Athletics

Tigers tip their caps to Giants' pitching

924803.jpg

Tigers tip their caps to Giants' pitching

SAN FRANCISCO -- Many thought the Tigers had the better starting pitching. It was unanimous that they had the better bats. Apparently, they had most of the pundits fooled. The Tigers mauled their way through the best of the American League, but apparently pawed too hard on their scratching posts during five days of scrimmages as they awaited their National League opponent. In San Francisco the savage bite of their bats was muzzled. They were swinging, swiping, trying, but they were simply declawed by the Giants starting pitchers.Detroit managed just two hits and no runs against Madison Bumgarner in Game Two. They only scored a single run against Barry Zito in Game One. The Tigers are now in a 2-0 hole that only one team in the last 15 chances has been able to scratch and claw it's way out of.RELATED: Bagg's Instant Replay -- Giants ride Bumgarner to 2-0 win
"They've been excellent," Prince Fielder said of the Giants pitchers. "They hit their spots, they play good defense, they don't make mistakes. It's part of the game. If they didn't do that, they wouldn't be here." The Giants recorded the 113th shutout in World Series history and the first since Game Four of last year. Bumgarner led the way with a career postseason-high eight strikeouts. The Tigers had two big chances to get on the board but the Giants defense robbed them. The first scoring opportunity was stopped when Fielder was thrown out at home in the second inning after a Delmon Young double. The second was when Pablo Sandoval made a leaping catch to snare a liner that could have been an RBI double for Miguel Cabrera.
"That's why you don't bat 1,000 in the season," Young said. "Leather is going to catch the ball the majority of the time." Giants pitchers have eaten the Tigers' bats alive, but inside the Detroit clubhouse they feel they only have themselves to blame. "The player executes pitches," Young said. "Not the coaches, not the front office, not the scouts, not the video on TV. Bumgarner executed it." The Tigers will get a day off to try and bury the visions of Zito's knee-buckling curve, and Bumgarner's surreal slider. They simply have to tip their caps, and move on.RATTO: Giants follow big win with small win for 2-0 lead "Well, what are you going to do about it?" Leyland said. "I don't have any perspective. We got two hits tonight. I'm certainly not going to sit here and rip my offense, because last night I thought we had some pretty good swings." Next, they get a look at Ryan Vogelsong, who is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA this postseason. It's certainly not going to get any easier. "It's going to take some work for us to come back but we have been fighting all year," Fister said. "We've had our backs against the wall before so we don't lack any confidence." If the Tigers have any reason to remain confident, it's because Anibal Sanchez, who takes the mound in Game Three in Detroit, is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in his career against San Francisco. Maybe a return home will bring that familiar roar back to the Tigers. Right now, it sounds more like a kittens meow.

A's rookie Olson stays humble during record-breaking power surge

olson-power-trot.jpg
USATSI

A's rookie Olson stays humble during record-breaking power surge

OAKLAND — Matt Olson is aware of the company he’s keeping in the A’s record books.

His reaction is a mix of reverence and a shrug-of-the-shoulders type humbleness.

That’s the personality of the A’s rookie first baseman. Even as the conversation about him and his awe-inspiring home run pace grows louder, he remains the same steady, grounded presence.

“I’m happy for him,” A’s hitting coach Darren Bush said. “The guy’s worked his butt off. He’s the same today as was when he first got called up.”

Olson cleared the fences once again Friday night, his two-run homer off Nick Martinez in the second inning helping the A’s to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers. At this point, it’s much more newsworthy when Olson doesn’t homer than when he does.

He’s crammed 24 homers into just 57 games this season. Taking into account his first call-up last September, and Olson’s 24 homers over the first 68 games of his career are the second-most in the history of major league baseball over that span to open a career. The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger also hit 24 and only the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, with 25, hit more over his first 68.

Olson’s 13 homers in September are the most by any rookie in major league history for the month, and there’s still eight games left in it. But Olson’s hot streak dates back to Aug. 27. He’s hit a major league-best 16 homers in 23 games since then.

