Maybe there is magic inside AT&T Park


Maybe there is magic inside AT&T Park


SAN FRANCISCO -- To the outside world it could be considered a strange or inexplicable turn of events. In San Francisco, it's called a routine double. Angel Pagan's two-out grounder looked like an easy out until it ricocheted off the third base bag into left field for a double. All Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander could do was watch in disbelief. "How 'bout it?" Verlander said. The fans at AT&T Park weren't surprised. They've seen this before. It's Brooks Conrad booting balls all over the infield in the NLDS in 2010. An Ian Kinsler home run that inexplicably bounces off the very top of the outfield wall and somehow back into play in the World Series in 2010. Or Hunter Pence getting a bases-clearing broken bat hit that gets misdirected off a bat shard several times as it is guided safely through the infield in Game 7 of the 2012 NLCS. This is just what the Giants do in late October. If there are indeed baseball gods, then they are probably reclining on some fluffy clouds wearing neon orange togas and panda hats. That Pagan "double" led to an RBI single from Marco Scutaro to make the game 2-0. Then Pablo Sandoval clubbed his second home run of the game, a two-run shot to make it 4-0. Three runs, all coming after what could have been the third out in the third inning. "Yeah, I was like 'uh oh,'" Cabrera said. "Anything can happen right now. It's kind of a weird game." "It's not weird, we got a big play like that last year against Texas," Delmon Young said. "The bags are there and you can't do anything about it."What makes the turn of events even more improbable is that they came with Tigers' ace on the mound. Here's a guy that had won all three of his postseason starts this year. In the 2012 playoffs he had allowed just two runs in 24 13 innings. He allowed five runs in four innings Wednesday night -- his shortest start since Oct. 8, 2011 in the ALCS. Oh, and then there was the 2-4 double play that immediately followed. As if the events of the third inning weren't mind-bending enough. With Delmon Young batting, he swung at a ball that bounced right in front of home plate. Buster Posey grabbed it and fired it to second base for a double play.
When Al Alburquerque entered the game in the fifth inning, those same baseball gods sat up in their seats. Sandoval stepped to the plate and tagged his third homer of the game, a historical shot off the reliever who caught and kissed the ball that he fielded off the bat of Yoenis Cespedes in the American League Division Series. It was apparent that karma would eventually catch up to Alburquerque and it did in a big way. Sandoval's third homer in a single World Series game put him on a list with Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols.NEWS: Sandoval joins rare list with three-HR World Series game
"Unbelievable, unbelievable," Cabrera said of Sandoval. "You've got to give him a lot of credit."
The Tigers are down 1-0 in the World Series after their strange 8-3 loss. Maybe the game wasn't as goofy as it seemed. The Tigers were rusty coming off five days of rest while the Giants had just finished a seven-game series.

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.