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Giambi hits No. 400

Jason Giambi just hit his 400th home run in the bottom of the fourth inning against Dan Haren, taking a 85 mph, 3-2 pitch over the right field fence. Giambi returned to the dugout and received hugs from most of his teammates and later took a curtain call in front of a cheering crowd.

Giambi is the 44th player in major league history to hit at least 400 home runs, with 191 of those homers coming as an Athletic. 

The A’s lead 4-1 in the top of the fifth inning, with all four runs coming off of homers. Jack Cust hit a two-run shot in the first inning, and Adam Kennedy also went deep in the bottom of the fourth.

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A’s pre-game notes

Not a ton of news to report before tonight’s game, which starts at 6 p.m. because of the fireworks show afterward.

Jack Hannahan is starting at third base for the third straight game. With neither Hannahan or Bobby Crosby tearing it up at the plate right now,  manager Bob Geren said he’s just looking to “mix it up.”

Hannahan is one of the better fielders in the American League, but was 1-for-11 at the plate on the A’s recent road trip through Detroit and Tampa Bay and was 1-for-2 on Friday night. Crosby is 2-for-27 at the plate in his last 10 games after he hit .262 in 21 games to start the season. Hannahan has also had a bit more success than Crosby against right-handers this year, as former A’s standout Dan Haren takes the hill for the Diamondbacks.

For the second straight day, Nomar Garciaparra starts at first base and Jason Giambi is the team’s  DH. Geren reiterated Saturday that he is taking it day-by-day with Garciaparra, but would like to use him as the DH on Sunday and give him the day off on Monday. Giambi will likely be back at first base tomorrow.

For the short term, Geren said he likes the idea of playing Garciaparra a bit more at first base than third. Medically, though, there’s nothing preventing Garciaparra from playing third.

Geren said catcher Landon Powell, who hurt a hamstring last Monday, is feeling better and is scheduled to start Sunday. Powell started last Sunday’s game in Detroit and is 5-for-23 in the five games he has started behind the plate.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, RHP Vin Mazzaro gave up just one hit in eight scoreless innings for the River Cats on Friday night. This season, Mazzaro ranks fifth in the PCL with a 2.66 ERA and is tied for fourth with 38 strikeouts. 

The lineups:

A’s – Cabrera SS, Suzuki C, Cust RF, Holliday LF, Giambi DH, Garciaparra 1B, Kennedy 2B, Sweeney CF, Hannahan 3B, Gonzalez P.

Diamondbacks – Lopez 2B, Parra LF, Upton RF, Drew SS, Reynolds 3B, Montero C, Byrnes DH, Tracy 1B, Young CF, Haren P

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A’s minor league recap: Mazzaro looks ready for big leagues

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

The arbitration clock appears to be the only thing standing between Vin Mazzaro and a spot in the A’s rotation. After Mazzaro’s dominating effort Friday night, what other reason could there be for not promoting the 22-year-old right-hander?

Mazzaro flirted with a no-hitter against Omaha and it figures to be just a matter of a bad start or two by a current A’s starter before he’s in Oakland.

Meanwhile, Adrian Cardenas’ difficult time in Triple-A have come to an end as the A’s top middle infielder prospect was sent back to Double-A Midland. However, Cardenas was in the middle of another huge night offensively for the RockHounds on Friday.

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 3, Omaha (Royals) 1: Story l Boxscore

Vin Mazzaro fired eight innings of one-hit, shutout ball against Omaha to lower his ERA to 2.66. Mazzaro, who got no decision in the Cats’ 12-inning win, walked just one and struck out six. Over his last three starts, the A’s third-round pick from ’05 has gone 21 innings and given up just five hits and one earned run _ for an ERA of 0.43.

Eric Patterson had an RBI triple and Danny Putnam followed with an RBI single in Sacramento’s two-run 12th inning. Gregorio Petit had snapped a 0-0 tie with a run-scoring hit in the top of the 11th, but the struggling Jerry Blevins gave up the tying run in the bottom of the inning.

Cliff Pennington was 3-for-3 with a walk and is hitting .283.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 24, Corpus Christi (Astros) 6: Story l Boxscore

Midland abused Corpus Christi pitching while amassing 24 runs on 28 hits, including four apiece by four different players. Here’s the RockHounds’ honor roll from last night:

Adrian Cardenas: After hitting .177 in Sacramento, he resumed his torrid Texas League hitting by going 4-for-5 with 3 RBI. Cardenas is hitting .398 with 22 RBI in 20 Double-A games.

