Strikeouts not stopping sarcastic A's


Strikeouts not stopping sarcastic A's


ARLINGTON -- The A's performance on Wednesday was one for the record books. They clobbered the Texas Rangers 9-3, reduced their magic number to clinch a spot in the Wild Card game to six, and pulled within three games of the American League West-leading Rangers. For a team that has played five consecutive one-run games, the laughter of a decision was much needed. All good things but not quite historical.

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With 11 whiffs on the night Oakland blew past the previous American League record for most single-season strikeouts, expanding their ongoing franchise-worst mark to 1,333 and passing the 2007 Tampa Bay Rays, who previously held the record with 1,324 punchouts."I think at this point in time it kind of just comes with the territory," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I was counting up the strikeouts after six and you're going 'Here we go again.' but at least we're not hitting into double plays." The thing about the A's and their egregious strikeout total is that it hasn't stopped them from scoring. They have scored the second most runs in the A.L. since the All-Star break. When they swing, they swing for the fences and it seems to work. It was no different on this evening as Oakland's offense exploded for five runs on six hits as they sent nine batters to the plate and knocked Rangers' starting pitcher Martin Perez out of the game with two outs in the first inning."There was some padding but with that team you never feel that secure," Melvin said. Jarrod Parker tossed six innings of three-run ball and got his 12th win of the season. He is now tied with fellow rookie Tommy Milone for the team lead in wins. Parker has received one run or fewer in 14 of his 29 starts. He got so much run support on Wednesday that it seemed to knock him off his game. He gave up a run and threw 30 pitches in the first inning. Then in the second inning he loaded the bases with no outs and gave up two more runs. He escaped the inning by only allowing the runs to score on a force out and a sacrifice fly. "I've had long waits like that and I'll take five runs and 35 minutes anytime," Parker said (not that he's counting). "You learn to figure out what you need and I was able to get loose and battle through that."Parker is 12-0 in 17 starts in which he gets two or more runs of support. He dialed in after the early issues and pitched four consecutive scoreless innings. "Our bullpen has had a lot of work lately and early on I was struggling a little bit," Parker said. "I came in after the second and third and Curt Young just said flush it, start all over. That was kind of the mentality I was able to take out there."The A's collected 16 hits, but one in particular was very important. Josh Reddick stroked a single in the seventh inning to snap his career-worst 0-for-30 slump. As the newly clean-shaven Reddick reached first base he looked relieved and motioned to the dugout, doing a "double air high-five" with Collin Cowgill. The guys on the bench jokingly asked for the game ball to commemorate the occasion. "We called for the ball and they actually threw it in," Parker said. "We were kind of joking but he actually threw it. There was a couple of jokes. We gave him a nice golf clap in the dugout." "Like a rookie getting his first hit in the big leagues," Reddick said showing off the ball. "They gave me all kinds of special writing on it. Got some stats, 10 broken bats and three broken helmets." He added a hit with a runner in scoring position in his next at-bat but Brandon Moss, who was on second after collecting his third hit, was held up at third. Maybe shaving his goatee and facial hair did indeed do the trick. Reddick said it was a spur of the moment decision right before the game. "I think everybody is relieved to see Reddick get a couple of hits," Melvin said. "He was grinding pretty hard on that. He means so much to us. It's all in fun now but we all felt it going through the struggle." One guy that hasn't been struggling for hits is Stephen Drew. He went 4-for-5 with two RBIs as the A's leadoff hitter. He smacked a bases-loaded single in the third inning to put the A's ahead 7-3. It was Drew's 11th career four-hit game, and his second four-hit effort this week. He is hitting .464 (13-for-28) during his current six-game hitting streak. "He's really starting to get his legs underneath him and it's really about the halfway point of the season for him," Melvin said. "Getting consistent at-bats against lefties, righties, he's a guy that can contribute on both sides of it. That was a nice pickup by Billy Beane." Moss collected three hits and scored twice and Derek Norris got in on the act by driving in a career high-tying three RBIs. The A's wins against the Rangers are keeping their hopes alive, as far as winning the division is concerned. They still have four more games remaining against the Rangers, three of which are at the Oakland Coliseum. "For us to come out here and get these guys is I think the biggest series of the road trip," Reddick said. "These are the guys we are trying to catch. A lot of people want to say we get the Wild Card, we're still trying to win this division."NOTES:-- Yoenis Cespedes smacked an RBI triple in the first inning and was greeted at third base by trainer Nick Paparesta and Bob Melvin. He remained in the game. Cespedes has been battling a bone bruise on the bottom of his right foot since the last home stand. "He's had a bone bruise for a while and he's playing hurt," Melvin said. "I might have to DH him tomorrow even if Coco Crisp isn't available, which at this point I'm probably doubting. For a guy used to playing 90 game seasons this is probably empty tank for him and now he's playing center field and dealing with an injury on top of it." -- Crisp hit in the cage each of the last two days. He has appeared in two games as a pinch runner since developing the eye issues but hasn't been able to hit in eight games.

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.