Donaldson's 'Wonderboy' borrowed from Carter

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Donaldson's 'Wonderboy' borrowed from Carter

OAKLAND Josh Donaldson, red-hot at the plate of late, has a new lucky bat. It wasnt carved from a tree struck by lightning.Its actually one of teammate Chris Carters batting practice bats.Donaldson, a catcher converted into a third baseman, homeredfor the fourth time in his last five games in Mondays loss to the Angels. Hehas driven in eight over that span. Since he was called up from Triple-A Sacramentofor his third stint with the As on August 14, Donaldson is hitting .338 with seven doubles,five home runs and 15 RBIs in 19 games.I'musing Carters bat so that has something to do with it, Donaldsonsaid.I didn't have any bats when I first came back and picked up one ofCarter's and asked if I could use it.Donaldson said that the barrel on Carters bat is a littlebigger than hes used to. The new bat is also heavier than his normalweight at 34 ounces, but the same length at 32.5 inches.As manager Bob Melvin said that Donaldson crediting the new bat for his hothitting might be a little superstitious, but isnt questioning his hottest hitter's logic.If he thinks ithas something to do with it, then it does, Melvin said. Its such a mental game, that anylittle edge that you can get, you try to get. I hear that people aresuperstitious in this game, too, and you ride those types of things. If thatworks for you, and that type of bat works for you, then Im all for it.Melvin was joking about hearing that people are superstitious. Its no secretthat almost every baseball man, Melvin included, is sensitive to superstition.But Melvin said he never went so far as trying out a teammates bat.I shouldve tried that, Melvin said. I did T-shirts andeverything else but never tried the bat.---The As recalled right-handed reliever Jim Miller before Tuesdays game. Inthree prior stints with the big-league club, Miller went 2-1 with a 2.02 ERAand 32 strikeouts in 35.2 innings.Hes done a good job for us several times this year,Melvin said. Hes been on a little bit of a yo-yo, but hes a guy that hascontributed significantly over the course of the season.---Theres a funny sign hanging in the As clubhouse thats worth sharing. Itreads:Please limit your AAA stories to one per day per person. Sincerely, those notlucky enough to be there this year.Considering how many current As have gone through multiple stints inSacramento, that must be a tough rule to abide by.---Melvins club will face new Angel Zack Greinke, who has a5-1 record and 3.31 ERA against the As. In eight appearances, including fivestarts, at the Coliseum, he is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA. He allowed four runs infive innings in his only start in Oakland this season on August 8, when hewalked five batters in the second inning.Since then, Greinke has won three of his last four starts and has lasted atleast seven innings in all three wins. Melvin explained what makes Greinke so tough.One, he has plus velocity. Two, he hides the ball pretty well and then he hasa lot of pitches. That makes it a little more difficult to narrow it down andhave a plan against him.One key for the As against Greinke: Score early. The 2009 American League CyYoung Award winner has a 4.93 ERA in the first three innings this season, but a2.82 ERA from the fourth inning on.

Despite solid start, Cotton admits to thinking about no-hitter: "It just bit me'

Despite solid start, Cotton admits to thinking about no-hitter: "It just bit me'

NEW YORK — Keep peeling away the layers of Jharel Cotton’s start Saturday, and there are several different ways to view it.

The A’s rookie pitched into the sixth inning despite enduring big-time command issues and giving up a run in the first.

He took a no-hitter into the sixth despite not having the feel for his best pitch, the changeup.

He was on the verge of completing six mostly dominant innings before losing a handle on things in the sixth, allowing a two-out rally that culminated with Matt Holliday’s two-run homer. That blast wound up being the difference in Oakland’s 3-2 loss to the Yankees.

It was an eventful 5 2/3-inning outing for Cotton in his return from the minors. He admitted he was very aware he had a no-hitter going, though it also must have registered that with his pitch count at 88 entering the sixth, he wasn’t going to get a chance to complete history.

“I wanted to just go out there and get (through) the sixth inning with no hits,” Cotton said. “I guess I thought about it too much and it just bit me.”

Taking the mound for his first big league start since being optioned to Triple-A on May 11, Cotton was also making his first start at Yankee Stadium. He couldn’t find the strike zone in the first, allowing a walk, a hit batsman and a wild pitch that led to Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly and an early lead for New York.

