Instant Replay: A's 4, Dodgers 1


Instant Replay: A's 4, Dodgers 1


OAKLAND It's been a banner week for Travis Blackley. He recorded his first MLB win since his debut almost eight years earlier last Friday, and he went toe-to-toe with the reigning Cy Young Award winner on Thursday.Blackley threw a career-high eight innings and faced just two batters over the minimum, but he would not factor into the decision.The decision would go to Ryan Cook, who benefited from solid defense in the top of the ninth and a self-induced rally by Dodgers reliever Josh Lindblom. Lindblom walked Coco Crisp to lead off the inning, and sent Crisp to second on a wild pitch.The A's saved some dramatics for the ninth inning. They earned the 4-1 walk-off win -- and the series sweep -- on Yoenis Cespedes' first career walk-off home run. It was their second sweep in the last three series and their eighth win in the last nine games.Starting pitching report:After going almost eight years without an MLB win, Travis Blackley had a chance to win back-to-back starts Thursday. He was fast out of the gate, striking out two in the first inning and retiring the first 10 Dodgers he faced in order.Elian Herrera's solid fourth-inning double to left center broke up his roll, and Juan Rivera's subsequent single that clung to the first base line foiled the shutout and evened the game at one.Blackley wasn't fazed. He threw an incredible 67 of 87 pitches for strikes, recording first-pitch strikes 21 out of a possible 26 times. Blackley finished with eight innings pitched, three hits and one run allowed, no walks and six strikeouts.Bullpen report:Ryan Cook replaced Blackley in the ninth inning, and mistakenly walked the leadoff batter. But thanks to defensive help from Brandon Inge and Derek Norris, he only needed to face three batters to get out of the inning.At the plate:It looked good right off the bat when Coco Crisp beat out a weak roller to third base, but the first inning went awry. Jemile Weeks failed to do his job, popping up his sacrifice bunt attempt to first base. And Coco Crisp took off on Clayton Kershaw's first move and was -- for the first time in 37 tries -- cut down trying to steal.Instead of allowing Kershaw to settle in, though, the A's went right after him in the second. Jonny Gomes led off the inning with a double that bounced before caroming off left fielder Elian Herrera. After Gomes advanced to third on a wild pitch, Brandon Inge sent two balls deep to left field. The first clanged off the facade of the second deck about 12 feet left of the foul pole. The next, hit in fair territory, was barely corralled by Herrera at the track and Gomes trotted in to score the game's first run and register Inge's 31st RBI in his 31st game with Oakland.For the second time in as many days, Yoenis Cespedes sent a ball high and deep into the Oakland air, only for it to fall harmlessly to a Dodgers outfielder near the wall. His fourth-inning blast off Kershaw had the right sound, but it came down just in front of the CSN California sign, about 370 feet out in left center.Inge was seeing Kershaw well. In the seventh inning he sent another ball deep to left. He and Kershaw thought he got all of it; Kerhsaw lept off the mound and Inge began his trot to first base. But Herrera was there to make another Inge out on the warning track.In his first major league at-bat Derek Norris grounded into an inning-ending double play. He hit a ball well to left-center field in his next at-bat, but was put away by Tony Gwynn Jr. In his third at-bat, he smoked a liner down the left-field line, but Juan Uribe was perfectly positioned for the put out.Yoenis Cespedes ended the game with an exclamation mark. His blast to left barely tucked in over the 330-foot sign down the left field line, and if you blinked, you didn't see it sear the 55-degree Oakland air.In the field:In his start last Friday, Travis Blackley showed a dangerous pickoff move to first base in which his planted right foot flirts with the 45 degree boundary. It was on display again Thursday, as Blackley ended the fourth inning by catching Juan Rivera leaning.In the seventh inning, Brandon Moss dove to his right to snag Andre Either's ground ball. He threw on to Blackley to record the out. The A's had some defensive concerns about a converted outfielder taking on a new position, but Moss has just one error in 96 attempts entering Thursday. After the play, he turned to Jemile Weeks to confer about whose ball it was. Weeks seemed to be in position to make the play and nodded to whatever Moss asked him.The A's put together a gutsy defensive ninth inning. Brandon Inge opted for the high-risk, high-reward option on Dee Gordon's two-strike sacrifice bunt. The A's reward was high when his throw barely beat catcher Matt Treaner to the bag. It left Gordon on first base in a steal situation. After Ryan Cook threw over to first at least four times, Gordon tried to steal. Making his first career start, Norris came up big, throwing a frozen rope to cut down Gordon at second, clearing the bases and ending the Dodgers' ninth-inning threat.On the bases:Coco Crisp's franchise record of 36 consecutive successful steals came to end in the first inning when he took off for second on Clayton Kershaw's first move and the Dodgers went 1-3-6 to cut him down. Ichiro Suzuki's A.L. record of 45 is safe, and so is Vince Coleman's MLB record of 50.
Attendance:Tough to tell what the split was, but it looked like a sea of blue at the Coliseum, where Thursday saw an announced attendance of 23,337. The streaking A's are drawing right now; they've only had one game this homestand with a paid attendance under 20,000. Up next:The final and most exciting series of the A's sweep through the NL West is up next. Due to a rotational adjustment to protect young Jarrod Parker's arm, it will be he who takes the ball in Game 1 of the Bay Bridge Series.Parker (3-3, 2.82) faced the Giants in Game 1 of the first interleague matchup between the A's and Giants, and got rocked. He lasted all of two innings, allowing six earned runs on four hits and four walks. It was the only time he failed to record a strikeout in a start this year, and his only start in which he did not complete five innings. His loss contributed to the Giants' 2-1 series victory.Opposing Parker will be Tim Lincecum (2-8, 6.19), who is searching for himself amidst a stretch of nine starts in which the Giants are winless.

