From Venezuela to Oakland: Nunez's first homer as amazing as he dreamed

From Venezuela to Oakland: Nunez's first homer as amazing as he dreamed

ARLINGTON, Texas — Whenever Renato Nunez gets a major league call-up, he brings a pretty impressive minor league portfolio with him.

On Friday night, his A’s teammates got an up-close look at his raw power. He launched a tough fastball from Martin Perez for an opposite field three-run homer to right-center, a highlight in Oakland’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Park.

It was a special moment for Nunez, a 23-year-old whose 32 homers with Triple-A Nashville this season tied for the second-highest total in all of the minor leagues. He proudly displayed his home run ball that the A’s were able to fetch from the crowd.

“That moment, I imagined, dreamed all my life,” said Nunez, who signed with the A’s out of Venezuela at age 16. “It’s very exciting that happened today.”

His wasn’t the only big individual moment for the A’s. Jed Lowrie set a new Oakland single-season record with his 48th double, which he collected in the fourth off Perez. That pushed him past Jason Giambi, who hit 47 in 2001, a year after Giambi was the American League MVP.

“That’s pretty impressive. There’e some pretty good hitters to run through Oakland,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s a real testament to what kind of hitter he is.”

Lowrie had the ball and bat in his possession that he used for the double. He also was given the lineup card from the game and he put in a request to take home the second base bag that was used Friday as well.

“It’s almost 50 years (the A’s have been in Oakland),” Lowrie said. “That’s some really good players, so to be on top of any offensive category is pretty cool.”

Nunez, his young teammate, is at a much different point in his career. This is his second stint in the bigs — he made his debut last September — and he’s trying to open eyes and show that he’s a future piece for the A’s, alongside other young building blocks like Ryon Healy, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson.

The right-handed hitting Nunez has some of the best natural power in the minors. And considering he’s worked hard this season on using the whole field, he delighted in drilling his first big league homer to right-center.

The trick is finding him a spot defensively. He’s come up through the farm system as a third baseman, but with Chapman seemingly growing roots at third in the bigs, the A’s have experimented with Nunez in left field. Melvin also says Nunez might get time at first base next spring too. On Friday, he served as designated hitter against the lefty Perez.

“We try to get some good spots for him, some good matchups for him,” Melvin said. “You look at his numbers throughout the minor leagues every year, he’s a real power hitter. But we see enough of him in spring and know enough about him to know he can really hit.”

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.