Giants take Game 2 of Bay Bridge Series 3-2

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Giants take Game 2 of Bay Bridge Series 3-2

BOX SCORE
Oakland -- With the game tied 2-2, the middle of the Giants order (Melky Cabrera-Pablo Sandoval-Aubrey Huff) combined to push across the game-deciding run in front of 14,634 at the O.Co Coliseum and the Giants beat the A's 3-2 in the penultimate Cactus League game for each team.Player of the Game: Matt Cain. Why not? His five innings weren't the smoothest he's ever navigated, but a day after signing his lucrative five-year contract, he seemed to say, "What pressure?" Cain looked cool, confident and in control on the mound. He struck out six and walked one."Everything felt good," Cain calmly told the media from his locker. "All my pitches, both sides of the plate."And when he jammed Coco Crisp in the bottom of the fifth inning, he sprung off the mound to scoop up the check-swing bunt bare-handed. He wasn't the first player in the game to lose his footing on the wet Coliseum grass, and ended up sitting on his backside with the ball in his hand. Not missing a beat, Cain fired a strike to first from his rear, beating the speedy Crisp to end the inning. The smile he took off the mound returned when asked about the play later in the clubhouse."I don't even know how that happens," Cain chuckled. "I winged it. It just worked out."Though it had Cain smiling, Bochy admitted after the game it was a nervous moment for him. "You always have a little fear there, when a pitcher slips. ... But he's bull-strong."Bull-strong Cain got the win Tuesday to improve his spring record to 4-0.Play of the Game: Yoenis Cespedes got the A's going with his first double in the second inning. Brandon Allen followed with a base hit to center field, and it looked like the A's would take the lead as Cespedes lengthened his stride rounding third. Angel Pagan had other plans as he fielded the ball cleanly, took a textbook crow-hop and fired a one-bounce seed on time to Eli Whiteside. Only a perfect throw would have cut down Cespedes, and a thing of beauty it was. Even if Cespedes snuck under the tag (it was close), home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski was already committed to the out call and rewarding Pagan."I was in the wrong place," Matt Cain said. "I should have been backing up home." But he appreciated it all the same.Usually we have a Turning Point: slug. Same play. The Giants sent the minimum three players to the plate in the top of the inning and the A's seemed poised to go big before Pagan's dart. Cain escaped unscathed and the A's momentum was squandered as the game stayed 1-1.The A's right side of the infield did their best to earn Play of the Game honors at Aubrey Huff's expense. Brandon Allen made a diving play on Huff's first-inning laser down the line. Then in the fifth inning, Jemile Weeks ranged far to his left to stab a grounder destined for right field and jumped to throw out the lead runner at second, though Melky Cabrera scored from third on the play, giving the Giants the lead.Anchoring the rotation: The A's returned home from Japan with three more spring games until the season began anew -- again -- and just their first two starters locked in -- Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon. Tommy Milone turned in six perfect innings against the River Cats Saturday, and after the game, Melvin announced he would be the A's third pitcher. With Graham Godfrey and Tyson Ross jockeying for the fifth rotational position, and five shutout innings against the Giants from Godfrey Monday, Tuesday's game was big for Ross.Ross, too, lasted five innings, but unlike Godfrey, he gave up runs, two of which were earned.The A's won't need a fifth starter until April 17, when they face the Angels. If you're going strictly based on their final performance, it's Ross who will wait in Sacramento until he is required later this month.Early offense: Before the game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he thinks the Giants are ready for Opening Day. One area he wants to see improvement, though, is San Francisco's ability to put runs on the board early.Gregor Blanco made that easy, leading off the game with a line-drive single to right, then immediately getting into scoring position with his 13th swiped bag this spring.Melky Cabrera failed to do his job, but Pablo Sandoval lashed a ground ball through Tyson Ross' legs to get the Giants a first-inning run.Ready now, skipper?Belt making adjustments: There is no better position to prove your baseball mettle than standing in the batter's box with a runner on second and two outs. That's exactly where Brandon Belt was in the first inning, but he popped out to left field, and his walk back to the dugout looked painful.Belt came to the plate in the fourth inning, again with a runner on second base. This time, he got the job done, sharply grounding a ball up the middle for an RBI single and a 2-1 Giants lead.When asked if Belt was his Opening Day first baseman, Bochy nodded before cryptically explaining, "he's been getting most of the playing time over there." He then expounded that the Giants "want to put the bats out there," and that means letting Belt work through the kinks.It also means that Aubrey Huff -- who hit the ball hard in all three at bats -- will be on the field. "Aubrey is one of our best bats," Bochy said after the game. "He's going to be somewhere in there -- first base or outfield."When it counts: Brandon Crawford, who sat out Tuesday's game after spraining his thumb on a dive Monday at AT&T Park, will have the day off on Wednesday as well. But Bochy said after the game that he is expected to be ready for Opening Day.Crawford was spotted with a black protective sheath over his thumb. "Just something to protect it a little," dismissed Bochy.Head-scratcher: The eighth inning ended strangely for the Giants. Charlie Culberson drew a two-out walk. Emmanuel Burriss came to the plate and inexplicably laid down a sacrifice bunt. Culberson made it to second, but Burriss was thrown out at first and the inning was over.The PA in the press box announced the sacrifice, then quickly corrected itself, "Nevermind."The specialist: With the tying run on first base and one out in the ninth, mighty Yoenis Cespedes came to bat. With visions of walk-off home runs against the Giants racing through the minds of A's fans, Sergio Romo was thinking strikeout. Predictably, Cespedes saw nothing but a strong dose of frisbee sliders, and he didn't come close to making contact. Cespedes buckled at the first offering, which broke over the plate for a called strike, then took a mighty hack at the next two pitches, both well out of the strike zone. Threat subdued.The closer: Watch for Brian Wilson's outing in the final 2012 spring training game Wednesday, but don't blink. Bochy said the plan is still to get Brian Wilson on the mound, "to face a hitter, two at the most."Look ahead: The Giants and A's are back at it Wednesday, with a 12:45 p.m. scheduled start time at AT&T Park in the final spring training game of 2012. It will be Yusmeiro Petit taking the hill for the Giants and Tommy Milone for the A's. Bring on meaningful baseball.

