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A’s Doolittle honored as a finalist for Hutch Award

There is some nice news out of the Pacific Northwest in that A’s reliever Sean Doolittle is one of the 10 finalists for the Hutch Award.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this particular award, it’s a big deal, if for no other reason that the names who have won it already – the first three winners were Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax and Carl Yastrzemski. In all, 11 members of the Hall of Fame have been given the award, given to a Major League player who “best exemplified the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson by persevering through adversity.’’

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ALDS Game 5 pressure on shoulders of Oakland organization given its history, not the A’s players

The A’s have been very good at deflecting pressure, putting one foot in front of the other and moving on a very orderly path through the 2013 season.

Does all that change now, with the season down to one game?

They won’t want to admit it, but yes it does.

Just not so much for the players. Most of them went through the disappointment of losing in Game 5 of the 2012 playoffs to Detroit and Justin Verlander, and they know the obstacle the Tigers are.

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ALDS Game 2 wrapup: A’s show their fight once again; Coliseum had room for more than baseball

This was what Raul Ibanez meant.

Last week when I was talking with the Mariners outfielder, he praised the A’s mental toughness, their inability to stop fighting. He called them one of the grittiest clubs he had ever seen.

Saturday’s 1-0 win over Detroit was the personification of that game. They scored not a run against former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander for seven innings, then didn’t score in the eighth after putting two men on base.

Come the ninth inning, the A’s were still clawing. Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith backed up doubles, and after Josh Reddick was intentionally walked, Stephen Vogt came up with the game-winner.

On paper, the Tigers may have the better team. They certainly hit for a better average, and as good as the A’s starting pitching is, the Tigers will say theirs in better. There is no Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander in Oakland.

But as Ibanez was pointing out, some things can’t be measured in statistics alone.

The result makes for some very good baseball. Saturday’s game was as good an exhibition of high-quality baseball as you’re likely to see.

As Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, “This is post-season pitching. That’s what you saw tonight at its best.’’

This kind of victory actually speaks well for the A’s going forward. The Tigers have sent their best two starters at Oakland and only got a split of the games. Jarrod Parker, who pitched a solid Game 1 in Comerica Park last year, goes against the Tigers in a day game Monday, and Dan Straily, whose win on Aug. 28 came at the expense of the pitcher he’ll oppose Tuesday, Doug Fister, has been pitching as well as anyone.

–Billy Beane was asked how Saturday’s scoreless battle between starters Verlander and Sonny Gray matched up with A’s post-season pitching matchups.

Misunderstanding the question, Beane said it reminded him of the 1991 Jack Morris 10-inning 1-0 win, outlasting Atlanta’s John Smoltz, who like Morris did not allow a run.

After that, Beane came up with Barry Zito vs. Mike Mussina of the Yankees in the 2001 playoffs, and Tim Hudson vs. the Yankees Andy Pettitte, also in 2001.

The fact is this one was a classic, for most of us anyway.

Late in the game the A’s general manager brought his kids down to manager Bob Melvin’s office where they, along with A’s managing partner Lew Wolff broke out the crayons and did some coloring.

The preschoolers (not including Beane Sr. and Wolff) “didn’t even know when we scored the winning run,’’ Beane said.

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Game 55 wrapup: Moss heartened by strikeout

Brandon Moss’s swing has been so off-key that manager Bob Melvin felt the need to pull Moss aside before Thursday’s game to talk about it.

In the 31 games coming into Thursday’s series finale against the Giants at AT&T Park, Moss was hitting just .191. Before that, he was at .302.

The manager asked Moss what his approach was at the plate.

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Comparing stats of the ‘Big Three’

In light of reports that former A’s pitcher Mark Mulder is retiring, I thought it’d be fun to compare the stats of the Big Three (Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito) from their Oakland careers. These are solely the numbers they compiled with the A’s, not counting their time w/other teams.

