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Tigers 14, A’s 1

What can you possibly say after this one, except the A’s flat-out stunk and need to come out much better tomorrow. Rain delays or not, I was surprised that they came out this flat after two morale-boosting victories over Kansas City. We’ll see how they bounce back.

Second baseman Adam Kennedy, one of the culprits in the A’s defensive meltdown during the first three innings, said defensive miscues sometimes can be contagious around the infield. And he said the four errors made it way too rough on rookie starting pitcher Brett Anderson.

“It just kind of snowballed on us,” Kennedy said. “Brett kept making good pitches to good hitters, and we couldn’t pull it together for him.”

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Game on!!

We resumed play here at about 10:45 p.m. local time, with Detroit ahead 9-1 in the top of the fifth. I wonder if any fans gave up and decided to head down the street for a hip-hop nostalgia concert at the Fox Theatre — M.C. Hammer, 2 Live Crew, Too Short, Biz Markie and Naughty By Nature.  Talk about a lineup of heavy hitters … back in 1989 at least.

M.C. Hammer, a former A’s bat boy, was scheduled to throw out tonight’s first pitch. But the first rain delay spoiled those plans and he had to go prepare for his gig. …

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A’s-Tigers delayed after four innings

Tough to understand the logic being used here in Detroit, as the A’s-Tigers game is in its second rain delay with Detroit leading 9-1 after four innings.

First pitch was delayed for an hour in anticipation of heavy rain that didn’t show up until now. Had they completed just one more inning, this would have been an official game. So the first rain delay, in effect, caused the second rain delay.

At any rate, if you’re an A’s fan, do you really want to watch much more of this? This is easily the A’s sloppiest game of the season. … Four errors through the first three innings — one by every starting infielder. Only three of the nine runs charged to Brett Anderson were earned. You get the feeling the A’s just weren’t mentally prepared to take the field tonight.

By the way, Bobby Crosby left in the third inning with an upset stomach, it was announced. Jack Hannahan replaced him.

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A’s in rain delay in Detroit

(From Joe Stiglich):

Sorry for the delay in posting today, folks. Big-time computer/Internet issues. We’re in a rain delay at the moment at Comerica Park. It’s rained some, but not heavily. I believe the delay is more in anticipation of a heavy storm that may or may not hit Detroit. They just announced that we’re going to start at 8:05 p.m. local time here …

Outfielder Aaron Cunningham was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and reliever Santiago Casilla was activated from the DL. Relievers Jerry Blevins and Jeff Gray were optioned to make room for them.

Cunningham is starting in right field tonight ahead of Travis Buck. The left-handed hitting Buck is hitting just .200 in 20 games but his playing time has been pretty spotty. He would typically play tonight with righty Edwin Jackson starting for Detroit, but the right-handed hitting Cunningham gets the call.

In other news, Dallas Braden says his hand feels good enough to start tomorrow. Trevor Cahill goes Sunday. Bob Geren hasn’t announced starters for Monday and Tuesday, but he said its likely to be Josh Outman and Sean Gallagher or vice versa.

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

Tigers lineup: Granderson CF, Polanco 2B, Thomas RF, Cabrera 1B, Ordonez DH, Inge 3B, Raburn LF, Laird C, Everett SS, Jackson P.

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A’s minor league update: Cunningham joins A’s, Copeland back with Giants

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

There were some more roster moves in Sacramento today as the RiverCats saw the A’s recall outfielder Aaron Cunningham and activate reliever Santiago Casilla. To replace them, the RiverCats added relievers Jerry Blevins and Jeff Gray, who were both sent down by the big club.

Also, the Ben Copeland experiment is officially over as the A’s sent their Rule 5 choice back to the Giants for $25,000, or half the original cost Oakland incurred in claiming the outfielder. Copeland will continue his rehabilitation stint with the Giants’ Single-A squad in San Jose.

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

Albuquerque (Dodgers) 11, RiverCats 2: Story l Boxscore

Gio Gonzalez struggled Thursday night for the Cats as he allowed eight runs (four earned) and walked five in just 2 1/3 innings. Gonzalez’s ERA ballooned to 4.44.

