Streaking A's complete four-game sweep over Indians


Streaking A's complete four-game sweep over Indians


CLEVELAND -- Jarrod Parker pitched into the sixth inning and Oakland hit four home runs, leading the Athletics to their sixth straight win, a 12-7 victory over the free-falling Cleveland Indians on Thursday and a sweep of the four-game series.Oakland, which has won eight of nine, maintained its one-game lead over Baltimore for the top spot in the AL wild card race. George Kottaras' three-run double broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth while Coco Crisp, Cliff Pennington, Josh Reddick and Josh Donaldson homered.While the Athletics are flying high, the Indians continue to fade. Cleveland has lost five straight, 14 of 15 and is 5-27 since July 27.Questions about manager Manny Acta's job security increase with every loss. Owner Paul Dolan said before the current homestand began last week that he had no immediate plans to fire the second-year manager, but the Indians have gone 1-6 since and show no signs their slide is going to end any time soon.Parker (9-7) gave up a leadoff home run to Jason Kipnis to start the game, but his teammates teed off on Cleveland starter Justin Masterson. The right-hander (10-12) has stopped losing streaks of 11 and nine games this month, but on Thursday he allowed eight runs, including three homers, in four innings. Masterson was pulled after the first three batters in the fifth reached base.Kottaras and Reddick drove in three runs apiece. Reddick had three hits while Crisp, Pennington and Yoenis Cespedes had two apiece.Crisp's two-out homer in the third tied the game. Cespedes' single and walks to Seth Smith and Josh Donaldson loaded the bases in the fourth. Kottaras, batting .148, scored all three runners with a drive up the gap to right-center. Pennington followed with a two-run homer.Stephen Drew started the fifth with a single and scored on Reddick's homer to right. Masterson was pulled after Cespedes' single.Donaldson hit a solo home run in the ninth.Parker has won his last two decisions after losing three straight starts. He pitched eight shutout innings against the Indians on Aug. 19 in Oakland.Masterson continued to struggle against the Athletics. The right-hander is 1-5 with a 10.36 ERA in six career starts versus Oakland.Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana managed to play the entire game, but even that couldn't help the Indians. Both had short nights Wednesday as Cabrera was ejected for arguing in the first while manager Acta benched Santana for not running out a ground ball.Cleveland pitching coach Ruben Niebla was ejected in the seventh inning by plate umpire Paul Emmel. Niebla went to the mound after Tony Sipp walked the bases loaded. Emmel broke up the conversation and kicked Nielba out after the two exchanged words. The argument continued at home plate and Acta stood between Niebla and Emmel.The Indians' losing ways have shown up in the attendance. The sparse crowd of 14,500 on Thursday was quiet for most of the game and players could be clearly heard as they called for popups. One frustrated fan taped empty bags to several seats near him. The biggest noise of the day came from the Blue Angels jets flying over Progressive Field as they prepared for this weekend's air show at the lakefront airport.NOTES: According to STATS LLC, the Houston Astros were 5-27 from July 20-Aug. 23 this season. Manager Brad Mills was fired on Aug. 18. ... Oakland is 61-35 with Cespedes in the lineup. ... The Athletics return home to begin a six-game homestand against Boston and Los Angeles. RHP Brandon McCarthy (7-5) faces RHP Aaron Cook (3-7) in the opener of a three-game set on Friday. ... RHP Chris Perez pitched the ninth for the Indians. Cleveland's closer hadn't pitched since Aug. 25 when he recorded a save against the Yankees in Cleveland's last win. ... The Indians are 5-9 at Progressive Field since Aug. 6. ... Cleveland starts a three-game home series with Texas on Friday. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13) meets RHP Ryan Dempster (9-6).

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.