Pratt's Instant Replay: Twins 7, Athletics 2


Pratt's Instant Replay: Twins 7, Athletics 2


OAKLAND -- The A's had won four games in a row. The Twins had lost five straight. Brandon McCarthy was 2-0 in four career starts against Minnesota. On paper, this game looked like an easy win. That's why they play the games.The Twins rocked starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy for six runs snapping all of the aforementioned streaks with a 7-2 victory over Oakland.While the final tally may be disappointing for A's fans, there was some news to pique their interests. The A's acquired shortstop Stephen Drew from the Diamondbacks for a Minor Leaguer during the game.Starting Pitching ReportThere has to be some concern about the health of starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who has been on the disabled list twice this season. The A's opening day starting pitcher is one of the most consistent pitchers in the American League when healthy. On Monday he allowed six runs -- all earned -- on 10 hits. He walked in a run and hit a batter. It very well could just be an off-night for the tall righty, but he didn't look like himself on the mound. McCarthy was out of control in the first inning. He walked in a run and hit a batter while throwing 32 pitches. The Twins collected three consecutive hits to start the inning. The third hit was an RBI double by Josh Willingham.Willingham added an RBI single in the second inning off McCarthy. The former A's hitter has five homers and 14 RBIs vs. his former team this season. The A's might need to consider a new approach with him. That, or just stop pitching to him all together.McCarthy settled down with a clean frame in the third inning. He gave up back-to-back hits to start the fourth inning. Darin Mastroianni bunted the runners into scoring position. Joe Mauer drove them both in with a two-run single to right field giving the Twins a 6-2 lead. That would be it for McCarthy. He only lasted three and one-third innings.Bullpen ReportTravis Blackley bailed out the A's bullpen. He allowed just one run over five and two-thirds innings. He gave up five hits and one walk.Coco Crisp made a spectacular leaping catch at the wall in center field to rob Ryan Doumit of an extra-base hit in the ninth. After making the catch Crisp threw the ball in to cutoff man Adam Rosales who chucked the ball to first base to double off Justin Morneau. Blackley stood on the mound saluting Crisp, and clapped.At the PlateYoenis Cespedes sparked the A's offense. He beat out a throw from third base for an infield single, stole his 12th base uncontested, then scored easily on a Josh Donaldson double into the right-field gap. Cespedes' infield single was his 100th MLB hit.In the fourth inning Crisp reached base on an error, stole his 27th base, and advanced to third when the ball got away from shortstop Pedro Florimon. Crisp ended up scoring on an RBI groundout by Josh Reddick. Through four innings pretty much the only thing that was working for the A's was their base running.AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 10,274.Dot RaceBlue wins the dot race in a photo finish with Red.Up NextThe highly anticipated return of Brett Anderson takes place on Tuesday. He underwent season-ending "Tommy John" surgery in 2011. Anderson is confident that he is ready to return.The Twins will be sending Cole De Vries (2-4, 5.04 ERA) to the mound. De Vries is 0-2 with a 9.49 in his last three starts. He gave up seven runs on July 14 against Oakland.

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.