Weaver frustrates A's batters in shutout win

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Weaver frustrates A's batters in shutout win

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OAKLAND -- The A's Major League-leading 13 walk-off wins get all the attention, but their MLB-worst 13 shutouts are cause for concern. The latest shutout came at the hands of Angels ace Jered Weaver who blanked the A's bats for nine innings of four-hit ball. By defeating the A's 4-0, Weaver earned his MLB-leading 15th win -- his ninth win in as many starts. He simply tormented the A's lineup."To be honest extremely frustrating," Derek Norris said of facing Weaver. "I could count five or six times where I fouled a ball right down the middle just straight back. There's something about his deception that throws you off."Norris was the only batter not named Brandon to collect a hit for Oakland. Brandon Inge had two of the A's four hits and Brandon Moss collected the other one. Inge connected for a double, the only extra-base hit Weaver allowed all night. "He kept us off balance all night," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Both sides of the plate. In between fastball and change-up, enough sliders, a few curveballs, he was really good tonight." The Angels Jered out-dueled the A's Jarrod. Parker allowed four runs over six and two-thirds innings. The rookie pitcher allowed two runs in the second inning and two more in the seventh. The big blow for the Angels came in the form of a two-out, two-run Torii Hunter single on a slider that was left up in the zone. "That's a pitch he's been swinging through all day and he made an adjustment and I didn't put it where I needed to," Parker said. "If it's down and away he swings though it again. It's just that the execution wasn't right. It's the right pitch, not the right spot."Parker pitched pretty well all things considered. He was locked in from the third to the sixth inning, a good sign considering he is 2-3 with a 5.95 ERA in his last six starts. His previous 13 starts he was 5-3 with a 2.46 ERA. The A's had to contend with the Angels' All-World rookie phenom Mike Trout. The rookie of the year frontrunner reached base in four of his five plate appearances and swiped a career-high tying three bases. He leads the American League with 36 stolen bags. "He fast," Norris said eliciting a chuckle. "He's a terrific player. He's really got all five tools. It's kinda cool to be out there seeing him play. Unfortunately he's on the other side of the team which sucks." "He wreaks havoc out there," Parker said. "He's a good player, he's scary and he's going to continue to get better."One of the lone bright spots for the A's was when Josh Reddick gunned down the speedy Trout as he attempted to stretch a single into a double. Reddick's throw beat Trout to the bag and shortstop Eric Sogard's glove skimmed across the tips of Trout's fingers as he slid headfirst into second. It was Reddick's 13th outfield assist which leads Major League Baseball. The last A's outfielder to reach 13 assists was Matt Stairs in 1999. While Weaver is 10-0 in his last 12 starts, Tuesday's starting pitcher C.J. Wilson is winless in his last seven outings. Wilson blanked the A's for eight shutout innings on May 22 at the Coliseum in his last trip here. Wilson is notorious in Oakland for his harsh comments about the A's mound and fans. The A's might be catching him at the right time.

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

ANAHEIM — As Yonder Alonso was preparing for the 2017 season last winter, he was tackling another challenge too.

Over the course of three months, the A’s first baseman gathered his thoughts and pieced together a fascinating first-person account for The Players’ Tribune about his childhood experience defecting from Cuba with his parents and younger sister.

Alonso framed the article as him penning a letter to his 8-year-old self, describing the grueling struggle he and his family would go through while reassuring his younger self that it would all be worth it when he finally made it as a major leaguer. Alonso describes in vivid detail the hardships he went through, caring for his sister, Yainee, at night as they dined on meals of microwaved hot dogs and microwaved eggs, while his parents were away from home working multiple jobs to support their family.

Alonso goes on to describe how he would return from college baseball road trips, while he was attending the University of Miami, and immediately head to a night job to help his father clean warehouses and scrub bathrooms.

The story struck a chord within the A’s clubhouse but also among so many people from the Miami area, where Alonso’s family settled after they defected. Alonso said he’s received text messages from many of them.

