Familiar faces tabbed to lead A's minor leaguers


Familiar faces tabbed to lead A's minor leaguers

The minor league coaching carousel has come to a halt as the Oakland Athletics organization has all of its coaches in place for the 2013 season. The big news is the promotion of Steve Scarsone from manager of the Double-A Midland Rockhounds to manager of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.Scarsone replaces Darren Bush, who was promoted to Oakland to be the A's bullpen coach. For Scarsone, the promotion is a big career step as all four of the previous River Cats managers have gone on to coach or manage in the major leagues. On the surface these may not look like big moves, but the A's lean heavily on their minor league system to produce players that are ready to contribute when called upon. The coaches in the minor leagues play a crucial role for the A's big league team. Last year guys like Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, Josh Donaldson, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, and Evan Scribner all played important roles for the A's. Straily and Griffin both spent time under Scarsone's leadership last season."He comes every day with the same energy win or lose," Straily said of Scarsone. "He tries to instill that attitude that we are better than everyone else in each ballplayer. He's a lot like every other member that the A's have put into the coaching staff. He's positive, upbeat, and he's not a negative person." Scarsone has managed several teams in the A's organization. He led Single-A Kane County in 2009, Single-A Advanced Stockton in 2010, and Double-A Midland for the past two seasons. He also managed for two years in the Diamondbacks Minor League system. He not only has shown good leadership qualities as a manager but also is a proven teacher and instructor," A's director of player development Keith Lieppman said. "We believe he will carry on in the fine tradition of the outstanding young managers that have led the River Cats throughout their history."Former A's bullpen coach Rick Rodriguez has been named the River Cats pitching coach. He spent two years as the bullpen coach in Oakland before being replaced by Bush. Rodriguez is the longest tenured pitching coach in River Cats history. He spent 10 seasons in Sacramento. He replaces Scott Emerson, who will now be the organization's roving pitching instructor. Emerson spent two seasons as the River Cats pitching coach. Emerson coached Jarrod Parker, Straily, and Griffin last season and they all had an impact on the A's starting rotation. He is an outspoken guy with a wealth of knowledge and should fit very well in his new role. "I think it's a great opportunity for him," Straily said. "He's a well liked guy, knows what he's talking about, knows how to evaluate talent and develop it, and that's what that position is for." The job he is taking over used to belong to Gil Patterson who left for the Yankees organization. Greg Sparks returns to the River Cats for his second season as hitting coach. Aaron Nieckula will be the manager of the Midland Rockhounds after seven seasons as manager with the A's Single-A affiliates.

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.

Donaldson homers, Blue Jays beat Indians to stay alive in ALCS


Donaldson homers, Blue Jays beat Indians to stay alive in ALCS


TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson homered to give Toronto a long-awaited lead, and the Blue Jays finally broke through with the bats, beating the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on Tuesday to avert a sweep in the AL Championship Series.

The Indians still lead the matchup 3-1, but Donaldson and a poised Aaron Sanchez handed them their first loss of this postseason.

Edwin Encarnacion later hit a two-run single, a welcome sight for a raucous Rogers Centre crowd that had fallen silent watching its team reach the brink of elimination because of a slumbering offense.

Donaldson's solo shot to left-center field off Corey Kluber in the third put the Blue Jays ahead for the first time all series. Two innings after that, the star third baseman made an outstanding diving stop to preserve a one-run edge.

Sanchez, the American League ERA champion, allowed a run and two hits in six innings, and the bullpen finished with three perfect innings.

Cleveland will try again Wednesday to win to earn its first World Series trip since 1997, but the big concern for the Indians coming into the series - an injury-riddled rotation - still lingers.

Kluber was starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career, and in Game 5 Cleveland will send lightly used rookieRyan Merritt to the mound against Marco Estrada.

Kluber hadn't allowed a run in either of his first two starts this postseason. Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP and sporting a still freshly shaved face, opened the scoring with his first home run of these playoffs.

The wild-card Blue Jays made it 2-0 in the fourth when Ezequiel Carrera's blooper fell between three Cleveland fielders in left-center for an RBI single.

Roberto Perez hit an RBI double in the fifth off Sanchez. Carlos Santana's two-out grounder to the left side might have had a chance to score him, but Donaldson made the play.

The Indians didn't have another baserunner after that. Brett CecilJason Grilli and Roberto Osuna pitched an inning each in relief for Toronto.

Taking no chances, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought in Osuna, his closer, in a non-save situation to finish off Cleveland.

The Indians were trying to become the third team to sweep a Division Series and Championship Series in the same postseason. The 2007 Colorado Rockies and 2014 Kansas City Royals both did it.

Cleveland had won nine in a row, including three straight over Boston in the ALDS.

The Indians had a chance to take the lead in the third when Tyler Naquin hit a leadoff double and went to third on a sacrifice. Sanchez retired Santana on a soft grounder with the infield in, and then Jason Kipnis also grounded out.

Kluber was pulled after 89 pitches. He allowed two runs and four hits in five innings.

The Blue Jays added two more runs in the seventh after a throwing error by reliever Bryan Shaw. Encarnacion came up with the bases loaded and the crowd chanting "Eddie" - and his hard grounder skipped off the mound and into center field to make it 4-1.

Trevor Bauer's finger injury put more pressure on Kluber to come back for Game 4 and a possible Game 7 on short rest. Bauer cut his right pinkie on a drone and had to be pulled in the first inning Monday after he started bleeding.

"I had to witness everything he had to go through to try and go out there and pitch last night," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said before Tuesday's game. "Not too many people would have done that. He's been wonderful. He's obviously grown over the years because he wanted to."

Indians: The 24-year-old Merritt has pitched 11 innings as a big leaguer. His only start came Sept. 30, when the left-hander held Kansas City to a run and three hits in five innings.

Blue Jays: Estrada allowed two runs in eight innings in Game 1 against Cleveland.