Pratt's Instant Replay: A's complete epic comeback

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Pratt's Instant Replay: A's complete epic comeback

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OAKLAND -- Ten years ago, the late legendary A's broadcaster Bill King described Oakland's 20th consecutive victory as "Crazy, just plain crazy." One can only imagine how he would have described what he saw transpire on the field on October 3, 2012 as the A's swept the Rangers to win the American League West. King's signature catch phrase "Holy Toledo," is certainly fitting at this point. With the 12-5 win the A's are the first team in Major League history to win the division after trailing by five games with nine to play. Oakland was 13 games behind Texas on June 30. Yet, some how, some way, they came back to take the division crown. The A's never even had sole possession of the American League West at any point this season. They spent a total of four days tied for first.This is the latest the A's have ever clinched the division. Oakland clinched in their 161st game in 2000, but it was actually on the final day of the regular season. If they didn't win that year they would have been forced to play a make-up game against Tampa Bay. At the PlateThe A's jumped out to an early lead. With one out Stephen Drew and Yoenis Cespedes stroked back-to-back singles. Brandon Moss came up next and drove and RBI double down the right field line to give the A's a 1-0 lead. The A's lead wouldn't last long as the Rangers rallied for five runs in the third inning. Oakland's offense came roaring back in the fourth inning and answered with six runs. The scoring started after Moss drew a leadoff walk. Josh Reddick drove an RBI double to the opposite field that hit the wall in left-center. Donaldson and Seth Smith followed with back-to-back singles, with Smith's hit making it 5-3. Coco Crisp tied the game with a two-run double to right field that whipped the sellout crowd into a frenzy. What happened next literally made the entire Coliseum start shaking. Cespedes hit a shallow pop up that Josh Hamilton made a lazy effort on, dropping the ball and allowing two more runs to score. Hamilton put his glove hand up to catch the ball and didn't use two hands on the play. The crowd was so loud that the official scorer's announcement was inaudible in the press box. It was 7-5 at that point. The A's added a run in the fifth inning on a Derek Norris RBI single. He didn't even start the game, entering as a pinch hitter in the fourth. The single he hit to make it an 8-5 game was grounded up the middle and just got past diving shortstop Elvis Andrus. Norris added a solo home run to make it 9-5 in the eighth inning. For as much as Kurt Suzuki meant to the A's, Norris and George Kottaras have sure hit some huge homers for Oakland. The A's effectively nailed shut the coffin containing the Rangers' AL West title hopes in the eighth inning. They scored four runs, three on a Moss single with the bases loaded to take a 12-5 lead. Starting Pitching ReportA.J. Griffin didn't last long. He got knocked out of the game after allowing five runs in the third inning. He didn't look as bad as his line suggests, though. The Rangers sent 10 hitters to the plate, but four of them reached on singles, and two reached on a fielder's choice and an error. With the season on the line, A's manager Bob Melvin gave Griffin a quick hook and turned the game over to the bullpen. Griffin threw 70 pitches, 44 of which were strikes. Four of the five runs he allowed were earned. Bullpen ReportEvan Scribner entered the game in relief of Griffin. He ended the third inning with just one pitch. He then started the fourth inning by retiring Elvis Andrus on one pitch. It then took him five pitches to strike out Hamilton. Things got a little rocky for Scribner after that. He allowed a single to Beltre, and a double off the very top of the left field wall hit by Nelson Cruz. Michael Young followed with an opposite field liner, but it was snared out of the air by a leaping Moss, saving two runs. Scribner stayed in the game and retired the Rangers in order in the fifth inning. He retired the first two batters in the sixth as well, but was removed from the game with Hamilton due up. Jerry Blevins was brought in to face Hamilton, who has never recorded a hit against the A's lefty. Blevins struck him out swinging to end the top of the sixth. Scribner has become one of the most underrated player on the A's roster. He hasn't allowed a run in 11 of his last 12 outings and they have come in high pressure situations. Ryan Cook entered in the seventh inning. It was his fifth outing in as many days. Even with the heavy usage he was still hitting 96 MPH on the radar gun. He got into trouble early after allowing a single to Beltre and a double to Cruz with no outs. Then he got a key grounder to third that prevented Beltre from scoring and struck out Murphy and Napoli to end the inning. Cook struggled mightily earlier this season when pitching on back-to-back days. That doesn't seem to be much of an issue any more. He didn't allow a run in any of his last five outings. Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He walked one batter but struck out two. Grant Balfour entered the game in the ninth inning even though it wasn't a save situation. He retired the side in order to start the A's second celebration in three days. In the FieldIn the third inning the A's defense let down Griffin. Cruz hit a tricky pop up to shallow right field that Pennington had to try and make an over the shoulder catch on, but he dropped the ball. Without a chance to double off Hamilton at first base, he tossed the ball to second to get one out. The next batter stroked an RBI double.Later in the inning Napoli hit a sky-high pop up that third baseman Josh Donaldson appeared to have lost in the sun. He backed off and left it up to Kottaras to catch the ball, but he dropped it. The next batter smacked an RBI single. Donaldson made a slick sliding play to end the fifth inning. He came up with the ball got up and made a perfect throw to first. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 36,067. Dot Race Gold wins the dot race again. The A's were wearing the gold jerseys again as well.Up NextEveryone gets to watch the Orioles-Rays, and Red Sox-Yankees games to figure out the remaining scenarios. One thing is for sure. The A's are the AL West Champions. They will hit the road to play either Saturday or Sunday.

