Pratt's Instant Replay: A's complete epic comeback


Pratt's Instant Replay: A's complete epic comeback

OAKLAND -- Ten years ago, the late legendary A's broadcaster Bill King described Oakland's 20th consecutive victory as "Crazy, just plain crazy." One can only imagine how he would have described what he saw transpire on the field on October 3, 2012 as the A's swept the Rangers to win the American League West. King's signature catch phrase "Holy Toledo," is certainly fitting at this point. With the 12-5 win the A's are the first team in Major League history to win the division after trailing by five games with nine to play. Oakland was 13 games behind Texas on June 30. Yet, some how, some way, they came back to take the division crown. The A's never even had sole possession of the American League West at any point this season. They spent a total of four days tied for first.This is the latest the A's have ever clinched the division. Oakland clinched in their 161st game in 2000, but it was actually on the final day of the regular season. If they didn't win that year they would have been forced to play a make-up game against Tampa Bay. At the PlateThe A's jumped out to an early lead. With one out Stephen Drew and Yoenis Cespedes stroked back-to-back singles. Brandon Moss came up next and drove and RBI double down the right field line to give the A's a 1-0 lead. The A's lead wouldn't last long as the Rangers rallied for five runs in the third inning. Oakland's offense came roaring back in the fourth inning and answered with six runs. The scoring started after Moss drew a leadoff walk. Josh Reddick drove an RBI double to the opposite field that hit the wall in left-center. Donaldson and Seth Smith followed with back-to-back singles, with Smith's hit making it 5-3. Coco Crisp tied the game with a two-run double to right field that whipped the sellout crowd into a frenzy. What happened next literally made the entire Coliseum start shaking. Cespedes hit a shallow pop up that Josh Hamilton made a lazy effort on, dropping the ball and allowing two more runs to score. Hamilton put his glove hand up to catch the ball and didn't use two hands on the play. The crowd was so loud that the official scorer's announcement was inaudible in the press box. It was 7-5 at that point. The A's added a run in the fifth inning on a Derek Norris RBI single. He didn't even start the game, entering as a pinch hitter in the fourth. The single he hit to make it an 8-5 game was grounded up the middle and just got past diving shortstop Elvis Andrus. Norris added a solo home run to make it 9-5 in the eighth inning. For as much as Kurt Suzuki meant to the A's, Norris and George Kottaras have sure hit some huge homers for Oakland. The A's effectively nailed shut the coffin containing the Rangers' AL West title hopes in the eighth inning. They scored four runs, three on a Moss single with the bases loaded to take a 12-5 lead. Starting Pitching ReportA.J. Griffin didn't last long. He got knocked out of the game after allowing five runs in the third inning. He didn't look as bad as his line suggests, though. The Rangers sent 10 hitters to the plate, but four of them reached on singles, and two reached on a fielder's choice and an error. With the season on the line, A's manager Bob Melvin gave Griffin a quick hook and turned the game over to the bullpen. Griffin threw 70 pitches, 44 of which were strikes. Four of the five runs he allowed were earned. Bullpen ReportEvan Scribner entered the game in relief of Griffin. He ended the third inning with just one pitch. He then started the fourth inning by retiring Elvis Andrus on one pitch. It then took him five pitches to strike out Hamilton. Things got a little rocky for Scribner after that. He allowed a single to Beltre, and a double off the very top of the left field wall hit by Nelson Cruz. Michael Young followed with an opposite field liner, but it was snared out of the air by a leaping Moss, saving two runs. Scribner stayed in the game and retired the Rangers in order in the fifth inning. He retired the first two batters in the sixth as well, but was removed from the game with Hamilton due up. Jerry Blevins was brought in to face Hamilton, who has never recorded a hit against the A's lefty. Blevins struck him out swinging to end the top of the sixth. Scribner has become one of the most underrated player on the A's roster. He hasn't allowed a run in 11 of his last 12 outings and they have come in high pressure situations. Ryan Cook entered in the seventh inning. It was his fifth outing in as many days. Even with the heavy usage he was still hitting 96 MPH on the radar gun. He got into trouble early after allowing a single to Beltre and a double to Cruz with no outs. Then he got a key grounder to third that prevented Beltre from scoring and struck out Murphy and Napoli to end the inning. Cook struggled mightily earlier this season when pitching on back-to-back days. That doesn't seem to be much of an issue any more. He didn't allow a run in any of his last five outings. Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He walked one batter but struck out two. Grant Balfour entered the game in the ninth inning even though it wasn't a save situation. He retired the side in order to start the A's second celebration in three days. In the FieldIn the third inning the A's defense let down Griffin. Cruz hit a tricky pop up to shallow right field that Pennington had to try and make an over the shoulder catch on, but he dropped the ball. Without a chance to double off Hamilton at first base, he tossed the ball to second to get one out. The next batter stroked an RBI double.Later in the inning Napoli hit a sky-high pop up that third baseman Josh Donaldson appeared to have lost in the sun. He backed off and left it up to Kottaras to catch the ball, but he dropped it. The next batter smacked an RBI single. Donaldson made a slick sliding play to end the fifth inning. He came up with the ball got up and made a perfect throw to first. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 36,067. Dot Race Gold wins the dot race again. The A's were wearing the gold jerseys again as well.Up NextEveryone gets to watch the Orioles-Rays, and Red Sox-Yankees games to figure out the remaining scenarios. One thing is for sure. The A's are the AL West Champions. They will hit the road to play either Saturday or Sunday.

