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Toronto tops Cleveland to stay alive in ALCS

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 05:11:57 UT

TORONTO — Josh Donaldson homered to give Toronto a long-awaited lead, and the Blue Jays finally had a breakthrough with the bats, beating Cleveland 5-1 on Tuesday to avert a sweep in the AL Championship Series. The Indians 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 former A’s 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. 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. Brett Cecil, Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna pitched an inning each in relief for the Jays. Taking no chances, Toronto manager John Gibbons brought in Osuna, his closer, in a non-save situation to finish off Cleveland. 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. 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.

Chip Hale returns to A’s coaching staff

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 03:54:42 UT

Chip Hale will be bringing his high-energy personality back to the A’s, returning as the team’s third-base coach. Hale served as the A’s bench coach under Bob Melvin from 2012 through ’14, during the team’s run of three postseason appearances. [...] Hale is looking forward to working with the young A’s infielders, a group that includes third baseman-first baseman Ryon Healy, shortstop Marcus Semien, second baseman Joey Wendle, third baseman Matt Chapman, shortstop Franklin Barreto and first baseman-outfielder Matt Olson. Minor-league medical coordinator Jeff Collins was named the A’s assistant trainer Tuesday, taking the spot of Walt Horn, who retired. Jeff Cuffe, the team’s minor-league strength and conditioning coordinator, was promoted to big-league strength and conditioning coach, replacing Mike Henriques. Henriques was briefly suspended in August for secretly installing a camera in the A’s workout room to record players.

Canadian court throws out lawsuit over Cleveland Indians’ logo

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 01:37:45 UT

Monique Jilesen, the lawyer for Cardinal, earlier told McEwen that the game could be played with spring training uniforms that don’t carry the name or “Chief Wahoo” logo. At least 27 lawyers representing the team, Major League Baseball and others, including the plaintiffs, attended the hearing, which was moved to a larger courtroom to accommodate the crowd. [...] one of the caps the Indians wear at home has the “Wahoo” logo on its front, and Cleveland’s jerseys remain adorned with the Wahoo logo on one sleeve.

A’s coaches coming back; Chip Hale may be added

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 23:43:01 UT

Hale, fired by the Diamondbacks this month, was the A’s bench coach from 2012-14, is a close friend with manager Bob Melvin, and his high-energy, upbeat style made him very popular with Oakland players during his previous stint with the team. There was speculation that pitching coach Curt Young or hitting coach Darren Bush might be on the hot seat after the A’s put up the second-worst ERA in the league and scored the fewest runs. Injuries, particularly to the pitching staff, were one primary reason for Oakland’s last-place finish in the AL West, however; the team used the disabled list a club-record 27 times. [...] returning are bench coach Mark Kotsay, first base coach Mike Aldrete, bullpen coach Scott Emerson and assistant hitting coach Marcus Jensen.

Ron Washington leaves A’s for coaching job with Braves

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 05:04:56 UT

Ron Washington, the longtime A’s coach who returned to the club in the middle of the 2015 season to help tutor the team’s young infielders, left Tuesday to become the Braves’ third-base coach. According to sources, the A’s matched the Braves’ offer to Washington, but he wanted to be close to his family in Louisiana. “This is a unique professional opportunity for Wash, which allows him to be closer to his family in New Orleans,” A’s vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said in a statement. Washington has made no secret of the fact that he would like to manage again, and it was unlikely to happen in Oakland, where Bob Melvin is firmly in place and where Washington was passed over for the manager’s job in 2003. Washington recently told The Chronicle that he considers his work with Semien done, saying, My intentions next year are just to leave Marcus alone, let him play. Chip Hale, the A’s former bench coach, who was fired as Arizona’s manager this month and is a close friend of Melvin, although Hale is likely to be on several teams’ wish lists for coaching openings. Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Commissioner Manfred, Mayor Schaaf both want A’s in Oakland