But then he settled down and found a groove, retiring 15 out of 16 hitters for a stretch from the first all the way until the sixth. That was all the more impressive given that Cotton did not have the effective changeup that’s usually the centerpiece to his game plan.

Catcher Josh Phegley said he was encouraged by Cotton’s effort in his first start back from Triple-A.

“He was kind of sporadic at the beginning, so I was just calling a lot of cutters because that was our strike pitch,” Phegley said. “You’d like to have the changeup because it’s one of the better ones I’ve seen. But he’s got the stuff to do without one of his pitches and still compete and put us in a good position.”

The game turned when Cotton couldn’t slam the door in the sixth after retiring the first two hitters. He walked Gary Sanchez and then caught too much plate with a 1-0 cutter to Holliday, who signed a one-year $13 million contract with New York in the offseason. He drilled a two-run homer to left-center, and Cotton was lifted after Castro singled on his next batter.

“I didn’t want to walk that guy,” Cotton said. “You don’t wanna put guys on base with free passes and I did that, and it came back to haunt me.”

With Cotton’s pitch count crossing 100 in the sixth, A’s manager Bob Melvin said he had no second thoughts about not going to his bullpen earlier. Cotton was charged with three runs on just two hits with three walks and five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

“I was fine with him to get through the inning. That probably would have been it,” Melvin said. “You don’t take a guy out just because he’s got 100 pitches. He was pitching well.”

Cotton will be an important factor for the A’s moving forward given the injuries to starters Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman, with the former going on the 10-day disabled list Saturday and the latter expected to join him in the next day or two.

 

Tempers boil over as A's strike out 14 times in defeat

Tempers boil over as A's strike out 14 times in defeat

NEW YORK — As their frustration mounted inning after inning, the A’s afternoon seemed destined to end in ugly and disappointing fashion.

So it was that Matt Joyce walked away from home plate visibly baffled after a game-ending strikeout that cemented a 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Saturday. The A’s struck out 14 times in a game that included ejections for manager Bob Melvin and second baseman Jed Lowrie, and lots of puzzled looks over the strike zone of home plate umpire Will Little.

Lowrie was doing a slow burn throughout all of his at-bats. He struck out looking in three of his four plate appearances, and if you go by the location of pitches as presented by the mlb.com Gameday tracker, he had a justifiable gripe.

It came to a head when Little rang him up in the eighth inning, with Lowrie arguing and getting a quick ejection, the first of his 10-year career.

“All I’m gonna say is I got the bat taken out of my hands three times today,” he said afterward.

Later in the eighth, Trevor Plouffe appeared to perhaps hold up on a check swing. It didn’t matter, as Little rang him up on a Dellin Betances slider that appeared high. Melvin got ejected protesting from the dugout and then went out to get a few more words in.

“A lot of frustration, in big situations,” the manager said.

On the game’s final at-bat, Joyce worked the count to 3-1 against Betances and was so sure he’d gotten ball four that he unsnapped his shin guard in anticipation of taking first. But Little called strike two. Joyce swung through the next pitch for the final out.

By the end, the Yankees had pocketed a victory despite collecting just two hits, including Matt Holliday’s two-run homer off Jharel Cotton (3-5) in the sixth that snapped a 1-1 tie. Cotton had a no-hitter going until then.

New York’s odd victory also ended an odd trend between these teams — the road team had won each of the previous eight games they’d played.

Ryon Healy’s RBI double scored Khris Davis from first to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the sixth. Holliday, who spent the first half of 2009 with Oakland before being shipped to St. Louis, homered to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Then A’s catcher Josh Phegley came back with a solo shot in the seventh to bring Oakland within a run.

The A’s have split the first two of this three-game series in the Bronx. But you can’t spotlight their dissatisfaction with Saturday’s strike zone without also pointing out they struck out 13 times on Friday night too. They’ll need to make more of their at-bats to take Sunday’s rubber match.

“It is what it is,” Phegley said when asked to sum up the day. “We were no-hitting the Yankees and losing. I think we wanted a little more offensive production but that’s just the way the game went. We just didn’t make the best of the opportunities we had. Obviously I feel like like there were some walks we had, we worked the counts pretty well, and it didn’t go in our favor. That’s just the way it goes.”