A's have 'dry-erase board' game in Detroit


A's have 'dry-erase board' game in Detroit


DETROIT -- The A's rolled into the Motor City on Tuesday and then got run over. The beginning of the team's critical 10-game road trip through Detroit, New York, and Texas couldn't have started much worse, as the Tigers' offense tore chunks out of the A's pitching, handing them a 12-2 loss, their most lopsided defeat this season. "It just got out of hand," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I can't think of too many games that just got out of hand on us. You've just got to move on. It's just one game."The A's scored first, but had trouble piling on, even after Tigers' starting pitcher Max Scherzer was lifted from the game after just two innings as a result of right shoulder fatigue.Entering Tuesday, Scherzer was 10-1 with a 2.53 ERA in his last 14 starts. He leads the American League with 224 strikeouts. Only needing to face him for two innings should have been a big break for the A's hitters; it wasn't. The Tigers' bullpen stifled Oakland for seven innings of one-run ball."Scherzer comes out and now they've got a lefty, we've got all of our lefties in the game," Melvin said of his batting order that had five left-handed hitters and two switch hitters. "When you have a lineup with a lot of lefties at that point, it is what it is." With Scherzer out and the 6-0 A.J. Griffin on the mound, the A's chances looked pretty good early on, but the young righty had trouble with the long ball against the Tigers. He allowed a career-high three homers and five earned runs. The struggles were uncharacteristic of Griffin, who had allowed just one homer in his last seven starts. "I just wasn't executing pitches the way I usually do," Griffin said. "I wasn't pounding down in the zone, leaving pitches up, and they capitalized on it." "We're used to seeing him painting all the time and mixing his pitches," Melvin added, "He was just off today. It's the first time we've seen him like that."Griffin was bounced from the game after four and two-thirds innings. He gave up a moonshot to Miguel Cabrera on a hanging curveball in the third inning, and a line drive two-run homer to Prince Fielder in the fifth inning that gave the Tigers a 5-1 lead. "They are all really good hitters," Griffin said. "They are a big league team just like any big league team. They seemed to be pretty locked in today; they had some success. That's just how it goes sometimes." Cabrera added a grand slam in the eight inning off Jesse Chavez to blow the game wide open. It was Cabrera's 40th home run of the season. The Comerica Park crowd erupted in M-V-P chants as he rounded the bases. Chavez was then ejected from the game for hitting Fielder on a 1-2 pitch, which enraged the A's skipper. "He's not trying to hit him there on a 1-2 count; you've got to pitch that guy in, that's ridiculous," Melvin said. "There's no way he is trying to hit him there."The A's had several chances to do some damage but couldn't. They stranded 10 runners, six of them the result of Stephen Drew going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts with runners on base. "My night was kind of frustrating," Drew said. "Moss got some key hits and put me in a good situation, I just didn't get the job done. It was frustrating. I wish I could have done better." Josh Reddick scored both of the A's runs after reaching on a single in the first inning and a double in the seventh inning. He came around to score on a Brandon Moss RBI hit in the first, and scored in the seventh on a Yoenis Cespedes hit down the left field line that was interfered with by a fan. On the play, Cespedes stumbled out of the batter's box after rolling his right ankle and was initially awarded second base, but then told to go back to first base. Melvin argued the call to no avail. After the game Cespedes' ankle was heavily wrapped but he insisted he was alright. When asked if he'd be able to play on Wednesday he responded in perfect English. "Everyday." Coco Crisp left the game in the fourth inning after experiencing complications with his lingering eye infections. Chris Carter pinch hit for him and grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners. In the clubhouse after the game Crisp's eyes looked very red and puffy. "He just wasn't seeing the ball 100 percent," Melvin said of taking Crisp out of the game. "I certainly don't want to put anybody in a bad position, it just made sense to me. Your eyes are very important if you aren't seeing the spin on the ball there can be some danger involved." The A's 10-run loss to the Tigers is the worst they've suffered all season. They lost 10-1 in Baltimore on April 28. Even after the lopsided defeat the A's insist they are ready to turn the page. "It's a dry erase board," Griffin said. "We're going to wipe this one clean and come to the yard with a new day tomorrow and play the best baseball we can." Inge-ury Alert:Brandon Inge returned to the A's clubhouse just prior to first pitch. He had a clubhouse stall set up before the game but didn't want to detract attention from the team so he didn't meet with the media. He will be with the team again on Wednesday. Inge's season-ending shoulder surgery was performed last Thursday in Detroit by Dr. Stephen Lemos, who is the Tigers' orthopedic surgeon. Inge wants to dress and travel with the team as soon as he is recovered enough from the surgery.

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.