Pratt's Instant Replay: Angels 7, Athletics 1

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Angels 7, Athletics 1

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- What goes up must come down. No one expected the A's to win every single game for the rest of the season, even after tallying nine wins in a row. That being said, the 7-1 loss resulting in the three-game home sweep at the hands of the Angels is mildly troubling. The A's have much more to worry about than Wednesday's loss. The more immediate concern is the health of pitcher Brandon McCarthy after he took a line drive off the head in the fourth inning. Starting Pitching ReportThe ball hit McCarthy just above his right ear. He was eventually able to walk off the field under his own power. According to the A's, McCarthy never lost consciousness and was taken to a local hospital for precautionary reasons.The ball hit by Angels' shortstop Erick Aybar ricocheted off McCarthy to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who threw to first to make the out. After being struck by the liner McCarthy dropped to the ground and laid prone for a moment. Soon after impact the right-handed pitcher was able to sit up and speak with trainer Nick Paparesta. As the Coliseum went completely silent, McCarthy's teammates and coaches stood around him on the mound before he was able to get up and leave the field. McCarthy's ability to leave the field without assistance was an encouraging sign and surely a relief for many. The frightening moment is a reminder just how vulnerable pitchers are when on the mound. On Tuesday night relief pitcher Sean Doolittle was also hit by a line drive. He was struck on the left shin and was reportedly hobbled after the game. McCarthy allowed three runs, all earned, prior to his departure. The runs all came in the third inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Alberto Callaspo, who was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and a Mike Trout ground out. Callaspo scored on a Torii Hunter single to right field. The next batter was Albert Pujols, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games after he squeezed a double down the third base line that got past a diving Donaldson. The A's chose to take their chances with Howie Kendrick, walking Kendrys Morales to load the bases with two outs. Kendrick came through for the Halos, driving a two-run single to right field, but Morales ran into an out on the play to end the inning. Bullpen ReportTravis Blackley entered in relief of McCarthy. He was given as much time to warm up as needed. The A's long reliever and spot starter kept them in the game. He threw 44 pithes in three innings of scoreless relief. He was able to strand two runners in scoring position in the sixth inning. With runners on second and third with no outs he struck out Mark Trumbo looking and got Aybar to fly out to end the threat. Pat Neshek retired one batter to end the seventh inning. Ryan Cook took over in the eighth frame. He struck out Pujols, walked Morales, then got Kendrick to ground into an inning-ending double play. Cook remained in the game for the ninth, but allowed the Angels to load the bases with no outs.Grant Balfour inherited the bases loaded situation. He walked pinch hitter Maicer Izturis on a close pitch that was called ball four. Balfour responded by striking out Trout looking on a 94-MPH fastball. Hunter then broke open the game with a two-run single up the middle past the outstretched glove of a diving Adam Rosales. Now a 6-1 game, A's manager Bob Melvin brought in Jim Miller. The right-handed pitcher struck out Albert Pujols swinging on a 92-MPH fastball. The Angels then executed a double steal with Hunter taking second and Izturis successfully taking home. Miller eventually ended the inning by getting Morales to ground out to second. At the PlateThe A's put together a third inning rally in response to the Angels' runs. It started with some control problems by Dan Haren. With one out he walked both Derek Norris and Cliff Pennington. The next batter, Coco Crisp, reached on a force attempt after Howie Kendrick didn't even try and touch second after receiving first baseman Kendrys Morales' throw. The Angels argued that Pennington obstructed the throw to no avail. Seth Smith came up next and made the Angels pay for their mistake by driving the first pitch he saw into right field for an RBI single. With the bases loaded Josh Reddick struck out swinging and Yoenis Cespedes grounded out to end the threat. Norris scored the A's first run after a free pass. He ended up with three walks on the day. After Norris' third walk, Brandon Moss entered the game as a pinch hitter and smashed a single to right field. The Angels countered by putting in rookie Nick Maronde. He struck out Crisp and Smith swinging to end the threat. Maronde also struck out Reddick to start the eighth inning. He has retired four batters in his career, all via strikeout. Kevin Jepsen picked up where Maronde left off, striking out Cespedes and Carter to end the eighth inning. A span of five consecutive batters retired via strikeout. In the Field With two on and no outs in the ninth inning, Callaspo laid down a perfect bunt. Donaldson briefly charged the ball before back tracking to third base, while Norris attempted to grab the ball barehanded but couldn't get a grip on it. Norris was charged with an error and the Angels loaded the bases. In the ninth inning with runners on the corners and two outs, the Angels executed a double steal. Miller had the right idea, faking a throw to third as Hunter broke for second, but Drew was late to the bag. As Miller threw the ball to Drew, Izturis broke for home. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 15,404. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's get a day off as they travel to Seattle. On Friday, A.J. Griffin (4-0, 2.26 ERA) takes the mound for Oakland. He will be opposed by Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez (13-6, 2.51 ERA).

