Tigers tip their caps to Giants' pitching

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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 spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

MESA, Ariz. — An unexpected opportunity came Daniel Gossett’s way Sunday, and the young right-hander took it in stride.

When the A’s adjusted their starting rotation, Kendall Graveman got bumped to Monday and Gossett learned he’d be taking the ball to start Sunday’s Cactus League home opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m here for what they need me for,” Gossett said. “So anything they need, gimme the ball.”

He spun two scoreless innings in a game Oakland lost 5-3 at Hohokam Stadium. A nice first impression for Gossett, indeed, but the truth is A’s officials were already quite familiar with him.

A second-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett impressed at three levels of the farm system in 2016, beginning the year with Single-A Stockton and finishing it with Triple-A Nashville.

This is his first big league camp, and manager Bob Melvin even mentioned Gossett as being part of the fifth starter conversation.

“He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about that fifth spot, who knows?” Melvin said before the game.

The only blemishes on Gossett’s day were the pair of walks he issued. After walking Jefrey Marte to lead off the second, he got a lift from his catcher, as Josh Phegley fired a strike to second to nail Marte trying to steal.

“A pitcher’s best friend, I guess,” Gossett said. He went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA across 27 starts at all three levels of the minors last year, and his 151 strikeouts led the A’s farm system. Gossett’s fastball ranges anywhere from 90-95 on the gun. He throws a changeup that gets the most swings and misses, plus a slider and curve.

Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the general manager, liked the adjustments he saw with Gossett over the course of last season.

“He’s a super kid, a grinder,” Fuson said over the winter. “He’s a guy that hadn’t struck many guys out and had been very hittable in the strike zone. (In 2016), he started executing to different parts of the zone that limits the hard contact.”

CAMP BATTLE: Alejandro De Aza sparked the A’s first rally in the third Sunday with a triple, then scored on Mark Canha’s double. With Jake Smolinski sidelined currently by a shoulder issue, it’s a good time for De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, to make his mark. The door could be open for him to make a push to make the roster as a fifth outfielder.

“He’s an interesting guy,” Melvin said of the nine-year veteran. “He knows how to play the game, he can play all three outfield spots. We’ve seen him before when he’s given us trouble, too, with the White Sox.”

Another contender for a reserve outfield spot is Jaycob Brugman, who has yet to crack the majors but is already on the 40-man roster. He singled home a run in the seventh. Like De Aza and Smolinski, Brugman can play center field, and it stands to reason the A’s will want to carry someone who can back up Rajai Davis at that position.

NOTEWORTHY: Phegley admitted to some butterflies before getting behind the plate for his first game since July, when a right knee injury wiped out the rest of his season.

But he looked good springing up to nail Marte on the second-inning steal attempt. The A’s are counting on Phegley returning to his role as the right-handed hitting platoon partner with Stephen Vogt behind the plate.

STOCK RISING: Melvin was impressed, and entertained, by the first look he got at reliever Simon Castro on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Castro retired Kris Bryant to strand a runner at third, the only hitter he faced. But it was what happened before the at-bat that caught Melvin’s attention.

“When he came to the mound he was pretty vocal,” Melvin noted. “He was fired up, telling the guys ‘Let’s go!’ I haven’t heard that too many times out of pitchers, let alone in spring training. So he impressed me with his eagerness to pitch.”

FAMILIAR FACES: Campy Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom each threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s exhibition home opener, which drew a smallish crowd of 4,072.

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

A's reliever John Axford is not your casual movie fan. 

Axford majored in Film at Notre Dame and has a proven track record when it comes to the biggest night for movies. 

The last two years, Axford correctly predicted 17 of 24 winners for the Academy Awards. In 2014, Axford went a perfect 18-of-18 with his predictions. 

On Saturday, Axford offered 24 predictions for the 2017 Oscars. 

Axford is a clear believer in La La Land, choosing the film for eights Oscars, after winning a record-breaking seven Golden Globes. 

Will he go a perfect 24-for-24 this year?