A's snap home skid vs. Yankees thanks to Cespedes' bomb

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A's snap home skid vs. Yankees thanks to Cespedes' bomb

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OAKLAND -- 718 dogs may have set a World Record at the Oakland Coliseum on Thursday, but the long ball again proved to be the A's best friend, as they defeated the Yankees 4-3The A's are now four games over .500 for the first time since May 31, 2010. Also in 2010 -- April 22, 2010 to be exact -- was the last time the A's defeated the New York Yankees in Oakland, a losing streak spanning nine games. "There's a little bit more hoopla wherever the Yankees go and they swept us last time," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It was important to get a win in the first game so we don't have to hear about how many in a row. They've certainly had their way with us here."At the time of that sweep, Yoenis Cespedes was on the disabled list with a strained left hand. This time, Cespedes was in the lineup, and he wasted no time making his presence known. He crushed a Freddy Garcia curveball for a two-run blast in his first at-bat, giving the A's a 2-0 lead. "Because we were playing the Yankees I wanted to be as concentrated as possible during the game," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "That's who everybody wants to beat."Cespedes' 12th home run of the season extended his hitting streak to a career-high seven games. Eight of his 12 homers have come with runners on base. It is safe to say he is a difference maker for the A's when on the field. "He's a true force in the middle of the lineup," Melvin said. "When you are going up against an offensive team like that, you like to have all your bullets, and certainly he is one of our biggest ones."If the Yankees thought they were going to extend their dominance over the A's to 10 games -- they were barking up the wrong tree. After Cespedes' home run gave them the lead, they struck for two more runs in the sixth inning. After Cespedes drew a one-out walk to load the bases, Seth Smith stroked a two-run single up the middle putting the A's up 4-0. That was all rookie starting pitcher A.J. Griffin would need. He threw 90 pitches over six innings of work to earn his second win. The 24-year-old righty scattered seven hits allowing just two runs and striking out four batters. He didn't walk a single Yankees hitter. "He knows against these guys that they are going to try to drive your pitch count up," Melvin said. "He's a command guy, very confident to throw the ball over the plate with any of his pitches and that makes him successful."After the game Griffin remarked that he was a little rattled facing guys he grew up watching like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson. He then calmed himself down, stuck to his game plan and settled into a groove. "We play a kids game, we are just trying to have fun out there and we're having more fun right now," Griffin said. "We're winning a lot of games, having a good time, we like to hear the music after the games." The A's have been hearing the music a lot lately. They are 11-2 in the month of July which is the best record in the majors in that span.

Royals ace Yordano Ventura dies in car crash at 25 years old

Royals ace Yordano Ventura dies in car crash at 25 years old

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, whose electric arm and confident demeanor helped lead his long-suffering team to the 2015 World Series title, died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic early Sunday. He was 25.

With the fitting nickname of "Ace," Ventura burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. He was a fierce competitor always willing to challenge hitters inside, then deal with the ramifications when they decided to charge the mound.

Not surprisingly, he quickly became a fan favorite as Kansas City embraced baseball once again.

"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. "He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano."

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles northwest of Santo Domingo. Mateo did not say whether Ventura was driving.

Also Sunday, former major league infielder Andy Marte died in a separate car accident in the Dominican Republic. Metropolitan traffic authorities said he died about 95 miles north of the capital.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura," players union executive Tony Clark said. "It's never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and there are no words to describe the feeling of losing two young men in the prime of their lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends, teammates and fans throughout the United States and Latin America."

Ventura is the second young pitching star to die in past four months. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was among three men killed in a boating accident in late September, when the 24-year-old pitcher's boat crashed into a jetty off Miami Beach in the early morning hours.

Ventura went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and helped the long-downtrodden Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985. He proceeded to dominate San Francisco in both of his starts, though the Royals would ultimately lose in seven games.

In an eerie coincidence, Ventura paid tribute to his friend and countryman, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, with a handwritten message on his cap during Game 6. Taveras also was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic, and his funeral occurred just hours before Ventura stepped on the mound.

The following year, now firmly entrenched in the rotation, Ventura helped lead Kansas City back to the World Series, pitching well in two starts against Toronto in the AL championship Series. The Royals went on to beat the New York Mets in five games to win their second championship.

Not surprisingly, the Royals moved quickly to sign their burgeoning young ace to a five-year contract through the 2019 season that included two more options that could have kept him in Kansas City.

He wound up pitching his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura represented a true rags-to-riches story. He quit school at 14 and was laboring on a construction crew to support his family when Ventura heard about a tryout, which led to a spot in the Royals' academy located on his picturesque island home.

Still, the odds were long that Ventura would ever make it to the big leagues. Very few players from the Dominican academies reached the pinnacle of the sport.

But over time, Ventura was able to harness one of the most electric fastballs that scouts had seen in years, and his headstrong and confident nature was essential in his rapid rise. He made his big league debut to great fanfare in 2013, allowing just one run again Cleveland in a sign of things to come.

He eventually became a cornerstone of a youth movement that included young stars such as first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, one that carried the Royals first to respectability, then to the top of the American League — rare heights the organization had not experienced in decades.

Hosmer took to Twitter upon hearing the news of Ventura's death, saying: "I love you my brother. I'm in disbelief and don't know what to say. I love you ACE."

Moustakas also expressed disbelief, tweeting: "I love you Ace. I don't know what to say other than I'm going to miss you a lot. RIP ACE."

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Kurt Suzuki is headed back to the National League.

After three seasons in the American League with the Twins, the former A's backstop has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Braves.

News of the agreement was first reported by SB Nation.

Suzuki will reportedly make $1.5 million, according to Fox Sports. He has a chance to make an addition $2.5 million in incentives.

The 33-year-old Suzuki was drafted by the A's in the second round of 2004 MLB Draft. He made his debut with Oakland in 2007 and was the starting catcher until a 2012 trade to Washington. A year later, the Nationals traded Suzuki back to the A's for the final five weeks of the season.

Prior to the 2014 season, Suzuki signed with Twins. In three seasons with Minnesota, Suzuki hit .263/.316/.364 with 75 doubles, 16 home runs and 160 RBI.

Suzuki will likely serve as a back-up to catcher Tyler Flowers.