Indians shut out Cubs, take Game 1 of World Series


Indians shut out Cubs, take Game 1 of World Series


CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber got the Cleveland Indians off to a great start and Roberto Perez finished off the Chicago Cubs in their first World Series game since 1945.

Kluber dominated into the seventh inning, Perez hit two home runs and the Indians beat the Cubs 6-0 in the opener Tuesday night. AL Championship Series MVP Andrew Miller escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh and got out of trouble in the eighth, preserving a three-run lead.

In a matchup between the teams with baseball's longest championship droughts, the Indians scored twice in the first inning off October ace Jon Lester and were on their way.

Perez drove in four runs - he became the first No. 9 batter to homer twice in a Series game, and the first Indians player to accomplish the feat. He hit a three-run drive to put it away.

Francisco Lindor added three hits as the Indians improved to 8-1 this postseason. Cleveland manager Terry Francona is now 9-0 in the Series, including sweeps by his Boston teams in 2004 and `07.

The Game 1 winner has taken the title in the last six Series and 17 of 19.

Trevor Bauer, trying to come back from a sliced pinkie, starts Game 2 for the Indians on Wednesday night against Jake Arrieta. Because the forecast called for an increased chance of rain later in the evening, Major League Baseball took the extraordinary step of moving up the first pitch by an hour to 7:08 p.m.

Kluber struck out eight in the first three innings. He combined with Miller and Cody Allen to fan 15.

With the Indians hoping for their first title since 1948 and the Cubs seeking their first since 1908, Lester stumbled in the opening inning.

Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs, Jose Ramirez had a run-scoring swinging bunt single and Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch.

Lester had been 3-0 in three Series starts with a 0.43 ERA.

Perez, who had three homers in 153 at-bats during the regular season, connected in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. His drive in the eighth was his third homer this postseason.

Teams that combined for 174 seasons of futility, America's biggest droughts since the Great Plains' Dust Bowl of the 1930s, captivated even many non-baseball fans.

On a night of civic pride, LeBron James and the NBA's Cavaliers received their championship rings next door prior to their season opener, and Cleveland hosted a World Series opener for the first time.

The Cubs had not played in the Series since five weeks after Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender ending World War II.

Kluber, whose win in the All-Star Game gave the AL home-field advantage on the Series, improved to 3-1 in the postseason and lowered his ERA to a sparkling 0.74. He is on track to start Games 4 and 7 in the manner of an old-style ace.

He was pitching on six days' rest this time, and his two-seam fastball was darting through the strike zone. He was helped by plate umpire Larry Vanover, whose generous calls on the low, outside corner contributed to 11 called strikeouts, six against Cubs batters.

Kluber struck out nine in six innings and walked none. He stranded Ben Zobrist after a leadoff double in the second and David Ross following a one-out single in the third.

Kyle Schwarber, making a surprise return in his first big league game since tearing knee ligaments on April 7, doubled off the right-field wall in the fourth - a drive kept in by a stiff wind on a 50-degree night. Kluber then got Baez to fly out.

Zobrist's leadoff double in the seventh finished Kluber, and Cleveland loaded the bases with no outs against Miller on Schwarber's walk and Javier Baez's single. Pinch-hitter Willson Contreras flied to Rajai Davis in short center, and Davis threw home rather than double up Schwarber, who had strayed far off second.

Using his intimidating slider, Miller struck out Addison Russell and David Ross to escape the jam, then fanned Schwarber to strand runners at the corners in the eighth, his 46th pitch. Miller has thrown 20 scoreless innings in postseason play, including 13 2/3 innings with 24 strikeouts this year.

Allen completed Cleveland's fourth postseason shutout and second in a row.

Ramirez also had three hits each for the Indians, who beat Toronto in the ALCS despite hitting just .168. Zobrist had three hit for the Cubs.

Lester gave up three runs, six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings, and was rattled by Vanover's calls, barking at the umpire in the third, then stopping for a discussion at the inning's end.


While Arrieta went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA during the regular season, he struggled to a 5.01 ERA in his final four starts. He allowed four runs over five innings in Game 3 of the NLCS.

Bauer lasted only two outs in his ALCS when his pinkie, cut in a drone accident, began bleeding.


Dexter Fowler took a called third strike from Kluber leading off the game, becoming the first Cubs player to bat in the Series since Don Johnson hit into a game-ending forceout against Detroit's Hal Newhouser in Game 7 in 1945.


Chicago benched right fielder Jason Heyward, in a 2-for-28 postseason slump, and started Chris Coghlan.

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.”