Gutierrez: A's Cahill taken to school by Yanks early


Gutierrez: A's Cahill taken to school by Yanks early

May 30, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVEA's PAGE A's VIDEOPaul Gutierrez

OAKLAND -- He has a detached cool about him that belies the notion he ever gets rattled.A 23-year-old who warms up to the hypnotic strains of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit?" Too cool for school.Looking over into the opposing dugout and seeing Jeter and A-Rod and Posada (no, he did not beg out of the lineup) and Teixeira and the iconic interlocking "NY" adorning their caps? School, rather, is in session.And A's ace Trevor Cahill was taken there Monday by those marauding New York Yankees. Early, and often, in New York's eventual 5-0 defeat of Oakland that snapped the A's season-high four-game winning streak.RECAP: Yankees get to Cahill early, Athletics lose 5-0

"They've got quite a few of the best hitters in the game," Cahill said, in what will surely be in the running for understatement of the year."It kind of happened quick. I can't really remember what happened. You walk a guy, give up a base hit, next thing you know, it's a 3-0 game."And with Bartolo Colon and his magic-healing fat stem cells acting as a fountain of youth for the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner, that was essentially the ballgame.GUTIERREZ: A's Insider notes
A hard-hit single up the middle by Derek Jeter to lead off the game was followed by a Curtis Granderson fly out before Mark Teixeira took advantage of Cahill's anxiousness."He sure doesn't seem like it," A's manager Bob Geren said, when asked if Cahill was especially more amped up to face the Yankees. "On the outside."The way to tell, then, is by Cahill's pitch location. The less control he has, the more tightly-wound he is. And the higher his pitches sail.On a 1-and-2 count to Teixeira, Cahill tried to bury a curveball into the dirt. Instead, it hung. And Teixeira pounded the ball into the right-field stands for a two-run home run.Then Cahill walked Alex Rodriguez before Robinson Cano doubled into the right-center gap. Three-to-nothing, Yankees, and Cahill had yet to break a sweat."You just try to execute one pitch at a time," Cahill said.One batter at a time.Getting knocked around by the first five hitters he faced seemed to actually settle the youngster. Cahill allowed only one hit the rest of his afternoon, though he did walk four more batters, including two in the fateful seventh.Those figurative saucer-eyes that Cahill was sporting in the first inning? Long gone by the end of the sixth. He even appeared to twice buzz Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli with knockdown pitches under the chin after he stole second base in the second inning. But more impartial observers thought the balls just got away from Cahill, and that Cervelli is seen as a drama queen, of sorts, who hangs out over the plate and dives out of the way on anything close."Trevor is still very young and he continues to get better," Geren said.Except, Cahill has gotten progressively worse after starting out 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA in his first eight starts. Since then, he is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in four outings.His numbers against the Yankees in his career, though, are downright gruesome in going 0-3 with a 9.72 ERA in three starts against them.Weariness and related poor mechanics that resulted in a different arm slot did him in come the seventh."I paid for it," he said. "It's about getting comfortable and confident."Still think they're not in his head? At the risk of giving the Yankees and their bought-and-paid-for mystique too much credit, they most certainly should be.They have a 207-million payroll. Twenty-seven World Series championships. And, as one A's player told me he felt about the Yankees when he first came up to the bigs, "They're men."To his credit, Cahill settled down. But it was too late. Especially with the A's bats going back into hibernation.Now, if only the A's could inject some of Colon's fat stem cells into their bats.

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.