Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: Tigers 12, Athletics 2

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Tigers 12, Athletics 2

BOX SCORE

DETROIT -- Entering a pivotal 10-game road trip the Oakland A's got battered by the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The 12-2 loss is the largest losing margin for Oakland this season. Their previous worst defeat was a 10-1 loss in Baltimore.A.J. Griffin was undefeated entering Tuesday night and was handed his first loss of the season.At the PlateThe A's scored an early run off Tigers' starting pitcher Max Scherzer after a two-out rally. Josh Reddick singled, Yoenis Cespedes walked, and Brandon Moss drove Reddick home to put the A's up 1-0. Scherzer pitched the second inning and then left the game with just 44 pitches due to right shoulder fatigue.Scherzer leads the American League with 224 strikeouts and was 10-1 in his last 14 starts. At the time it seemed like the the A's lineup dodged a major bullet in not having to face a healthy Scherzer.The A's had some health issues of their own. Coco Crisp was pulled from the game in the fourth inning with a complication from his lingering eye issues. Chris Carter pinch hit for him with runners on the corners and one out. Carter grounded into an inning-ending double play. Carter remained in the game at first base, Reddick moved to center field, and Moss moved to right field.In the fifth inning Moss hit a broken-bat blooper that landed between three Tigers. He raced to second base as Prince Fielder sprinted to second base to try and cover the bag. Moss beat the throw with a slide and avoided getting flattened by a sliding Fielder as Cespedes ran to third base. With two outs and runners now on second and third Stephen Drew flew out to center field to end the inning.In Drew's first three plate appearances he went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and stranded six base runners.The A's plated another run in the seventh inning. Reddick doubled on a ball that left fielder Quintin Berry made a diving attempt on. Berry left the game with a right shoulder injury. Cespedes followed with an RBI single. He was initially awarded second base because a fan interfered with the ball, but since he slipped out of the batters box when he hit the ball he was told to go back to first base. A's manager Bob Melvin argued the call but lost.Starting Pitching ReportThe first batter Griffin faced hit a liner back at him. He got his glove on the ball but it bounced right out upon impact. The aforementioned batter was Austin Jackson and he ended up coming around to score on a sacrifice fly hit by Miguel Cabrera in the first inning to even the score at one apiece. Somewhat of a bad break for Griffin. It would become abundantly clear that this just wasn't his night. Griffin left a 3-1 fastball a bit high against Jhonny Peralta in the second inning and paid the price. The ball was hit about two rows deep into the right field stands. Peralta's 12th homer of the year made it a 2-1 game.With a 2-0 count Griffin threw a perfect 68 MPH curveball to Miguel Cabrera for a called strike. Three pitches later he tried to fool him again with his big breaking curveball and Cabrera practically hit the ball to Canada. Cabrera's 39th homer gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead in the third inning.He gave up a two-run line-drive homer to Fielder that made it a 5-1 game in the fifth inning. Griffin exited the game with 100 pitches over four and two-thirds innings of work. He doesn't often give up the long ball but he gave up a career-high three homers and five runs in Detroit. He had only allowed one home run in his previous seven starts.Bullpen ReportPedro Figueroa entered in relief of Griffin in the fifth inning. He struck out the only batter he faced and left the game.Evan Scribner started the sixth inning. He allowed three runs on two walks and two hits. Austin Jackson and Quintin Berry hit back-to-back doubles with runners on base making it 8-1.Jesse Chavez pitched a three up, three down seventh inning. He got lit up in the eighth inning, though. He allowed three consecutive hits before allowing a grand slam to Miguel Cabrera. The slam made it 12-2 and it was Cabrera's 40th home of the season. Chavez hit Fielder on a 1-2 pitch after the grand slam and was ejected from the game. Melvin wasn't happy with the call by home plate umpire Jerry Meals as it didn't appear to be intentional. Chavez has allowed nine runs in his three games with the A's.AttendanceThe Tigers announced an attendance of 31,243.Up NextIf you are a fan of pitching you'll probably enjoy Wednesday's match up. Cy YoungMVP Justin Verlander (14-8, 2.82 ERA) takes on Brett Anderson (4-1, 1.93 ERA). Anderson became the first A's starting pitcher since Dave Stewart in 1990 to start the season by earning a win in each of his first four starts.

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

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AP

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.

 

Cleveland blows 2-0 series lead, Yankees win Game 5, head to ALCS

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USATSI

Cleveland blows 2-0 series lead, Yankees win Game 5, head to ALCS

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- These young Yankees were unshaken, resilient and as tough as the city they represent.

The baby Bronx Bombers have grown up fast.

