Blackley, A's avoid sweep in Texas with 3-1 victory


Blackley, A's avoid sweep in Texas with 3-1 victory


If you are going to win just one game of a four-game series, it might as well be the last one. The A's will head home happy after defeating the division-leading Rangers 3-1. The A's got a stellar seven-inning performance out of their starting pitcher Travis Blackley, and a solid inning of relief from their newest All-Star Ryan Cook to escape Arlington without being swept.Starting Pitching ReportBlackley did a good job pitching to contact, even against the top run-scoring team in baseball -- in one of the toughest parks to pitch in. He didn't walk a single batter in his seven innings pitched, earning his second win. He scattered seven hits, and only struck out three hitters.The only run he allowed came in the third inning after Ian Kinsler doubled and was driven home on a single by Elvis Andrus.Blackley didn't struck out a hitter until he caught Adrian Beltre looking in the fourth inning. He never got into any major jams in the game. Craig Gentry made it to third base against him in the sixth inning, but the Australian lefty ended up stranding him there by getting Josh Hamilton to pop out to shortstop Cliff Pennington.Blackley had a couple chances to show off his pickoff move. He had Andrus so dead-to-rights that the speedy shortstop didn't even bother to move when Blackley threw the ball to first. He also got Yorvit Torrealba in the fourth. Blackley might have the best pickoff move in baseball, he leads the AL with six pickoffs this season. At the PlateSeth Smith hit a leadoff double over the head of center fielder Craig Gentry to start the fifth inning. Derek Norris promptly drove him home with a game-tying RBI single to left field. Norris has not collected a hit in six of his seven games played. He has a six-game hitting streak.The A's scored another run in the sixth on a strange sequence of events. Yoenis Cespedes smashed a double down the right field line that kicked off the wall perfectly to Nelson Cruz, who was able to get the ball back to the infield quick enough to force Weeks to stay at third. Then with Smith at the plate, Darvish threw a wild pitch in the dirt, Weeks came streaking home sliding across the plate kicking up a cloud of chalk and dust. It looked like a smoke bomb went off at the plate. There was some confusion by the Rangers on the play. They claimed Darvish's pitch hit Smith in the foot. Replays showed that it did not, and the umpires made the right call. The run gave the A's a 2-1 lead.Brandon Moss clubbed a leadoff homer to start the seventh inning. It was his eighth home run of the year and it reached the upper deck. Moss hit seven home runs in his first 13 games, but had been held without an RBI in his past seven games.Yu Darvish struck out the side after giving up the tying run in the fifth. He struck out Norris after giving up the lead in the sixth. The Japanese-born ace recorded 11 strikeouts over seven innings of work. Eclipsing his MLB career-high in strikeouts.The A's got the leadoff runner on base in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.Bullpen ReportJerry Blevins came in for one batter. That batter was Josh Hamilton. Blevins might deserve player of the game honors after stealing the momentum from the Rangers after a potentially critical A's error. He got Hamilton to pop out to end the inning with two runners on base. Hamilton is now 0 for 5 with four strikeouts in his career against Blevins.Grant Balfour got the first two outs in the eighth inning. He gave up just one hit and would have gotten three outs if it wasn't for the aforementioned error. It didn't take long for Ryan Cook to get a chance to prove he belongs on the AL All-Star team. Hours after the announcement, he entered with a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, and shut down the Rangers with a 1-2-3 inning and his seventh save.In the FieldBrandon Inge made the A's sixth error in the series. Similar to Saturday's game, the A's third baseman couldn't field a ball hit right to him. Andrus singled home Kinsler in the third inning, but was caught advancing to second after a strong throw home by Reddick was cut off by Moss, who tagged Andrus.Weeks made a nice play on a broken-bat ground out in the fourth inning. The ball traveled toward Weeks, and the bat head came with it in a parallel trajectory. Weeks navigated out of the line of fire of the lumber, maintained focus, and fielded the ball cleanly, throwing out Hamilton at first.Up NextFrom one Japanese sensation to the next, the A's will face Diasuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 4.91 ERA) on Monday at the Oakland Coliseum. Dice-K has made four starts since returning from the disabled list on June 9.Jarrod Parker (4-3, 2.57 ERA) struck out a career-high nine hitters in his last start in Seattle. He has been dominant, allowing one run or less in six of his last seven starts.

A's spring training Day 42: Roster longshot Decker could claim outfield spot

A's spring training Day 42: Roster longshot Decker could claim outfield spot

MESA, Ariz. — As the pieces are beginning to fit for the A’s 25-man roster, Jaff Decker may be an unlikely feel-good story come Opening Night.

A non-roster invitee this spring, the journeyman has impressed with his all-around game to the point that he might make Oakland’s club as a fifth outfielder.

There’s other factors that play into it — how many relievers the A’s carry will determine whether they keep five outfielders — but things are breaking right for the 27-year-old Decker, who’s with his fourth organization and has never made an Opening Night roster.