Daric Barton is now at .200 after going 1-for-3 with a double to boost his team-leading RBI total to 19. Adrian Cardenas went 0-for-2 while batting ninth and saw his average dip to .191.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

San Antonio (Padres) 4, RockHounds 3: Story l Boxscore

Anthony Recker went 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs in the RockHounds’ 10-inning loss. Recker had half of the RockHounds’ six hits.

Kristian Bell had a promising start for Midland, going five innings and allowing just two runs in his best effort of the season.

Chris Carter is in a 1-for-14 slump after going 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 6, Inland Empire (Dodgers) 3: Story l Boxscore

Jermaine Mitchell smacked a three-run triple in the eighth inning to provide the difference for the Ports.

Scott Hodsdon didn’t get the win but he did pitch well, going five innings and allowing just two earned runs and striking out six. Jon Hunton is now 6-for-6 in save opportunities after throwing two scoreless innings.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Game 1: Burlington (Royals), 6, Cougars 3: Story l Boxscore

Game 2: Cougars 3, Burlington (Royals) 2: Story l Boxscore

Anthony Capra had one of his worst starts of the season, allowing 10 hits and five runs in five innings to take the Game 1 loss.

The Cougars got a doubleheader split, thanks to Jason Christian, who delivered an RBI single in the seventh inning for the winner in Game 2.

Dusty Coleman had a pair of doubles and an RBI in the win.

Brett Hunter allowed just one hit in his four innings, which also included five walks and three strikeouts. Kenny Smalley got the win with three scoreless innings.

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A’s minor league recap: Unsteady Eveland gets win for RiverCats

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 6, Albuquerque (Dodgers) 5: Story l Boxscore

Dana Eveland picked up his first win since being sent down to Sacramento, but he still had some command issues as he walked four in six innings and threw just 57 of his 101 pitches for strikes.

Aaron Cunningham provided some offense by hitting a two-run home run. Cunningham has two homers and is hitting .375. Danny Putnam had a pair of hits and is now 3-for-7 since being recalled from Double-A Midland.

Meanwhile, Daric Barton is slowly getting things together. He has a hit in nine of his past 10 games (10-for-36) and is hitting .196.

Albuquerque got a hitless inning of relief from former Granada High standout Erick Threets, the hard-throwing lefty who was originally drafted by the Giants.

Thursday night’s game features a pitching matchup of Gio Gonzalez and the Isotopes’ Shawn Estes.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 7, San Antonio (Padres) 4: Story l Boxscore

Tommy Everidge drove in five runs, including three on a long home run to lead the first-place RockHounds’ offense. The ex-Sonoma State standout is second in the league with 32 RBI and is hitting .311 while transitioning from a first baseman to a third baseman.

Travis Banwart improved to 4-1 after allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Banwart, the Texas League’s top starting pitcher statistically, allowed just two baserunners after San Antonio scored single runs in the first and second. Closer Sam Demel notched the save.

Chris Carter and Corey Brown each had a hit, but each also struck out twice. Carter and Brown are both battling to overcome their propensity for strikeouts.

Josh Donaldson, who has also played some third base, was back behind the plate. He went 1-for-3 and his average is at .261, thanks to a recent hot streak (7-for-16).

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Inland Empire (Dodgers) 6, Ports 5: Story l Boxscore

Craig Italiano struck out eight in six innings, but the bad news was he gave up nine hits and five runs to absorb the loss.

Christian Vitters went 2-for-4 and is 3-for-8 in his two games since joining Stockton from extended spring training. However, the third baseman grounded out with two runners aboard in the ninth to end the game.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wednesday: Cougars vs. Burlington (Royals), ppd., rain

Thursday: Cougars vs. Burlington (Royals) doubleheader

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Mazzaro shines

I know the A’s 12-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday was quite a sight for those starved to see the A’s bats. But the organization’s best news came up the freeway. Vin Mazzaro, who had yet to win this season, followed Santiago Casilla’s rehab start with eight one-hit innings for Triple-A Sacramento. That’s the kind of performance that has led some to speculate he might be the best of the three (Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill being the other two).

