Pratt's Instant Replay: Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1 (11)


Pratt's Instant Replay: Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1 (11)


OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen appeared to achieve the improbable. After losing starting pitcher A.J. Griffin to right shoulder pain in the second inning, the A's 'pen pitched six and one-third scoreless innings to keep the team in the lead. This after the 'pen combined for nine scoreless in a 15-inning marathon on Friday night. Then Ryan Cook allowed a game-tying home run in the ninth. As the great Yogi Berra once said, it was deja vu all over again. The A's entered Saturday 9-2 in extra innings games. They couldn't pull it off this time. The Toronto Blue Jays scored two runs in the 11th to take the game 3-1. At the PlateDerek Norris doubled home the A's first run. It was a two-out hit that he smacked over the right fielder's head. As the ball made its way to the wall, Brandon Inge rounded third and scored easily. The A's loaded the bases in the fifth inning with two outs. That sent Michael Taylor to the plate. Taylor was acquired by the A's in exchange for Brett Wallace in a prospect swap with the Blue Jays. Taylor wasn't able to make the Jays pay for trading him, however. He ended up striking out on a check swing. Taylor battled Steve Delabar in an 11-pitch at-bat in the eighth. Delabar won the battle by striking out Taylor looking on a 95-mph fastball. Starting Pitching ReportStarting pitcher A.J. Griffin left the game after just 32 pitches with what the team is calling tightness in his right shoulder.
NEWS: Griffin forced to leave
He was pulled in the second inning with two outs. Griffin had a 1-1 count on Moises Sierra when athletic trainer Nick Paparesta and Bob Melvin visited him on the mound and removed him from the game.Griffin seemed to be fine prior to the game. He was playing music in the clubhouse and was his typically upbeat self.According to the A's game notes, Griffin is the first pitcher since at least 1918 to begin his career by tossing six or more innings while allowing three runs or less in each of his first seven starts. That streak is over. If Griffin has to go on the DL, expect Brandon McCarthy to take his spot in the rotation. McCarthy is pitching a second rehab game in Triple-A for the Sacramento River Cats Saturday night. He would be on turn to fill in for Griffin. Coincidentally, Griffin came up when McCarthy went on the DL.Bullpen ReportAfter a 15-inning game the night before, the last thing the A's needed was for their starting pitcher to get injured. Jordan Norberto did a spectacular job filling the void out of the bullpen. He pitched a career-high three and two-thirds innings on 64 pitches -- without allowing a run. The lefty reliever allowed four hits, struck out four and didn't walk a single batter. Previously, Norberto's longest outing was a two and one-third inning outing against the Yankees. Pat Neshek entered in relief of Norberto and retired the final two batters in the sixth inning. He threw a scoreless seventh inning as well. Neshek looks like a sneaky-good pickup for the A's. He has a deceptive delivery from the right side. Over one and two-thirds innings, he didn't allow a hit. He walked one batter and struck out one. Grant Balfour was the next stop on the bullpen express. He tossed a perfect eighth inning. Ryan Cook entered the game with a one-run lead in the ninth, pitching in his third game in a row. Cook's numbers when pitching on consecutive days are not good. Entering Saturday he had allowed 11 runs in eight innings. The second batter he faced David Cooper clubbed a game-tying solo homer to right field. Cook has now blown four saves in his last six appearances. His seven blown saves are the most in the American League. It might be time for the A's to look elsewhere in the ninth. Jerry Blevins pitched a scoreless 10th inning. He put two runners on base but struck out two batters to end the inning unscathed. In the 11th he put two on again. This time they both scored. The A's had a chance to end the inning with a double play. Jeff Mathis struck out swinging with both runners in motion. Kottaras threw the ball to Inge who couldn't catch it to make the tag. It looked like the throw would have beat the runner but it got by Inge, giving the Jays a 2-1 lead. Moises Sierra followed with a double giving the Jays a 3-1 lead. In the FieldWhen track and field starts in the Olympics, the A's should compete as a relay team. Instead of the baton, the A's passed the ball seamlessly. They combined for a fantastic relay on a double off the wall in center field. Josh Reddick played the ball off the wall and fired it to Adam Rosales, who chucked it home beating Sierra by a good five feet. Catcher George Kottaras caught the ball and absorbed some contact from Sierra but stayed on his feet and held on for the out. The A's ended the 11th inning with a second play at the plate. Anthony Gose hit an infield single but again Sierra was thrown out at home. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 17,121. Up NextTommy Milone (9-8, 3.68) takes the mound for the A's. The last time he faced the Jays he allowed five earned runs over seven innings and took the loss.The Jays will be sending Aaron Laffey (2-2, 4.20 ERA) to the mound. Laffey gave up seven runs on nine hits against the Mariners in his last start. He allowed four runs on July 26 against the A's in Toronto.

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.