A's not worried after Game 1 loss


A's not worried after Game 1 loss

DETROIT -- Game One of the American League Division Series went exactly as it was planned. It just didn't work out in the Oakland Athletics favor in the end. Get an early lead? Check. Work up Justin Verlander's pitch count? Check. Get a strong start out of Jarrod Parker? Check. Win the game? Insert TV game show buzzer sound effect hereVerlander was just too good on Saturday. He struck out 11 Athletics batters, including a string of five consecutive punch outs that began when he struck out the side in the sixth inning. As the A's effectively ran up his pitch count, he was still pumping in 99-MPH fastballs and bringing it with swing and miss stuff.
PRATT'S INSTANT REPLAY: A's drop Game 1 in Detroit
"I think most starters you try to get to them before they get into their rhythm," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He certainly got better as the game went along." It appeared the A's had gotten to Verlander early. Coco Crisp hit a leadoff home run to start the game. It was only the second time in Major League Baseball history that the first batter of a postseason series hit a home run. That would be the only run the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young-winner would allow. Verlander left the game after seven innings pitched and allowed just three hits. He threw 121 pitches. "You have to tip your hat, and obviously he gets tipped to a lot," Brandon Moss said. "He made a mistake first batter of the game and he really didn't make any more." Verlander received what looked like a favorable strike zone during the game. Several pitches looked to be outside but were called strikes by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds. The A's didn't make any excuses after the game. Verlander, naturally, didn't object to the strike zone. "I felt like they have that box up there the entire game and that's tough on umpires," Verlander said of the game broadcast. "But I feel he was consistent, both ways. As you guys know I go down the tunnel and in between innings and watch on TV." A's starting pitcher Jarrod Parker isn't happy with a loss in his first playoff start, but he did turn in a quality start in a pressure packed situation against a tough Tigers lineup. Parker, 23, lasted six and one-third innings, and allowed three runs on seven hits, one walk and five strikeouts. He made two mistakes: He gave up a home run to Alex Avila in the fifth inning, and dropped a ball when running to first in the third inning that allowed a run to score. It looked like there was confusion on the play between Parker and first baseman Brandon Moss. "It just came out of my glove," Parker said. "It's something we practice every day in Spring Training and I consider myself pretty athletic and it just came out of my glove."When Parker dropped the ball, it allowed Omar Infante who reached on a double to score. That play gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Parker stifled the Tigers' big hitters. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder went a combined 0 for 7. In the first inning, Cabrera, the American League Triple Crown-winner, came up with runners on the corners and no outs and grounded into a double play, but the runner on third came home to score to tie the game at one. "Obviously you don't want their two superstars to end up with the headlines of multi-homer games or what not," Derek Norris said. "But when it came down to it they came up clutch and sometimes it happens." The A's had their chances to do damage in the D. It just wasn't their night. In the third inning Josh Donaldson hammered a pitch thrown by Verlander to deep center field but it was caught at the warning track. It would have been a home run in any other park but it is 420 feet to center at Comerica Park.
Moss also hit a towering fly ball off reliever Joaquin Benoit that looked like it was going to be a game-tying two-run homer, but it was caught with right fielder Andy Dirks' back against the wall. "I thought it was going out," Melvin said. "I think we all did."The A's won't have time to sulk about their loss with a quick turnaround for a day game on Sunday -- not that they were too concerned with the loss. The A's clubhouse didn't seem phased by being defeated. "We're not worrying," Reddick said. "We've done well against people all year when we go down one game. We're not going to fret over it and panic. We can steal one out of here tomorrow and go back home where the crowd has been good and we've played good the last month."Sunday's Coverage
Tommy Milone takes the mound against Doug Fister. The game will be carried by MLB Network at 9:07 a.m. PST. Make sure to tune into Sportsnet Central: October Quest on CSN California for pre game coverage. Kate Longworth and myself will have the latest from the A's clubhouse, and Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper will offer their insights, plus Shooty Babitt will be breaking it all down.

A's lineup: Vogt back in to catch Manaea against Yankees

A's lineup: Vogt back in to catch Manaea against Yankees

Sean Manaea has been bumped up to start Friday night at Yankees Stadium and his battery mate Stephen Vogt is back in the squat.