“I think everybody in this locker room, or any locker room, they definitely have a story to tell,” Alonso said. “And I think it’s awesome when you see a guy just kind of open up a little bit. I’m (usually) not one to open up.”

Athletes are used to reporters peppering them with questions and trying to draw stories out of them. Seldom do athletes take to penning their own story.

Representatives from The Players’ Tribune, an online publication started by Derek Jeter in 2014, reached out to Alonso in early December about writing something. Alonso had a trip planned to Cuba for later that month, before any request for an article came, and his return visit to his native country helped persuade him to go through with it.

“I saw a lot of people,” he said. “For me it was very touching. For my wife as well.”

Alonso met with an editor from The Players’ Tribune during spring training, and they began hashing out ideas. Alonso said he wrote the story himself with assistance from the editor.

“We had ideas, different ways of going about it,” he said. “I think from day one I knew the way I wanted to write it and how I wanted it to come out, which is a letter to my younger self.”

Even after finishing the project three weeks ago, Alonso said he wasn’t sure he wanted to share it publicly. He showed the article to some friends and teammates, including A’s reliever Sean Doolittle and outfielder Matt Joyce. After reading the piece, Joyce strongly persuaded Alonso to carry through with it.

“I told him it was awesome,” Joyce said. “From my perspective, you don’t really get a good sense of what those guys go through, coming over to the States. You just see them later. So to kind of read it in his own words, it was a really cool perspective and a good story to see what a kid across the water, from a different country, goes through to get to this point. I think it’s a very powerful story and message.”

Alonso said his motivation was simple.

“Just letting my family know, and people in this world know, that if you want to strive for something, it can be tough at times. But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

ANAHEIM — Sean Manaea is hopeful his left shoulder injury isn’t serious, but the A’s likely won’t have a full read on the starter’s condition for a couple days.

As of Wednesday night, no MRI was scheduled after Manaea left after just two innings of an eventual 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels with tightness in his shoulder.

“I felt it a little bit in the bullpen,” Manaea said. “I thought it was just one of those days where it took me longer to warm up, and that just wasn’t the case. It’s just really unfortunate.”

Just as the A’s are about to welcome Kendall Graveman back to the active roster Thursday, when he starts the series finale at Angel Stadium, and just as it appears Sonny Gray might be ready to come off the disabled list following one more rehab start, the A’s are hoping they don’t see Manaea subtracted from their rotation for any period of time.

Manager Bob Melvin said it was the top of Manaea’s shoulder that was bothering him.

“The velo was down, and it didn’t make sense to have him keep pitching,” Melvin said. “But we won’t know anything probably for a day or two, how he feels.”

Once he started throwing in the game, Manaea said he felt “kind of a little sharp pain. I mean, it’s nothing serious. I’ve dealt with it before and it only took me a few days to get back on the mound. To me, I’m not really worried about it.”

The pitcher added that he experienced a similar situation with his shoulder while a minor leaguer in Kansas City’s organization, toward the end of spring training, and he missed minimal time.

Things didn’t get better for the A’s (10-11) after Manaea exited, as they struck out 13 times and played sloppy defensively in dropping their third in a row. Catcher Stephen Vogt couldn’t handle Ryan Dull’s glove flip to the plate on a seventh-inning squeeze play, ending a streak of six errorless games for Oakland, but Melvin can live with occasional physical misplays. More problematic were occasions when right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker both seemed caught by surprise to see Angels runners take off for an extra base. Whether it was a lack of communication from infielders or the outfielders themselves needing to be more aware, the A’s can’t afford those kinds of mistakes.

“As a group, we can’t let that happen,” Melvin said. “We talk about it in advance meetings the way these guys run the bases. It’s not something we can do and expect to beat this team.”

Added Vogt: “We were on our heels quite a bit. This was obviously not the prettiest baseball game we’ve played.”