From Sports

Ramirez confident, Dodgers win with walk-off

By: Malaika Bobino

Los Angeles, CA – It’s been almost a year since his trade from the Florida Marlins and he’s already made his mark with his new team.  Since returning from the disabled list on June 4, Hanley Ramirez has been unstoppable.  He has the second highest batting average in the Majors and has reached base safely in 39 straight games.

But if you ask him what’s the key to his success, he’ll simply say “as a team we need to do this…”  No accolades for this shortstop, Ramirez wants to win games and help the Dodgers reach the playoffs but before that happens they need to win one day at a time.

“Everybody’s contributing out there and we’re pulling for each other,” said Hanley.  “We’re in a good position right now but there’s still a lot of work to be done.  “There’s two months left so we’ve got to keep going hard and adding wins everyday.”

Los Angeles added another win today when they beat the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 with a walk-off home run by Yasiel Puig.  It was their third consecutive win and third walk-off of the season.  They now lead the National League West and are up by 2.5 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks who lost today.

It was a pitchers duel on the mound, through ten innings both the Dodgers and Reds combined for six hits.  Cincinnati however struck out Los Angeles 20 times, setting a record for the most strikeouts since the franchise moved to LA in 1958.  The previous number was 18 on May 2, 1995 in a 15-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants.

“He did his job and the pitching staff did their job,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.  “We just have to score some runs.”

Puig came to bat with two outs in the eleventh.  Elian Herrera struck out swinging and Mark Ellis popped out to shortstop Cesar Izturis.  Yasiel watched as did the sellout crowd his solo home run go deep to left field.  While his teammates knew he would be the last batter to hit, his manager thought the opposite.

“I knew when he hit it, that it was gone,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.  “I hate to say this but…  I was shocked.”

After a grueling game with no runs scored, the defense played well on both sides.  It was hard to figure out when Los Angeles offense would get a break.  They got their first hit in the eighth, followed by two more in the ninth and tenth fames.  Puig struck out three times and got a free pass to complete his four plate appearances before he hit his first walk-off homer.

“Even if three of those strikeouts out of twenty were mine, I just kept giving it everything I had,” Yasiel said through an interpreter.

The Dodgers have improved to 26-6 since June 22, matching the best 32-game stretch in LA history, April 12-May 18, 1977.  They won the series against Cincinnati 3-1 and look ahead to the New York Yankees two-game series in a few days.  Just as Ramirez said, the contribution from everyone has been the key to their success.

A’s lose opener to Angels

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – This wasn’t the start the A’s were looking for.  After a tough road trip they returned home and faced their division rivals.  The Los Angeles Angels who currently hold last place in the American League West played like they were atop the division.

The Angels 8-3 victory over Oakland looked like an offensive clinic.  Dan Straily nor the bullpen could contain their at-bats and provided no defense of their own.  Los Angeles scored seven runs over two innings and knocked Straily out of the game after 4.1 frames.

“I felt like up until that point I was commanding everything pretty good, and then pretty much out of nowhere, I wasn’t able to correct myself, and it cost us the game,” said Dan.

In his worst outing of the month, he allowed seven hits, walked two, struck out five and threw a wild pitch.  It was the fifth inning that got away from him.  The Angels scored four runs and stayed on base much of the frame.

Mark Trout tied the game 2-2 with a sacrifice fly.  An RBI single from Josh Hamilton and a two-run double from Mark Trumbo sparked the offense and Los Angeles never looked back.   In the sixth they added on three more runs with five singles and a wild pitch.

“We had a great approach with runners in scoring position tonight,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia.  “A lot of hits just kept on going.  We’ve had issues with guys in scoring position.  We’ve been setting the table, we just haven’t cashed in the way we need to.  Tonight we did.”

The A’s had an opportunity in the second when they had runners on first and second but failed to score.  Yoenis Cespedes leadoff the fourth with a free pass.  He stole second and tied the game 1-1 on a wild pitch by C.J Wilson.  That was the only run until Derek Norris scored the final two runs with a RBI single and home run.

Wilson was outstanding in keeping Oakland’s bats calm through seven innings.  He yielded five hits, gave up three runs, one home run, walked three and struck out six.  C.J. came into tonight’s game with a ERA 1.69 in his last seven starts and had just thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings against the A’s this past Saturday.