Corey Brown: Went 4-for-5 with six RBI and five runs, and came within a single of the cycle. He’s hitting .326 with five HRs and 22 RBI with an OPS of 1.044 in 95 at-bats.

Archie Gilbert: Ex-James Logan High star went 4-for-7 as his OBP stays over .400.

Matt Spencer: Went 4-for-5 with four RBI.

Matt Sulentic: Had two hits and 3 RBI and the 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .444 over his last eight games, boosting his average to .306.

Josh Donaldson: Went 3-for-3 with two RBI and is hitting a season-high .273.

Chris Carter: Had 2 doubles, 3 RBI and is hitting .268 with four homers, 32 RBI.

Tommy Everidge: Had three RBI and is now second in league with 37 RBI.

In injury news, 20-year-old reliever Arnold Leon is on the disabled list with a strained right elbow.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 4, Visalia (Diamondbacks) 1: Story l Boxscore

Things are looking up in Stockton, as witnessed by a thoroughly dominating show by Ben Hornbeck. The 21-year-old lefty, making his Stockton debut, struck out a career-high 12 in six innings and allowed just one hit and one walk.

Hornbeck (32nd round, ’08) has probably been the best pitcher in the minors this year, having gone 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA at Kane County before last week’s promotion to the Ports. On Friday, Hornbeck struck out the side in two consecutive innings and finished by striking out eight of his last nine batters.

Larry Cobb drove in two runs, including one on a solo homer, to spark the Ports’ offense. Justin Friend of Tracy picked up his first save, as regular Ports closer Jon Hunton was promoted to Double-A.

Hard-throwing Henry Rodriguez recently was activated after recovering from offseason hernia surgery. Rodriguez, whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, has pitched in two games for Stockton, throwing three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.

More excitement should be on the way shortly as second baseman Jemile Weeks, last year’s No. 1 pick, figures to arrive from extended spring training in Arizona in a matter of days.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 6, Wisconsin (Brewers) 3: Story l Boxscore

Pedro Figueroa, a smallish (6-foot-1, 164 pounds) left-hander, threw seven strong innings as the Cougars (25-16) stretched their Western Division lead to 2 1/2 games. Figueroa (4-1, 5.40 ERA) gave up six hits, three runs, one walk and struck out five.

Franklin Hernandez had three RBI.

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A’s pre-game notes for Friday

The atmosphere at the ballbark is electric as Interleague play begins tonight with the Arizona Diamondbacks coming to the Oakland Coliseum.

Actually, everything looks the same as always. If I had to guess, I’d say there will be between 13,000-15,000 people here.

Not a ton of news from the A’s clubhouse. As expected, Nomar Garciaparra was activated from the DL and will play first base today. Garciaparra has been out with a strained right calf since April 29. A’s manager Bob Geren said Garciaparra’s availability will be determined on a day-to-day basis after he consults with the veteran infielder and the A’s medical staff.

With Garciaparra coming off the DL, pitcher Chris Schroder was optioned to Sacramento, leaving the A’s with 12 pitchers again.  

Geren said Justin Duchscherer was in good spirits after the right-hander threw 15 pitches off of flat ground on Thursday. Duchscherer will be on a “five-day cycle” which means today was a recovery day, tomorrow will be a side day, Sunday will be a buildup day and Monday he’ll throw again.  

Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez is extremely excited about starting tomorrow and can’t wait to go against his old teammates. Arizona counters with former A’s All-Star Dan Haren, who was in the visitors clubhouse for the first time Friday. When he was traded to Arizona, Harens’ wife, Jessica, was pregnant. And now he has a  1 1/2 –year-old boy, Rhett. “It’s weird how life moves,” Haren said.

The lineups:

A’s — Cabrera SS, Suzuki C, Cust RF, Holliday LF, Giambi DH, Garciaparra 1B, Kennedy 2B, Sweeney CF, Hannahan 3B, Cahill P.

