Brewers rookie flirts with a perfect game

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Brewers rookie flirts with a perfect game

From Comcast SportsNet
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has seen enough of what pitcher Mike Fiers has done for his team this season that he is ready to start promoting him for NL Rookie of the Year. Fiers was very impressive again Tuesday night as he took a perfect game into the seventh inning and led the Brewers to a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Fiers (6-4) retired the first 18 batters before Zack Cozart doubled to left-center leading off the seventh. He advanced to third on a fly ball and scored on Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly. The only other hits Fiers gave up were eighth-inning singles to Xavier Paul and Ryan Hanigan. The right-hander struck out pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick to get out of the inning and left the field to a standing ovation. "He pitched an outstanding ball game," Roenicke said. "Absolutely, he has to be put in that conversation (for Rookie of the Year). He's been baffling hitters. And not just average hitters, he's been doing it against some very strong lineups." Fiers said he was aware he was throwing a no-hitter, but stayed focus as his team was only leading by two runs at the time. "Every start I go out there I don't want to give up a hit, but when it got into the sixth and seventh inning, thoughts came into my mind even more," he said. "I'm just trying to put zeroes on the board, no matter if they get 10 hits or zero hits. I just tried to keep my cool and not think about it." Fiers said he thought he threw a good pitch to Cozart, but the Reds shortstop went out and got the pitch. "He got the barrel on it and he hit it in a good spot," he said. "I felt great out there." Fiers has been terrific since he was called up from Triple-A Nashville on May 29. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his last nine starts, going 5-2 with a 1.03 ERA and racking up 61 strikeouts in 61 innings. Roenicke said it was time for everyone to realize that Fiers could pitch in the major leagues. "I think he's shown he can pitch," he said. "He's a battler. He baffles guys with all the different stuff he throws." Jim Henderson pitched a scoreless ninth for his first career save. It was Milwaukee's second consecutive win over the NL Central leaders and its fifth straight victory at home. The Reds have lost three straight for the first time since July 2-5. They remained 3 1-2 games ahead of second-place Pittsburgh. Reds manager Dusty Baker said the problem for Cincinnati was Fiers. "That's one of the best games pitched against us in a long time," Baker said. "There's not a lot we could do. He's very deceptive with that Tim Lincecum-like delivery." Johnny Cueto (14-6) pitched seven innings for the Reds, giving up three runs and six hits while striking out nine. He was trying to become the first NL pitcher to reach 15 wins this season. The Brewers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Aramis Ramirez's 15th home run, a 425-foot shot to the Milwaukee bullpen in left-center. It was the second consecutive game in which Ramirez homered against the Reds. Jean Segura's RBI groundout in the seventh increased the lead to 3-1. It was Segura's first career RBI. NOTES: Baker said 1B Joey Votto would not be activated from the DL on the team's current seven-game road trip, which ends Sunday in Chicago. Votto had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on July 17. ... Brewers RHP Shaun Marcum, on the DL since June 15 with right elbow tightness, will make a rehabilitation start Thursday with Class-A Wisconsin. ... The series concludes Wednesday when the Reds send Mat Latos (10-3) to the mound against Randy Wolf (3-8).

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

ANAHEIM — The A’s collection of individual highlights during their visit to Angel Stadium shouldn’t have equated to a three-game sweep for their opponent.

Jesse Hahn fired eight one-hit innings Tuesday, the same night Josh Phegley delivered a pinch-hit homer in the 10th before the A’s lost in 11 innings. On Thursday, Kendall Graveman turned in perhaps the defensive play of the 2017 season by a pitcher, recording an unassisted double play that was the first by an A’s pitcher in 46 years.

All great moments to relive in the clubhouse afterward, but surely they ring a bit hollow given the final outcomes. The A’s were swept by an Angels team that, like Oakland, has been hit hard by the injury bug. Los Angeles is without key relievers Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin, not to mention starter Garrett Richards among others.

Yet the Angels pitching staff twice held the A’s to one run over the three-game series, including Thursday’s 2-1 defeat, when the A’s mustered just three hits.

“We’re a little streaky right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… Give them credit, they pitched really well, and they really are down a lot of guys in the bullpen. We would expect to do a little more damage.”