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 03:23:53 UT

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s commissioner, was quizzed about the A’s stadium situation before Game 3 of the NLDS at AT&T Park and he indicated that the A’s could have their own new facility across the bay ... sometime. At the very least, Manfred provided a vague time frame, a first for MLB since the A’s seriously began searching for a stadium 11 years ago, saying “I hope in the next year we will have a good idea about how the project’s going to proceed.” With both the A’s and Raiders jostling for priority while trying to find a replacement for the Coliseum, Manfred said that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has expressed support for the A’s. “I know that the one thing I will say to you is the mayor in Oakland has made clear to me that baseball is her first priority,” Manfred said during a pregame news conference. Asked about Howard Terminal and the current Coliseum area as possibilities for a stadium, Manfred responded that the A’s owners are looking at multiple sites; Laney College long has been considered to have a potential site.

Sogard among A’s to declare free agency

Sun, 9 Oct 2016 03:40:48 UT

Several A’s players who were outrighted to Triple-A Nashville last week have opted for free agency, including longtime Oakland infielder Eric Sogard, who missed the season with a knee injury that required surgery. Others to choose free agency include starters Jarrod Parker, who is not expected to pitch again after three elbow surgeries, Felix Doubront, who missed this season after Tommy John surgery, and Henderson Alvarez, who was unable to pitch this season after trying to return from 2015 shoulder surgery; relievers Fernando Rodriguez, who missed the second half with a shoulder injury that required surgery, and Chris Smith; minor-league starter Donn Roach, and catcher Matt McBride. [...] utility player Tyler Ladendorf and outfielder Andrew Lambo are six-year minor-league free agents.

Encarnacion’s HR lifts Blue Jays past Orioles, into ALDS

Wed, 5 Oct 2016 05:16:00 UT

TORONTO — Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer in the 11th inning off Ubaldo Jimenez, and Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 in Tuesday night’s AL wild-card game to advance to a Division Series matchup against Texas. Baltimore used seven of its 10 pitchers, but closer Zach Britton, who was perfect in 47 save chances with a 0.54 ERA during the regular season, never got in the game. Last year, the Blue Jays beat the Rangers in the five-game Division Series, sparked by Jose Bautista’s memorable bat flip when he hit a tie-breaking, three-run homer in the seventh inning of Game 5. Francisco Liriano retired five consecutive batters on four groundouts and a strikeout for the win after closer Roberto Osuna left with a sore shoulder. The roof was open at Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome, where all 24 previous postseason games had been played with it closed. Mark Trumbo, who led the major leagues with 47 home runs, gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run homer off Marcus Stroman. When Toronto pinch-hitter Melvin Upton Jr. flied out to the warning track in left field to end the seventh, Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim was nearly struck by a can that was thrown from the stands.

A’s wish list: turnaround for Sonny Gray; adding outfielders

Tue, 4 Oct 2016 02:33:27 UT

The A’s used the disabled list a team-record 27 times, making it tough to assess a season in which the team finished in last place in the AL West with a 69-93 record, one game better than last year. “We were behind the curve right out of the chute, it seemed like it was constant crisis mode fielding players,” executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said. [...] the team feels good about its many good young infielders, especially Ryon Healy, and its catching depth, with Vogt, Josh Phegley (expected back after knee surgery) and rookie Bruce Maxwell, who made big strides this season. Mark Canha, coming back from hip surgery, could win a corner spot, but center field is an unknown after Jake Smolinski and Brett Eibner failed to make impressions. “No question center fielder is a concern short term and long term,” Beane said. [...] we discover a long-term option, we may be strategic in how we fill that temporarily. Outfielder Danny Valencia and starter Henderson Alvarez (who recently had his second shoulder surgery) are non-tender candidates. Outfielder Sam Fuld, a free agent, is unlikely to be back after season-ending shoulder surgery, although a minor-league deal is a possibility. Valencia was among the team’s better offensive performers, but there were discussions about releasing him after his fight with first baseman Billy Butler in August, and there might not be a spot for him or enough at-bats with the A’s emphasis on youth. With no everyday designated hitter, Lowrie, a switch hitter who has limited defensive range, might be an option there on occasion.

