Athletics

Notes: Verlander's strike zone, McCarthy still an option?

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Notes: Verlander's strike zone, McCarthy still an option?

OAKLAND -- With the Oakland Athletics in win-or-go-home mode it is still business as usual at the Oakland Coliseum. For the third day in a row A's manager Bob Melvin met with a select few daily beat writers in the clubhouse after his press conference. Why is this news? Because for the third day in a row he stood in the exact same spot in the hallway, and so did we the media. Melvin is a man that never hides his superstitious nature. The A's may need all the supernatural assistance they can get. Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander is 3-0 against the A's this season. He has only allowed two runs in his three starts against the A's this season. Six years ago today, Verlander started Game 4 of the American League Championship Series as the Tigers swept the A's. So how do the A's beat Verlander? "One of the things you try and do is drive his pitch count up," Melvin said. "Sometimes it's tough to do. And a lot of times he is out there for 130 pitches."In Verlander's three starts against the A's he has never gone past the seventh inning. He has thrown 121, 122, and 104 pitches in those starts, so they have been able to work his count up and get him out of the game. One key factor will be the strike zone. Verlander is the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award-winner so he tends to get a favorable strike zone. In Game 1 the A's hitters looked to be a bit frustrated with some of the called strikes home plate umpire Jim Reynolds awarded Verlander. In Game 5 it will be Wally Bell behind home plate. "I think there's always the reputation involved," Melvin said of Verlander's strike zone. "I'd rather be on the other end of that where we felt like we got some. I'm not going to say it was significantly different but it's something you have to be aware of."Either way, Melvin says he is hopeful the strike zone gets established early. The A's have some advantages of their own in Game 5. The sellout crowd at the Oakland Coliseum has been a factor for the A's in this series and that won't be changing. "I was having a tough time communicating with my coaches in the ninth inning it was so loud," Melvin said. With the series evened up at two games a piece this series is tough to call. "We're at home, they have their ace on the mound, we have a guy that we are very comfortable with too, he's pitched very well for us this year," Melvin said. "It's like a pretty even draw at this point. Our fans are definitely a plus for us and we feel it." Jarrod Parker went six and one-third innings in Game 1. He allowed three runs on seven hits. He will become the youngest pitcher in 15 years to start in a deciding game. The A's already set a Major League record by starting three rookie starting pitchers in this series. The A's young pitching staff has held its own against a tough Detroit lineup. They have 30 strikeouts in this series and have issued just five walks. A's starting pitchers are 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA and .244 opponents batting average in this series. Injury UpdatesBrett Anderson said he felt his right oblique pulling a little bit during his Game 3 start. He threw a bullpen on Thursday. If the A's advance to the ALCS he will be on track to pitch. "From what I heard I think he feels pretty good," Melvin said. "Yesterday it was a little sore which you can understand and today it was much better." Jordan Norberto has thrown from 120 feet but has yet to throw from a mound. "It would be tough to consider him an option no matter where we go at this point," Melvin said. Brandon McCarthy is throwing from 120 feet. He has yet to return to a mound. He is working very hard to make a return to the rotation a possibility if the A's can make it to the World Series. "I'd hate to rule anything out as far as that goes because he is trying so hard to get back," Melvin said. "Until he gets on a mound we are not sure."McCarthy's return would be of miraculous nature. On September 7, his situation was described as "life threatening" by athletics trainer Nick Paparesta. McCarthy underwent brain surgery after getting hit in the head by a line drive on September 5. "He'd have to get off a mound," Melvin said. "We'd potentially have to get him some hitters. There's a ways to go but I am certainly not going to be the guy that's going to says there's no way."

A's give up four home runs, drop series opener to Orioles

A's give up four home runs, drop series opener to Orioles

BOX SCORE

BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones called it a game the Baltimore Orioles needed to win.

The center fielder set the early tone, and the rest of the team followed his lead.

Jones hit a pair of home runs, Jonathan Schoop added a three-run shot and Baltimore beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Monday night. The Orioles won for the second time in six games, but they are still in the thick of the wild-card race.

"Adam's done that a lot and it never goes unnoticed or unappreciated or assumed, more importantly," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Jon obviously had a big blow there, but can't tell you how hard it is, as hard as Adam plays as long as he plays, and then mid-to-late August you're still able to do that. That's one of the things that separates Adam."

Wade Miley (7-10) held the A's to two runs, five hits and four walks over six-plus innings to pick up his first win at Camden Yards since June 17. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA against Oakland this season.

Jones tied a career high with four hits and is one home run shy of reaching 25 for the seventh consecutive season. Zach Britton got the final out with two runners on for his 11th save this season and his 60th in a row.

Baltimore beat Chris Smith (0-3) for the second time in 12 days. Smith allowed five runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings - his shortest start of the season. He was pulled after allowing Schoop's three-run homer, which made it 5-1. Ryan Dull entered and allowed another homer by Jones.

"I always feel strong at this time of the season," Jones said. "It's called pacing myself. I've learned how to pace myself over the years."

