The A's defy odds and do it again, defeat Yanks 2-1

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The A's defy odds and do it again, defeat Yanks 2-1

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OAKLAND -- Three well traveled rookies and a wily veteran helped topple the best team in baseball 2-1 on Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum. Each of those four players' stories are so unlikely that you'd think we made them up. We'll start where it ended on Saturday night. With 25-year-old rookie reliever Sean Doolittle -- who notched his first career save. Doolittle was drafted as a first baseman, struggled with injuries and was converted to a pitcher. Nearly as quick as his 95-mph fastball rips through the strike zone, Doolittle blasted through the Minor Leagues in just 16 games.
As he stepped on the mound seeking his first career save Saturday night, the rookie first-baseman-turned-pitcher was asked to stare down four hitters with a combined 25 All-Star appearances, who account for 67.5M of the Yankees payroll. Alex Rodriguez hit a leadoff single, and then the left-handed pitcher responded by striking out the side.
RECAP: Pratt's Instant Replay -- A's, Yankees 1
The legend of Sean Doolittle continues."That's really impressive, talk about coming along way," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "And now he closes a game out against the Yankees, that's a goose-bump type of thing."Doolittle pitched the ninth inning because closer Ryan Cook -- also a rookie -- had worked in three consecutive days. He got Robinson Cano swinging on a 94-mph fastball, Mark Teixeira looking on a 94-mph fastball, and Andruw Jones swinging on a 94-mph fastball. "Wow," Doolittle said in reflection of what transpired. "It still hasn't sunk in yet. It was mentioned to me before I even got back up here that at this time last year I wasn't, like, pitching to hitters." "Looking back on where I've been and where I am now, it makes it that much more special," he said. Speaking of unlikely success stories, there's A's starting pitcher Jarrod Parker who got his seventh win tonight. Parker had "Tommy John" surgery in 2009 and missed the entire 2010 season. He had to battle his way back to the Major Leagues and he has undoubtedly arrived in Oakland. He held the team with the best record in baseball to one run over eight innings of work. "Boy, Jarrod was so good," Melvin said. "Changeup really good. Only walked one guy. That's really the way you have to pitch against the Yankees."
RATTO: Hollywood, take notice of the 2012 Oakland A's
What makes the three wins the A's have in this series even more remarkable is the fact all three games were started by rookie pitchers. The three rookies allowed a combined three runs and just one walk over those three games. "Every time out we are trying to one up each other," Parker said. "It sets the tone as the starting staff." As Parker finished the eighth inning the game was tied at one. Then another unbelievable thing happened. Third baseman Brandon Inge made a bold prediction."Inge told me I'm going to get you one here," Parker said. "And he did it." Inge stepped to the plate and clubbed the go-ahead home run off Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes. The shot hit the concrete facing of the bleachers over the high wall in right center. Inge was released by the Detroit Tigers this year. The A's essentially picked him up off the scrap heap and here he is helping the team win. "In this clubhouse we're having a blast right now," Inge said. "I think that's leading to a lot of the way we are playing on the field." Inge is only hitting .200, but when he does get hits -- they are important ones. He has nine homers and 42 RBIs in 64 games this year. "Just when I think about maybe a bunt or doing something different with him he gets a hit like that," Melvin said. Then there's the story of Yoenis Cespedes. A Cuban-born phenom that escaped his home country of Cuba to chase his dream of playing Major League Baseball. In the last year he has gone from Cuba, to the Dominican Republic, to Phoenix, Arizona, to Tokyo, to Oakland.After all of that, he is hitting .306 against the best competition in the world. His fourth-inning home run was launched like a missile and landed like an asteroid deep in the left field bleachers -- coincidentally, it landed right under a Cuban flag."The most important thing is to be concentrated in what you have to do," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "In Cuba it was the same thing. We traveled a lot over there too. But not so long like this year. I try to work, be concentrated all the time and do the best that I can do." Cespedes by the way is also a rookie. He has a career-high nine-game hitting streak and is 7 for 10 with two homers and three RBIs in this series against the Yankees. If anyone was overlooking Cespedes on the national landscape it's safe to say the secret is out."He's a terrific talent and a great hitter," Melvin said. "I don't want to say he's getting more confident because he is about as confident as you can get. I think he's just understanding the league more and making adjustments quicker." The stories of the A's key contributors seem like they've leaped out of the pages of a Hollywood screenplay. They are almost too good to be true. Fans can't wait to flip the pages as the the story is unfolding. It sounds corny, but studios love a good sequel and it feels like we are watching Moneyball 2. With the A's 13-2 July record they are pacing Major League Baseball. At 50-44 they are a season-high six games over .500. They've already taken three games of a four game set with the New York Yankees. Stay tuned.

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.