A's look to salvage a game in Toronto

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A's look to salvage a game in Toronto

April 7, 2011

A's (1-4) vs.
TORONTO (4-1)

TORONTO (AP) -- Ricky Romero and Trevor Cahill each had an impressive second season in the majors in 2010.

While Romero seemed to pick up right where he left off in his 2011 debut, Cahill wasn't quite as sharp.

These promising pitchers square off Thursday, with Romero looking to continue his success against the Oakland Athletics while Cahill tries to prevent the Toronto Blue Jays from completing a three-game sweep.

Romero (1-0, 1.42 ERA) went 14-9 with a 3.73 ERA last year and didn't seem to miss a beat during Friday's 13-3 season-opening win over Minnesota. He allowed seven hits and three runs - one earned - with seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.

"He got strikeouts, swings and misses," catcher J.P. Arencibia said. "You have to really respect his fastball because he can get to the mid-90s and then he's got that devastating changeup. It's kind of the equalizer."

The left-hander has won all three starts he's made against Oakland while posting a 2.25 ERA. No current member of the Athletics has ever homered against Romero.

Cahill (0-0, 1.93), meanwhile, earned the opening-day start for Oakland (1-4) after going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA in his second major league season.

The right-hander, though, struggled in Friday's 6-2 loss to Seattle, allowing four hits and four walks while surrendering one run in just 4 2-3 innings. He failed to last at least five innings just twice in 30 starts last year.

Cahill, a 2010 All-Star who finished the year fourth in the AL in ERA, is 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in three lifetime starts against Toronto (4-1).

After escaping with a 7-6 win Tuesday thanks to shortstop Yunel Escobar's two-run homer in the 10th inning, the Blue Jays beat the Athletics 5-3 on Wednesday night.

REWIND: Snider's home run sinks A's in loss to Blue Jays

Oakland, which committed the fifth-fewest errors in the AL last season (99), had recorded a major league-worst nine in the first four games before cleaning up its play Wednesday.

"There's always room for improvement," said Dallas Braden, the losing pitcher Wednesday. "But I don't feel like we're so down and out or at the bottom of the barrel or anything like that. I don't have that sense at all about this team. For game five to feel like we're behind the 8-ball or feel like we're not doing our best, I think it's a little early."

Escobar went 3 for 3 before leaving with dizzinesses and outfielder Travis Snider hit a three-run homer for Toronto, which was playing without 2010 home run leader Jose Bautista for the second consecutive game due to the birth of a child.

Bautista, who hit 54 homers last season, is unlikely to play Thursday. Escobar's status is unknown.

"We're hopeful and at least cautiously optimistic at this point that we're not entertaining something like (a concussion)," manager John Farrell said of Escobar, who left the game after sliding face first into third baseman Andy LaRoche's leg on a triple.

The Blue Jays have taken 11 of 13 from the Athletics at Rogers Centre while outscoring them 71-40. Toronto collected 11 hits Wednesday and is hitting .311 as a team.

NOTES
Toronto won four of the seven meetings between these clubs last season. ... Oakland's starting pitchers have posted a 1.53 ERA (317.2) in the team's first three games of the season, but its relievers have struggled out of the gate, allowing six earned runs in 9.1 innings (5.79 ERA). ... Toronto leads the American League in OBP (.397). The Blue Jays were 12th in the A.L. in that category last season (.312). ... Brandon McCarthy will be making his first major-league appearance since October 2, 2009, having missed the 2010 season following shoulder surgery. He has won his last two starts against Toronto, allowing four runs in 12.1 innings. ... J.P. Arencibia leads all rookies with two home runs and five runs batted in. The only other rookie with a homer so far this season is San Francisco's Brandon Belt (1). ... Jo-Jo Reyes is winless in his last 21 appearances in the majors (0-9). His last victory came back on June 13, 2008 in a 5-2 decision over the Angels.

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

OAKLAND — Their pitching staff got banged up throughout the night, but the A’s hope the only lasting damage they absorbed Tuesday night was on the scoreboard.

In the process of an 11-9 defeat to the Miami Marlins, they lost starting pitcher Jesse Hahn to a strained triceps and first baseman Yonder Alonso to a contusion on his right hand and wrist.

The early diagnosis showed they may have dodged a bullet with Alonso — X-rays came back negative for a fracture after he was hit flush in the wrist area on a pitch from lefty Jarlin Garcia. Alonso initially walked off the field after being hit, but after a few moments re-emerged and took first base to run. He was replaced on defense in the seventh.

“I’ve had some history with my hand,” Alonso said afterward. “I broke it three or four years ago. At the time when I got hit, I felt like that was the case all over again. The pain started going away, that’s when I realized I think I’m OK.”

Alonso’s wrist and hand began to swell while he was running the bases, and he had to exit the game. The first baseman had missed the four previous games with a sore left knee, then proceeded to homer in his first at-bat Tuesday, pulling him back into a tie with Khris Davis for the team homer lead at 13. Suffering another injury in the same game could be classified as rotten timing, but Alonso came away feeling fortunate all things considered.

“I think we got very lucky,” he said. “It got me right on the wrist but a little bit on the hand as well. We’re lucky that there’s no break. You just gotta move forward.”

Manager Bob Melvin said Alonso would be a game-time decision for whether he’ll start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but with the A’s off Thursday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they rested Alonso in an attempt to let him heal up for Friday’s road trip opener against the Yankees.

Hahn’s condition seems more ambiguous, and perhaps more troubling. He said he felt fine warming up before Tuesday’s game, but when he took the mound to warm up before the third, he experienced a drop in velocity and couldn’t figure out why.

“I experienced some tightness near my triceps and a big velocity decrease,” Hahn said. “The ball wasn’t coming out (well) at all. It was a weird feeling. I’ve dealt with elbow (problems) before. Usually for me when I have elbow pain I can feel it on my pitches, and I didn’t feel it. It was kinda weird. … It almost felt like a dead arm.”

Hahn gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the third, then was taken out of the game. Afterward, he and the training staff discussed the possibility of getting an MRI but nothing had been set in stone.

“I’m throwing the ball as hard as I can and I see 89-90 on the board,” Hahn said. “I know something’s not right. But at the same time, I’m not feeling anything. It leaves you thinking. To be in that state of mind on the mound is not good.”

Should the A’s need to fill Hahn’s rotation spot the next time through, and should they want to dip into the minor league ranks, Daniel Mengden is on the same turn with Triple-A Nashville and threw seven scoreless innings Tuesday (81 pitches). He’s on the 40-man roster. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett also are coming off great outings for Nashville, though their turns in the rotation don’t line up as good with Hahn’s.