A's Insider notebook: Crisp covers for rusty Cahill


A's Insider notebook: Crisp covers for rusty Cahill

Feb. 27, 2011

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's arrived at HoHoKam Park for their Cactus League opener against the Cubs on Sunday just as the skies stopped pounding the desert with hail.They spent the rest of the day pounding Chicago pitching, rallying from the 4-0 hole that starter Trevor Cahill dug with an 18-hit attack on the way to a 15-7 victory.Eight of the hits came from four players -- with two hits each -- who likely won't make the team, but it was one of the regulars who provided the biggest blow of the day. Leadoff man Coco Crisp blasted Cubs newcomer Matt Garza for a third-inning grand slam that tied the score and drew some self-deprecating humor from Cahill, who allowed four runs on five hits and a walk over one-third of an inning.
RECAP: Crisp's slam leads A's outburst in big win over Cubs
"You mean I'm off the hook for the loss?" Cahill cracked.Crisp's homer, a no-doubter in any park, provided a glimpse of the sneaky power he possesses. It comes from his quick hands and wrists more than from brute strength, and it's pretty clear that Crisp's hands are just fine thus far.Cahill, a right-hander who won 18 games last season, said he was generally pleased with his outing despite the ugly bottom line, saying he made plenty of good pitches. They just happened to get whacked."Obviously you want to do well all the time," Cahill said, "but I'd rather have a bad outing now than later on. For now, it's all right."A LONG TIME COMING
Righty reliever Joey Devine and lefty Josh Outman, a leading candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, made their long-awaited returns to competitive action Sunday. Devine gave up a hit and a walk while throwing a scoreless third inning, and Outman followed with two shutout innings of three-hit work.Devine hadn't pitched in a big-league game since 2008. Outman last faced big-league hitters in mid-2009."After the last warmup pitch, when they threw the ball around the infield, I realized, 'I'm finally back,'" said Devine, who admitted he was nervous all day before taking the mound. "I just wanted to finish my outing without any pain I wanted to be able to walk away feeling good."Both pitchers are nearing full recovery of the Tommy John surgeries that interrupted their blossoming careers, so at this point in camp, the results were a secondary concern."I got through it and felt good," Outman said, and that should have A's fans feeling pretty good, too.SICK BAY
New outfielder David DeJesus did not play because he wasn't feeling well in the morning, and Geren suggested he'll probably give DeJesus another day off Monday, putting him in line to make his A's debut in the team's home opener Tuesday.Righty reliever Michael Wuertz was cleared to play long toss Sunday after several days of inactivity to combat a minor case of shoulder tendinitis. He could make his way into a game by the end of the week, Geren said.Shortstop Cliff Pennington looks like a man dying to get into a game, but it probably won't happen for another week. The team's unofficial medical motto this year -- "Don't Rush It" -- means that every precaution will be taken as Pennington builds strength in his surgically repaired left shoulder. MATSUI-MANIA
Hideki Matsui did not make the trip to Mesa; he'll make his A's debut Sunday against the Angels, for whom he played last season. His lack of action didn't stop the horde of Japanese media that tracks his every move from showing up for Geren's morning press briefing at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, though, and the session was interrupted briefly by fans screaming as "Godzilla" took the field.Just another day in the life of an international superstar."That must be an interesting feeling," said Geren. "It's like walking the red carpet every day."GAMERS
Tyson Ross, another candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, took over for Cahill with two on and one out in the first inning and promptly got out of the jam with a double play. He also worked a scoreless second inning, allowing one hit. Bobby Cramer, also fighting for No. 5, gave up a run on two hits and a walk over two innings of work. Outfielder Michael Choice, Oakland's top pick in the 2010 draft, singled in his first two at-bats and scored two runs. One of his hits came on a fairly routine ground ball to second base that he simply beat out with hustle and speed. Moments later he scored easily from first base on a double high off the wall by catcher Anthony Recker. Outfielders Matt Carson (two doubles) and Jai Miller (single, triple), Choice and Recker each had two hits, as did newcomer Josh Willingham, who chipped in with an RBI single. Daric Barton doubled, too. Brad Ziegler gave up a hit and a walk while wrapping up the victory with a scoreless ninth inning.

Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots


Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots

MEXICO CITY – Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City:

1. So you’re saying there’s a chance

The Raiders aren’t stacking wins as they’d like. Nobody in the AFC West is, either. The Chiefs lost another one, meaning the AFC West crown remains within reach. They’re two games back in the division and one back in the wild card race.

That, above all else, will keep the Raiders motivated after a disastrous loss to New England.

