Strikeouts not stopping sarcastic A's


Strikeouts not stopping sarcastic A's


ARLINGTON -- The A's performance on Wednesday was one for the record books. They clobbered the Texas Rangers 9-3, reduced their magic number to clinch a spot in the Wild Card game to six, and pulled within three games of the American League West-leading Rangers. For a team that has played five consecutive one-run games, the laughter of a decision was much needed. All good things but not quite historical.

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With 11 whiffs on the night Oakland blew past the previous American League record for most single-season strikeouts, expanding their ongoing franchise-worst mark to 1,333 and passing the 2007 Tampa Bay Rays, who previously held the record with 1,324 punchouts."I think at this point in time it kind of just comes with the territory," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I was counting up the strikeouts after six and you're going 'Here we go again.' but at least we're not hitting into double plays." The thing about the A's and their egregious strikeout total is that it hasn't stopped them from scoring. They have scored the second most runs in the A.L. since the All-Star break. When they swing, they swing for the fences and it seems to work. It was no different on this evening as Oakland's offense exploded for five runs on six hits as they sent nine batters to the plate and knocked Rangers' starting pitcher Martin Perez out of the game with two outs in the first inning."There was some padding but with that team you never feel that secure," Melvin said. Jarrod Parker tossed six innings of three-run ball and got his 12th win of the season. He is now tied with fellow rookie Tommy Milone for the team lead in wins. Parker has received one run or fewer in 14 of his 29 starts. He got so much run support on Wednesday that it seemed to knock him off his game. He gave up a run and threw 30 pitches in the first inning. Then in the second inning he loaded the bases with no outs and gave up two more runs. He escaped the inning by only allowing the runs to score on a force out and a sacrifice fly. "I've had long waits like that and I'll take five runs and 35 minutes anytime," Parker said (not that he's counting). "You learn to figure out what you need and I was able to get loose and battle through that."Parker is 12-0 in 17 starts in which he gets two or more runs of support. He dialed in after the early issues and pitched four consecutive scoreless innings. "Our bullpen has had a lot of work lately and early on I was struggling a little bit," Parker said. "I came in after the second and third and Curt Young just said flush it, start all over. That was kind of the mentality I was able to take out there."The A's collected 16 hits, but one in particular was very important. Josh Reddick stroked a single in the seventh inning to snap his career-worst 0-for-30 slump. As the newly clean-shaven Reddick reached first base he looked relieved and motioned to the dugout, doing a "double air high-five" with Collin Cowgill. The guys on the bench jokingly asked for the game ball to commemorate the occasion. "We called for the ball and they actually threw it in," Parker said. "We were kind of joking but he actually threw it. There was a couple of jokes. We gave him a nice golf clap in the dugout." "Like a rookie getting his first hit in the big leagues," Reddick said showing off the ball. "They gave me all kinds of special writing on it. Got some stats, 10 broken bats and three broken helmets." He added a hit with a runner in scoring position in his next at-bat but Brandon Moss, who was on second after collecting his third hit, was held up at third. Maybe shaving his goatee and facial hair did indeed do the trick. Reddick said it was a spur of the moment decision right before the game. "I think everybody is relieved to see Reddick get a couple of hits," Melvin said. "He was grinding pretty hard on that. He means so much to us. It's all in fun now but we all felt it going through the struggle." One guy that hasn't been struggling for hits is Stephen Drew. He went 4-for-5 with two RBIs as the A's leadoff hitter. He smacked a bases-loaded single in the third inning to put the A's ahead 7-3. It was Drew's 11th career four-hit game, and his second four-hit effort this week. He is hitting .464 (13-for-28) during his current six-game hitting streak. "He's really starting to get his legs underneath him and it's really about the halfway point of the season for him," Melvin said. "Getting consistent at-bats against lefties, righties, he's a guy that can contribute on both sides of it. That was a nice pickup by Billy Beane." Moss collected three hits and scored twice and Derek Norris got in on the act by driving in a career high-tying three RBIs. The A's wins against the Rangers are keeping their hopes alive, as far as winning the division is concerned. They still have four more games remaining against the Rangers, three of which are at the Oakland Coliseum. "For us to come out here and get these guys is I think the biggest series of the road trip," Reddick said. "These are the guys we are trying to catch. A lot of people want to say we get the Wild Card, we're still trying to win this division."NOTES:-- Yoenis Cespedes smacked an RBI triple in the first inning and was greeted at third base by trainer Nick Paparesta and Bob Melvin. He remained in the game. Cespedes has been battling a bone bruise on the bottom of his right foot since the last home stand. "He's had a bone bruise for a while and he's playing hurt," Melvin said. "I might have to DH him tomorrow even if Coco Crisp isn't available, which at this point I'm probably doubting. For a guy used to playing 90 game seasons this is probably empty tank for him and now he's playing center field and dealing with an injury on top of it." -- Crisp hit in the cage each of the last two days. He has appeared in two games as a pinch runner since developing the eye issues but hasn't been able to hit in eight games.

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.