Pratt's Instant Replay: A's magical season ends

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Pratt's Instant Replay: A's magical season ends

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OAKLAND -- Six years ago to the day, Justin Verlander pitched Game 4 of the 2006 American League Championship Series and the Tigers swept the A's. Six years later he shut down the A's to again end Oakland's season, this time in the American League Division Series. Verlander was too good, and the Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs in the seventh inning en route to a 6-0 win. Okay, now it's over. The A's offseason may be starting on Friday, but this team accomplished much more than anyone in their right mind expected. The A's won 94 games, the American League West, and clawed their way back from a two-game deficit to force a Game 5. This season led to the emergence of rookies Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Ryan Cook, Yoenis Cespedes, and Sean Doolittle as well as the breakout performances of Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, the late arrival of Josh Donaldson, and the return of Brett Anderson. And of course, the walk-off pies. 2012 may be over, but 2013 looks like it may pack some promise. The core of this A's team is intact for the future. Don't expect a firesale after this season. With the payroll at 52 million, they could potentially make additions. At the PlateThe reigning American League Cy Young and MVP flat out dominated the A's hitters. Verlander only allowed four hits in nine innings. He struck out 11 batters. The A's 50 strikeouts in this series broke the previous Oakland strikeout record of 43 for a five-game playoff series. Starting Pitching Report Jarrod Parker became the youngest pitcher in the last 15 years the start a deciding game in the playoffs. He looked like a veteran on the hill. Parker allowed four runs, in six and one-third innings of work. Two of those runs scored after Parker left the game. In two postseason starts he performed admirably. The A's can rest easy knowing they have an ace in the making in this talented young righty. Parker allowed a one-out double in the first inning to Quintin Berry. With Berry in scoring position Miguel Cabrera was on deck and Prince Fielder was in the hole. Parker got both of them to ground out to end the inning. In the second, Parker dispatched the Tigers with relative ease. He gave up a single to Andy Dirks on a controversial call. Replays showed that Dirks was actually out at first. The Tigers right fielder stole second to put some pressure on Parker. He responded by striking out Alex Avila to end the inning. The A's ran into trouble in the third inning. Parker allowed a leadoff single to Omar Infante and was charged with a wild pitch that moved him to second. Infante became the third Tigers player to reach second in as many innings. Austin Jackson ripped a double to left-center to put the Tigers on the board. He was bunted over to third and ended up scoring on a wild pitch. Parker pitched a three up, three down fourth inning, his first clean inning of the game. The Tigers got a runner on second in four of the first five innings. The young righty remained poised in big situations. He only had 70 pitches through six innings. In the seventh inning Parker allowed two singles and was lifted from the game with one out. He was pulled with 85 pitches and runners on the corners. A's manager Bob Melvin elected to go with Ryan Cook instead of Parker. That decision proved to be problematic. Bullpen ReportCook allowed an RBI single to Jackson to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. He then walked Berry to load the bases before plunking Cabrera in the shoulder with the bases loaded to make it 4-0. Jerry Blevins entered the game next. He allowed a bloop single to Fielder to make it 5-0. Young hit a sharp ball to Stephen Drew next and couldn't field it cleanly. Instead of a potential inning-ending double play the Tigers ended up scoring their sixth run. Blevins got a ground ball out of Dirks that allowed Pennington to throw Cabrera out at home. He then got a pop out to end the inning. Evan Scribner pitched a three up, three down eighth and ninth innings. Scribner didn't allow a run in his final six regular season appearances. He didn't disappoint on this evening. He might be a solid weapon for the A's next season. In the FieldPennington made a nice play on a ball hit up the middle by Dirks. He ranged to get to the ball and made a perfect off balance throw to first. First base umpire Scott Berry called Dirks safe. Replays showed he was out by a step. Dirks reached second with a stolen base. He ended up stranded there. Norris struggled in the third inning. Omar Infante led off with a single and advanced to second on a ball that got away from Norris. The passed ball issue popped up again when Norris wasn't able to block a ball that allowed Jackson to score. The Tigers only stole 59 bases this season but they ran all over the A's on Thursday night. They stole three bases against Parker and Norris. AttendanceThe A's announced a sellout crowd of 36,393. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's pack their bags and get to enjoy some well-deserved time off with their families. It's never easy getting bounced out of the playoffs but the A's had a heck of a season. They have a lot to build on for the future. If the success of this team is any indicator, you can expect the A's to be back in contention. That's a lot more than anyone expected entering 2012. Free AgentsBrandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, Brandon Inge, and Jonny Gomes are the A's only free agents. Stephen Drew can elect to test the open waters of free agency this offseason if he wants. The A's and Drew have a mutual option for 2012.

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.

 

A's statement on Raiders: 'We would be sorry to see them leave'

A's statement on Raiders: 'We would be sorry to see them leave'

MESA, Ariz. — The Raiders’ approval to leave Oakland and relocate to Las Vegas comes as the A’s are contemplating where to build their own ballpark in Oakland, with the Coliseum site one of the options.

The A’s issued this statement Monday after the Raiders got the green light from NFL owners to bolt for Vegas:

“We understand the Raiders’ need for a new stadium. Oakland is an incredible sports town and we would be sorry to see them leave. We commend the city’s and county’s efforts to keep the Raiders in Oakland. The Mayor and her team have worked incredibly hard to save the franchise. We are focused on, and excited about, our efforts to build a new ballpark in Oakland and look forward to announcing a location this year.”

The Raiders have one-year options to continue playing at the Coliseum for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and they plan to do so.

The A’s, meanwhile, are choosing between four different locations in Oakland to build a new venue — the Coliseum, Howard Terminal, a site near Laney College and one near Brooklyn Basin.

The Raiders’ decision to leave doesn’t necessarily mean the Coliseum moves into the lead for possible options for the A’s to build. The site is viable, and there’s great BART and freeway access. The Coliseum could be considered the safest option, perhaps, because it’s a tried-and-true site that has hosted three professional sports teams for decades. The A’s know what they’re dealing with there.

But the A’s also want a thriving entertainment area around their new ballpark, wherever that might be. That sort of “neighborhood” would have to be built from scratch at the current Coliseum site, which is isolated from the multitude of restaurants and bars that exist around AT&T Park, for example.