Petaluma little leaguers surprised by A's greeting


Petaluma little leaguers surprised by A's greeting

OAKLAND -- Midway through their afternoon stretch the Oakland Athletics erupted in applause. The Petaluma National Little Leaguers had arrived. As the kids shuffled onto the Major League field, the A's stopped their work and lined up to greet the kids. As they met each other half way, stopping on the left field foul line, it was impossible to tell who was more excited to meet who. "This is so cool," Petaluma head coach Eric Smith said.
REWIND: Petaluma LLWS walk-off leads to A's pregame pie
The A's player's exuberant reception for the kids who advanced all the way to the United States Title Game in the Little League World Series caught everyone off guard. "I think in the kid's mind it is all about getting to meet the big guys," coach Smith said. "So the fact the big guys welcomed them like that, it's not what they expect."The kids took the field and played catch as the A's completed their stretch. Then when batting practice began the boys got to shag balls in the outfield and marvel at some of the tape-measure blasts hit by the Oakland players. "We're excited about having them here," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Hopefully they are as excited about being here."The kids fit in well on the field with the pros -- the matching green and gold uniforms didn't hurt either. The star attraction for the little leaguers was a chance to meet with Petaluma native Jonny Gomes. He led them on a tour of the clubhouse and dugout and addressed the team. They followed him in a single file line as he guided them through the facilities.
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For the 12 and 13-year-old kids this is just another dose of the type of star treatment they are going to have to get accustomed to. The big league perks are nice, but the little local heroes are just starting to reap the benefit of their miraculous run."We didn't think we were going to have 2,000 people waiting for us when we got home," assistant coach Trevor Tomei said. "They are expecting 20,000 people at their hometown parade."In addition to the warm reception the kids received the ultimate prize from a local pizza place. "All the kids got free pizza for a year from Pinky's Pizza in Petaluma," Tomei said. "They get a free large pizza with one topping any time they want." "I think they are starting to realize how big it is for the Bay Area," Smith said.While the kids competed in Williamsport, Pennsylvania they had little idea of how big a story they had become back home. The reality set in as soon as they landed at the airport. "They had a cannonball solute coming down the runway with two fire engines blowing water over our plane," Tomei recalled. Even though they lost in the U.S. Title Game, their improbable 10-run 6th inning to tie the game electrified the Bay Area and softened the blow of their eventual defeat. "15-5 would have felt bad," Smith said. "Knowing that they gave it a shot and were so close, I think deep down, even though they didn't like the loss, knowing they gave it a shot helps."These kids are experiencing something they will remember for the rest of their lives. While it is all about the accomplishments of the players on the team, it is equally as special for the grown ups as well. Coach Smith's son Hance hit the game-tying home run to cap the 10-run rally. A moment he won't soon forget either. "That's the probably the only time during the series that I let the father get ahead of the coach," Smith said. "When he hit that, I probably jumped more like a fan than a coach." The parade in Petaluma will take place on Sunday. Maybe after that things will settle down and go back to normal for the families and players. This may however, not be the last we'll see of these exceptionally talented kids. They have bright futures ahead of them and a couple of them might end up on the playing surface of a big league field yet again, only in a much larger uniform.

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


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 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


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


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.