Interesting note on Aaron Cunningham in this morning’s Sacramento Bee game story.

The bad news: Tonight brings a Dana Eveland sighting.

Oh, one more thing on the River Cats. Brad Kilby walked four straight hitters to lose a game last week,something that should never happen on the professional level. But after reading this, I have no reason to question his committment to getting better.

DOUBLE-A MIDLAND

— Told you the other day that Matt Spencer was bucking for a promotion from Single-A Stockton, and sure enough, he was called up to replace Danny Putnam after Putnam was moved up to Sacramento. Spencer immediately did something positive.

SINGLE-A STOCKTON

— Mazzaro wasn’t the only A’s product doing some dealing last night. Carlos Hernandez was pretty darn good, too. By the way, interesting figure on the mound for San Bernardino in the same game.

SINGLE-A KANE COUNTY

— Huge night for the son of a former major leaguer.

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A’s 12, Royals 3

Orlando Cabrera hasn’t struck me as the most vocal guy in the A’s clubhouse. Nice guy, sure. But I didn’t picture him as the take-charge type. Come to find out that it was Cabrera who initiated the players-only meeting for A’s hitters before today’s game. Whatever he said seems to have struck a chord, as the A’s had a season high in runs scored tonight and also put together their biggest rally with a seven-run second inning. Cabrera said his message was simple: Play hard every day, even if it’s in a losing effort.

The A’s made headlines by acquiring four marquee veterans for this season — Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday, Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra. Of those four, Giambi was the one people pointed to as the clubhouse leader-type, the guy who would speak up when the team fell in a lull. Giambi, indeed, is that type of player. In fact, he and Garciaparra also addressed teammates in the meeting along with Cabrera. But I think the A’s have found a surprise leader in Cabrera along with someone who plays Gold Glove-caliber defense and provides a steady bat.

Just as important as his words, Cabrera raked from the leadoff spot once the game started, going 3-for-5 w/four RBI. Jack Cust hit a three-run homer and Giambi and Holliday added two RBI each.

–One thing I didn’t squeeze into tomorrow’s stories: Reliever Santiago Casilla (sprained right knee) pitched a 1-2-3 inning tonight for Triple-A Sacramento. He’s thrown two perfect innings in his two rehab appearances, and I would think that’s a good sign he’ll be activated from the DL for Friday’s game at Detroit.

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Chavez now battling back problem

The injury news just doesn’t get any better for third baseman Eric Chavez. Already on the DL for an elbow problem, he’s now headed to Phoenix to have his back checked after an MRI yesterday showed a bulging disk. Chavez recently began having back spasms, which initiated the MRI. Bob Geren said they started Sunday, but Chavez wasn’t available before the game to clarify for sure. He’ll be examined by Phoenix-based specialist Dr. Rob Blackaby. Chavez was targeting Friday for a possible return, but now Geren said his return will be pushed back “a couple of weeks for sure.” Can’t say for certain is this is related to the lower back surgery he had in October 2007. …

This development makes a healthy return from Nomar Garciaparra even more important. I saw Garciaparra taking infield practice today, and he’s also been hitting. The thought is he might be ready to come off the DL for this weekend’s series in Detroit. “He’s optimistic about returning somewhat soon,” Geren said. “He’s definitely going to be with us in Detroit, and if he’s ready, I’ll activate him.”

Let’s get away from the injury news for a second, shall we? The clubhouse emptied out earlier than usual today, as the A’s held a players’ only meeting on the field before batting practice. Not sure what the motivation was, or who called it. But it’s time somebody lights a fire under this team before they dig too big of a hole to crawl out of.