A’s coach Ron Washington up for manager job in Atlanta

Tue, 4 Oct 2016 02:28:25 UT

Third-base coach Ron Washington has done a world of good for the A’s since rejoining the team in the middle of the 2015 season, but now team officials have their fingers crossed he’ll leave ... if he gets a big-league managing job. Oakland manager Bob Melvin confirmed that Washington will interview for Atlanta’s open position (the Braves also will talk to former San Diego manager Bud Black) and Melvin said, I’d hate to lose him — I hope he gets it. “It would be great for Wash,” vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said. Washington is a lock to return to Oakland’s coaching staff should he not be hired as a manager, but some other coaches might be on the hot seat, including pitching coach Curt Young and hitting coach Darren Bush, simply based on the team’s numbers. The A’s finished with the second-worst ERA in the league for the first time since 1997 and finished last in the league in runs and on-base percentage. Beane also had words of praise for first-year bench coach Mark Kotsay, calling him “assistant crisis manager” because of the difficulties of fielding a team some nights, given the A’s many injuries. Oakland has just two men on the bubble for roster spots who will be out of options next season: starter Raul Alcantara and infielder Arismendy Alcantara.

A’s Ryon Healy gets Rookie of Month honors in AL

Mon, 3 Oct 2016 22:04:16 UT

Ryon Healy, who had an eye-opening second half with Oakland after being called up July 15, was named the American League Rookie of the Month on Monday. The A’s third baseman hit .355 with 19 runs, nine doubles, seven homers and 19 RBIs in September. Healy’s natural spot is first base, and he could shift there at some point if and when the team calls up top prospect Matt Chapman, but Chapman is expected to begin next season at Triple-A Nashville.

A’s beat Seattle’s Felix Hernandez to conclude 69-93 season

Mon, 3 Oct 2016 02:41:45 UT

SEATTLE — Oakland faced Felix Hernandez to end the season, rather than to start it, unlike usual — and the A’s beat their toughest opponent to finish a disappointing season on a bit of a good note. The A’s bounced the Mariners out of contention for a postseason berth one night earlier, and on Sunday, Oakland handed the six-time All-Star a loss for just the ninth time in his 44 career starts against the A’s, beating Seattle 3-2 at Safeco Field. The left-hander, obtained in the Ben Zobrist deal with Kansas City in July 2015, worked six innings and allowed five hits and two runs. Over his final four starts, Manaea allowed three earned runs in 24 innings. In the third inning, rookie Matt Olson led off with a double and scored on a hit by Marcus Semien, who took second on the throw home, then scored on a single by Chad Pinder, pinch-hitting for Vogt. The A’s finished with a 69-93 record, improving on last year’s record by one game, but the team was last in the league in runs (653) and at or near the bottom of most other offensive categories. [...] Oakland had the second-worst ERA (4.51) in the league, the first time the A’s have finished in the bottom two in ERA since 1977.