Among rookies in A’s history, only Mark McGwire (49) in 1987 and Jose Canseco (33) in 1986 have hit more than Olson’s 24. But neither Bash Brother, nor any other player in Oakland history, ever hit 15 homers in a 21-game span as Olson recently did.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Olson said before Friday’s game. “I grew up with a Mark McGwire poster on my wall. It’s a little surreal.”

Who saw this coming?

Olson went 2-for-21 without a single RBI in his first taste of the bigs last September. Then he shuttled five times between Triple-A and the majors this season before getting called up once again Aug. 8 and being told he’d get a shot as the A’s regular first baseman with Yonder Alonso having been traded. The constant shuttling took its toll, though Olson never let on about that publicly to reporters.

“You could see (the frustration),” said Ryan Christenson, his manager at Triple-A. “When he walks in and you tell him ‘You’re getting sent up,’ and he’s like, ‘Well, how many days is it for this time?’ He wouldn’t voice it necessarily, but you could sense it.”

Olson, with help from Bush and others, made an adjustment coming into this season. He began holding his hands out farther away from his body to begin his swing. With his 6-foot-5 frame, Olson had found himself getting jammed inside. Then in trying to adjust to that, he couldn’t square up pitches on the outer half.

“Now, his hands are firing from where he wants them to,” Bush said. “He doesn’t have to fight. You want your hands to have a clean path. Now he can stay in there, stay behind the ball, let his hands work for him.”

Olson, a 23-year-old from Lilburn, Ga., takes this sudden burst of success — and attention — in stride.

“I’ve been hit with so many stats here in the past week, I can’t even keep track of who’s done what, and honestly what I’ve done,” he said. “I kind of try to ignore all that.”

That’s OK. Others are taking plenty of notice.

 

Kaval calls A's ballpark plan 'as big a project' as Oakland has seen

kaval-qa.jpg
AP

Kaval calls A's ballpark plan 'as big a project' as Oakland has seen

OAKLAND — A’s president Dave Kaval took part in a fan Q&A session Friday at the Coliseum as part of the team’s Fan Appreciation Weekend.

Here’s some bits and pieces from the session, which was moderated by A’s radio broadcaster Ken Korach:

—Would the A’s re-consider the Coliseum site for a new ballpark if the Peralta location ultimately doesn’t work out?

Kaval: “We’re 100 percent focused on Peralta. We think it can be a dynamic location, and we’re excited about engaging the community. .. But we’re not abandoning East Oakland.”

To that end, Kaval emphasized once again the A’s ambition for the Coliseum site — if all of the current professional teams do in fact bolt the location — to eventually house a youth sports academy with baseball fields and other facilities.

“Wouldn’t it be something to have more home-grown players playing at our (new) ballpark?”

—What other ballparks might be inspirations for design of the venue?

“I think the two guiding principles we have, are, 1) that it’s an intimate ballpark. Not a bad seat in the house. No nosebleeds. Think Fenway or Wrigley (plans are for a roughly 35,000 seat stadium). And 2) build something uniquely Oakland. Something that feels like Oakland, whether it’s an Oaklandish store (built in to the stadium), or the foodie culture …”

—Addressing how city and county funds might be utilized, Kaval emphasized that the ballpark itself will be privately financed, as has been stated before. He mentioned public funds being used for infrastructure (also a long-established idea), including possible enhancements to the Lake Merritt BART station, which is a short walk from the proposed stadium location.

“We’ll work together with the county, with the city, with (the) Peralta (Community College District). This is as big a project as the city has ever seen, a massive coordinating effort.”

—As Kaval told NBC Sports California in this story last week, the A’s plan to retain a good chunk of their current young core of talent to be the cornerstone players once the new stadium opens. Their target move-in date is Opening Day, 2023. That likely means sinking money into long-term extensions for players who will be arriving at, or nearing, their free agency years. Kaval mentioned the Cleveland Indians of the early 90’s as an example of a team opening a new stadium with a home-grown group of stars. Billy Beane, the head of the A’s baseball operations, has made the same comparison in the past.

— The A’s plan to build substantial parking, but the idea is for the new ballpark to be “(public) transit-first, like AT&T Park and Fenway,” Kaval said. … “It’s gonna take cars off the road.”

Having said that, Kaval added that the A’s will aim to preserve the tailgating culture with the parking that they do provide.