Jed Lowrie homered for the A's, and Boog Powell hit his first career home run in the eighth inning, appropriately enough doing so in Baltimore, where an unrelated Boog Powell slugged 303 home runs and won the 1970 MVP.

"It didn't seem real," said Powell, who made his major league debut earlier this season with Seattle and was acquired in a trade earlier this month for Yonder Alonso.

The younger Powell is expected to meet his namesake for the first time Tuesday, according to MLB.com.

Welington Castillo responded for Baltimore with a solo home run in the eighth off Michael Brady that provided the 7-3 lead.

Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI double by Matt ChapmanChad Pinder was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on the play.

The Orioles tied it in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Mark Trumbo. Jones led off the fourth with a homer and Baltimore never trailed again.

"He's a good hitter for a reason. It's tough," Smith said about Jones. "You try to attack his zones, and it seems like I make a good pitch and he breaks his bat but he finds somehow to put it in the outfield."

MACHADO HONORED:
Manny Machado became the third Oriole to earn AL Player of the Week honors this season, joining Schoop (July 23) and Tim Beckham (Aug. 7). Machado batted .385 (10 for 26) with four home runs and 12 RBIs over six games.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Athletics: C Bruce Maxwell, who took a foul ball off his face mask Saturday at Houston, did not start for the second consecutive game. He entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and went 0 for 2. . SS Marcus Semien left in the seventh with a wrist injury.

Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy (wrist) went 0 for 3 with a walk on Monday in his first rehabilitation game with Triple-A Norfolk.

UP NEXT:
Athletics: RHP Paul Blackburn (3-1, 3.46 ERA) received a no-decision after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings in his lone appearance against Baltimore on Aug. 11.

Orioles: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (5-8, 6.47 ERA) struggled in his previous outing against Seattle, when he was charged with six runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. He is 4-1 with a 4.70 ERA in eight career starts against Oakland.

A's Cotton notches first big league victory in two months: 'He found out if...'

A's Cotton notches first big league victory in two months: 'He found out if...'

HOUSTON — No one questions the quality of stuff that Jharel Cotton takes to the mound.

According to A’s manager Bob Melvin, the key for his rookie starter is more an issue of mindset and aggressiveness.

Cotton was in attack mode Sunday after a wobbly first inning against the Houston Astros. The result was an encouraging six-inning outing that set the A’s on the path to a 3-2 victory that helped them avoid a three-game sweep at Minute Maid Park.

While the victory was important for his team’s overall psyche, Melvin also hopes it triggers some confidence for Cotton in how he can attack a dangerous lineup and have success.

“I think he found out if he throws the ball over the plate, it’s gonna allow him to stay in the game longer,” Melvin said. “He should take a lot out of this game, especially against a lineup like that. Knowing that if I’m throwing the ball over the plate, using a mix of pitches and I’m not afraid to use my fastball, that the results can be good. We’ve seen him pitch really good games because he’s got good stuff.”

Cotton (6-10) rang up his first major league victory since June 23 against the White Sox. That was before a blister on his thumb led to a stint on the disabled list. Since then, he’d struggled with walks, ill-timed homers, and generally enough turbulence to invite speculation on whether the A’s might skip him for a start or send him down.

He answered Sunday by holding the majors’ highest-scoring team to two runs on four hits over his six innings. That was after walking two in a 25-pitch first. Not since that scoreless outing against the White Sox back in June had Cotton surrendered less than four runs in a game.

A’s closer Blake Treinen, who recorded a six-out save and combined with fellow reliever Chris Hatcher to bring home the ‘W’ for Cotton, said watching Cotton tame the Astros lineup didn’t surprise him.

“I’d heard of him from before I was even (traded to the A’s), and I’ve seen his stuff. Sometimes as a young pitcher it just takes experience. When things are going really well, you don’t have to think.You just trust it.”

The A’s beat the Astros for just the third time in 15 games this season. On so many occasions, Houston has taken advantage of Oakland mistakes and forced the issue with aggressive baserunning. On Sunday, it was the A’s who dictated things in that fashion.

Center fielder Boog Powell, who went 3-for-4 with a walk from the leadoff spot, led the game off with a single against Brad Peacock (10-2). Then Marcus Semien grounded one toward the hole on the left side. With Powell racing hard into second, Astros shortstop Alex Bregman threw wildly into right field. Powell came around to score, and Semien — advancing all the way to third — came home on the play when Marwin Gonzalez made another throwing error.

Jed Lowrie scored on a passed ball in the sixth to push the A’s lead to 3-1, marking the first time in Oakland history the A’s scored three or more runs in a game without notching a single RBI.

Semien’s mad dash around the bases reminded him of a similar play as a Little Leaguer in El Cerrito, when he circled the bases in the same kind of way on his mother’s birthday. Afterward, she convinced him he’d hit a real homer.

“I got some texts from some old Little League friends about that one today,” Semien said.

It wasn’t conventional, and it didn’t matter. Over the first two games of this series, the A’s had scored one run total and advanced just one runner as far as third base.