Semien’s progress, power a big plus for A’s

Mon, 3 Oct 2016 00:56:13 UT

SEATTLE — Oakland’s 2016 season wasn’t much of an improvement on last year, but shortstop Marcus Semien took major strides defensively throughout the year — and in the past week, offensively, too. “I’m going to use the right side of the field more, bunt a little bit more — show bunt to open up the six-hole more because there’s a lot of hits over there with my swing,” Semien said. There are a lot of things I can do to get more hits than just going up there swinging and hoping because these defenses are good, the pitchers are good. Third-base coach Ron Washington, Semien’s defensive mentor, likes what his pupil is doing at the plate, too. Semien tied with Seattle’s Ketel Marte for the major-league lead in errors at shortstop, but his error total dropped from 35 last year to an acceptable 21 this season. With Marcus, he had to learn how to do it at the high level of the major leagues, and he has — he deserves so much credit, not me, for the way he applied the things he was working at. There are scouts who believe Semien might be better suited to second base or third, but manager Bob Melvin stated flatly, He’s our shortstop. …. [...] his 27 homers tied for most in the majors among shortstops and were the second most by an American League shortstop in the past 12 years, other than J.J. Hardy’s 30 in 2011. Not many teams have a shortstop on the verge of potentially hitting 30 home runs and knocking in over 70 runs.

A’s close out season vs. Felix Hernandez; Ryan Dull’s big night

Sun, 2 Oct 2016 18:36:35 UT

A’s starter Sean Manaea has had a terrific rookie season and he has finished up extremely well, going 1-0 with an 0.50 ERA and .184 opponents’ average in three starts since coming off the DL after missing 15 days with back soreness. The A’s knocked Seattle out of the wild-card race with a nutty 9-8, 10-inning victory Saturday night that reminded some of Oakland’s own 9-8, 12-inning loss in the wild-card game two years before, and Sunday morning, manager Bob Melvin credited rookie reliever Ryan Dull - who turned 27 Sunday - with one of the biggest sequences of the game. Dull intentionally walked Robinson Cano to load the bases and face the dangerous Nelson Cruz, and Dull struck Cruz out to end the inning. Dull, so spectacular in the first half, leads all rookies with 70 appearances and he allowed only 7 of 52 inherited runners to score, the best percentage by an Oakland rookie (since 1974, when the stat began to be tracked) and the third-best mark in the league, and opponents hit a major-league low .086 against him with men in scoring position. Opponents had a .228 on-base percentage against dull, the first lowest mark in Oakland history by a reliever. For a look at catcher Stephen Vogt’s season, there’s a story in today’s Chronicle about the unusual spot he might bat next season and how difficult this season was for him mentally, and his strong desire to return to the club.

A’s win in 10th inning, end Seattle’s playoff hopes

Sun, 2 Oct 2016 05:52:33 UT

SEATTLE - With Safeco Field packed, and loud, and the Mariners’ season on the line, some of the youngest and newest A’s players decided a haywire game and killed Seattle’s wild-card hopes. After numerous rallies and ties, rallies and ties, rookie Bruce Maxwell led off the 10th with a double, and Joey Wendle, called up Aug. 31, sent him in with a two-out doubble off Mariners closer Edwin Diaz to give Oakland a 9-8 victory. Khris Davis knocked his 42nd homer, tying him with Mark McGwire (1992) and Jose Canseco (’88) for the sixth-best total in Oakland history, and Marcus Semien had four hits, and two doubles, including a go-ahead double in the eighth. Seattle tied it in the eighth when pinch-hitter Mike Freeman doubled off Ryan Dull with two outs, and after Norichika Aoki walked, Ben Gamel came up with an RBI single. Dull walked Cano to load the bases, bringing up Nelson Cruz, who’d bashed his 43rd homer earlier in the game, and Dull got Cruz swinging to end the inning. The Mariners loaded the bases with two outs the next inning against Madson, but Madson got Aoki to ground out. Cotton then struck out Mike Zunino and got Ketel Marte to hit a high bouncer to second, but Wendle couldn’t make a play on it and the error put men at the corners. Aoki’s fielder’s choice grounder sent in a second, unearned run. “I’m going to have games like these, so to stay composed, get out of the situation is pretty good for me,” said Cotton, who gave up more than one earned run for the first time in five big-league starts. Oakland scored four times in the third, with Davis driving in one run with a double and Yonder Alonso adding a two-run double. Zach Neal turned in the second-most perfect innings in one game by a reliever in Oakland history with his five innings Friday; Dennis Eckersley pitched six on June 6, 1987.