Verlander wowed by Giants' bats in Game 1

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Verlander wowed by Giants' bats in Game 1

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The reigning American League Cy Young and MVP doesn't often step off the mound looking completely confused. Yet, Justin Verlander seemed sort of shell-shocked after giving up five runs in four innings in his first postseason loss in 2012. It's safe to say no one expected the the Tigers' ace to be bewildered by the Giants' bats, but that's just exactly what happened as San Francisco stunned Detroit in an 8-3 victory in Game One of the World Series. Verlander had only allowed two runs while winning all three of his starts in this postseason. He quickly equaled that total on Wednesday night. Then doubled it. He struggled with his fastball command and seemed to be out of rhythm after being forced to take eight days off. Verlander last took the mound on Oct. 16, and defeated the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, but after Detroit swept New York they had to wait for the Giants and Cardinals to battle through a seven game National League Championship Series. The Giants squad looked in sync and the Tigers looked, well, rusty.RATTO: 'Rust' factor a myth
"Well, I think first of all you give the Giants hitters credit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Then second of all, I think probably a little bit layoff, it's been quite a while since he's pitched." Pablo Sandoval struck first with a solo home run in the first inning. Then after back-to-back eight-pitch at-bats resulted in a tough-hop double and an RBI single, Verlander got a visit from Tigers' pitching coach Jeff Jones. As Jones walked to the mound Verlander could be seen mouthing the words, "Why are you here?" with a puzzled look on his face. "I just went out and talked to him about not trying to be too quick with a guy on first," Jones said. "I thought the first couple of pitches he threw the ball a little bit quick." The pep talk didn't work. Moments later Sandoval connected for a two-run homer on a 95-mph fastball and Jeff Jones, Sandoval, and Verlander were all trending nationwide on Twitter.Verlander mouthed the word, "Wow," as he watched the ball fly out of the park to give the Giants a 4-0 lead."I've seen enough balls off the bat now to know if somebody gets one and I definitely didn't think that was a homer off the bat," Verlander said. "I turned around and watched Delmon Young stand at the wall and that's kind of where the 'Wow' came from." Verlander had been unstoppable this postseason. He shouldn't however be completely floored by his struggles in the World Series. After Wednesday's loss he is now 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in his first three starts in the Fall Classic. His four-inning performance is his shortest since Oct. 8, 2011, when he was held to four innings against Texas in the ALCS after two rain delays.
Verlander gave up six hits, walked one batter, and struck out four. He threw 98 pitches. "Normally when he doesn't have the typical game that he normally throws, it's fastball command more times than not," catcher Alex Avila said. "When he's able to locate his fastball, he's deadly."He had the velocity but clearly not the location. You knew things were going really bad for Verlander when Barry Zito got a hit off him in the fourth inning. Zito is just the fourth pitcher ever to record a hit against Verlander, and the first since Adam Eaton did it June 17, 2007. After Zito's single he retired Angel Pagan to end the fourth and never came back. "Is it disappointing? Yeah. Would you have liked to win Game 1? Absolutely," Verlander said while answering his own questions. "It's not the end of the world by any means." It may not be the end, but it doesn't look good statistically. The last eight home teams to win Game 1 have won the World Series.

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

MESA, Ariz. — Something flipped a switch inside Sean Manaea in the third inning Saturday, and the A’s left-hander pitched with the aggressiveness he’s shown most of spring training.

It was a different story before that, as Manaea issued five walks, two of them forcing in runs, against the Cincinnati Reds. His final Cactus League outing ended after just three innings, his pitch count at more than 70, and he was charged with five earned runs.

“I was trying to nibble at the corners too much,” Manaea said. “The third inning I finally just said, ‘Throw it right down the middle and let them hit it.’”

The plan was to get Manaea close to 90 pitches, so he went to the bullpen and threw 10 more after he was pulled from the game. He entered the day with a 2.81 ERA in his first five outings, walking just one in each of those games.

He downplayed his struggles Saturday in Oakland’s 11-6 split-squad defeat at Hohokam Stadium, and manager Bob Melvin wasn’t expressing major concern either.

“He was just out of sync,” Melvin said. “Typically you don’t see him walk guys like that, let alone multiple guys in a row. It was just a tough day for him. We wanted to try to get him close to 90 pitches. But when you’re throwing that many pitches in three innings, I just couldn’t risk sending him back out there.”

Manaea was stressing the positives of his camp afterward. As he preps for one final tune-up start at AT&T Park against the Giants in the Bay Bridge Series, he particularly likes the way his slider has rounded into form.

“Just being able to have that confidence to throw it for a strike and get weak ground balls and swings and misses, it’s huge,” he said.

CAMP BATTLE: The A’s lost their other split-squad matchup by an identical 11-6 score to the Dodgers in Glendale. Jesse Hahn took the hill and struggled for the second consecutive outing, allowing two homers — including a grand slam by Andrew Toles — and surrendering seven runs (five earned) over 3 1/3 innings. Competing for one of two open rotation spots, Hahn hasn’t shown his best in the Cactus League stretch run. He gave up seven runs against Colorado in his previous start.

ODDS AND ENDS: Third baseman Trevor Plouffe had two more hits against the Reds to raise his average to .425 but left the game after tweaking an abductor muscle in his lower body. “He felt like he’s OK. We just didn’t wanna risk that,” Melvin said. … Rajai Davis connected for his first spring home run and scored three runs. … Sean Doolittle gave up two runs in his inning of work but struck out three. He sported his new eyeglasses for the first time in a major league game. … Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer off former Athletic Rich Hill in the game at Glendale.