Streaking A's, Angels on collision course

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Streaking A's, Angels on collision course

Programming note: A's-Angels coverage kicks off at 6:30 p.m. tonight with A's Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California!

ANAHEIM -- The A's have won three in a row. The Angels have won six in a row, and three of those wins came in Oakland. The A's lead the American League Wild Card standings and are two and a half games ahead of the Angels. Starting Monday two of the hottest teams in baseball will clash in a pivotal four-game divisional series with a lot on the line.

RELATED: Division standings Wild Card standings
"We could talk about that pretty much every series," A's outfielder Jonny Gomes said. "We're not looking at it like that. We are just game to game. Really just flat out game to game, try and win each inning. The second we look up and look ahead that might harm us a bit."As the A's chase their first postseason berth since 2006, they have to keep things in perspective. They have faced many obstacles along the way. Keeping it simple and not overthinking things has been their motto all year long, and it is working. At 79-60 they have the second-best record in the American League."I don't think you have to do a character check on this team anymore," Gomes said. "Whether it was injuries, we had some adversity with some of key guys getting sent out and getting traded, we had the issue with Bartolo Colon, these guys are doing a great job just keeping their head down and going to battle with the guys we have in the clubhouse."It would have been easy for the A's to feel sorry for themselves after losing their opening day starter, pitching rotation leader, and friend Brandon McCarthy to a frightening injury last Wednesday. It would have been easy for them to fold when, veteran Bartolo Colon got suspended for 50 games after violating MLB's drug policy. Sure, the A's could have shut it down when veteran third baseman Brandon Inge underwent season-ending surgery on his right shoulder, or when a team leader like catcher Kurt Suzuki got traded, but they kept battling. For these guys getting swept at home against the Angels is merely a hiccup. They proved it by rebounding and taking out their aggressions on the Mariners in Seattle with a three-game sweep. "We got swept at home and we came back and showed some resiliency in these games," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Lets just move on to the next city. It's certainly a better feeling now than when we left."Series Probables:Monday
Jarrod Parker (9-8, 3.67 ERA) vs. Dan Haren (10-10, 4.46 ERA)Tuesday
Dan Straily (1-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (8-11, 5.21 ERA)Wednesday
A.J. Griffin (5-0, 2.21 ERA) vs. TBDThursday
Brett Anderson (4-0, 0.69 ERA) vs. CJ Wilson (12-9, 3.69 ERA)

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.