A's exit stage left to standing ovation


A's exit stage left to standing ovation


OAKLAND -- The sellout crowd stood on their feet and roared in applause. This was the scene many A's players expected to see when Game 5 of the American League Division Series was decided in Oakland. They didn't expect to see it happen after they lost the game 6-0, though.

INSTANT REPLAY: A's magical season ends
After the final out was recorded by the Tigers, something special happened. The fans started cheering. As the Tigers celebrated on the field, more and more people rose to their feet and joined in the applause. The A's players took notice and came out of the dugout and tipped their hats to the crowd. Some of the Tigers took a moment to stop what they were doing and salute the A's players as well. One last "Lets go Oakland" chant broke out.
RATTO: Oakland rekindles love affair with baseball
After everything they had been through they deserved it. This 2012 Oakland Athletics team overcame a 13-game deficit to win the American League West. No team in the history of baseball had bounced back from a five-game deficit with nine games to play to win the division, but the A's did. They fought through the losses of key veterans like Brandon McCarthy, Brandon Inge, Bartolo Colon, and ace pitcher Brett Anderson. They survived the surprising trade of veteran leader Kurt Suzuki. They banded together and supported pitcher Pat Neshek and his wife Stephanee after the tragic and sudden death of their newborn baby son. Any one of those circumstances could have crumbled a lot of teams; it didn't slow down the A's. Oakland ended up popping champagne bottles and celebrating like mad men twice in a span of three days. It seemed every time the team was dealt a crippling blow they would rise up and throw a haymaker back. When third baseman Scott Sizemore was injured early in camp, eventually Brandon Inge was acquired and a week after he joined the team he hit four home runs and 16 RBI in a span of five days. When he went down, Josh Donaldson exploded back onto the scene and never looked back. When Brandon McCarthy hit the DL, A.J. Griffin was ready to take the reigns. He went an Oakland record 6-0 to start his career. When Bartolo Colon was suspended, Travis Blackley and Dan Straily stepped in. When Kurt Suzuki was traded, Derek Norris and George Kottaras took over. At one point the team had 18 rookies on the roster. They carried 12 into the postseason. The A's had a Major League-leading 15 walk-offs and 11 different players were responsible. It was in every sense of the word a total team effort. The A's were outmatched, outspent, and undermanned entering the season. Their 55,372,500 payroll was dwarfed by most teams in baseball and the second lowest in the league. They ended up leading the league with 589,069 spent per regular season win. They even tied an Oakland record by winning 12 consecutive road games. The A's took a risk on a toolsy player from Cuba named Yoenis Cespedes; he ended up looking like a superstar in the making. They traded an All-Star closer for a fourth outfielder named Josh Reddick, and he ended up hitting 32 home runs. They traded their best two starting pitchers in the offseason for two rookies named Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone, who ended up tied for an Oakland rookie record with 13 wins each. So how did this roster full of guys that were written off forge a run that caught the attention of the baseball world? They didn't care what was said by the so-called experts outside of the clubhouse and they simply had fun. They got along with each other. They played for the love of the game and not the money. As manager Bob Melvin often said, the A's take it one game at a time. It worked for 166 games and then they ran out of tomorrows. The story of the 2012 Oakland Athletics may have ended on Thursday night, but it might just be getting started. The team only has four free agents -- McCarthy, Colon, Inge, and Jonny Gomes. Stephen Drew has a mutual option for 2013 and could elect to test out free agency. General Manager Billy Beane is known to wheel and deal but he hinted strongly that will not be the case with the core of this team. A bulk of the players are cost controlled and on the rise. We've seen our last 2012 A's Bernie Lean, heard the last eighth inning rendition of 'Call Me Maybe,' and tasted the last sweet victory of a walk-off pie. Now we can only imagine what next year's season will bring. The A's may have lost in the ALDS, but they deserved the applause. This season is over, but it won't be soon forgotten by the fans or the players that took part in it. I know I will never forget it.

A's coach plays part in Schwarber's World Series comeback

A's coach plays part in Schwarber's World Series comeback

Ryan Christenson has a reason to follow the World Series even more so than most years.

Christenson, who manages the A’s Double-A Midland squad, is also skippering the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. One of his players happened to be Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, if only for the briefest of periods.

Schwarber, as is well-documented, played in two AFL games as a quick tune-up before joining the Cubs’ active roster for the Fall Classic. It’s an unprecedented path, as Schwarber hadn’t appeared in a game for Chicago since April 7, when he tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee.

When he crushed a double off the right field wall in Game 1 against the Indians’ Corey Kluber, Schwarber became the first position player in major league history to get a hit in the World Series after recording zero hits during the regular season.

His preparations for the grand stage took place in the relative anonymity of the Arizona Fall League, and it presented some unique conditions for Christenson to manage under.

“It’s such a unique situation to see someone thrust into that after missing so much season,” Christenson said in a phone interview before Game 1. “To have a chance to be activated this time of year, it’s something special if he can pull this off. If he (sparks the Cubs), literally the guy can be a legend.”

Schwarber appeared in just two games for the Solar Sox, going 1-for-6 as a designated hitter. Christenson didn’t have much hands-on interaction with Schwarber — the Cubs had their own staff members on site helping him with treatment — but Christenson saw Schwarber’s swing rounding into form even in his brief time in the batter’s box.

“The bat speed is there,” said Christenson, who hadn’t met Schwarber previously. “I love watching him work in the cage. He’s got a great swing. I don’t think it would take someone of his caliber long to get his timing and pick up where he left off. It’s a simple swing.”

The Cubs asked Christenson to work Schwarber into the top of the batting order with the Solar Sox so as to maximize his number of plate appearances. They also asked one other favor.

“The only request they had was that I took it easy with him on the bases … not trying to score him from first base on a gapper.”

Schwarber’s mere presence in the Arizona Fall League created a delicate dynamic. The league is geared toward up-and-coming prospects who have yet to break into the majors, and Christenson said AFL officials were concerned about Schwarber dropping in and taking playing time away from those players.

Each major league organization sends at least six players to the AFL. Of those six, one is designated a “priority player,” meaning they must play at least four days a week, so innings can be tricky to spread around.

Adding to the sensitivity of the situation, the Solar Sox’s roster includes not only Cubs prospects but also those of the Cleveland Indians. Christenson needed to avoid a situation where Schwarber was stealing at-bats away from prospects of the American League champs — the team that Schwarber was training to try to help the Cubs beat.

But things unfolded smoothly, and Schwarber showed appreciation for getting the chance to drop in for a couple games.

“I’ll definitely be pulling for him,” Christenson said.

A's claim left-handed reliever off waivers from Cubs

A's claim left-handed reliever off waivers from Cubs

CLEVELAND — Left-hander Giovanni Soto has been claimed by the Oakland Athletics off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.

Soto was designated for assignment Saturday to open a spot on the 40-man roster for slugger Kyle Schwarber, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list following knee surgery in April. Schwarber was put on the World Series roster Tuesday and went 1 for 3 with a double, walk and two strikeouts in the opening 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Soto was traded to the Cubs from Cleveland on April 11 and was 1-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 33 relief appearances for Triple-A Iowa. He made his big league debut with the Indians in 2015 and appeared in six games and 3 1/3 innings.

Oakland claimed him Wednesday.