Oakland A's (21-25)

1. Rajai Davis (R) CF
2. Matt Joyce (L) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Ryon Healy (R) 1B
6. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
7. Stephen Vogt (L) C
8. Mark Canha (R) DH
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Sean Manaea -- LHP

New York Yankees (27-17)

1. Brett Gardner (L) LF
2. Aaron Hicks (S) CF
3. Matt Holliday (R) DH
4. Starlin Castro (R) 2B
5. Aaron Judge (R) RF
6. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
7. Chase Headley (S) 3B
8. Chris Carter (R) 1B
9. Austin Romine (R) C
Masahiro Tanaka -- RHP

One-time A's draft pick Aaron Judge now toast of New York


One-time A's draft pick Aaron Judge now toast of New York

Long before Yankees rookie Aaron Judge was gracing Sports Illustrated covers and taking part in “Tonight Show” skits, the A’s had visions of the hulking outfielder wearing green and gold.

Oakland was the first team to draft Judge, when he was a three-sport star coming out of tiny Linden High School, about 50 miles southeast of Sacramento.

The A’s took him in the 31st round of the 2010 draft but weren’t able to sign Judge, who was firmly set on attending Fresno State. Three years later, New York grabbed him in the first round of the 2013 draft. Now Judge is the latest Bronx sensation, the major league co-leader with 15 home runs and having shown off his comedic skills by starring in a man-on-the-street skit for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

On Friday, he’ll face the A’s for the first time when they begin a three-game series at Yankee Stadium. But Oakland’s front office and scouting department long have been familiar with the 6-foot-7, 282-pound right fielder.

Jermaine Clark, the A’s area scout who followed Judge during his high school career, recently dusted off a scouting report he filed back in 2010 on Judge.

“Big kid with a body to dream on,” the report read. “Untapped monster.”

While at Linden, Judge also starred in football and basketball, and he was a dominant pitcher and first baseman. The problem was Linden played in a small league against competition that didn’t approach the best prep baseball leagues in California.

Clark recalls entering Judge’s information into the A’s database.

“I remember putting his schedule in the computer, and none of the schools he was playing registered in our system,” Clark said.

But the A’s recognized the physical tools. They invited Judge to take part in a workout at the Coliseum leading up to the 2010 draft, an event they plan annually for some of the best draft hopefuls in Northern California.

“He definitely made a good impression,” A’s scouting director Eric Kubota said. “You’d have to be blind to not see the physicality and athleticism. That’s the kind of thing that jumps out on the field. He’s bigger and more athletic than any guy he’s around.”

Still, he wasn’t a slam-dunk choice to be taken high in the 2010 draft. In a time when the majority of top baseball prospects grow up as one-sport specialists, playing the game year-round, Judge was a throwback to the athlete who dabbled in multiple sports. Therefore, his skills on the diamond weren’t as polished, and his 6-foot-7 height also worked against him.

“The frame was so long that things didn’t look so fluid,” Clark said.

The A’s took a flyer on Judge, as Kubota put it, drafting him in the 31st round but knowing it was a long shot that he would sign. Both of Judge’s parents are retired teachers, and a college education was important to them.

So why waste a draft pick on him at all?

“Many of these kids that get drafted late in the draft, clubs don’t have the wherewithal to go sign them,” said A’s special assistant Grady Fuson, who’s heavily involved in the team’s scouting. “But sometimes you take those guys because things change over the summer” regarding a player’s decision-making.

Attempts to arrange a phone interview with Judge were unsuccessful. But over the winter, he discussed the A’s drafting him with The Record newspaper in Stockton.

“I was drafted in high school but made the choice to go to college,” Judge said. “I wasn’t mature enough at that point to get right into minor league baseball. I learned from some great coaches at Fresno. It really helped prepare me.”

The Yankees drafted him with the 32nd overall pick in 2013, a draft that was deep in quality collegiate outfielders. Eight picks before that, at No. 24, the A’s selected Texas high school outfielder Billy McKinney.

“I think in general we’re always looking for the player we like best when he’s available at that pick,” Kubota said. “That’s how it worked out.”

In July 2014, the A’s packaged McKinney along with their top prospect at the time, Addison Russell, and right-hander Dan Straily and traded him to the Cubs for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, a trade that in hindsight still has A’s fans slapping their foreheads.

Last season, the Cubs dealt McKinney to the Yankees as part of another high-profile trade that landed Aroldis Chapman in Chicago.

How did the A’s and so many other clubs pass on Judge throughout the first round in 2013? Keep in mind that Mike Trout somehow lasted until the 25th pick in the 2009 draft, when the Los Angeles Angels finally scooped him up.

The draft is an inexact science in which some players blossom, some fail, and some wind up starring for other teams. But when Judge takes the field against the A’s this weekend, Kubota said he won’t be watching through the lens of what could have been.

“I think in general we root for kids from Northern California, we root for kids we drafted,” he said. “Ideally we’d love them to be doing it in white spikes, but we’re happy to watch them succeed no matter where they’re at.”