From Comcast SportsNetANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- At the start of spring training, Oakland manager Bob Melvin didn't know who A.J. Griffin was. Things have changed quite dramatically since then.Griffin threw eight scoreless innings, becoming the second Athletics pitcher in 85 years to start his career with six straight wins, and Oakland beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-1 on Wednesday night."He's on my radar now, put it that way," Melvin said. "We didn't see him at all in the spring. But once the season started, we were watching pretty intently because he was pitching well in the minors."We've seen a lot of good games out of him. But against that lineup, here at this place, that's probably as good as we've seen him. He's got a lot of confidence and he's been fun to watch."Oakland, the AL wild-card leader, stayed three games behind first-place Texas in the AL West. But the surprising A's have a five-game cushion with 20 to play in the race for the league's final postseason spot.Griffin (6-0) allowed six hits, struck out six and walked none in the longest of his 11 major league starts. The 24-year-old right-hander, one of four rookies in the A's rotation along with Jarrod Parker, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone, lowered his ERA to 1.94 in his third start off the disabled list."Someone's got to go out there and pitch, so why not me? That's kind of the way I look at it," said Griffin, promoted from Triple-A Sacramento on June 24. "You just go out there and try to do the best you can and give the team a chance to win. It's just worked out in my favor to be 6-0. Tonight I had pretty good command of all four of my pitches, and I just tried to go after guys and get ahead."The only other A's pitcher since 1927 to win his first six decisions as a big leaguer was Jim Nash, who was 7-0 over his first nine starts in 1966."I just try to detach myself from that kind of stuff," Griffin said. "But you've got to go out there with confidence. I mean, I don't want to sound like, Yeah, I thought I was going to be this good.' But I thought that I would do well if I just kept to my game plan -- keep throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys and keeping them off balance. It's pretty much the same game up here. They just don't miss as much when you make a mistake."Rookie pitchers have 40 wins for the A's, four shy of the Oakland record set in 2009."We've put a lot of stock in these guys and we've given them opportunities," Melvin said. "If we didn't feel like they had the makeup to be able to do this, we couldn't. But every single one of them has responded."I think they feed off each other," he added. "I mean, we're talking about a group now where you're looking at Milone and Parker as veterans, based on the fact that they've pitched the whole season. Straily wasn't on our radar either this spring, so (general manager) Billy Beane and the front office have done a great job targeting these guys when they're ready to come up and perform."Sean Doolittle gave up a leadoff homer in the ninth by Albert Pujols before Ryan Cook got the final out for his 14th save. Pujols, a three-time NL MVP, became the first player in history with 30 homers in each of his first 12 seasons. He also tied Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 28th place on the career list with No. 475.The Athletics, who can sweep the four-game series by beating Angels ace Jered Weaver on Thursday, have won 15 of 18 and are 22 games over .500 (82-60) for the first time since the 2006 club finished 93-69.The A's won their 12th consecutive road game, matching the 1971 squad for the longest streak since the club relocated from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968. The franchise record is 14 in a row set in May 1931, when the team was in Philadelphia.Oakland's road winning streak is the longest in the majors since 2003, when Seattle won 13 straight away from Safeco Field.Ervin Santana (8-12) was charged with two runs -- one earned -- and four hits over six innings. He struck out six. It was the eighth time this season that his teammates didn't score while he was in the game -- including five straight starts by Santana in which the Angels were shut out."Those guys have been pitching great all year, and this series they matched up well against us and are doing a good job," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "A week ago we were playing great baseball, and right now we've hit a little bump in the road. It takes one good game to get you on track, and one good inning. Unfortunately, we haven't swung the bats early in the games against Oakland in this series to give us a chance to do some things."The Angels got a scare in the fourth when Santana was struck on the right wrist by a line drive off Josh Donaldson's bat. He scrambled after the ball in time to get the force at second base on Brandon Moss, then was allowed to take a few practice pitches to test his arm after Scioscia and trainer Adam Nevala went out to check on him.Oakland got an unearned run in the first when Josh Reddick doubled with two outs and scored on an error by shortstop Erick Aybar. Yoenis Cespedes made it 2-0 with his 18th homer leading off the sixth, ending a career-worst 22-game homerless drought. The A's tacked on two runs in the eighth with Derek Norris' RBI double and an RBI single by Coco Crisp.NOTES:Santana has given up a major league-worst 35 homers, the most in his eight-year career. He is five shy of the franchise record. ... A's starters have walked three batters or fewer in 41 consecutive games, tying the Oakland record set in 2001. ... The Angels haven't been swept in a four-game set by Oakland since the final series of the 2001 season, when they finished the schedule with a 2-19 thud. ... Pujols, relegated to DH duty the past 15 games because of a sore right calf, is hitting .317 with two homers and 10 RBIs during that stretch. ... Aybar's error was his 13th, matching last season's total when he won his first Gold Glove.
George Paton, one of the remaining possibilities for the 49ers’ general manager position, is reportedly on the Indianapolis Colts’ list of candidates to fill their vacancy, too.
The Colts have requested permission to speak with Paton, the assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported on Monday.
Paton is scheduled for a second interview with the 49ers on Friday, along with Atlanta offensive coordinator and San Francisco’s presumptive head coach, in Atlanta.
The Colts also requested permission to interview Seattle co-directors of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, USA Today reported. Kirchern and Fitterer also interviewed with the 49ers. Kirchner pulled his name from consideration, while the 49ers informed Fitterer he would not be asked back for a second interview.
The Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson on Saturday. Owner Jim Irsay said Indianapolis’ vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III would be a candidate. The 49ers also interviewed Raye, who was informed he would not be included in a second round of interviews.
Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is the other known candidate for the 49ers’ general manager position that opened when the firing of Trent Baalke was announced at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season.
