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Sliding Nate Freiman, internet sensation

Nate Freiman, internet sensation.

Well, not quite up to Justin Bieber standards, perhaps, but a pieced-together video of Freiman’s slide at home plate was making the rounds Monday night and Tuesday.

The 6-foot-8 A’s rookie first baseman, not the fastest man on the field, galloped home from second base and did a part-dive, part-slide, part-scramble, getting his hand across home plate for the run that put the A’s ahead to stay in an 8-6 win over the Tigers.

Asked what an East German Olympic judge would give Freiman on form, shortstop Jed Lowrie said, “not a 10.0.’’

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Game 130 wrapup: Doolittle, Cook survive bases-loaded jams; Griffin finally gets first win of August

You can put together reams of printed pages about Miguel Cabrera and they won’t tell you anything more than the reverential way others in baseball talk about the Tigers’ third baseman.
He’s a great hitter. He doesn’t have any evident weaknesses. There’s no part of the plate he doesn’t cover. There’s no part of the bleachers he can’t reach with his homers.
The trouble is, Prince Fielder is no day at the beach. Fielder is having probably his worst big league season, but no one would willingly pitch to Fielder with the bases loaded with a 7-4 lead unless the alternative was pitching to Cabrera with two men on with a 7-4 lead.
Even with two men on, Cabrera occasionally will get walked intentionally, as was the case in the seventh inning Monday. A’s manager Bob Melvin was willing to take the risk and have Fielder bat as the go-ahead run rather than have Cabrera bat as the tying run.
So he had reliever Dan Otero load the bases by walking Cabrera after the count unintentionally got to 2-0, then went to the bullpen for Sean Doolittle.
This is not a high-percentage move. Coming into the game Fielder was 6-for-14 (.429) with two walks after 16 previous intentional walks to Cabrera.
“I’m sure it gives him extra motivation,’’ the manager said. “It was a chance I felt we had to take.’’
And Doolittle has hardly been rock-solid of late. In 2.2 innings over four games, he’d allowed six runs. But he was well rested, and he throws a mean fastball.
Ultimately, he was able to get what he thought was a “routine fly ball, until I turned around and saw Coco sprinting.’’
That was center fielder Coco Crisp, who said he knew that there is seldom anything routine when Fielder makes contact.
“Prince Fielder hit the ball,’’ Crisp said. “When that happens, the ball will go a long way.’’
Melvin’s gamble paid off, but it’s not likely that will be of much comfort the next time that situation comes up.
Given the potency of the Tigers offense and the fact that the A’s play three more games in Comerica Park this week, a repeat wouldn’t be that much of a surprise.

–There was another bases-loaded situation Monday, and there was every bit as much riding on the outcome.
The Tigers were down 8-5 after Victor Martinez’s homer in the eighth inning, and with two out, the Tigers got a pair of hits off Ryan Cook, who then walked Austin Jackson.
That was followed by a visit from pitching coach Curt Young, who wanted to get a couple of things straight with Torii Hunter at the plate.
“He wanted to make sure I struck to my game plan and executed my pitches,’’ Cook said.
The key pitch was the first one, a strike. Cook said he wanted it down. It was up, but it was a strike.
“From there I was in the position to make my pitches,’’ Cook said.
Hunter is one of the best hitters in the game with men on base, but this time Cook struck him out.

–A.J. Griffin had gone four August starts without a win. He was 0-2, but the A’s had won the other two starts after he left the game.
On Monday, for once, the a’s offense kicked in early enough that even a couple of two-run homers, one each by Omar Infante and Miguel Cabrera, weren’t enough to deny Griffin the win.
“The bats were outstanding tonight,’’ Griffin said. “We’ll build off this one.’’
Griffin came into the game with the Major League lead with 30 homers allowed, and now the number is up to 32. A dozen times now he has allowed multiple homers in a game, which ties the A’s franchise record originally set by Catfish Hunter in 1973.
Homers have been on Griffin’s mind of late, but he’s trying to get past

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Will Coco be more than just a threat again?

When discussing the dramatic ninth-inning at-bat from Saturday’s game that resulted in Coco Crisp’s game-winning homer, both A’s starting pitcher Jarrod Parker and manager Bob Melvin hit on the same topic.

On a 3-1 pitch to Crisp, Baltimore pitcher Darren O’Day almost certainly threw a strike because he didn’t want to walk Crisp.

“He’s always going to be a threat to run,’’ Parker said, a variation of which also came from Melvin.

The statement used to be true. But the fact is that Crisp may be a threat to run, he isn’t actually running much anymore. Coming into Sunday, he has three steals in his last 54 games, 51 of them starts.

Crisp does lead the A’s with 16 steals, but he’s off significantly from the 49 thefts he had two years ago and last year’s 39.

Which leads to the question of whether or not Crisp is hurt. You’ll never know by asking Crisp, who doesn’t like to talk about injuries, either major or minor. That does two things – it doesn’t give information to the other team to use against the A’s, and Crisp doesn’t come off sounding as if he’s looking for excuses.