Tell us which guy you would have chosen if you needed to win one game …

Career games started
Zito 222 (4th on Oakland list)
Hudson 183 (7th)
Mulder 150

Career wins
Zito 102 (4th on Oakland list)
Hudson 92 (6th)
Mulder 81 (7th)

Career strikeouts
Zito 1,096 (4th on Oakland list)
Hudson 899 (5th)
Mulder 668 (9th)

Career ERA
Hudson 3.30 (10th on Oakland list, min. 400 innings pitched)
Zito 3.55
Mulder 3.92

Career shutouts
Hudson 8
Mulder 8 (both tied for 8th on Oakland list)
Zito 4

Career won-loss pct.
Hudson 92-39, .702 (1st on Oakland list)
Mulder 81-42, .659 (2nd)
Zito 102-63, .618 (6th)

Career Cy Young Awards
Zito 1 (2002)
Hudson 0 (finished 2nd in 2000)
Mulder 0 (finished 2nd in 2001)

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Bye, bye Barry

Well, I was technically correct. Said Barry Zito wouldn’t make it past the fifth. And he didn’t. The Giants pulled him after a five-inning, four-run effort. Score is still 4-0.

Zito did the one thing the Giants can’t afford; he put them in a hole early. The Giants will not be overcoming many big deficits this season, especially against bulldogs like Dodgers ace Brad Penny.

By the way, this was Zito’s fourth straight Opening Day start. He’s about to be 0-4, and his ERA is 9.49 (12.1 IP/13 ER). Wanna explain again Mr. Bochy why Matt Cain wasn’t pitching this one? 

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Oh, Barry

Barry Zito and the Giants are off to a wonderful start. I stated earlier that I thought Zito wouldn’t get past five and one of the readers said that was generous. Maybe it was.

Anyway, he was down 3-0 by the time he recorded his second out. A leadoff double by Rafael Furcal that was barely fair (a bad break), a single by Matt Kemp that scored Furcal. An awful throw by new center fielder Aaron Rowand that allowed Kemp to go to second. And then a long home run by Giants fan favorite Jeff Kent.

This team is not good.

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Barry, Barry concerned?

The Giants are insisting that there is little reason to be that concerned about Barry Zito, despite the fact that two of his three spring starts have smelled like a slaughterhouse. Well, given that logic, there shouldn’t be any reason to be that excited about Ray Durham, either.

Truth of the matter is that Zito won’t be as bad as he’s shown this spring. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be any better than he was during his 2007 flop. He may well be better, but he’s gonna have to prove it.

Same with Durham. He may not hit .218 again, but I doubt he’ll return to the .280-with-pop guy that he was a couple of seasons ago.

These are just two names I’m throwing out there for the Giants. To go over the rest of the roster would be too darn depressing.

Your thoughts?

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Is 2008 bye, bye baby?

OK, let’s start with the optimist’s refrain.

IT’S ONLY SPRING TRAINING!!

Alright, enough of that.  If you are optimistic about the Giants these days, then you’re one of those folks who thinks, really, a win in the California Lotto is going to happen this week. This team is hideous right now, and if you read about the deathly silence in the clubhouse, it seems that fact may be setting in with the inmates.

Barry Zito’s latest miserable outing is only the tip of the ‘berg. Zito is well on his way to being the biggest free-agent bust in baseball history, and the fact that he’s tinkering with his motion again means his head is not right. Again! He can point to excess motion  and “fewer moving parts,” but perhaps it’s all code for “He’s not very good anymore!”

Now, I like Barry a lot. He’s a little out there, and he’s become much more aloof than in his early days as an Athletic, but he’s not anti-social or stand-offish. So he’s the kind of guy I’d like to see have success. I just don’t see it happening. His fastball is average, and his curveball is nowhere near what it was. Talked to scouts in Arizona, and they think that the early struggles Barry is having is not a mirage but rather what he is. Yikes!

Same can go for the Giants, who to this point have the worst record in the Cactus League and have shown they struggle with the routine play. You have to feel for manager Bruce Bochy, who has nowhere near the solutions to all the questions and must be wondering how he got himself into this mess.