A's newfound leverage has limits and Libby Schaaf can take a punch

A's newfound leverage has limits and Libby Schaaf can take a punch

John Fisher has shown admirable restraint so far as he contemplates life without the Oakland Raiders in his craw. For one, he hasn’t jumped up and down on Libby Schaaf’s desk and demand that the Oakland mayor take care of the only team she ever has to worry about ever again.

Then again, that might just be prudence on his part. In her present frame of mind, she might take such an opportunity to punch him about 35 times directly in the throat.

Schaaf’s strategy to keep the National Football League from steamrolling her worked, though it came with far more irritation at the end of the process than she thought. She learned face-first that dealing with the NFL means being attacked on all fronts, including the demonstrably false fronts tossed up at the end. She may have thought foolishly that the NFL could be somehow persuaded to see Oakland's rationale for keeping the team, but found out just how well the NFL does dismissive. Frankly, she looked Monday like she’d just had a marathon run over her.

This is not an attempt at sympathy, mind you. She’s a politician in a major American city, and she knew the job was dangerous when took it.

But now that the A’s are the last turkey in the shop, it would be good for Fisher and his new public face, Dave Kaval, to take great care not to push the city too hard. Their leverage has limits, and Schaaf, having punched the NFL to a draw by refusing to budge from his original stadium proposal, knows she can take a punch.

Also, she knows that the A’s don’t have the options the Raiders had. In short, her first offer is likely to be damned close to her last offer, because she just showed that she can do that.

In other words, the A’s have only that leverage the mayor will allow them, and will have to be happy that for the first time ever, they have no impediments between them and a new stadium save their own abilities to achieve them.

You see, the A’s new stadium has been painted as a privately financed operation, and even though there is actually no such thing (the Giants got city money for infrastructure and security when they built PacSBC&TT Park, and never forget that), that’s what it has to remain.

Oakland is trying to guide the A’s toward the Howard Terminal site with all its come-hither stares, but would tolerate Brooklyn Basin or the Coliseum. The A’s want something that allows them to cash in on the land around the stadium (shops, eateries, drinkeries, strip clubs, tattoo parlors, etc.). That much is easily done.

After that, though, Fisher and Kaval need to understand that as one of the few mayors in the nation who gave and held to a take-it-or-leave-it proposal the NFL hated at the start, middle and end, Schaaf has some steel in her spine, and now has the experience to wield it. They push too hard at their peril.

Not because they can be forced from the city, but because they could be left in the Coliseum well beyond their four-year revenue sharing window. At that point, any losses are real-money losses, and any profits come at the expense of the product.

In short, the stadium is the A’s project alone, and though Fisher and Kaval know that and have said all the right things in mind, the temptation to poke the wasp hive of public money may be too much to decline. The smart move is to accept that they are the last team standing, Oaklandically speaking, but not to assume too much beyond that.

The A’s should view this opportunity as theirs and theirs alone. They should also view as an opportunity with limits, because the undertold story about the Raiders’ move is that Schaaf lost almost no approval rating points during the process. She made it clear that the city’s commitment to the Raiders was finite and its interest in letting the NFL turn the Coliseum into the Oklahoma Land Rush was a non-starter, and she stuck to her guns with the only cost being her exasperation level late in the process. Frankly, she might have been better off announcing on Day One that any NFL official entering the city limits would be summarily jailed, jail the first one and then dare them to send any more.

