Could Rickey's magic help A's avoid sweep?


Could Rickey's magic help A's avoid sweep?

OAKLAND -- The last time the Oakland Athletics lost more than one game in a row was during a three-game skid from August 12-15. They responded by winning 15 of their next 19 games. When a team is playing as well as the A's are, it is easy to overreact following back-to-back losses, especially when they come at the hands of division rivals. Now would be a good time to get back in the win column, salvaging the home series with the Angels and entering an off-day prior to a six-game road trip through Seattle and Anaheim with some positive vibes.
After Thursday, 17 of the final 27 games are on the road. "We aren't afraid to play on the road, we've had some success on the road," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I don't think that's something we are looking at as daunting. The schedule is the schedule, there's nothing we can do about it."To end the home stand on a winning note the A's will have to topple Dan Haren who has struggled against his former team. He is 0-3 with a 4.85 ERA in his last four starts against the A's, and 0-1 with a 6.08 ERA in Oakland since being traded to the Diamondbacks prior to the 2008 season. A's roving instructor Rickey Henderson is doing everything he can to help. This morning Yoenis Cespedes got a shipment of bats and the Hall of Famer grabbed one, rubbed down the barrel, and gave it a kiss. He explained to Cespedes that the ritual he performed on the bat would put some hits in it.The A's will have ace Brandon McCarthy on the hill. He is making his 18th start of the season and the A's are 10-7 when he starts. McCarthy is one win away from tying his career-high in single season wins with nine. "He's a guy that certainly doesn't put too much pressure on himself and kind of insulates," Melvin said. "We feel great about the days that he pitches." Entering play on Wednesday the A's, Orioles, and Yankees are tied for the top spot in the American League Wild Card standings. Tampa Bay is 1.5 games behind and the Angels are scratching and clawing their way back in the picture just 3.5 back. Notes:-- Chris Iannetta who burned the A's in the first two games of this series by going 4 for 7 with one homer, one double, three RBI, and two runs is not in the lineup on Wednesday. -- After taking an Albert Pujols liner off his left shin on Tuesday night, pitcher Sean Doolittle is questionable to appear in Wednesday's game. "He's was hobbling around a bit last night," Melvin said. "He was better than we expected today." Melvin added that Doolittle was fine during the game even though he gave up two runs on three hits. He noted that with the adrenaline factor he probably didn't feel it much at the time. -- Jordan Norberto who is on the DL for the second time with a left shoulder issue is starting to feel better but isn't nearing a return yet. "We've cleared a hurdle with how his shoulder is feeling," Melvin said. "You never know until he is playing catch and he is still not there yet." Melvin said he is holding out hope that Norberto will be able to return at some point in the final month of this season.

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A’s general manager David Forst says he has a stack of strongly worded letters from fans who grow frustrated with many of the team’s personnel moves.

That comes with the territory of running a major league front office. But Forst also said, during a wide-ranging interview on the latest A’s Insider Podcast, that honest critiquing must come from within office walls.

“You do want to do some self-evaluation and self-assessing,” Forst said. “What I don’t do, I don’t go back and second-guess decisions, whether it’s a trade or a signing. I don’t sort of hypothetically think, ‘Well, what if we hadn’t done this,’ because it’s not a good use of anybody’s time. What you do have to do is make sure the process that led to that decision is sound and a good one.”

Certainly one of the most scrutinized A’s moves of recent history was their signing of designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year $30 million contract in November 2014. That turned out to be a costly mistake, with Butler being released in September with one year left on his deal and the A’s still on the hook for roughly $10 million. Forst acknowledged how poorly that decision worked out but sticks by the initial motivation to sign Butler.

“Look, Billy Butler didn’t go the way we expected, and that’s one that gets brought up a lot,” Forst said. “But I think back to the time when we made that decision to sign him, and what we were projecting Billy to do. It was very clear what our team needed. Again, going into 2015, coming off the wild card that year, we still felt like this was a team that could compete for a division title. So all the things that went into the decision, ultimately I will stand by.”

Forst spoke frankly about several other topics during the podcast. Regarding fans’ frustration about seeing so many high-profile players traded:

“I’ve got a stack of letters on my desk, the substance of which I can’t repeat on the air,” he said with a smile. “… But there’s passion. And I know we have a fan base that cares, and that’s really a good place to be.”

Forst said the A’s definitely will pursue starting pitching this offseason, despite the fact that 1) he’s very optimistic about the crop of young pitching Oakland has developed, and 2) he believes Sonny Gray will bounce back from a poor 2016 season. The GM takes encouragement that Gray made a full physical recovery from a strained forearm.

“Am I going to get the Cy Young (caliber pitcher) from Day 1? I don’t know. But I think there’s a confidence that this was an aberration, this whole year, more than anything else.”

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.