A's won't change approach heading into must-win game

860363.jpg

A's won't change approach heading into must-win game

OAKLAND Youll forgive the As if they have to leanheavily on clichs to explain their mindset heading into a must-win Game 3 ofthe American League Division Series.A lot of people preach one game at a time but weveactually done it all year, injured third baseman Brandon Inge said. Weregoing to come out firing and play exactly the same way.Down 0-2 in a best-of-five series following two losses in Detroit, the Asclubhouse is as loose as its been all year with players optimistic that bytaking it one game at a time, this team can defy the odds.Were really not going to play the game tomorrow anydifferent than we did in the ones to get here, Jonny Gomes said.Gomes also explained that the As have the benefit of a short memory.After the first bus, maybe 30 minutes, Gomes said when asked how long it tookthe team to get over Sundays walk-off loss to the Tigers. Weve had aboutfour or five season-ending losses.Gomes specifically mentioned the As 10-9 14-inning loss to the Yankees in NewYork on Sept. 22, a day after another extra-inning loss to the Bronx Bombers.The As went on to win nine of their next 11 contests.
The problem now is Oaklandcant afford to win even X-1 of their next X games. They are faced with thetough task of winning three straight to overcome an 0-2 series hole, somethingthey have never done in franchise history.But the long odds dont seem to faze Gomes, his teammates, or his skipper BobMelvin.I know 25 plus guys and a manager that say panic doesnt exist, Gomes said.
RATTO: A's philosophy -- 'Why the hell not?'
The clubhouse consensus was that the As wouldnt changetheir approach despite their backs being against the wall. That includes apromise that Oaklands hitters wont be choking up to avoid the gaudy strikeouttotals that have carried over from the regular season to the playoffs. After setting an American League record with 1,387strikeouts in 162 games, the As went straight from the batters box to thevisitors dugout in Detroit a whopping 23 times in the two losses. Granted,they did take on 2011 AL pitching Triple Crown winner Justin Verlander and DougFister, who made history when he struck out nine consecutive batters during theregular season.
For Gomes, the strikeouts are an understandable product of ayoung power-hitting club.
Weve got some young hitters; some of these guys were bornin the late 80s, Gomes said. If you look at offensive stats from June on,the strikeouts are obviously there. But you cant let the negative outweigh thepositive. And the positive is weve outscored our opponents outside of theselast two games.Josh Reddick, born in 1987, struck out 151 times but hit 32home runs during the regular season. He racked up six strikeouts in his firstsix postseason at-bats, but snapped that slump with a go-ahead home run Sundayin Detroit.Ive got to bear down and put more balls in play, Reddicksaid, adding that his late home run in Game 2 will hopefully get him back ontrack. It was huge. I hope with that ball itll give me a little boost inconfidence.Melvin said he is not overly concerned with the strikeoutsand doesnt plan on telling his hitters to change their approach at the plate.Well continue to swing the bats like we have, Melvin said. Were one swingaway from driving in a couple runs here in this ballpark. Its worked well forus. Its not like the last day youre going to say today lets work on cuttingout swing down and choke up two inches on two strikes. Were going to play whatgot us here.What got the As to the ALDS is a lot of big swings, some of which lead to longballs and many of which end up for strikeouts. Even in the division-winningsweep of the Texas Rangers, the As struck out 22 times in three victories. Weve proven we can come here and sweep good teams, closerGrant Balfour said, referring to the season-ending series with the Rangers.Were in a similar situation again so why not do it again Most things thatare rewarding dont come easy.

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.