Diamondbacks — Lopez 2B, Parra LF, Upton RF, Drew SS, Reynolds 1B, Montero DH, Snyder C, Ojeda 3B, Young CF, Buckner P

 

 

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Lights out in Tampa

We just had a power outage here at Tropicana Field. Carlos Pena took ball four against A’s lefty Dallas Braden and the field went dark. We’ve been delayed about 15 minutes so far, and they’re saying the lights should be back on in another 10 minutes or so. Since it’s only 4:30 p.m. local time, there’s a bit of light shining through the tent-like roof here, so we’re not sitting in darkness or anything.

I say this is karma for starting a day game at 4:08 instead of 12:30 or 1 o’clock …

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Cunningham sent down to make room for Breslow

It’s a pretty odd situation today with a 4:08 p.m. start (East Coast time) for the A’s-Rays series finale. Not really a day game, not really a night game. …

The A’s just announced that outfielder Aaron Cunningham was optioned to Triple-A to make room for new reliever Craig Breslow, who arrived today. This was a surprise to me, as I figured another reliever would go down. This gives the A’s an eight-man bullpen — highly unusual — but with Russ Springer’s status iffy after he hurt his forearm last night, I guess they felt like they had to play it safe. Bob Geren spoke w/reporters before this news came down.

Lost in the shuffle of last night’s exciting finish: Brad Ziegler’s first save opportunity since April 25. But how many will he get in the coming games? Geren reiterated before the game that he’s not naming an official closer, and that he’ll choose his ninth-inning man based on matchups. He added: “I told (Ziegler) I could use him at any time of the game. Bailey could take (the ninth), or he could take it, based on the matchup.”

Bailey had thrown two innings on Tuesday, which made Ziegler the only logical choice to close last night.

Jason Giambi is at DH today. “He was in need of staying off the field,” Geren said. “DH is the most he could do for me today.” Once Nomar Garciaparra returns, maybe Giambi can get a full day off. He could use one, as he enters today hitting .198, the second lowest batting average in the American League.

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

Rays lineup:
Upton CF; Crawford LF; Longoria 3B; Pena 1B; Bartlett SS; Aybar DH; Iwamura 2B; Kapler RF; Navarro C; Garza P.

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A’s 7, Rays 6

Well, the A’s bullpen managed to hold on tonight, and it was a good victory for Oakland. They got some timely hitting early on, and a great starting effort from Brett Anderson for his first major league victory.

But I was really shocked that Anderson got such an early hook tonight. He had thrown just 80 pitches when Bob Geren pulled him after a leadoff double in the seventh and the A’s leading 7-3. I know hindsight’s 20-20, and it’s easy to look at the three runs that scored after Anderson left and say that it was almost a very costly decision.

I look at it this way: Anderson is a young kid who was spinning his best major league start yet. I know he had given up two homers, but staying in to protect a four-run lead at that point would have been a great test. And I know Geren was making his decisions knowing that every victory is precious right now. But I just think leaving Anderson in to try to finish that inning was a challenge that young guys like him and Cahill have to be allowed to conquer.

Anyway, it worked out for the A’s in the end. …

–Despite Santiago Casilla allowing a run on a wild pitch tonight, I actually liked what I saw from him. He was pumping his fastball consistently a 94,94, topping out at 96 (according to the stadium gun). That’s two straight outings where Casilla has looked sharp, and more importantly, carried himself with confidence on the mound. Each of the last two seasons, he’s gone downhill in the secodn half. The A’s need the Casilla that showed up Tuesday and Wednesday for the long haul this season …

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A’s pregame update: Wednesday

Pretty uneventful around the A’s clubhouse leading up to tonight’s game. A replay of the 1989 ALCS playoff series between Oakland and Toronto was on the TV, and players were kidding w/Mike Gallego. Gallego is currently the team’s third-base coach, but back then, he was playing second base for the team and sporting traces of a mullet (not that mullets were unusual on the ’89 A’s). It’s amazing how ancient those old films look now, particularly the TV graphics. Didn’t seem that way then …

On to the news …

The A’s claimed lefty reliever Craig Breslow off waivers from the Minnesota Twins today. He’s expected to arrive tomorrow, and will be the team’s lone lefty in the ‘pen. Manager Bob Geren usually downplays the need for having a set number of lefties or righties, but he acknowledged it would be nice having a lefty specialist of sorts. Breslow’s splits aren’t drastic: Lefties are hitting .211 against him, righties .226. Last year, he had a 1.91 ERA in 49 appearances combined with Cleveland and Minnesota. One thing to watch: He walked 11 in 14 1/3 innings this season w/the Twins.