So maybe O’Day was pitching with the idea that a walk would mean he’d be facing a premier base stealing threat if he did so.

Melvin didn’t want to get into the extent of any Crisp leg injuries. Neither did Crisp, although he said he’s “through stealing bases for the year.’’ He was kidding.

Melvin did say he expects Crisp’s base stealing numbers to pick up from now through the end of the season, and he said that one reason for Crisp’s inability to run had been the leadoff hitter’s inability to get on base for much of the middle of the season.

From June 4 through Aug. 19 Crisp averaged just .206 and his on-base percentage was just .265.

It could have been a slump – they happen – it could have been an injury. And there is reason to believe it was an injury. On June 4, Crisp stole his 12th base in 14 attempts. Since then he’s been almost a non-factor as a base stealer.

As a threat, that’s one thing. But he hasn’t been running.

Melvin says, however, he expects to see Crisp running more the rest of the season. Since the A’s are generally a better team when he does, that would be an excellent prognosis for Oakland, if it plays out.

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Cespedes gets a day off to take mind off slump

Yoenis Cespedes took the word that he was getting a day off Sunday in stride, A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

The manager said his left fielder knows what’s going on.

And what’s going on right now is a hitless streak of nine at-bats and a six-game batting average of .154. Add to that some faux pas in the outfield and Melvin figured it would be a good day for a day off.

Cespedes is willing to accept that.

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Game 128 wrapup: Parker undefeated streak now at 16 games; Suzuki fits right back in behind plate

The last time the A’s Jarrod Parker lost a game, Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger seemed like a good idea, Kurt Suzuki was playing for the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants were tied for first place in the National League West.

The Lone Ranger is Hollywood’s flop of the year, the Giants are dead last in the NL West and Suzuki is now back in an Oakland uniform.

Yes, time flies and things change when you are a Major League pitcher with a string of 16 consecutive starts without a loss.

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Game 127 wrapup: Two shots backfire for Moss, Sogard; Straily frets over `pathetic’ inning; Crisp has no reason to celebrate four hits

Friday’s game was decided on two very well struck balls – and both went against the A’s.

We’re not talking about the two Orioles homers off Dan Straily in the fourth inning. Those homers were overcome by the A’s.

We’re talking about a fifth-inning bullet hit by A’s first baseman Brandon Moss, and a seventh inning rocket off the bat of American League home run leader Chris Davis.

The fifth inning started with the A’s down three runs after the Orioles had put up a six-spot on Straily. But the A’s came right back with a single by Coco Crisp, a double to score him by Jed Lowrie and a single to bring Lowrie home by Josh Donaldson.

Those balls were all well struck. But none of them matched the clobbering Moss gave the pitch he saw from the Orioles’ Bud Norris. Moss had an RBI single and a solo homer in his first two at-bats, and this time he let fly with a laser only to see the ball land in the glove of second baseman Brian Roberts.

Donaldson, the runner at first base, had no chance to get back to the base and was doubled off.

“That’s the difference between two guys on and none out and two outs and nobody on,’’ Moss said. “That could have gone from a huge inning to a monster inning.’’

As it was, the A’s scored four times in the inning because the next three men Norris faced all reached base, and Eric Sogard greeted reliever Troy Patton with a two-run single that gave the A’s a 7-6 lead.

If Moss’s ball hadn’t been caught, there’s no telling what the lead might have been at that point.

“That’s the frustrating thing,’’ Moss said. “We were getting great at-bats.’’

Sogard was critically involved in the Davis play in the seventh. The AL homer leader came up with men on first and third and hit a one-hop rocket  that reliever Ryan Cook said “Sogey makes the play on 99 percent of the time.’’

Sogard isn’t sure that it shouldn’t be 100 percent. But the ball had some topspin on it, and it deflected into right field. The tying run was going to score on the play no matter what, but Cook would have been facing a two-out, none-on situation instead of having no one out and men at the corners, both of whom scored.

“That was a crazy game,’’ Sogard said. “To go from that hit to that error, talk about an emotional swing. It was like nothing I’d ever felt before.

“This is going to be one that stays with me tonight.’’

 

–A’s starter Dan Straily didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings. He only got one out in the fourth, giving up four hits and six runs.

“That was a pathetic one-third of an inning,’’ Straily said.

It was not Straily at his finest, that’s for sure. He walked the first batter, then gave up a two-run bomb to Baltimore cleanup hitter Adam Jones. Still, the A’s lead was 3-2, if he could just keep the game there.

He couldn’t. Straily sandwiched two singles around yet another walk, before missing with a pitch to Brian Roberts. The No. 9 hitter delivered his first grand slam since 2009.

“I have to throw the ball better than that,’’ Straily said. “It’s frustrating to have a 3-0 lead like that and then give it all back and more.’’

Straily wound up walking four, two of which scored. It’s part of an ongoing saga for the A’s, who have allowed seven batters who have walked in the last three games to score.

That kind of gift-giving should be saved for Christmas, not the pennant race.

