Kurt Suzuki homers in A's 12-6 loss to Hanshin


Kurt Suzuki homers in A's 12-6 loss to Hanshin

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TOKYO (AP) Kurt Suzuki hit his second home run in Japan on Monday in the Oakland Athletics' 12-6 loss to the Hanshin Tigers in an exhibition game.Oakland shortstop Cliff Pennington led off the fourth inning with a solo homer and Suzuki, who hit a two-run home run in the Athletics' 5-0 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Sunday, connected for a three-run shot at Tokyo Dome to cut Hanshin's lead to 7-4."I was just trying to put the barrel on the ball and keep it simple," Suzuki said. "When you go out there you can't take anything for granted and have to play hard."The Athletics are in Japan to open the season against Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday and Thursday.Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes sat out Monday's exhibition after leaving Sunday night's contest because of cramps in his quadriceps. Cespedes was 0 for 4 in Sunday's game against the Giants but is expected to be in the lineup for Wednesday's game.The Tigers took a 7-0 lead through the first three innings, taking advantage of some sloppy defensive play by the A's.In the bottom of the third, Hanshin scored four runs. Former major leaguer Craig Brazell hit an RBI single to right, scoring Takeshi Toritani. Tomoaki Kanemoto drove in another run with a double and Brazell and Kanemoto both scored on a throwing error by Pennington."Today wasn't our best day," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "We had a good spring executing defense, but weren't able to do that today. Take nothing away from them, we just didn't play one of our better games and they took it to us."Brazell, who was 2 for 3 Monday and had three hits in his team's 5-1 win on Sunday, said it was good to face major league pitching again."I was a little nervous at first because it's been five years since I hit major league pitching," Brazell said. "But to be able to come out and hit like this gives me a lot of confidence for the season."Oakland starter Tyson Ross gave up eight runs - six earned - and 10 hits in just four innings.
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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. 

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?


Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

Fox’ Matt Vasgersian, who does his job well,  declared the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series win over Cleveland to be amazing.

It is not. Not any more.

In fact, the Yankees winning three elimination games in succession is a feat that has happened seven times in the past three years. And we can only conclude from that that they’re not making teams that can avoid the bad beat the way they used to.

The 2017 Indians joined the 2016 Indians, Warriors and Thunder, the 2015 Clippers, Capitals and Texas Rangers, the 2014 Penguins and Sharks, the 2013 Red Wings, the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2011 Penguins, the 2010 Bruins and Capitals as proud laryngectomy victims – teams that needed to win only one of three (or in the Sharks’ case, four) games to advance in the playoffs (or in the Warriors’ case, win).

That’s 15 times this “amazing” thing has happened, which means that by any estimate, teams that needed to win three consecutive games to escape the icy hand of Uncle Death are now pretty much the norm in this decade.

And why, you ask? I blame Twitter. I blame global warming. I blame video games. I blame smartphones. I blame phones. I blame the new president. I blame the old president. I blame Satan. I blame participation trophies and orange slices and juice boxes. I blame the players and I blame the owners and I blame the fans and definitely those smarmy bastards in the media. They’re the worst.

I blame you. Hell, I think I blame Matt Vasgersian.

But whomever is at fault, we have here an epidemic of feet strangling their owners when everything seems their cheeriest. And unless we live in such misery-enriched times that good times are only precursors to far worse ones, there is no sensible explanation. Players’ windpipes are no smaller than they were a decade ago. The Internet is older than seven years. Close-out games are not materially more difficult than they were before 2010.

And yet winning that one extra game is suddenly like finding out your SAT test has been written totally in anagrams. In other words, when things look brightest, that’s when you know you’re totally screwed.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Terry Francona. In a few weeks maybe. Not right away. Not unless you’re keen to see how it feels to have your neck used as a bathmat.