Nomar Garciaparra (right calf) was not activated from the DL today, as he said the team wanted to save him from playing on the artificial surface of Tropicana Field. This turf has been tough on some A’s players with back problems in the past. But Garciaparra said he had a very good day of work yesterday and that he thinks he can be activated this weekend against Arizona.

Your A’s lineup:
Cabrera SS; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Kennedy 2B; Crosby 3B; Cunningham RF; Davis CF; Anderson P.

And for the Rays:
Upton CF; Crawford LF; Longoria 3B; Pena 1B; Bartlett SS; Aybar DH; Iwamura 2B; Kapler RF; Navarro C; Kazmir P.

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A’s 4, Rays 1

Quite the change of pace tonight, as the A’s locked into a pitcher’s duel that went extra innings before they scored four in the top of the 11th.

Impressive at-bat from Matt Holliday in the 11th, battling back from an 0-2 count, working it full and then blasting a three-run homer to break a scoreless tie. Funny note from the postgame clubhouse session: Manager Bob Geren said second baseman Adam Kennedy told him he had a feeling Holliday might go deep …

Andrew Bailey continues to impress, wouldn’t you say? That was another big test he passed in the eighth, striking out Evan Longoria with runners on the corners, then blowing it by Jason Bartlett w/the bases loaded. More ammunition for Geren to consider him in the closer’s role, especially with Brad Ziegler still not bringing his best stuff. Ziegler told me in Detroit that he still isn’t feeling like himself on the mound after recovering from the flu and an asthma attack. He thinks his velocity is OK, but that his stuff doesn’t quite feel right.

And let’s say Bailey did start getting save opportunities. I still don’t think that would mean Ziegler is out of the role for the season. Ziegler is a pretty steady dude, and I think he could bounce between a closer and setup role pretty seamlessly …

Catch up w/you tomorrow …

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A’s pregame report: Tuesday

It’s tough sorting out who’s coming and going from the A’s roster these days, wouldn’t you say?

With Sean Gallagher shipped out to the minors, the plan is for right-hander Edgar Gonzalez to make Saturday’s start against Arizona. Unless, Bob Geren said as a qualifier, he’s needed in relief before then. And would you bet against that possibility, with the way the starting pitching has been?

I thought Gio Gonzalez was a strong candidate to make that start, but assistant GM David Forst said in a pre-game media briefing that the priority right now is to keep the bullpen fully stocked. “Gio did a nice job, but with him being unavailable over the next three or four days, we needed to make a move.” Forst said elite prospect Vin Mazzaro was considered. You’ll remember he made a nice impression in spring training, but showed that he needed more seasoning. He’s 1-2 with a 3.16 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts) for Sacramento. “Vinny’s pitched well and he deserved to be in consideration,” Forst said. “But his development is more important. Right now he’s doing a nice job there, and we prefer for it to continue.”

Landon Powell is nursing a sore right hamstring, and though Geren said he considers Powell available if needed, the A’s are skating on thin ice at this position right now. But in looking at their minor league catching options, Curtis Thigpen hasn’t played all season because of a back injury, and Joel Galarraga is nursing a sore shoulder. Eric Munson is starting at Triple-A, and Anthony Recker, recently demoted to Double-A, was brought back to Triple-A just because depth was needed. So the A’s are crossing their fingers that Kurt Suzuki stays healthy. Jack Hannahan is the emergency catcher if needed.

Eric Chavez doesn’t figure to be ready for another month or so anyway, so I wasn’t surprised to see him go on the 60-day DL. But I just talked to Chavez, and he said he’s definitely shooting to be ready by the time he’s eligible to come off the DL. Believe me, retirement is nowhere on this guy’s agenda, which might surprise you.

More comments from Chavez in tomorrow’s notebook …

Tonight’s A’s lineup: Cabrera SS; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Kennedy 2B; Sweeney CF; Crosby 3B; Cunningham RF; Outman P.

Rays lineup: Upton CF; Crawford LF; Longoria 3B; Pena 1B; Bartlett SS; Aybar DH; Iwamura 2B; Kapler RF; Hernandez C; Shields P.