Gomes, A's express mutual interest in 2013 return

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Gomes, A's express mutual interest in 2013 return

OAKLAND -- He won the Catfish Hunter award, the Dave Stewart award, the respect of his teammates and his manager. He may not have been in the everyday lineup, but there was no player on the 2012 Oakland Athletics more respected than Jonny Gomes. One problem, he is a free agent. Would he want to come back? "Would I like to? Absolutely," Gomes said. "I don't know, I mean this season has been magical for me, it has been a dream come true. When you've been kicked in the teeth as much as I have in the offseason you realize nothing is a guarantee."And therein lies the problem. Gomes is one of four A's free agents. He shared time with Seth Smith, only had 279 at-bats in 99 games and still clubbed 18 homers. That was the fifth best mark in Athletics history for a guy that played less than 100 games. Gomes had a career-high .377 on-base percentage, and batted .306 with runners on. While those stats are great, his veteran leadership and impact on the young team behind the scenes was immeasurable.
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It would clearly be in the A's best interest to bring him back."I agree and I think it's probably a work in progress to do that," A's manager Bob Melvin said "Billy Beane understands that as well as anybody. Nothing's for sure but my guess is there's probably some talks going on either now or very quickly." The A's used platoons at DH, first base, second base, shortstop and catcher this year. The results were phenomenal. With sensitive professional athlete egos involved that is a tough thing to do. It worked because a veteran like Gomes never once complained when he was held out of the lineup for matchup reasons. 58 of his 74 starts came against left-handed pitching. His teammates saw the way he handled split playing time and thought if he can do it so can they. With all right-handed pitchers starting games for the Tigers in the American League Division Series, Gomes only got one at-bat. He didn't complain. When he finally came to the plate, he got a standing ovation. "The ovation I got was pretty special," Gomes said. "There's some well liked guys in the game and to have a sellout crowd get up on their feet to give me a little love, that's what I play for. I play for my teammates, I play for my family, and I play for the fans. I think got three thumbs up.""He's done a lot of us this year and with this community, obviously the Little League World Series thing was a blast for us to be a part of," Josh Reddick said. "...The fans were still thinking about him." Bringing back Gomes would be a good move for the A's. He had a huge impact on Reddick this season, and was a go-to guy if anyone on the team needed a question answered or advice. He even joked at times that he was Melvin's assistant manager. A fan of the game and a Petaluma native, Gomes embodies what the Oakland Athletics are all about. Heart and hustle. Baseball is a business, but having two willing parties helps. Gomes wants to be back and the team says they would be happy to have him. Maybe they can meet half way and get a deal done soon.

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.”