When Jake Smolinski went down with a shoulder injury that required surgery, it thrust Decker into the competition. Then Monday, the A’s released veteran Alejandro De Aza, who had impressed this spring but had an opt-out clause in his minor league deal. The A’s think enough of Decker that they cut De Aza loose. On Monday, Decker returned from a minor oblique issue and started in left field, going 1-for-3 in a 10-3 loss to Kansas City.

“I’m super excited,” Decker said. “I feel like I fit in well here, and I get along with the guys really well. It’s a good group of baseball minds, baseball guys. I hope I have done enough and shown I’m healthy enough to land that spot.”

De Aza hit .300 in 19 games and displayed the veteran savvy that seemed to make him a possible fit on the A’s bench. Manager Bob Melvin expressed hope that De Aza might re-sign with the A’s if he doesn’t find a big league opportunity elsewhere.

But Decker, who bats left-handed as does De Aza, is hitting .308 and has his own attributes, including a strong arm and the ability to play all three outfield spots. It’s a nice package of skills for a player who, at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, doesn’t appear the prototypical big league outfielder at first glance.

If the A’s keep seven relievers, they will take five outfielders into the regular season. The decision on a seventh reliever appears to be between lefty Daniel Coulombe and right-hander Frankie Montas. But the A’s could hang on to both and only keep four outfielders, with Mark Canha being the fourth.

Decker fun fact: His first name is pronounced “Jeff.” He’s named after his uncle, whose first name was misspelled on his birth certificate. Decker’s uncle kept the spelling.

MELVIN ON RAIDERS: Melvin, a Bay Area native who is quite tuned in to the history of local teams, weighed in on the Raiders announcing a move to Las Vegas. That news has a direct impact on the A’s, obviously, as a co-tenant of the Coliseum with the Raiders.

“It’s too bad,” Melvin said. “Like us, they have a rich tradition and unbelievable fan base. They’re well supported in the Bay Area. It’s tough to have to deal with it.”

NOTEWORTHY: In his first start since being named part of the rotation, Andrew Triggs struggled mightily against the Royals, getting tagged for eight runs and three homers in 3 2/3 innings. While stressing that now is no time for complacency in his position, Triggs also said he was approaching the game differently than if it were the regular season. He kept throwing his changeup, his fourth best pitch, in an effort to get more comfortable with it.

“If this were (the regular season), we probably would have said in the first or second inning, this wasn’t so great, and gone out there and started back-dooring cutters and working off the sinker,” he said. “But we made a concerted effort to work on a pitch, it wasn’t very good, and the results showed that.”

FAMILIAR FACE: One of the homers off Triggs came from former Athletic Brandon Moss, who connected for a two-run shot in the fourth. The outfielder signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Royals in the offseason.

ODDS AND ENDS: Coulombe had a great day, tossing three scoreless innings. That’s three outings in a row without allowing a run for the lefty after a rough patch before that. Melvin pointed out that the ability to throw multiple innings will be important if Coulombe makes the team. … Matt Chapman homered in the fifth, his third long ball of the spring. He’s hitting .261 and playing stellar defense. “He’s got a lot of enthusiasm and it rubs off on guys,” Melvin said.


A's statement on Raiders: 'We would be sorry to see them leave'

A's statement on Raiders: 'We would be sorry to see them leave'

MESA, Ariz. — The Raiders’ approval to leave Oakland and relocate to Las Vegas comes as the A’s are contemplating where to build their own ballpark in Oakland, with the Coliseum site one of the options.

The A’s issued this statement Monday after the Raiders got the green light from NFL owners to bolt for Vegas:

“We understand the Raiders’ need for a new stadium. Oakland is an incredible sports town and we would be sorry to see them leave. We commend the city’s and county’s efforts to keep the Raiders in Oakland. The Mayor and her team have worked incredibly hard to save the franchise. We are focused on, and excited about, our efforts to build a new ballpark in Oakland and look forward to announcing a location this year.”

The Raiders have one-year options to continue playing at the Coliseum for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and they plan to do so.

The A’s, meanwhile, are choosing between four different locations in Oakland to build a new venue — the Coliseum, Howard Terminal, a site near Laney College and one near Brooklyn Basin.

The Raiders’ decision to leave doesn’t necessarily mean the Coliseum moves into the lead for possible options for the A’s to build. The site is viable, and there’s great BART and freeway access. The Coliseum could be considered the safest option, perhaps, because it’s a tried-and-true site that has hosted three professional sports teams for decades. The A’s know what they’re dealing with there.

But the A’s also want a thriving entertainment area around their new ballpark, wherever that might be. That sort of “neighborhood” would have to be built from scratch at the current Coliseum site, which is isolated from the multitude of restaurants and bars that exist around AT&T Park, for example.