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A’s minor league recap: Gallagher starts Saturday in Sacramento

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

The RiverCats added Sean Gallagher Thursday when the onetime Chicago Cub pitcher was optioned to Sacramento by the A’s. Gallagher will
join the starting rotation and make his first start in Sacramento on Saturday night against Las Vegas (Blue Jays).
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A’s recall Jack Hannahan

A’s official release:

OAKLAND – The Oakland A’s recalled infielder Jack Hannahan from Triple-A Sacramento, the club announced today.

Hannahan was batting .157 with two home runs and seven RBI in 13 games with Sacramento, where he appeared in 10 games at third base and two at second base. He also batted .208 with no home runs, four RBI and a team leading 12 walks in 26 games with the A’s this spring. The 29-year old left-handed hitter started a team leading 106 games at third base for the A’s last year and was one of the top fielding third basemen in the American League. Hannahan’s .9697 fielding percentage was second best in the AL to Alex Rodriguez (.9701). However, he batted .218, which was the lowest batting average in the majors.

Hannahan takes the roster spot of Sean Gallagher, who was optioned to Sacramento yesterday.

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The “Swingin’” A’s

Just watched Melky Cabrera hit his walk-off homer to beat the A’s 9-7 in 14 innings and cap a 1-4 road trip, and one of our co-workers muttered disgustedly about how the A’s have only four homers as a team trough the season’s first 14 games. Which incidentally leads to our favorite phrase — “on pace for” — and in this case, the A’s are on pace to hit 46 home runs (maybe they should give their old buddy Jose Canseco a call).

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Yankees 9, A’s 7

You’ve gotta feel for Dan Giese, the newest Athletic. He’s appeared in two games since being recalled from Triple-A, and in both he’s surrendered extra-inning walkoff homers. The latest came today, when Melky Cabrera’s two-run shot in the bottom of the 14th gave the Yankees a 9-7 win over the A’s to complete a two-game sweep. On Saturday, Giese gave up a walkoff homer to Toronto’s Lyle Overbay. It’s tough to fault him too much. In each instance, he was pitching into his third inning after throwing two scoreless innings.

So the A’s fly home after a 1-4 road trip, having lost the final four games of the trip. They’re off tomorrow before starting a three-game series w/Tampa Bay …

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Going to the 11th

The A’s and Yanks are deadlocked, 7-7, as we start the 11th inning. Brad Ziegler just finished his second inning of work, so he’s likely done. And Mariano Rivera has already pitched for New York. Both teams’ bullpen depth is being put to the test. This is the third time the A’s have gone extras in the past seven games …

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On the farm

Today, we’re going to start something new on this blog.  We’ll be filing periodic minor-league updates that go beyond the daily updates that the minor-league teams provide. I’ve got calls out to Keith Lieppman and Billy Owens, both of whom are in the know regarding the A’s best prospects. No return calls yet, but as soon as I get some, I’ll update.

In the meantime, through the minor-league season’s first 10 days here’s what stands out.

TRIPLE-A SACRAMENTO

— Vince Mazzaro, who lasted just eight total innings in his first two starts, went six while allowing a run on Monday and lowered his ERA to 1.93. Mazzaro, as everyone probably knows, is likely to be the first one tapped if the A’s need another starter.

— James Simmons, another highly rated prospect, had his best start of the year Tuesday in a 4-2 win at Portland. His overall stats so far aren’t overly impressive, but it’s early.

Daric Barton has been awful. And now he may be out a while. He didn’t play last night after being hit by a pitch on Monday. What’s happened to this guy? Remember when he was touted as a potential Albert Pujols?

DOUBLE-A MIDLAND

— The Rockhounds have lost two straight after closing their first 10-game stretch at 7-3.

— SS Adrian Cardenas, whom the A’s acquired from Philadelphia last season in the Joe Blanton deal, was hitting .360 through Tuesday and had hit safely in all but two games. He also was tied for the Texas League lead in hits.

— Chris Carter, whose 39 home runs at Single-A Stockton last season led the A’s organization, has gone deep only once so far, but his 14 RBI were tied for the league lead. I saw this guy last year. He’s a beast.

SINGLE-A STOCKTON

— Bad start for Cal product Tyson Ross, who struggled with arm issues last seaon. Ross lost his first two starts, and his 1.67 WHIP (baserunners per inning) is a red flag. Then again, the team behind him isn’t very good. The Ports are 1-12.

LOW-A KANE COUNTY

— First baseman Steve Kleen is hitting .385 out of the gate and also has eight RBI, contributing mightily to the Cougars’ 7-3 start.

— Kleen isn’t the only one tatooing the ball. SS Dusty Coleman (.342), and outfielder David Thomas (.317) all have been key contributors to Kane County’s .275 average as a team.

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Wacky afternoon in the Bronx

The Yankees lead the A’s 5-4 after four innings. Just a recap of the crazy things that have taken place already in this game:

–Kurt Suzuki connected for a three-run homer in the second, a play that was reviewed on instant replay because a fan reached over and caught the ball near the left-field fence. The replay showed it clearly wasn’t interference.

–The Yankees came back with back-to-back homers off Brett Anderson, as Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera connected on consecutive pitches. Derek Jeter added a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth.

–Landon Powell is having quite the adventurous day at first base for the A’s. He dropped Mark Teixeira’s pop-up in the first, though he got the easy force out at second. Then he booted a ground ball from Jeter.

–Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon dropped Jason Giambi’s easy pop fly in the third, and Giambi came in to score on a force play at second, when Jeter threw home and nobody was covering home plate.

A steady rain has fallen all game, and I’m sure that messed w/Damon and Powell on those pop flies. We’ll see what kind of impact the weather has the rest of the game.

So much for my pregame blog about no rain having arrived, huh?

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“Tommy John” surgery for Devine

It’s about an hour until first pitch this afternoon at Yankee Stadium. No sign of rain, but still overcast skies. As for your morning A’s news:

Manager Bob Geren confirmed that Joey Devine had reconstructive surgery on his elbow (Tommy John surgery), and that the estimated time for recovery is 8 months to a year. Fautino De Los Santos, the A’s prospect who had the procedure last May, has taken about a full year to recover, so I’d say that’s the more realistic timetable.

As I wrote this morning, it’s obviously a costly blow for the A’s. Devine was being counted on to share the ninth inning this season. And though Brad Ziegler has been solid as the closer, it hurts not having a pitcher of Devine’s caliber available as a late-game option.

No Eric Chavez in the lineup today, as it’s a day game after a night game. Geren said during the spring that Chavez wouldn’t play in day games after night games, but he’s hoping it won’t be necessary as the season goes on. Bobby Crosby gets the call at third today, with Jason Giambi DH’ing and Landon Powell playing first.

Nomar Garciaparra is hitting today and doing a little more running, and he told me this morning he’s aiming to return Friday. Tomorrow’s offday gives him an extra day of rest. The A’s have missed his bat against this slew of lefty pitchers they’ve faced. But as Geren said, “Nomar is a good hitter, period. He’s not necessarily better against lefties or righties. Missing a bat of his caliber always (hurts).”

One last tidbit: It’s confirmed that the A’s and Yankees will make up Monday’s rainout on July 23 at Yankee Stadium, meaning they’ll now play a four-game series here July 23-26.

A’s lineup: Sweeney CF; Cabrera SS; Giambi DH; Holliday LF; Cust RF; Suzuki C; Ellis 2B; Powell 1B; Crosby 3B; Anderson P.

Yankees lineup: Jeter SS; Damon LF; Teixeira 1B; Posada C; Cano 2B; Swisher RF; Matsui DH; Cabrera CF; Ranson 3B.

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Yankees 5, A’s 3

I thought it was pretty telling that A’s manager Bob Geren was playing his infield in tonight as early as the second inning. Just goes to show how unsure he is of his offense right now. But it’s worth questioning whether that strategy is a sound one. Brett Gardner hit a grounder that got by Mark Ellis for a two-run single, and Ellis would have gotten an out at first were he playing at normal depth, which would have scored just one run. With the way the inning played out, the second run probably would have scored anyway. But it’s a bit of a catch-22: Geren wants the chance to cut off a run at the plate, knowing any deficit is tough for his team to overcome right now. But bringing the infielders in also invites the opportunity for a big inning. I’m surprised anytime a manager plays the infield in that early in a game …

–Geren said Nomar Garciaparra looked good taking batting practice today, and that he could be available for some kind of duty tomorrow if his right calf is feeling OK. His first start probably wouldn’t come until Friday, however …

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A’s pregame update — Tuesday

The big A’s news leading up to tonight’s game w/the Yankees involved Joey Devine, who is out for the season after undergoing elbow surgery. You can read about that at contracostatimes.com.

It looks like they’re going to squeeze tonight’s game in. There’s been overcast skies but no rain all day, though there are forecasts for rain later tonight. It’s not nearly as windy as last night, when the rain was blowing sideways across Yankee Stadium.

Eric Chavez is starting at third base and batting seventh in the lineup, the lowest he’s hit all season. Mark Ellis is hitting sixth, as manager Bob Geren pointed to his .500 lifetime average against Andy Pettitte (6-for-12). Nomar Garciaparra is out of the lineup again, though he was scheduled to take batting practice and throw. If his right calf responds well, Geren said Garciaparra’s return could come Friday at home against Tampa Bay, but probably not tomorrow afternoon here in New York.

As was expected, Josh Outman’s turn in the rotation is being skipped following Monday’s rainout. Brett Anderson will start tomorrow, as we knew yesterday, with Trevor Cahill going Friday, Dallas Braden on Saturday and Dana Eveland (tonight’s starter) going Sunday. Outman will pitch out of the bullpen for now, with his next start scheduled for May 2 at Seattle.

Today’s A’s lineup: Sweeney RF; Cabrera SS; Giambi 1B; Holliday LF; Cust DH; Ellis 2B; Chavez 3B; Suzuki C; Davis CF; Eveland P.

Yankees lineup: Jeter SS; Damon LF; Teixeira 1B; Posada C; Cano 2B; Swisher RF; Matsui DH; Ransom 3B; Gardner CF; Pettitte P.