A's walk-off hero experiences new twist


A's walk-off hero experiences new twist

OAKLAND -- Typical Oakland Athletics baseball. Fall behind, rally, walk-off, pie, Gatorade, water, rinse and repeat. The only thing that ever changes is that it is a new hero each day. This time the hero was Brandon Hicks. His first career home run, was the blast that gave the A's their Major League-leading ninth walk-off win. After the dust, whipped cream, and cooler remnants had settled, the A's had defeated the American League West-leading Texas Rangers 4-3. "I've been waiting for it for a little while and for it to come like that it was awesome," Hicks said of his first home run. "It's exciting to get that kind of big hit in that situation to win a game."For his troubles, Hicks was rewarded with a pie to the face from Josh Reddick. Not satisfied, Reddick hid behind Kate Longworth and myself, then snuck behind us and pied Hicks again in the clubhouse.Of the nine walk-off wins and subsequent forced desserts, this is the first one that happened in the clubhouse."Who was that Reddick?" Hicks asked while blinded by the frothy can-served dairy product. "I wasn't ready for that one. He's tried to cut both of my interviews short." "Well he avoided me and I got the side of his face, so don't avoid me," Reddick explained. "You are going to get it eventually. It's your first career homer as a big leaguer and it was a walk-off. Why would you want to avoid it?" Reddick is poised to strike with a well deserved pie at any given moment. He is like a viper. He can get away with it because he backs it up on the field. Reddick's two-out two-run game-tying double in the seventh inning gave the A's an opportunity to walk-off in the fashion they did. "This is a fun time," Reddick said. "We just seem to start off slow and kick it off after the sixth inning and make it exciting."Starting pitcher Travis Blackley kept the A's in the game for five innings. He allowed just three runs, and struck out four Rangers hitters. He hasn't allowed a home run in his last eight games. It was a controversial balk call that ultimately ended up separating his performance from average to pie-worthy. "I think guys just like getting cream in their face," Blackley said. "I wouldn't know what it's like to get cream in my face. I guess if I hit a walk-off" Guess again. "Pitch a complete game and he'll find out," Reddick said. It is obvious the A's are a confident bunch in the late innings. They are 17-10 in games decided in the last at-bat. They are so confident in fact that Blackley said he knew his teammates were going to win it in the ninth inning. "I had a good feeling," Blackley said. "I thought I'd come down for the bottom of the ninth and sure enough, first hitter."Oakland has the second best record since June 2 at 25-14. The top team over that span is the New York Yankees who are 29-11. They will be here on Thursday for a four-game series. Get the whipped cream ready.

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.