Giants

Raburn's double dooms A's in 3-0 loss to Tigers

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Raburn's double dooms A's in 3-0 loss to Tigers

April 14, 2011BOXSCORE A'SVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

OAKLAND (AP) Phil Coke spent one offseason working as a chimney sweep in the town of Sonora, nestled in the foothills of Northern California.Now Coke is mopping up hitters exactly as the Detroit Tigers envisioned he would when they reserved a spot for the left-hander in their starting rotation.Coke and two relievers combined on a three-hitter, Ryan Raburn hit a two-out RBI double in the seventh inning to break a scoreless tie and the Tigers held on for a 3-0 win over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday night."He was impressive," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "His mindset was to be a starter and he's getting into a groove. His demeanor was real good and he seemed much more calm. I think being more regimented helped him."Primarily a reliever throughout his career, Coke made his first start in the majors late in the 2010 season and was impressive enough to earn a spot in the Tigers' rotation this year. Because of the schedule, Coke opened the year in Detroit's bullpen when Leyland worked with a four-man rotation, but he's been solid ever since.
GUTIERREZ: A's road-built cohesion lost in Coco's hair
Coke (1-2) allowed only one Oakland runner past first base and retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced. Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth and Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his third save in as many chances."It's remembering how to do it," Coke said. "I was staying focused on what my job is, getting out there and getting it done. I wasn't thinking about anything except to see the glove and hit it."Coke grew up in Sonora, a tiny town some 2 12 hours east of Oakland. Several friends and family were in attendance Thursday, including his former boss from when Coke was a chimney sweep.They saw Coke earn his first win since July 26, 2009.It was a welcomed performance for the Tigers, who were stymied by Oakland starter Gonzalez for six innings before scoring three times against the A's bullpen."Early on we were going pitch for pitch," Coke said. "That's cool. 'You and me, let's go nine.'"Ramon Santiago had two hits and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth for Detroit. Leyland now needs one win to become the 19th manager in major league history to reach 1,500 for his career.The Tigers managed only four hits, matching their season low, but held on behind Coke's second straight solid start after he opened the year in the bullpen. Coke pitched seven shutout innings and struck out two for his first victory of the season.Conor Jackson singled twice for the A's, who were shut out for the first time this year."You could tell we were a little beat up today, a little tired," Gonzalez said. "When I was in the sixth inning, my arm was dropping a little bit. Detroit's a good lineup and it shows."The Tigers, who won their previous two games on walkoff hits, couldn't get anything going against Gonzalez but broke through after he departed.Santiago greeted reliever Tyson Ross (1-1) with a sharp single to center and was sacrificed to second. After Casper Wells flew out to right, Raburn doubled hard off the wall in right-center. Santiago, who also singled in the fifth, scored easily.That was all Coke (1-2) and Detroit's bullpen needed to slow down the surging A's.Gonzalez gave up just two hits and extended his scoreless streak to 17 consecutive innings, but struggled with his control most of the game and matched his career high with six walks. Gonzalez also threw two wild pitches.A 15-game winner for Oakland in 2010, Gonzalez still lowered his ERA to a stellar 0.47 before giving way to Ross in the seventh.After giving up Raburn's RBI double in the seventh, Ross walked the first two batters in the eighth. Jeremy Blevins replaced Ross and promptly walked Brandon Inge to load the bases, then fell behind 3-0 to Santiago.Two pitches later, Santiago hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Jhonny Peralta. Oakland left fielder Josh Willingham threw to third base but no one was covering and the ball skipped into the A's dugout. Brennan Boesch, who was at second, was awarded two bases and scored to make it 3-0.Overall, A's pitchers combined to issue a season-high 11 walks.Notes: The A's got good news on two of their key relievers. Closer Andrew Bailey (forearm strain) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session without a setback while RHP Michael Wuertz (hamstring) felt fine after pitching a simulated inning. Both pitchers are on the disabled list but there is no word on when either might return. ... Detroit recalled RHP Al Alburquerque from Toledo (IL), filling the roster spot vacated when RHP Robbie Weinhardt was optioned to the Mud Hens following Wednesday's win against Texas. ... Tigers RHP Ryan Perry, out since April 5 due to an infected eye, will begin a rehab assignment with Toledo on Friday. .. Detroit will play seven more games in Oakland this season, its most since 1969. ... Oakland 2B Mark Ellis was awarded a triple for a ball he hit against Minnesota on April that was originally ruled an error. .. The A's are 1-4 in series-opening games this season.

As Arroyo is shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive

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USATSI

As Arroyo is shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive

SAN FRANCISCO — There is a Houston Astros prospect named Dean Deetz, and in a way, Pablo Sandoval can thank him for his second shot with the Giants. 

Deetz drilled Christian Arroyo on July 1, halting the young third baseman’s bid to return to the Giants for the final two months. With Eduardo Nuñez traded to Boston and Arroyo recovering from minor hand surgery, the Giants turned to Sandoval, who has been a fixture in the middle of their lineup the last couple of weeks. Arroyo hoped to get some time at the hot corner in September, but on Thursday the Giants conceded that won’t happen. 

Arroyo will miss the rest of the regular season, team officials said. The hope is that he can get healthy in time for the Arizona Fall League and then potentially make up lost at-bats in a winter league.

Arroyo is either the organization’s best or second-best hitting prospect, depending on which list you look at. He hit .396 in Triple-A this season and then provided a momentary jolt after he forced his way into the big league lineup. Then the slump came, and overall Arroyo hit just .192 in 34 big league games. He was sent back to the minors and promptly was hit by a couple of pitches. 

It was a season with plenty of highs but a disappointing ending, but Arroyo is still just 22 and looks to be a big part of the future. Has he done enough to go into next spring with a firm grip on a job? 

“I’ll have to answer that later on and see where we’re at,” manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday. “It’s all going to be competitive, that’s the way I look at it. You look at where we’ll finish, and not in the postseason, and you have to stay open-minded on everything.”

This could be setting up for a pretty intriguing spring battle. Arroyo and 23-year-old Ryder Jones were the internal candidates set for a competition, but Sandoval likely will be the everyday third baseman down the stretch. He has shown flashes of his old pre-Boston self and the Giants have been generally pleased with his play. Still, the results aren’t really there. 

Sandoval is hitting .200 since returning, with a .220 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage. That's good for a .545 OPS, which is nearly 100 points below his OPS in Boston this season. The Red Sox, at some point, had seen enough.  

Bochy said he has taken positives away from Sandoval's energy and some of his bigger moments, particularly the upper-deck homer he hit off Max Scherzer over the weekend. That’s his only homer with the Giants so far, but it made an impression. 

“He’s got the bat speed,” Bochy said. “That’s one of the longest homers we’ve seen this year. That shows (the bat speed) is there.”

Jones has been a fixture as well, playing first base in place of Brandon Belt. He has looked much better the second time around, but his average is still below .200 and his OPS of .559 is just about equal to Sandoval's. The Giants have not seen enough from anyone to have a favorite to play third base next season, and Bochy said the same holds true at other positions. 

"We've got to stay open-minded about who is going to be where next year (and) playing time," he said. "It's up to us to adjust and get better."

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

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AP

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.