Pratt's Instant Replay: Angels 7, Athletics 1


Pratt's Instant Replay: Angels 7, Athletics 1


OAKLAND -- What goes up must come down. No one expected the A's to win every single game for the rest of the season, even after tallying nine wins in a row. That being said, the 7-1 loss resulting in the three-game home sweep at the hands of the Angels is mildly troubling. The A's have much more to worry about than Wednesday's loss. The more immediate concern is the health of pitcher Brandon McCarthy after he took a line drive off the head in the fourth inning. Starting Pitching ReportThe ball hit McCarthy just above his right ear. He was eventually able to walk off the field under his own power. According to the A's, McCarthy never lost consciousness and was taken to a local hospital for precautionary reasons.The ball hit by Angels' shortstop Erick Aybar ricocheted off McCarthy to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who threw to first to make the out. After being struck by the liner McCarthy dropped to the ground and laid prone for a moment. Soon after impact the right-handed pitcher was able to sit up and speak with trainer Nick Paparesta. As the Coliseum went completely silent, McCarthy's teammates and coaches stood around him on the mound before he was able to get up and leave the field. McCarthy's ability to leave the field without assistance was an encouraging sign and surely a relief for many. The frightening moment is a reminder just how vulnerable pitchers are when on the mound. On Tuesday night relief pitcher Sean Doolittle was also hit by a line drive. He was struck on the left shin and was reportedly hobbled after the game. McCarthy allowed three runs, all earned, prior to his departure. The runs all came in the third inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Alberto Callaspo, who was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and a Mike Trout ground out. Callaspo scored on a Torii Hunter single to right field. The next batter was Albert Pujols, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games after he squeezed a double down the third base line that got past a diving Donaldson. The A's chose to take their chances with Howie Kendrick, walking Kendrys Morales to load the bases with two outs. Kendrick came through for the Halos, driving a two-run single to right field, but Morales ran into an out on the play to end the inning. Bullpen ReportTravis Blackley entered in relief of McCarthy. He was given as much time to warm up as needed. The A's long reliever and spot starter kept them in the game. He threw 44 pithes in three innings of scoreless relief. He was able to strand two runners in scoring position in the sixth inning. With runners on second and third with no outs he struck out Mark Trumbo looking and got Aybar to fly out to end the threat. Pat Neshek retired one batter to end the seventh inning. Ryan Cook took over in the eighth frame. He struck out Pujols, walked Morales, then got Kendrick to ground into an inning-ending double play. Cook remained in the game for the ninth, but allowed the Angels to load the bases with no outs.Grant Balfour inherited the bases loaded situation. He walked pinch hitter Maicer Izturis on a close pitch that was called ball four. Balfour responded by striking out Trout looking on a 94-MPH fastball. Hunter then broke open the game with a two-run single up the middle past the outstretched glove of a diving Adam Rosales. Now a 6-1 game, A's manager Bob Melvin brought in Jim Miller. The right-handed pitcher struck out Albert Pujols swinging on a 92-MPH fastball. The Angels then executed a double steal with Hunter taking second and Izturis successfully taking home. Miller eventually ended the inning by getting Morales to ground out to second. At the PlateThe A's put together a third inning rally in response to the Angels' runs. It started with some control problems by Dan Haren. With one out he walked both Derek Norris and Cliff Pennington. The next batter, Coco Crisp, reached on a force attempt after Howie Kendrick didn't even try and touch second after receiving first baseman Kendrys Morales' throw. The Angels argued that Pennington obstructed the throw to no avail. Seth Smith came up next and made the Angels pay for their mistake by driving the first pitch he saw into right field for an RBI single. With the bases loaded Josh Reddick struck out swinging and Yoenis Cespedes grounded out to end the threat. Norris scored the A's first run after a free pass. He ended up with three walks on the day. After Norris' third walk, Brandon Moss entered the game as a pinch hitter and smashed a single to right field. The Angels countered by putting in rookie Nick Maronde. He struck out Crisp and Smith swinging to end the threat. Maronde also struck out Reddick to start the eighth inning. He has retired four batters in his career, all via strikeout. Kevin Jepsen picked up where Maronde left off, striking out Cespedes and Carter to end the eighth inning. A span of five consecutive batters retired via strikeout. In the Field With two on and no outs in the ninth inning, Callaspo laid down a perfect bunt. Donaldson briefly charged the ball before back tracking to third base, while Norris attempted to grab the ball barehanded but couldn't get a grip on it. Norris was charged with an error and the Angels loaded the bases. In the ninth inning with runners on the corners and two outs, the Angels executed a double steal. Miller had the right idea, faking a throw to third as Hunter broke for second, but Drew was late to the bag. As Miller threw the ball to Drew, Izturis broke for home. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 15,404. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's get a day off as they travel to Seattle. On Friday, A.J. Griffin (4-0, 2.26 ERA) takes the mound for Oakland. He will be opposed by Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez (13-6, 2.51 ERA).