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Kaval: A's must 'swing for the fences' in choosing ballpark site

Kaval: A's must 'swing for the fences' in choosing ballpark site

MESA, Ariz. — After spending a few days at spring training, A’s president Dave Kaval heads back to the Bay Area on Tuesday to continue work on the team’s search for a ballpark site.

There are so many factors to consider — location, public transportation access, parking, government obligations to be fulfilled, etc. — it’s easy to understand why it’s such an all-encompassing process.

Kaval shared some detailed thoughts on all of the potential sites the A’s are considering during a visit on the A’s Insider Podcast. Here’s some highlights:

The A’s have narrowed down to four locations in Oakland to build a privately financed ballpark: Brooklyn Basin, Howard Terminal, Laney College and the current Coliseum site on which they play.

Are these four all uniquely different from each other or do they share some common traits?

“I think all of them can fulfill our long-term vision of this urban area around the ballpark,” Kaval said. “Think of Fenway, Wrigley … all of them can achieve that vision. We want to make sure with such a big decision that we swing for the fences. … I think the Coliseum is probably the hardest to create kind of an urban village, but I think it’s possible, and we’re not ruling it out.

"But all the other locations can have neighborhoods around the ballpark where people can live and you can just have a really intimate experience around the ballpark.”

There hasn’t been the same buzz about Brooklyn Basin as Howard Terminal. Located close to the water, does it offer similar attributes as Howard Terminal?

“It’s very close. There’s a couple different places the ballpark could go down there,” he said. “You’re closer to the water, which is exciting, and I think being on the water provides the ability to have water taxis, ferries, other transit options that kind of lower the requirement for parking, lower the requirement for walking or biking. And that actually can be a really great thing for the fan experience.”

Howard Terminal offers a big potential payoff with the terrific views available. But there are some substantial hurdles, not the least of which are the government regulations and approvals required to build right along the water.

“If you want to actually develop something in there, you need to have legislation from the state of California. That’s just something that has to happen,” Kaval said. “So when we think about the steps to get the individual sites (approved) and break ground, it’s just another one you have to do at that site. So you have to weigh, is it worth the time, effort, political opposition that might come up to pursue that type of effort? The site is so iconic that we’ve been keeping it in the mix because, wow, it could just be something that is a game changer.”

That’s just a sample of the many topics Kaval touched on over the course of the podcast.