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A’s general manager David Forst says he has a stack of strongly worded letters from fans who grow frustrated with many of the team’s personnel moves.

That comes with the territory of running a major league front office. But Forst also said, during a wide-ranging interview on the latest A’s Insider Podcast, that honest critiquing must come from within office walls.

“You do want to do some self-evaluation and self-assessing,” Forst said. “What I don’t do, I don’t go back and second-guess decisions, whether it’s a trade or a signing. I don’t sort of hypothetically think, ‘Well, what if we hadn’t done this,’ because it’s not a good use of anybody’s time. What you do have to do is make sure the process that led to that decision is sound and a good one.”

Certainly one of the most scrutinized A’s moves of recent history was their signing of designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year $30 million contract in November 2014. That turned out to be a costly mistake, with Butler being released in September with one year left on his deal and the A’s still on the hook for roughly $10 million. Forst acknowledged how poorly that decision worked out but sticks by the initial motivation to sign Butler.

“Look, Billy Butler didn’t go the way we expected, and that’s one that gets brought up a lot,” Forst said. “But I think back to the time when we made that decision to sign him, and what we were projecting Billy to do. It was very clear what our team needed. Again, going into 2015, coming off the wild card that year, we still felt like this was a team that could compete for a division title. So all the things that went into the decision, ultimately I will stand by.”

Forst spoke frankly about several other topics during the podcast. Regarding fans’ frustration about seeing so many high-profile players traded:

“I’ve got a stack of letters on my desk, the substance of which I can’t repeat on the air,” he said with a smile. “… But there’s passion. And I know we have a fan base that cares, and that’s really a good place to be.”

Forst said the A’s definitely will pursue starting pitching this offseason, despite the fact that 1) he’s very optimistic about the crop of young pitching Oakland has developed, and 2) he believes Sonny Gray will bounce back from a poor 2016 season. The GM takes encouragement that Gray made a full physical recovery from a strained forearm.

“Am I going to get the Cy Young (caliber pitcher) from Day 1? I don’t know. But I think there’s a confidence that this was an aberration, this whole year, more than anything else.”

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.