 

–Coco Crisp singled three times and homered for his 12th career four-hit game. If the A’s had won, it would have meant more to him than it did.

When the game was over, Crisp didn’t say anything for a long time. When he did, he talked about the future, not the past.

“All we can do is come back tomorrow,’’ the center fielder said. “All year we’ve been good about not hanging our heads. We do a good job with that.’’

Crisp took that moment to look at the immediate schedule, which calls for consecutive series against four potential playoff opponents – Baltimore, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Texas.

“Everybody here’s going to play hard,’’ he said. “We always do. The results are the results. But if we don’t (make the playoffs), we’re going to know we gave it our best shot.’’

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Game 125 wrapup: Deflating night for A’s could have long-term consequences

The A’s lost a game on Tuesday night, and it was an ugly loss. The eighth inning has to rank up there among the worst they’ve played this season. But this is baseball. Teams, even ones who achieve postseason success, suffer losses they want to forget about.

But if the injury to Derek Norris knocks him out for some time, this is the type of game that could be felt a little longer. A’s manager Bob Melvin confirmed after the game that Norris has a fractice left big toe. Norris didn’t speak with the media, but was seen limping heavily through the locker room after the game.

Melvin didn’t know yet if Norris would need to go on the disabled list. One would certainly think so. Broken toes are tricky. There’s really not much you can do to them. They just have to heal on their own, typically. But a toe, especially a big toe, is pretty key for a catcher. They spend all game in the squat and in case you’ve never been in a squat, there’s a lot of pressure being placed on the toe. Factor in the potential for taking a really painful foul ball off the toe (and that happens fairly often) and it seems pretty likely that Norris will be gone at least until early September.

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Slow day is good day at the Coliseum

It’s late August, the A’s are a half-game back of first place in the American League West and yet there really isn’t a ton to report before tonight’s second game of a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners. That’s probably not a bad thing. The A’s seem to be a relaxed and confident team with the September stretch drive around the corner.

Of course, after the game the A’s hope to be talking about another strong Sonny Gray start and a return to first place.

There were a couple small notes from manager Bob Melvin’s pregame session:

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Game 124 wrapup: Moss recalls big Coliseum lie; Reddick won’t let throw absolve his earlier error

Brandon Moss had a big second half last year for the A’s, having hit 14 of his 21 homers from July on.

So he was a natural person for newly acquired shortstop Jed Lowrie to turn to this spring when Lowrie, who’d just been acquired by the A’s from Houston, wanted to know if everything he’d heard about the Coliseum being tough on hitters was true.

“I told him, `It’s not as bad as you’ve heard,’ ’’ Moss said Monday night, 45 minutes after his game-winning homer to dead center field gave the A’s a 2-1 win over Seattle. “If you hit the ball in the gap, it plays fair.’’

That was before the current weather patterns have turned the Coliseum into a graveyard for batting averages.

“Now I’m looking like the biggest liar ever,’’ Moss said, laughing.

He could afford to laugh because the A’s won for the fourth time in five games and, offensive problems notwithstanding, seem to be getting their groove together. But the troubles with the Coliseum are real.

Oakland is scoring half a run more per game on the road (4.69) than at home (4.11). Batting averages are depressed up and down the lineup. And, Moss said, Monday was an example of why that’s so.

“I know you look at the box score and we only got six hits,’’ he said. “But we were hitting the ball hard all night. We had line drives that were getting caught. There’s nothing you can do about that.

“The guy that’s affected the most this year is Jed. Guys like Red (Josh Reddick) and me, we only hit the ball in the gap on one side. Jed’s a switch-hitter. He’s hitting the gap on both sides. This place just plays so big at night.’’

Not big enough, however, to contain Moss’s game-winning blast.

“He’s one of those guys that when he squares it up, he can hit it out of any stadium,’’ manager Bob Melvin said.

 

–Long after the game was over, Reddick came by Moss’s locker and gave him a big hug and said “thanks for bailing me out.’’

Moss protested, pointing out that Reddick’s throw from right field to third base to cut down Kendrys Morales in the seventh inning had set the stage for the A’s to win.

Reddick dismissed that because it was his bobble of a Nick Franklin single to right-center that put Franklin at second base, from which spot he scored on Morales’ single.

“I know I should have been happy that I got Morales,’’ Reddick said. “But I can’t help being upset at the error. I just took my eye off the ball. If I don’t do that, the whole inning is different and they don’t score.’’

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Jaso is anxious to play, but there’s no timetable

John Jaso’s original inclination was to play through the pain and discomfort caused by foul balls off his mask three consecutive games in Houston July 22-24 resulting in a concussion.

It seemed sensible at the time. Jaso had had concussions before. He’d experienced headaches and a little dizziness, but it was nothing disabling. So Jaso balked at being held out of the lineup and wasn’t happy to go on the seven-day disabled list, which is reserved exclusively for concussion victims.

The idea is that concussions aren’t to be messed with, but neither do they generally need the standard 15 days the disabled list usually affords.

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