Didi Gregorius, following in the October footprints left by Derek Jeter, homered twice off Corey Kluber as New York beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to complete its comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the Division Series and dethrone the AL champions.

The bend-but-don't-break Yankees, way ahead of schedule, staved off elimination for the fourth time in this postseason and advanced to play the Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series starting Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

With a blend of young stars and older veterans coming up big, the Yankees rocked Cleveland and bailed out manager Joe Girardi, who failed to challenge a key call in a Game 2 loss that threatened to sabotage New York's season.

"These guys had my back and they fought and fought," Girardi said. "They beat a really good team. What those guys did for me, I'll never forget it. "

The Yankees went 2-5 against the AL West champion Astros, led by 5-foot-6 dynamo and MVP candidate Jose Altuve. But none of that matters now to this group of New Yorkers.

After winning twice at home, and after Girardi said he "screwed up" and felt horrible about it, the Yankees - with little offensive help from rookie star Aaron Judge - came into Progressive Field and finished off the Indians, who won 102 games during the regular season, ripped off a historic 22-game winning streak and were favored to get back to the World Series after losing in seven games a year ago to the Chicago Cubs.

Cleveland's Series drought turns 70 next year - baseball's longest dry spell.

"Nobody wanted the season to be over," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It doesn't wind down, it comes to a crashing halt. It's disappointing. We felt good about ourselves. We made it harder to win, especially in the last two games."

The Indians closed to 3-2 in the fifth against starter CC Sabathia before David Robertson pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings for the win. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who faced Cleveland in last year's spine-tingling World Series and signed an $86 million free agent contract in December, worked two innings for the save.

Chapman went to the mound with a three-run lead in the ninth after Brett Gardner battled Cody Allen for 12 pitches before hitting an RBI single, with New York's fifth run scoring when Todd Frazier raced home on right fielder Jay Bruce's throwing error.

Gardner's gritty at-bat was symbolic of these Yankees. They wouldn't give in.

"We can win a lot of different ways," Gardner said.

When Austin Jackson was called out on strikes to end it, the Yankees rushed to the mound to celebrate with a wide-eyed Chapman. An elated Girardi hugged his coaches.

The Yankees became the 10th team to overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five playoff series. New York also did it in 2001, rallying to beat Oakland - a series remembered for Jeter's backhand flip to home plate.

Gregorius, who took over at shortstop following Jeter's retirement after the 2014 season, hit a solo homer in the first off Kluber and added a two-run shot in the third off Cleveland's ace, who didn't look like himself during either start in this series.

One win shy of a Series title last year, the Indians had only one goal in mind in 2017.

They came up short again, and have now lost six consecutive games with a chance to clinch a postseason series. The skid dates to last year's World Series, when they squandered a 3-1 lead to the Cubs.

Cleveland is the first team in history to blow a two-game series lead in consecutive postseasons.

Everything was set up for the Indians: Kluber on the mound, Game 5 at home, sensational setup man Andrew Millerrested.

The Yankees, though, wouldn't be denied. They battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the first inning of their wild-card game against Minnesota and then had to overcome a crushing loss in Game 2, when Girardi's decisions led to him being booed at Yankee Stadium.

But these Yankees displayed pinstriped pride.

They're moving on.

JUDGE NOT

The Yankees advanced without much help from Judge, who struck out four times in Game 5 and went 1 for 20 (.050) in the series with 16 strikeouts - an ALDS record. But the 6-foot-7 rookie might have saved New York's season in Game 3, when he reached above the right-field wall to rob Francisco Lindor of a two-run homer in a 1-0 win. "I didn't do my job at the top of the order, but my teammates came up big for me," Judge said.

KLUBER KLOBBERED

Kluber was one of baseball's most consistent pitchers all season, winning 18 games and leading the AL with a 2.25 ERA.

However, October was cruel to the right-hander. He allowed nine runs, including four homers, over 6 1/3 innings in two postseason starts, hardly what he or the Indians expected.

Kluber overcame a back issue earlier this season and it flared up this fall.

"He's fighting a lot," Francona said. "I think you also have to respect the fact that guy wants to go out there and he's our horse. And sometimes it doesn't work."

SLUMPS

The Indians batted .171 as a team with All-Stars Francisco Lindor (2 for 18) and Jose Ramirez (2 for 20) unable to snap out of funks.

SWEET SWING

Gregorius set a franchise record for home runs in a season by a shortstop with 25, one more than Jeter hit in 1999 when No. 2 led the Yankees to a second straight World Series title.

Gregorius got New York off to an ideal start, homering with two outs in the first when Kluber grooved a fastball. The shot deep into the seats in right raised the anxiety level to an already jittery Cleveland crowd fearing the worst.