Crisp comes up short, A's lose 4-3 to ChiSox


Crisp comes up short, A's lose 4-3 to ChiSox

OAKLAND (AP) Out of the corner of his eye, Chicago reliever Matt Thornton saw Coco Crisp breaking for home plate, but the left-hander couldn't stop his motion without committing a balk.Good thing for the White Sox.A.J. Pierzynski caught Thornton's inside pitch and dove in front of the plate to cut down Crisp trying to score the tying run on a straight steal in the eighth inning, helping to preserve a 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night."He caught me off guard a little bit," Thornton said. "You never know, if I flinch you might get a balk. Everyone thought he was just going to deke a little bit, fake in and come back out, but he kept on going."Two weeks ago that's a game-tying run and who knows what happens? But we're playing a little better baseball right now and getting some better results as a whole."The White Sox, winners of five of their last six, are definitely on the upswing following a 4-18 stretch that threatened to take them out of contention before the All-Star break.Chicago is still nine games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central but the outlook is a lot more optimistic than it once was.Omar Vizquel had an RBI double during a four-run second inning and Phil Humber (3-3) pitched well into the seventh. Chicago managed only five hits and did all its scoring in one inning but made several stellar defensive plays.The biggest came when Crisp tried a rare straight steal of home, a play that had the White Sox clubhouse buzzing long after the game ended.Crisp led off the inning with a single, stole second and went to third on Daric Barton's groundout. The speedy outfielder faked as if he was going to steal, then broke for home while Thornton was in his windup. Pierzynski caught the pitch and reached out to tag Crisp on the shoulder as he dove for a corner of the plate."I was trying to make something happen, but it's a play I have to make," Crisp said. "I still believe if I don't stutter step, I make it. If he (Pierzynski) hesitates, I'm in. It was a good pitch and a good play by him."Humber gave up three runs and six hits in six-plus innings, the fourth straight solid outing by the right-hander. He didn't walk a batter for the first time in seven starts this season.Sergio Santos worked the ninth for his fourth save in four chances.Humber, claimed off waivers from Oakland in January, had his only bad inning in the seventh when the A's chased him with four consecutive singles.Humber's wild pitch with the bases loaded scored Ryan Sweeney from third, and David DeJesus' second hit of the night, a soft single to right, drove in Hideki Matsui. Jesse Crain struck out Mark Ellis, then gave up a sacrifice fly to Kevin Kouzmanoff that cut the White Sox lead to 4-3.Crain avoided further damage by picking off DeJesus at first."I'll take it," Humber said. "I didn't pitch that great out there. They hit a lot of balls hard right at guys. Fortunately we put some runs on the board early and then the bullpen came in and did a great job."DeJesus finished with two hits and needs one more to reach 1,000 for his career.Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy had control problems in the second inning when the White Sox scored four times. He gave up a leadoff single to Paul Konerko, then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. Alex Rios' grounder scored one run and Vizquel followed with an RBI double.Gordon Beckham's sacrifice fly made it 3-0, and after Juan Pierre reached on an infield single, McCarthy threw wildly to first on a pickoff attempt. The ball rolled into Chicago's bullpen as Vizquel raced in from third.McCarthy (1-4) settled down and allowed only two hits over the next five innings but remains winless over his last six starts.The right-hander had six strikeouts and two walks."We got down four but then (McCarthy) got it back quickly and got better as the game went along," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "It was right there for us, but we couldn't overcome the early four-run deficit."NOTES: Injured Oakland closer Andrew Bailey played catch before leaving for Arizona, where he's scheduled to pitch one inning in an extended spring training game Saturday. ... The A's played without OF Josh Willingham, who served a one-game suspension for bumping plate umpire Bill Miller while arguing a called third strike against Kansas City on May 6. ... Playing 20 games without an off day, the White Sox are going with a six-man rotation and manager Ozzie Guillen isn't ruling out using it beyond that. ... Justine Siegel, a 36-year-old mother of one, threw batting practice to Geren and a few A's players before the game. Siegel had previously pitched batting practice for Oakland in spring training and was extended an invitation to join the team at the Coliseum.

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

It’s lonely at the top, which is where Markelle Fultz sits on almost every 2017 NBA Draft board. The Brooklyn Nets should be set for the next decade with a big time scoring point guard. Instead, it’s the Boston Celtics who have no choice but to take Fultz with the No. 1 overall selection after a savvy trade that sent veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a stack of picks and players back in 2013.

Fultz can do it all. He’s deadly from the outside, he can take you off the bounce and he has elite passing skills to boot. In a draft packed with star potential, specifically at the point guard position, the freshman from Washington stands out well above the rest.  

It would take a major shake up at the top for Fultz not to have his name called first on draft night, but there are plenty of very talented players sitting on the board behind him. Here is a deeper look at the potential top overall selection.

The Positives:
Fultz has tremendous size, length and athleticism for an NBA point guard. He measured in at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and has a frame built to take on muscle. At just 19-years-old, he is already well defined physically and has plenty of room to grow and get stronger.

A crafty, high-end scorer, Fultz changes speed and direction well and has an advanced Euro-step for a young player. He averaged 23.2 points in 35.7 minutes a night for the Huskies while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three. He can score from all three levels, finish well above the rim and play through contact.

In his lone season in college, Fultz showed that he is not only a legitimate scoring threat, but he is a willing passer and an unselfish teammate. While Lonzo Ball is considered the true pass first point guard of the draft, Fultz had a higher assist rate (35.5 to 31.5) and lower turnover rate (13.4 to 18.2) than the star guard from UCLA.

Fultz rebounds well for his position, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game at Washington. He also has potential as a defender, posting 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks, although he is a work in progress on that end of the floor.

Known as a high-character kid and tireless worker off the court, Fultz has the entire package. He can also play the lead or shooting guard spot, which will come in handy if the Celtics decide to pair him with All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt.

The Negatives:
9-16 is a concern. Great college players should be able to will their team to victory, even if the talent around them is suspect. Washington was certainly worse off without Fultz down the stretch, losing their last six while he sat with a knee injury.

Shot selection and sloppy ball handling was also an issue this season. In Fultz’ defense, he played with a group that lacked overall talent and those issues might eventually disappear when he’s added to a roster that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  

Fultz is a quality chase down defender, but he fell asleep on plenty of plays or didn’t show a consistent fight on the defensive end. Lack of focus allowed for plenty of back cuts. He also showed an inconsistent effort fighting through screens.

He’s a work in progress on the defensive end, like most young players coming into the league. Most of these issues can easily be coached out of him at the next level.

Fultz has an advanced feel and tons of room to expand his game. On the court, he resembles another former Husky in Brandon Roy. Fultz is much further along than Roy was at the same age, but possesses both the ability to score from anywhere on the court, as well as rebound and set up his teammates.  

It’s hard to imagine the Celtics passing on Fultz with the top overall selection, but if they do, teams will scramble trying to move up to select him. He would fit perfectly in the Kings starting backcourt alongside sophomore Buddy Hield, but Sacramento lacks the assets to move from five to one, Fultz’ likely landing spot.


Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale


Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale


SAN FRANCISCO -- Johnny Cueto pitched six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. The two-time All-Star was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

The Giants scored their first run in the first inning on a passed ball by Kurt Suzuki, who was handling Dickey's knuckleballs.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks.

Giants catcher Buster Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left the game in the top of the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." . Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. Teheran is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.