A's Insider notes: Anderson breaks through


A's Insider notes: Anderson breaks through

May 26, 2011

Paul Gutierrez

Anderson breaks through - That's how you get off the schneid. Brett Anderson, winless in five career starts against the Los Angeles Angels in going 0-2 with a 4.55 ERA, kept Halos hitters off balance all day and kept runners from crossing home plate in his eight innings of work. Anderson, whose numbers in Anaheim were even worse (5.84 ERA), threw eight innings of shutout ball while allowing just three hits. The left-hander also struck out four and walked three in his 105 pitches, 72 strikes. He retired the first 10 batters he faced. Most impressive - the way Anderson got out of jams in the sixth - runners at second and third with one out - and seventh - runners at first and second, none out - unscathed.

RECAP: Anderson brilliant, A's gain split with Angels
Balfour, it's Australian for A's new closer, mate - OK, so, technically, it was not a save situation when Grant Balfour entered in the ninth with a four-run lead. But he walked the tight-rope like one in taking the role vacated by Brian Fuentes and before Andrew Bailey returns. Balfour gave up a two-out, three-run home run to Mark Trumbo. Balfour kicked the mound in frustration. One pitch later, new Angel Russell Branyan took Balfour to the warning track in dead center, where Coco Crisp caught the ball to end the game, and Balfour's adventure.Gerenball equals Moneyball? - Geren and the A's are roundly and routinely criticized for not bunting enough. Not taking enough chances. Well, Kurt Suzuki and Cliff Pennington dropped a couple of beauties down the third-base line that hugged the chalk and stayed in play for singles that looked like line drives in the scorebook.Geren, the comic - In his pregame meeting with the media, Geren was asked if he saw highlights of Wednesday night's 19-inning marathon between Philadelphia and Cincinnati, when Phillies second baseman position Wilson Valdez became the first position payer since 2000 to pitch and get the victory. Geren was also asked ho he thought could do it for the A's. He said he thought outfielder Ryan Sweeney had the arm for it. When jokingly asked if Hideki Matsui could do it, another reporter asked if Geren had, ahem, communicated such plans. "Have I talked with him?" Geren mused, with a huge grin on his face. "That's awesome."Of catchers and collisions - News of Giants catcher Buster Posey's potential season-ending injuries were also a pregame topic of discussion in both managers meetings, with with both Geren and Angels skipper Mike Scioscia former big league backstops. "It's very unfortunate. hate to see anybody on any team get injured like that," Geren said. "He's a special playerI don't know the kid, never met himbut I wish him the best." I asked Geren if it hit closer to home for him because it was his position. "Yeah, and I have a young catcher myself (in Kurt Suzuki). My two kids catch. I know its a dangerous position. It's part of the job. It's a tough position." Geren also talked about his most violent collision as a player, with Ken Caminiti. "That was a bad one," he said. "Had a bad neck for a while, whiplash. Tried to play through it. I dropped a nice 0-fer after that. Then again, I could have done that with a good neck." Ba-dum-dum. After mentioning another bad dust-up with Rob Deer, green pointed to the Angels dugout and Scioscia. "He was the most amazing plate-blocking, collision-taking catcher of all time, in my mind," Geren said. "A very tough guy back there." Scioiscia, meanwhile, told reporters that such collisions are "99 percent of the time" the result of adrenaline. He was also not sure about calls from the Bay Area to look into changing rules. "When something like this happens, it's unfortunate," Scioscia said. "But I don't know if there's enough there to re-write the rulebook."

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.”