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.

Donaldson homers, Blue Jays beat Indians to stay alive in ALCS


Donaldson homers, Blue Jays beat Indians to stay alive in ALCS


TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson homered to give Toronto a long-awaited lead, and the Blue Jays finally broke through with the bats, beating the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on Tuesday to avert a sweep in the AL Championship Series.

The Indians still lead the matchup 3-1, but Donaldson and a poised Aaron Sanchez handed them their first loss of this postseason.

Edwin Encarnacion later hit a two-run single, a welcome sight for a raucous Rogers Centre crowd that had fallen silent watching its team reach the brink of elimination because of a slumbering offense.

Donaldson's solo shot to left-center field off Corey Kluber in the third put the Blue Jays ahead for the first time all series. Two innings after that, the star third baseman made an outstanding diving stop to preserve a one-run edge.

Sanchez, the American League ERA champion, allowed a run and two hits in six innings, and the bullpen finished with three perfect innings.

Cleveland will try again Wednesday to win to earn its first World Series trip since 1997, but the big concern for the Indians coming into the series - an injury-riddled rotation - still lingers.

Kluber was starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career, and in Game 5 Cleveland will send lightly used rookieRyan Merritt to the mound against Marco Estrada.

Kluber hadn't allowed a run in either of his first two starts this postseason. Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP and sporting a still freshly shaved face, opened the scoring with his first home run of these playoffs.

The wild-card Blue Jays made it 2-0 in the fourth when Ezequiel Carrera's blooper fell between three Cleveland fielders in left-center for an RBI single.

Roberto Perez hit an RBI double in the fifth off Sanchez. Carlos Santana's two-out grounder to the left side might have had a chance to score him, but Donaldson made the play.

The Indians didn't have another baserunner after that. Brett CecilJason Grilli and Roberto Osuna pitched an inning each in relief for Toronto.

Taking no chances, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought in Osuna, his closer, in a non-save situation to finish off Cleveland.

The Indians were trying to become the third team to sweep a Division Series and Championship Series in the same postseason. The 2007 Colorado Rockies and 2014 Kansas City Royals both did it.

Cleveland had won nine in a row, including three straight over Boston in the ALDS.

The Indians had a chance to take the lead in the third when Tyler Naquin hit a leadoff double and went to third on a sacrifice. Sanchez retired Santana on a soft grounder with the infield in, and then Jason Kipnis also grounded out.

Kluber was pulled after 89 pitches. He allowed two runs and four hits in five innings.

The Blue Jays added two more runs in the seventh after a throwing error by reliever Bryan Shaw. Encarnacion came up with the bases loaded and the crowd chanting "Eddie" - and his hard grounder skipped off the mound and into center field to make it 4-1.

Trevor Bauer's finger injury put more pressure on Kluber to come back for Game 4 and a possible Game 7 on short rest. Bauer cut his right pinkie on a drone and had to be pulled in the first inning Monday after he started bleeding.

"I had to witness everything he had to go through to try and go out there and pitch last night," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said before Tuesday's game. "Not too many people would have done that. He's been wonderful. He's obviously grown over the years because he wanted to."

Indians: The 24-year-old Merritt has pitched 11 innings as a big leaguer. His only start came Sept. 30, when the left-hander held Kansas City to a run and three hits in five innings.

Blue Jays: Estrada allowed two runs in eight innings in Game 1 against Cleveland.