They couldn’t Thursday, and that it made it tough to savor Graveman’s incredible play the way they should have.

With runners on the corners and no outs, he fielded Juan Graterol’s comebacker and caught Ben Revere in a rundown between third and home. Graveman ran him down and after applying the tag, hurdled Revere and made the tag on Cliff Pennington, who was trying to advance from first to third in the chaos.

“That’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make, hurdling over an (opponent) to get the second out unassisted,” Melvin said. “I didn’t even know how to put that one down on my card.”

Graveman, one of the A’s better overall athletes, was asked if he’d ever recorded an unassisted double play before.

“Never. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one,” he said. “(Ryan) Madson said he’s never seen one and he’s watched over 2,000 games.”

Incredibly, the last A’s pitcher to pull off an unassisted double play previously was in attendance Thursday night. John “Blue Moon” Odom did it back on July 11, 1971, also against the Angels. Odom attends most of the A’s games in Anaheim, and he’s struck up a friendship with Graveman over the years.

“Every time we come here and even in spring training, I try to catch up with Blue Moon Odom and see how he’s doing,” Graveman said. “He and Wash (former A’s infield coach Ron Washington) are friends so we always cut up about Wash. He’s a great guy. He sits in the front row. He came in and saw me right before stretch and told me ‘I’m gonna be front row watching you.’ That is pretty neat that that happened.”

A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso said he’s never surprised to see Graveman make a great defensive play.

“The guy’s a pitcher, but it feels like he’s a shortstop playing the position.”

Graveman was visited by trainers after the fifth-inning play, but Melvin said it was mainly to give the pitcher a breather and let him get his adrenaline under control. Neither Graveman nor his manager revealed anything specific that bothered Graveman. Seeing him stay in the game and complete six innings of two-run ball had to be encouraging for Melvin.

“The first thing I asked him was ‘What’d you fall on?’” Melvin said. “He said, ‘My butt.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re all right then.’ But you’re not gonna see that play again probably.”

The A’s are giving their manager and fans some accomplishments to marvel over. As they move on to Houston trying to halt a four-game losing streak, they just need to figure things out on the scoreboard.

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley’s name has been sullied, at least temporarily. He feared it would be long enough to send him free falling down the NFL Draft.

The Ohio State cornerback and top-15 prospect was accused of rape stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland, an allegation he called “completely false.”

The Raiders clearly believe him. That’s why they drafted him No. 24 overall on Thursday evening, and expect him to be a long-term solution in their secondary.

Conley wasn’t sure how far he’d fall after being beaten down by one rough week, when the allegation went public. Reggie McKenzie’s first-round selection and subsequent call was more emotional than expected.

“It made it 10 times more special,” Conley said Thursday night in a conference call. “Just having that doubt in my mind, just not knowing (how far I would fall). Just having faith and having doubt, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When it came, it shocked me. It felt unreal, honestly. It still feels unreal.”

Being a top pick was expected after an excellent career at Ohio State. The rape accusation threatened to destroy his draft-day dreams. Conley has not been arrested or charged in relation to the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Conley said he volunteered to take a polygraph test that was shared with NFL teams, and reportedly passed the one he took. He said in a statement there are witnesses and video evidence proving he didn’t do anything illegal.

Conley spent the last few days trying to proclaim his innocence. 

He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police on Monday to discuss the April 9 incident -- he'll also submit a DNA sample, according to ESPN -- where group sex was suggested and a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted.

Conley believes his name will be cleared in time.

“I’m very confident it will be resolved," Conley said. "I took a test today that helps. Then when I made my statement and all the evidence that I have, I feel confident it’ll be resolved.”

Conley admits he shouldn’t have put himself in a compromising position, which occurred at a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.

“I could’ve made way better judgment,” Conley said. “I mean, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I definitely could’ve made a better decision.”

Conley hopes to move beyond it quickly and start focusing on football. He is scheduled to fly west for a press conference on Friday.

Conley is thankful to the Raiders for believing in him despite his recent troubles.

“It’s off the charts, honestly,” Conley said. “Just to know that they have faith in me, not even just as a football player but as a person like that, it speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to be a part of the Raider organization.”