That would have been the pure Oakland play.

As for the A’s, their pure Oakland play is to own the town with their deeds. A stadium built on their own dime that people want to see, and a team with talent and attitude that makes the stadium worth having.

A's spring training Day 42: Roster longshot Decker could claim outfield spot

A's spring training Day 42: Roster longshot Decker could claim outfield spot

MESA, Ariz. — As the pieces are beginning to fit for the A’s 25-man roster, Jaff Decker may be an unlikely feel-good story come Opening Night.

A non-roster invitee this spring, the journeyman has impressed with his all-around game to the point that he might make Oakland’s club as a fifth outfielder.

There’s other factors that play into it — how many relievers the A’s carry will determine whether they keep five outfielders — but things are breaking right for the 27-year-old Decker, who’s with his fourth organization and has never made an Opening Night roster.

When Jake Smolinski went down with a shoulder injury that required surgery, it thrust Decker into the competition. Then Monday, the A’s released veteran Alejandro De Aza, who had impressed this spring but had an opt-out clause in his minor league deal. The A’s think enough of Decker that they cut De Aza loose. On Monday, Decker returned from a minor oblique issue and started in left field, going 1-for-3 in a 10-3 loss to Kansas City.

“I’m super excited,” Decker said. “I feel like I fit in well here, and I get along with the guys really well. It’s a good group of baseball minds, baseball guys. I hope I have done enough and shown I’m healthy enough to land that spot.”

De Aza hit .300 in 19 games and displayed the veteran savvy that seemed to make him a possible fit on the A’s bench. Manager Bob Melvin expressed hope that De Aza might re-sign with the A’s if he doesn’t find a big league opportunity elsewhere.

But Decker, who bats left-handed as does De Aza, is hitting .308 and has his own attributes, including a strong arm and the ability to play all three outfield spots. It’s a nice package of skills for a player who, at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, doesn’t appear the prototypical big league outfielder at first glance.

If the A’s keep seven relievers, they will take five outfielders into the regular season. The decision on a seventh reliever appears to be between lefty Daniel Coulombe and right-hander Frankie Montas. But the A’s could hang on to both and only keep four outfielders, with Mark Canha being the fourth.

Decker fun fact: His first name is pronounced “Jeff.” He’s named after his uncle, whose first name was misspelled on his birth certificate. Decker’s uncle kept the spelling.

MELVIN ON RAIDERS: Melvin, a Bay Area native who is quite tuned in to the history of local teams, weighed in on the Raiders announcing a move to Las Vegas. That news has a direct impact on the A’s, obviously, as a co-tenant of the Coliseum with the Raiders.

“It’s too bad,” Melvin said. “Like us, they have a rich tradition and unbelievable fan base. They’re well supported in the Bay Area. It’s tough to have to deal with it.”

NOTEWORTHY: In his first start since being named part of the rotation, Andrew Triggs struggled mightily against the Royals, getting tagged for eight runs and three homers in 3 2/3 innings. While stressing that now is no time for complacency in his position, Triggs also said he was approaching the game differently than if it were the regular season. He kept throwing his changeup, his fourth best pitch, in an effort to get more comfortable with it.

“If this were (the regular season), we probably would have said in the first or second inning, this wasn’t so great, and gone out there and started back-dooring cutters and working off the sinker,” he said. “But we made a concerted effort to work on a pitch, it wasn’t very good, and the results showed that.”

FAMILIAR FACE: One of the homers off Triggs came from former Athletic Brandon Moss, who connected for a two-run shot in the fourth. The outfielder signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Royals in the offseason.

ODDS AND ENDS: Coulombe had a great day, tossing three scoreless innings. That’s three outings in a row without allowing a run for the lefty after a rough patch before that. Melvin pointed out that the ability to throw multiple innings will be important if Coulombe makes the team. … Matt Chapman homered in the fifth, his third long ball of the spring. He’s hitting .261 and playing stellar defense. “He’s got a lot of enthusiasm and it rubs off on guys,” Melvin said.