Resilient A's stand tall


Resilient A's stand tall

Programming note: A's-Angels coverage kicks off at 6:30 p.m. tonight with A's Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California!

I checked the tape.It was from Postgame Live on Friday, June 1st. Just moments prior, the A's had lost their season-high ninth in a row, and were now nine games under .500. They'd been shutout in two straight games, which saw Oakland tally a grand total of 6 hits. I turned to Greg Cadaret on-air and wondered if we had just witnessed the unraveling of a baseball season, right before our eyes.Fast forward 101 days, and the A's are a season-high 19 games over .500, with the second-best record in the American League. Their undisputed formula for winning has been no secret:RELATED: Division standings Wild Card standings
- Outstanding starting pitching (3.71 ERA This season, and they've walked 3 or less batters in each of the last 38 games)

- The bats have generated timely longballs (A's have home runs in 14 of the last 15 games)

- The defense has been trustworthy (.983 Fielding percentage which is tied for 12th best in MLB)But beyond all of the measurable stats and figures, there are even more incredible story-lines and angles that can't be measured by numbers. They are what makes this turnaround so special.They Are Resilient
Most recently, the A's were swept over Labor Day weekend by the Angels. In 27 innings they lost a 9 game winning streak, a lot of momentum... and their ace Brandon McCarthy for the rest of the season. What was their reward? A date with Felix Hernandez on Friday night, where Oakland walked away with a 6-1 victory, and eventually a 3 game sweep of the Mariners. This story has been repeated all Summer long. The A's dropped a "should-win" series to Kansas City in mid-August, and responded by taking their next 5. Two separate occasions this season, Oakland has hosted the team with MLB's best record (Dodgers in June, Yankees in July)... and swept them both. You get the picture.Waiting in the Wings
The A's starting rotation features precisely one pitcher from its Opening Day staff. Tommy Milone, the eldest statesman at 25, is now surrounded by Brett Anderson, A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, and Dan Straily. Oakland's hurlers are a prime example of how young players have stepped in, made the most of opportunities, and earned permanent roles. But they are not the only ones.Chris Carter. Brandon Moss. Josh Donaldson. Derek Norris. All position players who were not necessarily even in the A's plans coming out of Spring Training, but have each since won their job by performing when the team needed them most. No club carries the identical roster between games 1 and 162, but Oakland has been fortunate to equal and even improve with the new faces they've brought in.Pulling All The Right Strings
Bob Melvin, at the very least, should be a finalist for AL Manager of the Year. In making lineups, he has used players and matchups to their fullest potentials... for examples, see the SmithGomes and CarterMoss duos. He's been order-flexible in moving guys like Josh Reddick around, specifically to help him out of recent struggles. And Melvin committed to the winning formula in making Coco Crisp the unquestioned leadoff hitter, which ultimately sparked the A's in mid-June. All of this in addition to keeping his players loose, excited, and content in a turnaround-type season.The A's have also been deliberate as a franchise this year: terminating their experiment with Manny Ramirez, trading fan-favorite Kurt Suzuki to Washington and sending everyday-starter Jemile Weeks to Triple-A. Patient approaches of the past have been replaced with the need to perform now... a collaboration of moves which just might pay off for Oakland in October.

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A’s general manager David Forst says he has a stack of strongly worded letters from fans who grow frustrated with many of the team’s personnel moves.

That comes with the territory of running a major league front office. But Forst also said, during a wide-ranging interview on the latest A’s Insider Podcast, that honest critiquing must come from within office walls.

“You do want to do some self-evaluation and self-assessing,” Forst said. “What I don’t do, I don’t go back and second-guess decisions, whether it’s a trade or a signing. I don’t sort of hypothetically think, ‘Well, what if we hadn’t done this,’ because it’s not a good use of anybody’s time. What you do have to do is make sure the process that led to that decision is sound and a good one.”

Certainly one of the most scrutinized A’s moves of recent history was their signing of designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year $30 million contract in November 2014. That turned out to be a costly mistake, with Butler being released in September with one year left on his deal and the A’s still on the hook for roughly $10 million. Forst acknowledged how poorly that decision worked out but sticks by the initial motivation to sign Butler.

“Look, Billy Butler didn’t go the way we expected, and that’s one that gets brought up a lot,” Forst said. “But I think back to the time when we made that decision to sign him, and what we were projecting Billy to do. It was very clear what our team needed. Again, going into 2015, coming off the wild card that year, we still felt like this was a team that could compete for a division title. So all the things that went into the decision, ultimately I will stand by.”

Forst spoke frankly about several other topics during the podcast. Regarding fans’ frustration about seeing so many high-profile players traded:

“I’ve got a stack of letters on my desk, the substance of which I can’t repeat on the air,” he said with a smile. “… But there’s passion. And I know we have a fan base that cares, and that’s really a good place to be.”

Forst said the A’s definitely will pursue starting pitching this offseason, despite the fact that 1) he’s very optimistic about the crop of young pitching Oakland has developed, and 2) he believes Sonny Gray will bounce back from a poor 2016 season. The GM takes encouragement that Gray made a full physical recovery from a strained forearm.

“Am I going to get the Cy Young (caliber pitcher) from Day 1? I don’t know. But I think there’s a confidence that this was an aberration, this whole year, more than anything else.”

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.