since Sept. 5, 2009, against Seattle. ... A's RHP Michael Wuertz got knocked around during a rehab assignment with Class-A Stockton. Wuertz, on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, started and gave up three runs and four hits in one inning.

Aldon Smith shows off athleticism, strength in workout videos

Aldon Smith shows off athleticism, strength in workout videos

Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith is awaiting word from the league regarding his possible reinstatement.

In the meantime, the 2012 First-Team All-Pro is preparing his body for the physical grind that is playing in the NFL.

Personal trainer Steven Fotion posted multiple videos to social media of Smith's recent workouts:


GM McKenzie: Raiders can sustain success, ‘we’ve built this thing to last’

GM McKenzie: Raiders can sustain success, ‘we’ve built this thing to last’

ALAMEDA – Reggie McKenzie doesn’t talk to the media often, maybe a handful of times per year. That’s been the case since he became Raiders general manager in early 2012 and, throughout that time, those interactions come with a common line of questioning.

Everyone wanted to know about his grand plan to return the Raiders to greatness, or a progress report on it. It was a tall order, and McKenzie never said it was going to happen fast.

He had to get right with the salary cap and completely overhaul the roster, actions nearly impossible to do in tandem. He radically deconstructed, then reconstructed in a method that would set the team up for long-term success.

This was not a steady ascent. Poor play was expected early on, though mistakes intensified tough times and muddled his vision to the short sighted.

McKenzie never wavered, trusted his internal compass and steered this pirate ship through a storm. The skies have finally cleared. His Raiders are 9-2 heading into Sunday’s game against Buffalo, armed with a franchise quarterback, elite pass rusher and a respected head coach.

There’s a hulking offensive line, a pair of top receivers and quality cornerbacks secured for the long term.

Those old questions aren't valid anymore. 

Deconstruction is long done. Reconstruction is clearly complete. Now it’s on to the next phase: Sustaining success.

“The key is that your drafted players become your core,” McKenzie said on Thursday in a meeting with local press. “As far as (what's next), you need to know you can sign them and keep them and continue that process.

“That’s where we are right now, and we feel good about where we are. We think we’ve built this thing to last.”

McKenzie has done so with a three-pronged attack.

1. He has drafted extremely well, over the last three years especially, building a young core headlined by Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, Gabe Jackson and Karl Joseph.

2. McKenzie found a respected head coach in Jack Del Rio guys want to play for, with a staff focused on development.

3. McKenzie has supplemented well in free agency – importing Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson Michael Crabtree and Donald Penn, to name a few -- generally without saddling himself with burdensome contracts.

The Raiders were so flush with cap space a few years ago they were able to fork out huge amounts up front on contracts that become pay-as-you-go deals without dead money later on.

They often use roster bonuses over signing bonuses -- roster bonuses hit the cap all at once; salary bonuses impact the cap over the life of the contract – to help mitigate long-term impact. In short, that gives the Raiders financial flexibility and cap space to play with each year. 

They’ll need it soon. Raiders premier players have come cheap, but the taxman is coming. Carr and Mack are still on rookie deals, but big contract extensions are a fait accompli. The same goes for Cooper when the time comes.

“The premier players will get paid, and we’ll try and keep everything intact as much as we can,” McKenzie said. “But what happens when your talented players play well? Contracts come up at times where they can benefit from it.”

Some teams -- New Orleans, for example -- suffer with a few players consuming significant cap space. Other teams, like New England and Seattle, keep on trucking with a good quarterback, defensive cornerstones and cheaper replacements through the draft or free agency.

“You have to continue to function with some young players,” McKenzie said, “and you have to find some mid-tier veterans who can step in and play well.”

The Raiders have been good mining undrafted free agents – McKenzie takes particular pride in those – to help keep the cupboard stocked.

While the Raiders rise may seem concentrated, from 3-13 in 2014 to 9-2 nearly two completed seasons later, it wasn’t quite so quick. McKenzie’s first two seasons were extremely lean while disposing of bad contracts, with a few hiccups that led many to question his vision.

Owner Mark Davis wasn't one of them. He stuck with McKenzie, a decision that looks pretty darn smart. His GM is certainly thankful for that.

“We were in constant communication the four years leading up to this year,” McKenzie said. “Nobody’s excited about losing seasons, but he did see the promise, and he believed in me. That was enough said. I told him my process, and he knew it wasn’t going to be a quick fix. We could try, but that wasn’t my style. That says a lot, because he was probably getting it from a whole lot of people to hurry up.”