Programming note: Warriors-Heat coverage starts today at 3:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.
He is a credentialed NBA star, with enough personal wealth to choose achievement over dollars, the conviction to stand on principle and such an acute cultural awareness that he’s simply unable to tune out the despair gripping much of America.
David West has deep concerns and many questions.
It’s not that he questions himself and everything he was taught and remains committed to teaching others. The Warriors forward, 36, has seen inequality, up close, yet still continues to believe in the human spirit and its capacity to overcome.
Though he clearly is disturbed by the wave of crude belligerence represented by our latest president, Donald Trump, inaugurated only days ago, what’s more distressing to West is the transparent bigotry and misogyny, which points up the rampant ignorance behind his rise.
“He brought out an element of our society that a lot of folks assumed was dead,” West said on the CSN Bay Area Warriors Insider Podcast. “A lot of folks assumed that that part of our country was no longer, based on the election of President Obama. But what Donald Trump did was, he reached for a demographic of people who responded to some of the most infantile, non-decent language that you could expect coming from a president candidate. Folks bit.”
West didn’t bite. Didn’t even think about biting. No, he’s going the opposite way.
He’s going to fight the fight. The married father of two is going to do it by flexing his mind more than his imposing 6-foot-9, 250-pound physique.
He’s going to stand with the millions of women who marched over the weekend. He’s going to stand with the millions of people who feel their quest for justice is endangered. He’s going to stand with those whose health care is in peril. He’s going to stand with those who understand that science telling us that climate changes is a grave global threat.
West is going to stand for truth and fairness and courtesy, even if he is uncertain whether the president sending out angry tweets and advocating “alternative facts” will be standing at his side.
“All the tactics that he used to get elected are the very things that someone like me, who works with youth on a consistent basis, are the things that we try to talk our young folks out of being,” West said. “We try to talk our young people out of being bullies. We try to talk our young men out of disrespecting women. We try to talk our young people into being accepting of other people’s opinions and other people’s walks of life.
“And he is the complete opposite of all of that.”
West, who earned his degree in communications from Xavier University in 2003, studies people of all stripes, from the great philosophers such as Nietzsche and Plato, to his coaches and the youngsters he mentors. He has a passion for knowledge as well as a profound appreciation for others with similar pursuits. Moreover, he believes in first-hand involvement.
So he involves himself in issues pertinent to gaining knowledge and investing -- financially, emotionally and intellectually -- in the future. He examines reality and how it relates to such issues as the infant mortality rate, the hypocrisy contained within United States Constitution and the tenuous dynamic between law enforcement and people of color.
West doesn’t stop there. He is a crusader for human rights. He has made multiple visits to Africa to peel back the layers of those who inhabit the continent. He is acutely attuned to matters of climate change; he’s the lone athlete/celebrity on the advisory board of Zoetic Global, an American-based group devoted to clean-energy technology, specifically hyperkinetic turbines.
West is, in the vernacular, “woke.”
He vocalized full support for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose very public attempts to shine a light on the frequency of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement.
There was considerable outrage over Kaepernick’s perceived disrespect of the flag as a symbol for the country when his actual cause is a plea for fairness.
“And people are too one-sided, too one-dimensional in their thought process, to get to that,” West said. “So all they saw him doing was a physical gesture. All they saw him doing was taking a knee.
“The issue, when we get to the basis of all this, is that there is a group of people who want justice -- people who want justice. And regardless of opposite or opposing views, justice should be just. And it should be for everyone. And when that environment doesn’t exist or is not readily available in terms of what we’re witnessing, then people are going to have things to say.”
Asked about the value of and prevalence with which sports celebrities speak up, as Kaepernick did, West offered an enlightening response.
“I’m not sure that the athletes, in terms of a collective group, are in a position, in terms of information, to take the type of stand that Colin took,” he said. “That’s kind of what gets lost in the interpretation as well. Folks see him, and if you’ve ever listened to Colin speak or if you ever followed him, he has a large information base. And I think it’s unfair to assume that other pro athletes have that same base.
“That’s very important, because what we have now, on the flip side, is very low-information athletes or former athletes who do speak up and who say things, who should not be saying anything at all.”
As for those NBA authority figures, such as Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, comfortable with sociopolitical dialogue openly and from a knowledgeable perspective, West expresses gratitude for their words and effort.
“Those guys are different,” he says, “because they take the time to become a little bit more understanding of the guys they are around most of the year.
“Steve wants to know how we feel about what popped up on the news yesterday or the day before, about what’s going on because all of that plays a part who you are.”
As irritated as West is with the disrespect frequently shown to former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black commander-in-chief, he was pleased with Obama’s ability to reply with “dignity and class” under sometimes trying conditions.
We have elected in Trump someone who West, putting it mildly, “somebody who’s not as nuanced in dealing with folks.”
West is among a select group of high-profile athletes to speak openly of his concern about Trump. Knicks center Joakim Noah expressed his discontent, as has Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and former 49ers receiver Torrey Smith.
West, however, is among the elder statesmen of American athletes. And someone who puts his mind and time where his heart is. So, there remains at least . . . hope.
“We’re just in for a very different type of administration, where we’ve got to brace for a different type of leadership, unlike anything this country has ever seen,” he said of Trump. “For a lot of folks, they’re just trying to see what he’s going to do next. What’s going to happen? Some of the things he’s said, the things that he’s backed up, the things he’s projected of himself out onto the world, I don’t think anybody expected him to be able to get elected to such a prestigious and powerful seat in this country.
“I don’t know how you balance it. We all have to just wait and see. Folks inside the political system, who are tasked with the job of keeping him in check and keeping him under control, we’ve got to hold their feet to the fire.”