A's fall 4-1 to Angels, back-to-back HRs


A's fall 4-1 to Angels, back-to-back HRs


ANAHEIM (AP) The guy who sets off fireworks from Angel Stadium's fake rock pile after homers had a pretty boring job this season until Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo finally put him to work.Hunter and Callaspo hit back-to-back homers, Ervin Santana allowed one run in six solid innings, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 4-1 on Wednesday night for their fourth win in six games.The Angels beat Oakland ace Trevor Cahill with an unlikely power burst in the fifth inning for a team with just seven homers in its previous 16 games."Cahill is one of the best pitchers in the American League right now, and for us to come in and drive the ball and hit holes is good," Hunter said. "He made some mistakes, and he doesn't make many. You have to show some power, because some pitchers can get comfortable if it always takes three or four hits to get a run."
GUTIERREZ: Image A's problem, not communication
Hunter might be regaining his power stroke after a weak start to the season in the cleanup spot vacated by injured Cuban slugger Kendry Morales, who's out for the season with a broken left ankle from early 2010. Hunter has two homers in his last four games after hitting just four in his first 47 outings, and he has eight RBIs - including three game-winners - in his last six games."I'm just trying to settle in and stay focused," Hunter said. "Just stay short, sweet, and try to hit the ball hard somewhere."Reggie Willits' first hit of the season was a run-scoring double for the Angels, and Peter Bourjos added an RBI single. Los Angeles has won two of three in the four-game series with its upstate AL West rivals.Santana (3-4) yielded six hits and two walks, outpitching Cahill in his second straight victory after winning just once in his first nine starts. Santana also improved to 13-3 with a 1.97 ERA in his career against Oakland, even if he needed 117 pitches to do it."I was usually behind in the count, and I worked real hard to get the win," Santana said. "It was a little difficult because I got in a lot of 3-2 counts - too many foul ball, foul ball, foul ball. ... You're talking about one of the best sinkerballers in the game (in Cahill). He didn't have his 'A' game, but it's very exciting to beat him in a game like tonight."Jordan Walden pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 13 chances.
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Coco Crisp had an RBI double in the fifth for the A's, who have lost seven of eight amid scattered locker-room dissatisfaction with manager Bob Geren.Cahill (6-2) couldn't join Boston's Jon Lester as the AL's only seven-game winners. He had won his past three starts against the Angels, but he's stumbling for the first time in an otherwise stellar season."I kind of felt out of whack the whole game," Cahill said. "I knew I was a little off, so I just went out there and kept throwing. I didn't throw my changeup as much because I didn't have a good one coming in."Cahill had given up just four homers all season before Hunter and Callaspo connected. Willits was 0 for 13 to start the season before his double later in the fifth scored Mark Trumbo.After five consecutive victories, the right-hander yielded 10 hits for the second time in three straight winless starts. Cahill walked five while struggling through six innings.Santana mostly avoided trouble, but got help from his defense at a key point.Crisp's double in the fifth inning drove home Andy LaRoche, but Alexi Amarista's relay throw allowed catcher Hank Conger to tag out Cliff Pennington at the plate, keeping the game tied at 1 before the Angels' three-run rally in the bottom half of the inning."I don't know if it's so much that we're pressing, because we haven't really hit the ball that great all year," Oakland's Ryan Sweeney said. "I think once everyone starts hitting, then we'll be able to take it to that next level. ... I don't know if it's frustrating, because it's not like it just started happening."In the eighth, Amarista made a nifty diving stop at second base of Sweeney's grounder, with his throw barely beating Sweeney to end the inning. Amarista had two hits, snapping an 0-for-17 skid.Geren called a 15-minute team meeting before the game, possibly to discuss communication issues in the wake of reliever Brian Fuentes' critical comments about Geren earlier in the series.Former Oakland closer Huston Street, now with Colorado, added to the drama by telling the San Francisco Chronicle that Geren was a poor communicator and his "least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports.""I don't think it's my place to comment on somebody on another team," Geren said of Street.NOTES: Los Angeles has beaten Oakland in 10 of their last 12 meetings at Angel Stadium. ... Angels C Hank Conger snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a second-inning single. ... Cahill allowed back-to-back homers for just the second time in his career.

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week. 

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of a revamped bullpen, is leaning toward having Tommy John surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night. 

Bochy said surgery was the recommendation of both doctors who examined Smith's elbow this week. Smith will talk to his agent before coming to a final decision on Friday. The procedure would keep Smith out the entire 2017 season and likely would cause him to miss the start of the 2018 season.

Smith, 27, missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. A second round of diagnostics revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. 

"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."

Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants, getting setup work in the seventh and eighth innings. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on young lefties Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford (who is currently serving a 50-game suspension) and catcher Andrew Susac (who is currently injured). After a shaky start, he finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

The Giants have for the most part avoided Tommy John for 40-man roster pitchers. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Josh Osich have all had it during their time in the organization, along with outfielder Mac Williamson. Prospect Ian Gardeck is currently recovering from Tommy John. The last Giants pitcher who was likely headed for the roster before having Tommy John was left-hander Eric Surkamp. He had surgery in 2012.

The timetable is different for every pitcher, but the general consensus is that the procedure sidelines a pitcher for at least a year, and usually closer to 16 months. Matt Moore, Thursday night’s starter, had Tommy John on April 23, 2014. He did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then, he was under restrictions. 

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.