You should have seen the show Matt Holliday was putting on during BP not long ago. He crushed at least two homers to center that hit near the strip of concrete running just underneath the luxury suites. Absolute bombs. Jason Giambi put a couple in the second deck in right field. … I know, I know. This is sort of like being impressed by NBA players dunking during a shootaround, right? But it’s still quite a spectacle to watch …

Dallas Braden’s left hand is doing better, but he’s still wearing an Ace bandage and you can still see the lace marks on his swollen knuckles. He said he’ll try throwing a bullpen session tomorrow. The plan is for Braden and Brett Anderson (blister) to start Friday and Saturday, or vice versa. But at this point, they’re both a question mark. Geren mentioned Sean Gallagher and Dan Giese as candidates who could fill in if needed. Doesn’t sound like the A’s plan to call anybody up to take those starts, but as we’ve found, things change quickly with this team.

Some encouraging news: After throwing a scoreless inning for Single-A Stockton on Saturday, reliever Santiago Casilla is scheduled to make another rehab appearance tonight for Triple-A Sacramento. If that goes well, he could be activated Friday.

Your A’s lineup for tonight:
Cabrera SS; Suzuki C; Giambi 1B; Holliday LF; Cust DH; Sweeney CF; Kennedy 2B; Buck RF; Hannahan 3B; Cahill P.

For the Royals:
Crisp CF; DeJesus LF; Teahen 3B; Guillen RF; Butler 1B; Jacobs DH; Callaspo 2B; Buck C; Aviles SS; Hochevar P.

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Weekend Wrap

A busy weekend down on the farm. Here’s a quick review while hoping (futily, probably) for the day that we similar promotions to the one taking place in Las Vegas today. A 10:30 a.m. start to accomodate local school children on field trips. Brilliant. Wouldn’t you just love to see major leaguers forced out of bed before 8 a.m. for a game just once in a season?

TRIPLE-A SACRAMENTO

The River Cats entered Monday’s morning meeting having lost the first three of four-game series at Las Vegas and had dropped six straight to teams in Nevada (Reno won three in a row earlier in the week). Among the lowlights:

James Simmons surrendered six runs in 3 2/3 innings in a loss Sunday. At this point, the A’s would be smart just to leave Simmons in the minors all season. Why use up a year of service time for a team that doesn’t appear headed anywhere. And given that Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill look like they’ve arrived prematurely, no need to rush Simmons. Besides, the righty has had his issues.

— Reliever Brad Kilby walked four straight hitters in the 10th inning Saturday, resulting in an 8-7 Sacramento loss. Not to sound like my late grandfather, but in my opinion that shouldn’t happen at any level of professional sports. Gio Gonzalez wasn’t much better in that one, either.

— Joel Galarraga had three RBI and helped stake Sacramento to a 9-0 lead on Friday, but the River Cats still couldn’t win. The starting pitcher who allowed a good portion of the lead to get away? Dana Eveland. Frankly, I would just as soon not see him in an A’s uniform again. Who’s with me?

Anyway, the common theme, here, obviously, is that help for the A’s sorry starting pitching isn’t 90 minutes up Interstate 80.

DOUBLE-A MIDLAND

— A very forgettable weekend as well. The Rockhounds lost three times to Corpus Christi by a combined score of 23-6.

— First baseman Chris Carter increased his RBI total to 28, tops on the team and second in the Texas League. First baseman Tommy Everidge collected RBI No. 26. Both have got to be en route to a promotion at some point this season.

SINGLE-A STOCKTON

— The Ports (9-22) extended their winning streak to a season-high three before losing the finale of a three-game series to Rancho Cucamonga. Cal product Tyson Ross, the A’s second pick last season, allowed two runs and three hits in only two innings and walked the first three he faced. He has not an auspicious beginning to his professional career.

— Outfielder Matthew Spencer is bucking for a promotion. Spencer homered in victories Friday and Saturday and has gone deep 10 times. The rest of his numbers are pretty good, too.

Yusef Carter is hitting .333 in his first exposure to High-A and had the game-winning single Saturday.

LOW-A KANE COUNTY

— First baseman Steve Kleen is hitting .303 and his 33 hits trail only Dusty Coleman’s 34 on the Cougars. Both Kleen and Coleman are in the top 10.