“We're professionals and to me, so long as you have hope, you keep your hope, you keep hope alive,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So, we'll continue to scratch and claw and fight for everything we can.”

The Raiders can harken Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb and Dumber.” So you’re saying there’s a chance.

The Raiders will only stay in it if they start a prolonged winning streak. There’s a chance do that on an upcoming two-game home stand. They play Denver and the New York Giants, respectively, in Oakland over the next fortnight. Those teams have five wins between them.

Wins can’t be assumed with the Raiders team, with the inconsistency and mistake-prone play to lose to anyone.

Fight remains in this group. They’ll continue to push, especially with a 9-7 record being a legitimate playoff contender. They haven’t played worthy of such consideration, but remain hopeful a switch gets flipped.

“We are who we are, we're not going to turn on each other, we're not going to turn on anything about what we do,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Obviously, we know that our culture and everything that we do works, because we have seen it work.”

2. Receiver corps becoming a weak spot

The Raiders have a talented group of receivers lacking consistency and production. That was the case on Sunday, when pass catchers hindered offensive flow and scoring opportunities.

Seth Roberts was the biggest offender. He had a drop, a false start and lost a fumble near the goal line with the Patriots up 14-0 late in the first half. Roberts had 12 yards in his pocket but held the ball one-handed, away from his body fighting for more. Marquis Flowers knocked it free and Patrick Chung recovered.

That was the turning point, a true 10-point swing. The Raiders lost a chance to reach the end zone, and allowed New England to get a field goal as the half expired.

“That was a major turn of events,” Del Rio said.

The slot receiver wasn’t the only receiver who stalled the Raiders offense. That group had five drops, according to Pro Football Focus, including two from Michael Crabtree. Johnny Holton wasn’t credited with a drop, but he had a perfectly thrown deep ball clang off his helmet and shoulder pads.

It’s a bad night in a bad year for the Raiders receivers, who haven’t been producing.

3. Lopsided score keeps Marshawn from going BeastMode

Running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player who had a good Sunday. The bruising back ran roughshod over New England’s front seven, right from the start. He totaled 67 yards on 11 carries, and seemed primed for a big day and a higher-than-usual carry volume.

He and the Raiders run blocking was consistent, allowing him to reach the second level on several occasions.

The lopsided score, however, meant the Raiders had to abandon the ground game.

“I thought we ran the ball well early,” Del Rio said. “I would like to have ended up with 30-plus rush attempts in the ball game, but you got to stay within reasonable amount of the score in order to stick with the run.”

The Raiders were down two touchdowns in a flash, and were three scores behind at the half. That forced Derek Carr to chuck it towards an unreliable receiver corps. That method proved inefficient and never created the big moments.

Lynch has run well since returning from a one-game suspension. He has 25 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. If there’s a positive to take from Sunday’s beat down, Lynch’s efficiency might be it.

Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad


Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders have played in Mexico City the last two years, and have given up a home game to do it.

You already know head coach Jack Del Rio’s stance on the matter. He doesn’t like it. Not one bit.

The NFL announced Sunday morning that Mexico City will host games annually through 2021. The Raiders will be on the short list to return during that span.

“They’ve done a nice job for us over the last two years,” Del Rio said. “If it was a road game, I’d enjoy it. If they stop making (international contests) our home games, we’ll be fine.”

Hate to be the bearer of bad news Jack, but the Raiders will keep giving home games away. That’s expected each year until the Raiders formally move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders might not come back to Mexico for a third straight season, but could host a game in London next year. The NFL sent four games to the United Kingdom this year.

The Raiders have a massive fan base in England and Mexico, which makes them an attractive option to play abroad.

It might make financial sense for the team and the league to expand its base beyond borders, but the football people don’t find it fun.

The Raiders had more fans watching Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca, but it’s no substitute for playing in Oakland.

“I think the crowd down here is pretty excited for the Raiders, so we appreciate that,” Del Rio said. “When you travel four-and-a-half hours, you’re not at home. We appreciate the hospitality and the good people who came out and supported us, but it’s hard to call it a home game.”

This one, especially. The Raiders had overwhelming support last year’s game against Houston, but Patriots fans were a large and vocal minority. They had plenty to cheer, as the Patriots waxed the Silver and Black over four quarters.

It’s hard to say the Raiders had a home crowd this time around, with plenty of noise when they were on offense.

“You know what, traveling down here, I think it was like four hours or something like that, and getting here, I think that hospitality was great, but it really wasn't, it wasn't the Coliseum,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “It didn’t have that feel. Now, we loved playing here, we loved coming down here and playing, but it felt more neutral.”