Parker: 'It sucks we didn't win'


Parker: 'It sucks we didn't win'


OAKLAND -- Entering the Oakland stretch of the Battle of the Bay series, the A's had everything working for them. They had the momentum after sweeping the top team in baseball, the Dodgers. They had the home field advantage -- the Giants hadn't won a game here since June 24, 2009. They even said they were excited to take on their cross-bay rivals. They got off to a great start, scoring three runs on two-time Cy Young-award winner Tim Lincecum. They even had a two-run lead going into the ninth inning -- they had it all working. Then it all came crashing down. I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles. The A's new closer Ryan Cook gave up four runs without recording an out in the ninth inning, as the Giants went on to win 5-4. Cook has been a phenomenal find for the A's. The right-handed pitcher, 23, had been rock-solid since taking over the closer's role, going four for four in save opportunities. Entering Friday, he had only allowed a run in 29 of his 30 appearances. "Cook is not going to go the whole year and not blow a save," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Too bad it had to happen tonight." Cook worked himself into trouble immediately. He walked Buster Posey on four-straight pitches, then put the tying run on first by walking Pablo Sandoval. Next, Brandon Belt -- who had been hit in the hand by a pitch in the seventh inning -- came to the plate. He laced a ball to left field that landed just outside the outstretched glove of Collin Cowgill, who laid out for the ball. Posey and Sandoval came around to score, tying the game at three."It's been my hex all year, putting guys on," Cook said. "It came back to bite me tonight."I knew he was a little bit erratic," Belt said of Cook. "If he threw anything in the strike zone I was going to pounce on it.The A's may have lost more than the lead on Belt's double. Cowgill injured his left ankle on the diving attempt. He could have possibly played it safe and let the ball fall, keeping it in front of him. That would have only allowed one run to score, preserving the lead. But as Melvin explained it would have still left the A's in a bad situation. "I don't have any problem with him trying to catch that ball." Melvin said of the diving attempt by Cowgill. "If he catches that ball it's an entirely different game."After Cook departed the game, Sean Doolittle entered and gave up RBI singles to Hector Sanchez and Gregor Blanco, giving the Giants a 5-3 lead. Both runs were charged to Cook. The ninth inning meltdown for the A's lead to the Giants snapping a six-game losing streak in Oakland. They had plenty of opportunities to put the game away too. In the first inning, they had Lincecum on the ropes. With three runs already scored, and the bases loaded with no outs, Lincecum struck out Brandon Moss, Kurt Suzuki, and Cliff Pennington to escape the inning. After the third run scored, Lincecum became a completely different pitcher. He retired 17 of the next 19 batters he faced, striking out eight.I was trying to channel that madness and stop worrying about the expletive happening behind me, Lincecum said. If there were any positives to point to for the A's, it's the performance of Jarrod Parker. The 23-year-old righty, was inline to win the game allowing just one run in six innings."I got outs and made pitches I need to," Parker said. "Overall it was a good outing. Sucks we didn't win. Obviously losing is not what we want, and it's a tough game but we'll bounce back."

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A’s general manager David Forst says he has a stack of strongly worded letters from fans who grow frustrated with many of the team’s personnel moves.

That comes with the territory of running a major league front office. But Forst also said, during a wide-ranging interview on the latest A’s Insider Podcast, that honest critiquing must come from within office walls.

“You do want to do some self-evaluation and self-assessing,” Forst said. “What I don’t do, I don’t go back and second-guess decisions, whether it’s a trade or a signing. I don’t sort of hypothetically think, ‘Well, what if we hadn’t done this,’ because it’s not a good use of anybody’s time. What you do have to do is make sure the process that led to that decision is sound and a good one.”

Certainly one of the most scrutinized A’s moves of recent history was their signing of designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year $30 million contract in November 2014. That turned out to be a costly mistake, with Butler being released in September with one year left on his deal and the A’s still on the hook for roughly $10 million. Forst acknowledged how poorly that decision worked out but sticks by the initial motivation to sign Butler.

“Look, Billy Butler didn’t go the way we expected, and that’s one that gets brought up a lot,” Forst said. “But I think back to the time when we made that decision to sign him, and what we were projecting Billy to do. It was very clear what our team needed. Again, going into 2015, coming off the wild card that year, we still felt like this was a team that could compete for a division title. So all the things that went into the decision, ultimately I will stand by.”

Forst spoke frankly about several other topics during the podcast. Regarding fans’ frustration about seeing so many high-profile players traded:

“I’ve got a stack of letters on my desk, the substance of which I can’t repeat on the air,” he said with a smile. “… But there’s passion. And I know we have a fan base that cares, and that’s really a good place to be.”

Forst said the A’s definitely will pursue starting pitching this offseason, despite the fact that 1) he’s very optimistic about the crop of young pitching Oakland has developed, and 2) he believes Sonny Gray will bounce back from a poor 2016 season. The GM takes encouragement that Gray made a full physical recovery from a strained forearm.

“Am I going to get the Cy Young (caliber pitcher) from Day 1? I don’t know. But I think there’s a confidence that this was an aberration, this whole year, more than anything else.”

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.