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

MESA, Ariz. — Something flipped a switch inside Sean Manaea in the third inning Saturday, and the A’s left-hander pitched with the aggressiveness he’s shown most of spring training.

It was a different story before that, as Manaea issued five walks, two of them forcing in runs, against the Cincinnati Reds. His final Cactus League outing ended after just three innings, his pitch count at more than 70, and he was charged with five earned runs.

“I was trying to nibble at the corners too much,” Manaea said. “The third inning I finally just said, ‘Throw it right down the middle and let them hit it.’”

The plan was to get Manaea close to 90 pitches, so he went to the bullpen and threw 10 more after he was pulled from the game. He entered the day with a 2.81 ERA in his first five outings, walking just one in each of those games.

He downplayed his struggles Saturday in Oakland’s 11-6 split-squad defeat at Hohokam Stadium, and manager Bob Melvin wasn’t expressing major concern either.

“He was just out of sync,” Melvin said. “Typically you don’t see him walk guys like that, let alone multiple guys in a row. It was just a tough day for him. We wanted to try to get him close to 90 pitches. But when you’re throwing that many pitches in three innings, I just couldn’t risk sending him back out there.”

Manaea was stressing the positives of his camp afterward. As he preps for one final tune-up start at AT&T Park against the Giants in the Bay Bridge Series, he particularly likes the way his slider has rounded into form.

“Just being able to have that confidence to throw it for a strike and get weak ground balls and swings and misses, it’s huge,” he said.

CAMP BATTLE: The A’s lost their other split-squad matchup by an identical 11-6 score to the Dodgers in Glendale. Jesse Hahn took the hill and struggled for the second consecutive outing, allowing two homers — including a grand slam by Andrew Toles — and surrendering seven runs (five earned) over 3 1/3 innings. Competing for one of two open rotation spots, Hahn hasn’t shown his best in the Cactus League stretch run. He gave up seven runs against Colorado in his previous start.

ODDS AND ENDS: Third baseman Trevor Plouffe had two more hits against the Reds to raise his average to .425 but left the game after tweaking an abductor muscle in his lower body. “He felt like he’s OK. We just didn’t wanna risk that,” Melvin said. … Rajai Davis connected for his first spring home run and scored three runs. … Sean Doolittle gave up two runs in his inning of work but struck out three. He sported his new eyeglasses for the first time in a major league game. … Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer off former Athletic Rich Hill in the game at Glendale.