Giants take Game 2 of Bay Bridge Series 3-2


Giants take Game 2 of Bay Bridge Series 3-2

Oakland -- With the game tied 2-2, the middle of the Giants order (Melky Cabrera-Pablo Sandoval-Aubrey Huff) combined to push across the game-deciding run in front of 14,634 at the O.Co Coliseum and the Giants beat the A's 3-2 in the penultimate Cactus League game for each team.Player of the Game: Matt Cain. Why not? His five innings weren't the smoothest he's ever navigated, but a day after signing his lucrative five-year contract, he seemed to say, "What pressure?" Cain looked cool, confident and in control on the mound. He struck out six and walked one."Everything felt good," Cain calmly told the media from his locker. "All my pitches, both sides of the plate."And when he jammed Coco Crisp in the bottom of the fifth inning, he sprung off the mound to scoop up the check-swing bunt bare-handed. He wasn't the first player in the game to lose his footing on the wet Coliseum grass, and ended up sitting on his backside with the ball in his hand. Not missing a beat, Cain fired a strike to first from his rear, beating the speedy Crisp to end the inning. The smile he took off the mound returned when asked about the play later in the clubhouse."I don't even know how that happens," Cain chuckled. "I winged it. It just worked out."Though it had Cain smiling, Bochy admitted after the game it was a nervous moment for him. "You always have a little fear there, when a pitcher slips. ... But he's bull-strong."Bull-strong Cain got the win Tuesday to improve his spring record to 4-0.Play of the Game: Yoenis Cespedes got the A's going with his first double in the second inning. Brandon Allen followed with a base hit to center field, and it looked like the A's would take the lead as Cespedes lengthened his stride rounding third. Angel Pagan had other plans as he fielded the ball cleanly, took a textbook crow-hop and fired a one-bounce seed on time to Eli Whiteside. Only a perfect throw would have cut down Cespedes, and a thing of beauty it was. Even if Cespedes snuck under the tag (it was close), home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski was already committed to the out call and rewarding Pagan."I was in the wrong place," Matt Cain said. "I should have been backing up home." But he appreciated it all the same.Usually we have a Turning Point: slug. Same play. The Giants sent the minimum three players to the plate in the top of the inning and the A's seemed poised to go big before Pagan's dart. Cain escaped unscathed and the A's momentum was squandered as the game stayed 1-1.The A's right side of the infield did their best to earn Play of the Game honors at Aubrey Huff's expense. Brandon Allen made a diving play on Huff's first-inning laser down the line. Then in the fifth inning, Jemile Weeks ranged far to his left to stab a grounder destined for right field and jumped to throw out the lead runner at second, though Melky Cabrera scored from third on the play, giving the Giants the lead.Anchoring the rotation: The A's returned home from Japan with three more spring games until the season began anew -- again -- and just their first two starters locked in -- Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon. Tommy Milone turned in six perfect innings against the River Cats Saturday, and after the game, Melvin announced he would be the A's third pitcher. With Graham Godfrey and Tyson Ross jockeying for the fifth rotational position, and five shutout innings against the Giants from Godfrey Monday, Tuesday's game was big for Ross.Ross, too, lasted five innings, but unlike Godfrey, he gave up runs, two of which were earned.The A's won't need a fifth starter until April 17, when they face the Angels. If you're going strictly based on their final performance, it's Ross who will wait in Sacramento until he is required later this month.Early offense: Before the game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he thinks the Giants are ready for Opening Day. One area he wants to see improvement, though, is San Francisco's ability to put runs on the board early.Gregor Blanco made that easy, leading off the game with a line-drive single to right, then immediately getting into scoring position with his 13th swiped bag this spring.Melky Cabrera failed to do his job, but Pablo Sandoval lashed a ground ball through Tyson Ross' legs to get the Giants a first-inning run.Ready now, skipper?Belt making adjustments: There is no better position to prove your baseball mettle than standing in the batter's box with a runner on second and two outs. That's exactly where Brandon Belt was in the first inning, but he popped out to left field, and his walk back to the dugout looked painful.Belt came to the plate in the fourth inning, again with a runner on second base. This time, he got the job done, sharply grounding a ball up the middle for an RBI single and a 2-1 Giants lead.When asked if Belt was his Opening Day first baseman, Bochy nodded before cryptically explaining, "he's been getting most of the playing time over there." He then expounded that the Giants "want to put the bats out there," and that means letting Belt work through the kinks.It also means that Aubrey Huff -- who hit the ball hard in all three at bats -- will be on the field. "Aubrey is one of our best bats," Bochy said after the game. "He's going to be somewhere in there -- first base or outfield."When it counts: Brandon Crawford, who sat out Tuesday's game after spraining his thumb on a dive Monday at AT&T Park, will have the day off on Wednesday as well. But Bochy said after the game that he is expected to be ready for Opening Day.Crawford was spotted with a black protective sheath over his thumb. "Just something to protect it a little," dismissed Bochy.Head-scratcher: The eighth inning ended strangely for the Giants. Charlie Culberson drew a two-out walk. Emmanuel Burriss came to the plate and inexplicably laid down a sacrifice bunt. Culberson made it to second, but Burriss was thrown out at first and the inning was over.The PA in the press box announced the sacrifice, then quickly corrected itself, "Nevermind."The specialist: With the tying run on first base and one out in the ninth, mighty Yoenis Cespedes came to bat. With visions of walk-off home runs against the Giants racing through the minds of A's fans, Sergio Romo was thinking strikeout. Predictably, Cespedes saw nothing but a strong dose of frisbee sliders, and he didn't come close to making contact. Cespedes buckled at the first offering, which broke over the plate for a called strike, then took a mighty hack at the next two pitches, both well out of the strike zone. Threat subdued.The closer: Watch for Brian Wilson's outing in the final 2012 spring training game Wednesday, but don't blink. Bochy said the plan is still to get Brian Wilson on the mound, "to face a hitter, two at the most."Look ahead: The Giants and A's are back at it Wednesday, with a 12:45 p.m. scheduled start time at AT&T Park in the final spring training game of 2012. It will be Yusmeiro Petit taking the hill for the Giants and Tommy Milone for the A's. Bring on meaningful baseball.

Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff


Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

Ryan Christenson has worked his way up the coaching ladder in the A’s farm system, and on Thursday he was named the team’s new major league bench coach.

The announcement makes Christenson, 43, the right-hand man for manager Bob Melvin and essentially the No. 2 man in the dugout. It also settles a position that was in flux over the course of the 2017 season. Mark Kotsay began this past season as bench coach but stepped away from the team in June to be with his family after his daughter, Sienna, suffered a serious eye injury.

Kotsay is expected to remain with the big league club in some form of non-everyday role. Chip Hale finished the season as bench coach but will now switch back to third base coach, a position he originally was hired for leading into the 2017 season. Hale also coaches Oakland’s infielders.

“At some point in time we knew Ryan was going to be here,” Melvin said. “He went through all the classifications (managing in the minors). He did well with a young group. It’s a good fit bringing him in, and he’s ready for the bench coach role. He’s done a lot of managing.”

Though the bench coach works in closest tandem with a manager throughout the game, Melvin also noted the importance of having a third-base coach that thinks right along with him and is on the same page. From that standpoint, he said having Hale in that role is important.

“Chip’s so good at third, that even though I’m used to having him on the bench, it’s tough not to use him (at third),” Melvin said. “Certainly this isn’t a demotion for Chip.”

It’s the first appointment on a major league staff for Christenson, who has spent the past five seasons managing in Oakland’s farm system, starting with low Single-A and working his way up to Triple-A Nashville this season. He led Double-A Midland to back-to-back Texas League titles in 2015-16, and his teams went 391-307 (.561) over those five seasons.

The rest of Melvin’s coaching staff will return intact in 2018. That includes pitching coach Scott Emerson, who took over that role midseason after the firing of Curt Young, and hitting coach Darren Bush. Like Christenson, Emerson and Bush both were promoted from within the farm system to their eventual spots on the big league staff.

All three men have extensive history coaching the large group of young players that are establishing themselves as the A’s core, and that’s a factor worth keeping in mind when evaluating the makeup of this staff.

Emerson, who assumed Young’s duties in June, will return as pitching coach despite the A’s staff posting a 4.67 ERA, highest by an Oakland staff since 1999. A’s pitchers also surrendered an Oakland-record 210 home runs.

“Similar to Ryan, he knows everybody, what we have here and in the minor leagues,” Melvin said of Emerson. “He’s been a good fit here and continues to be a good fit.”

Bush oversaw a group of hitters that showed improvement as the season wore on, scoring the fifth-most runs in the American League after the All-Star break. The A’s set a franchise record for strikeouts – in line with the rise in whiffs throughout the majors -- but also hit the fourth-most homers in franchise history.

Melvin’s staff is rounded out by first base coach Mike Aldrete, bullpen coach Garvin Alston and assistant hitting coach/catching coach Marcus Jensen. Steve Scarsone, who filled in as interim third base coach from June through the rest of the season, will resume his duties as a traveling instructor throughout the farm system.

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts.