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A’s minor league recap: Mazzaro shines in Sacramento

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

Here’s the recap from Monday’s game, when Jack Hannahan and Chris Denorfia homered in the ‘Cats win. Daric Barton, hitting .158 in 12 games, left in the second inning after getting hit by a pitch.
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A’s-Yankees rained out; no makeup date yet

It’s been raining pretty much all afternoon in New York City, so it wasn’t a surprise that tonight’s A’s-Yankees game was postponed. There’s been no official word on a makeup date, but there’s thought that July 23 might be the day. The teams are scheduled for a three-game series at Yankee Stadium from July 24-26, and both have offdays on the 23rd. This marks the A’s second postponement just two weeks into the regular season. Their April 9 game against the Angels was called off after the death of Los Angeles pitcher Nick Adenhart.

The A’s are sticking with their same rotation for the two games here in New York: Dana Eveland tomorrow night against Andy Pettitte, and Brett Anderson going Wednesday afternoon (New York’s starter is TBA).

There’s a biting wind that’s swirling through the new Yankee Stadium, and it’s blowing the rain sideways. No way they could have played this game tonight … The stadium is beautiful, by the way, though looking at the field from the press box reminds you a lot of the old ballpark that still sits across the street. That’s not necessarily a bad thing …

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Blue Jays 1, A’s 0

A quick recap before I bolt to the Toronto airport to catch a plane for New York:

The A’s are still searching for some consistent offense after today’s defeat, the third time they’ve been shut out this season. They mustered just five hits for the second straight day, and lost out on their best chance to score when Mark Ellis was thrown out trying to score from first on Ryan Sweeney’s double in the third.

Dallas Braden turned in a great effort, allowing just one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings.

If you’re looking for reasons to be optimistic heading into a three-game series at the new Yankee Stadium, know that the Yanks’ new home has been a slugger’s paradise so far. New York and Cleveland combined for 17 homers in the first three games of their series this weekend, with 12 of those homers going to right field.

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Chavez starting at third; still no Nomar

Quick update here from Rogers Center, where the A’s wrap up a three-game series against the Blue Jays. A victory today would give them the series win and take some good vibes into a three-game series w/the Yankees, where the intensity is sure to crank up a notch.

Eric Chavez is in the lineup at third base. He threw this morning and took BP and looked good (that’s according to Bob Geren, who was pitching to him). Still no Nomar Garciaparra, who can’t lick this right calf problem. “He feels better today than he did yesterday,” Geren said, adding that the DL is not being discussed yet for Nomar. Not having his right-handed bat Saturday or today hurts the A’s, as Toronto has gone w/three left-handed starting pitchers. The A’s also get lefties Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia out of the chute in New York.

Jason Giambi is at DH, w/Landon Powell playing first base, his second start there in the past four games. It’s an effort to preserve Giambi’s legs a bit. Plus, Geren wanted to get Powell, a switch hitter, into the lineup without sitting Kurt Suzuki, another right-handed bat.

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

Jays lineup: Scutaro SS; Hill 2B; Rios RF; Wells CF; Millar DH; Rolen 3B; Overbay 1B; Raul Chavez C; Snider LF; Romero P

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Blue Jays 4, A’s 2

UPDATED**************

To expand on what I wrote below, here’s a few comments from second baseman Mark Ellis, who was obviously frustrated with the team’s offensive output today (just two runs and five hits).

“Non-existent,” he said of the A’s hitting. “A lot of guys were 0-for-5, myself included. But we’re fine. It was one of those days where we didn’t swing the bat well.”

But he’s adamant the offense will come around based on the personnel the A’s have added. Bob Geren echoed the same thoughts after the game.

Trevor Cahill, who gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings in Saturday’s start, had this to offer on the offense:

“That’s why we play 162 games. There will be plenty of days when we don’t pitch well and the offense picks us up.”

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Lyle Overbay just hit a two-run homer off Dan Giese in the bottom of the 12th to give the Blue Jays the victory. Can’t hang this one on the bullpen though, as the A’s offense did nothing over the final six innings.

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Another marathon game

We’re now in the 11th inning of a 2-2 tie between the A’s and Jays. The A’s have gotten more great work from their bullpen, which has turned in 4 2/3 shutout innings. That’s 9 2/3 scoreless innings so far in this series from the relief corps. Toronto had runners on the corners with one out in the ninth, but Santiago Casilla escaped the jam to extend the game.

The A’s haven’t had a hit since the seventh. Now going to the bottom of the 11th …

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Cahill’s wild ride

It’s not often you see a pitcher walk three batters, hit another, and only give up one run in an inning. Trevor Cahill pulled it off here in Toronto in the bottom of the fourth. He got a huge assist from shortstop Orlando Cabrera. With the bases loaded and two outs, Cabrera went deep into the hole to make a sliding backhanded stop of Aaron Hill’s grounder, then made the long throw to a stretching Jason Giambi for the third out.

Cabrera has pulled off that play with regularity this season — sliding to a knee to make the backhanded grab, then popping up quickly and unloading the ball.

But Cahill’s playing w/fire if his control problems continue. It’s a 1-1 game heading into the bottom of the fifth. …

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A’s pregame update — Saturday

It’s been a newsie morning for the A’s with the addition of reliever Dan Giese, who took Jerry Blevins’ roster spot. To catch you up on what else is happening:

–Nomar Garciaparra isn’t starting at third, as Bob Geren had planned yesterday. Garciaparra’s right calf tightened up while he was running out a grounder in the fourth inning last night. He’s day-to-day. And that leaves the A’s with a lonely bench for today’s game. Travis Buck and Landon Powell are the only healthy reserve position players. But Geren is hopeful Eric Chavez can return to third base tomorrow if his right shoulder feels good in pregame drills. Chavez had told me yesterday he was targeting Monday, but with the infield depth looking depleted, I could see why Geren is holding out hope for tomorrow.

–Geren doesn’t see his new no-lefty bullpen as a cause for concern. He mentioned Santiago Casilla, Michael Wuertz and Andrew Bailey as relievers he’d feel comfortable calling on to retire a left-handed hitter.
As for his thoughts on Giese, Geren offered: “He’s had some success up here in the major leagues. He throws strikes. He’s a good control pitcher. Jerry had been struggling a little bit in the spring and into the (regular) season. We need to get him back to where he was last year, because he was a big help to the team last year. … (Giese) does give us maybe a little more length” in the bullpen.

He said Giese’s addition had nothing to do w/Josh Outman’s shaky performance in the rotation thus far. But Geren added that he views Giese as a potential starter if need be. Giese made three starts and 17 relief appearances over two stints last season w/the Yankees.

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

Jays lineup: Scutaro SS; Hill 2B; Rios CF; Wells DH; Lind LF; Bautista 3B; Overbay 1B; Barajas C; Snider RF; Tallet P

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Giese called up; Blevins optioned to minors

The A’s made a move in the bullpen this morning, recalling right-handed reliever Dan Giese from Triple-A Sacramento and optioning down lefty Jerry Blevins. Considering Blevins has struggled in the early going, it’s not a big shock. If there’s any surprise, it’s that the A’s now have seven right-handed relievers and no lefties. But Bob Geren has always said he wants the best seven guys in the ‘pen, regardless of whether they’re righties or lefties.

Giese, 31, was claimed off waivers from the New York Yankees on April 8. Last season, he was mainly a long reliever for the Yankees and occasional spot starter. He said he figures he’ll be used in a similar fashion with Oakland. Don’t be surprised if he swaps roles at some point w/Josh Outman if Outman continues to struggle in the rotation. Outman’s next outing would be Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

Giants fans might remember Giese making his major league debut with them in 2007. “I’m not a guy who’s going to blow up the radar gun,” Giese said this morning. “I’m a sinker/slider guy who will throw a lot of strikes, get quick, easy outs.”

He had a bit of an adventure getting to Toronto, as his flight from Sacramento was delayed. He had to switch to a different flight because he would have missed his connecting flight to get here. He finally arrived in town at 12:30 a.m. this morning, but said a couple cups of coffee were keeping him alert …