Athletics

Kottaras' blast in Seattle puts A's at ease

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Kottaras' blast in Seattle puts A's at ease

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SEATTLE -- Still digesting a three-game sweep at the hands of their division rivals, and the terrifying news of a two hour surgery on their ace Brandon McCarthy, the weight of the world was seemingly placed squarely on the shoulders of the Oakland Athletics.Enter Atlas, also known as George Kottaras. With a similar physique as the Grecian mythological figure who hoists the globe, Kottaras crushed a fourth-inning, go-ahead three-run homer that seemed to uplift the downtrodden A's en route to a much-needed 6-1 win over the Mariners. Kottaras' seventh homer of the season couldn't have come at a better time, or against a tougher pitcher. It's not often you see the Mariners' ace and Cy Young Award winner "King Felix" Hernandez get knocked around. "Those types of homers feel like they put more runs on the board than they actually do," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "To get to 4-1 against Felix, it feels like a 10-run homer." When all was said and done, Hernandez allowed a season high-tying 11 hits and six runs, five earned. It is only the second time the right-handed pitcher has been pulled before completing five innings all year. "Facing a guy like that, it is good to have a little wiggle room," Kottaras said. "It puts you ahead and kind of puts you at ease a little bit." A's starting pitcher A.J. Griffin took the ball and delivered yet again. The rookie pitcher is now 5-0 to start his major league career, the first pitcher in Oakland history to do so since Todd Burns in 1988. "Seems like every time he pitches we feel good about our chances and he gives us a great chance to win," Melvin said. "The performance and results have been the same every time." Griffin overthrew the pressures of pitching opposite Hernandez in the King's Court. He tossed five and one-third innings of one-run ball, struck out seven batters and walked just one. "You just have to worry about doing your job," Griffin said. "You have no control over what he does out there, I just have to go out there and pitch the best game that I can."Having a little run support does a lot for the psyche. Stephen Drew's fifth-inning single knocked Hernandez out of the game and gave the A's a 6-1 lead. Drew has now reached base safely in 13 of his 15 games since being traded to Oakland. Drew's hit was preceded by a Josh Donaldson RBI double. Donaldson has eight doubles, five homers and 16 RBI since being recalled on August 20. Yoenis Cespedes drove in the A's first run in the first frame and went 2-for-5 registering his 32nd multi-hit game.The A's drubbing of the Mariners put them back atop the American League Wild Card standings. It also lifted their spirits. During the game McCarthy's No. 32 jersey was proudly displayed in the dugout. Before the game Jonny Gomes brought the jersey out from the clubhouse.RELATED: McCarthy shows 'great progress' after brain trauma
"It's an emotional thing thinking about it," Kottaras said. "He wished us luck before the game. Our thoughts are with him but you have a job to do as well." "He's in all of our thoughts right now," Griffin said. "We just hope that he's OK and it's really scary."

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

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Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

C.C. Sabathia couldn't save the Yankees' 2017 season. And now he has a decision to make.

After nine seasons in New York, the 37-year-old hits the free agent market this winter.

With career earnings nearing $250 million and a 2009 World Series ring already on his resume, would the Vallejo-native consider coming home to play for the A's? That's a question that was posed to NBCSportsBayArea.com Insider Joe Stiglich last week.

While it's a possibility, based on comments after Saturday's ALCS Game 7 loss to the Astros, it sounds like Sabathia doesn't want to leave The Bronx.

“I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great. This is my home, and I want to see this thing through," Sabathia told reporters, according to The Associated Press.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.