“He started pounding the strike zone a little more once they got the lead,” Oakland’s manager Bob Melvin said.  “I think he realized, too, that he had to throw some more strikes, and he did.  We tried to take advantage of some of those first-pitch strikes and hit a predictable fastball.”

Los Angeles has won three of their last four games against the A’s.  Their eight runs matched the most runs scored at Coliseum since April 29.  But unfortunately, for the Angels, they are still ten games behind the first place A’s.  Despite the loss they still lead the Texas Rangers by three games.

“Unfortunately, you have one of these nights every now and again where the game gets blown out of the water, and it’s tough to come back from that” said catcher Derek.

Surkamp, Gaints no match in loss to Reds

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – Another rough start for the Giants starters.  After being called up for today’s doubleheader, Eric Surkamp return to the big leagues was a memorable one.  His outing lasted only 2 2/3 innings before the Reds sent him to the dugout.

Once again, Cincinnati took advantage early in their 9-3 victory over San Francisco.  Surkamp retired the first four batters he faced but after that things went awry.  After undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery he took the mound for the first time since September 28, 2011.

“I was just leaving balls over the middle of the plate,” said Eric.  “It’s just leaving pitches up over the middle, and they were hitting them.”

He allowed seven earned runs on nine hits with two hit batters and two home runs.  Despite the Giants taking an early 1-0 lead in the first, the Reds bats took over in the second scoring four runs.  Over the first two games of this series Cincinnati batters have combined to score 20 runs on 32 hits.

San Francisco scored twice in the first and and fourth both on sacrifice fly’s from Pablo Sandoval and Guillermo Quiroz.  They tried to rally a comeback in the ninth with four hits off closer Alfredo Simon.  With two on and two outs, Simon forced Tony Abreu to ground out to end the game.

“I was battling myself a little bit,” said Tony Cingrani.  “I couldn’t get my offspeed pitches over too much, but it was enough to through six, and then I struggled a little in the seventh.

The Southpaw who knocked in a RBI single of his own kept the Giants’s offense pretty quiet and showed no signs of struggle on the mound.  He tossed 6.2 innings, yielding two earned runs on five hits, three walks and two strikeouts.  No worries on the Reds offense to back him for the win.

Zack Cozart went 4-for-4 with one home run, two RBI’s and three runs scored.  His four hits matched his career-high.  Devin Mesoraco went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer in the second.  He is now 6-for-9 with five RBI’s, two home runs, a double and three runs scored in the first two games of this series.

“We want to go out there and put up as many runs as you can, especially early to take a little pressure off the starting pitcher,” Mesoraco said.  “And that’s what we were able to do the past two nights.”

Giants split doubleheader with win over Reds

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – What a difference a road game can make at home.  The Giants in the second game of their doubleheader found the momentum they had been lacking in the first two games of this series.

San Francisco with a chance to even the series tomorrow beat the Reds 5-3.  In a unusual make-up game the Giants were the visiting team for the second game and that emphatically was the turnaround they needed.

“The energy in the dugout was different,” manager Bruce Bochy said.  “I did feel like we had a chance to win, these guys fought hard to win this ball game.

Pablo Sandoval knocked in a two-run double for an early 2-0 lead in the first frame and Hunter Pence followed with a RBI single to add on one more run.  The offense kept the hits coming, in the second Gregor Blanco was out on a sacrifice fly and scored in Brandon Crawford.

But leave it to Cincinnati to make it a ball game.  Corky Miller cut the lead in half with a two-run double in the second.  The Giants defense which had been missing in the last two games, showed up tonight to limit the runs scored by the Reds.  Pence who gaffed on an error in the third made up for it with an amazing diving catch in the fifth to prevent any runs scored.

“I made such a terrible play earlier that I was hoping for an opportunity to do something good because [Zito] picked me up,” said Hunter.  “It felt good to be able to me that play for him.”

San Francisco got an insurance run in the fifth.  After that the offense quieted once again and the defense took over.  Barry Zito was one out shy of qualifying for the victory but only lasted 4 2/3 innings.  He yielded six hits, on three runs, three walks and three strikeouts.

“I was frustrated with the last couple of hitters I faced personally,” Zito said.  “But we came out and scored some runs today.  It’s good to get the split.  Tomorrow we want to go and split the series and still make it a positive homestead.”

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak and for the first time scored at least three runs in the first inning since May 4.  With the win tonight Bochy became the 21st manager in baseball history to reach 1,500 victories.

He joins Cincinnati’s Dusty Baker and Detroit’s Jim Leyland among active managers with 1,500 wins.  Within the group, 12 managers were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“I’ll be honest.  I don’t know what that number means, except that I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been doing this as long as I have,” said Bruce.”

“You have to respect everything he’s done for this game,” closer Sergio Romo said.  “I have no room to complain or say anything negative about that man.  He puts us in positions where he feels we can succeed.”

Lincecum, Giants shutout by Reds

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – Coming off a no-hitter in his last outing, Tim Lincecum threw one hundred and forty-eight pitches.  Maybe he got too much rest through the All-Star break because his start tonight was the worst of his career.

“We’re not trying to worry about anything, we know he’s [Lincecum] one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Brandon Phillips said.  “We congratulate him on his no-hitter, I thought he would’ve had done that plenty more times since he’s one of the best.  We’ve been having some success against him.  All we can do is hit off his mistakes or wherever we can find a hole.”

No doubt the Cincinnati Reds took full advantage of every mistake Tim made.  The Giants 11-0 loss to the Reds was the worst defeat of the season.  Lincecum recorded his shortest outing since going 3 1/3 innings two games back-to-back against the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates last July.

Tonight he lasted 3 2/3 frames, surrendering a career-high eight earned runs and matched a personal worst by yielding three home runs.  Shin-Soo Choo doubled to open the game and Derrick Robinson followed with a single.  He struck out Joey Votto and made a spectacular defensive play to out run Choo to third base for the out after Phillips fielder’s choice.

But Lincecum loaded the bases by issuing a free pass to Jay Bruce with two outs.  Up next was Todd Frazier who knocked in a three-run double to center field and Cincinnati took a 3-0 lead.  This was not the quality start Tim was looking for.

“It was just a little bump in the road,” said Tim.  He denied that that the extended rest was no part of his performance tonight.  Insisting he can regain his form in the second half of the season.

The bleeding didn’t stop there, Devin Mesoraco hit a solo home run on the first pitch to start the second frame.  Shin-Soo followed a with solo blast of his own to extend Red’s lead 5-0.  Bruce got in on the action and went yard in the third.  Cincinnati added five more runs in the fourth through seventh innings.  Two doubles from both Brandon and Xavier Paul, an RBI single from Mesoraco and a sacrifice fly from Jay.

“Yeah, that was the way to start a road trip,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that previous to a double header.  I couldn’t have ordered it any better.”

“Give them credit,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.  “They swung the bats.  They didn’t miss any mistakes.”

The other pitcher made no mistakes.  Bronson Arroyo didn’t allow a runner past first base for six innings.  He recorded his sixth career shutout and won his 100th game.  In his 15th career complete game, the outing marked his eight quality start in the past nine outings.

“There’s no method to his madness out there,” Brandon Belt said.  “Whatever he needs to do to keep you off balance, he does a good job of it.  We went up there with an approach, but it didn’t work out for us once we got in there.”

Gaudin a gem on the mound, shutout D-Backs for win

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – The difficulties the Giants faced in the first half of the season is behind them now.  But one unfortunate situation turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Chad Gaudin being moved up from the bullpen as a starter has proved to be a good decision.

Behind his great outing, the Giants took game one of the series 2-0 over the Arizona Diamondbacks.  In seven innings, Gaudin allowed three hits, no walks, no runs and eight strikeouts.  He didn’t allow one runner in scoring position while his ERA improved to 2.23.

“He’s got that experience as a starter and is very well prepared,” manager Bruce Bochy said.  “A great job he did tonight, which we needed.  He’s been so consistent, it’s hard to figure out which one is his best outing.  He’s been that good for us since he’s gone into the rotation.”

In his last four starts, Chad has posted a 0.77 ERA.  He’s tossed 11 consecutive scoreless innings and it looks like he gets better with each outing.  It’s hard to believe this right-hander replaced Ryan Vogelsong from the bullpen and has the opportunity to remain a starter once Vogelsong is reinstated by early August.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” said Bochy.  “It’s hard to say we’ll take him out of the rotation because he has been so consistent.”

Gaudin has no flair to his style of pitching, it’s pretty much what see is what you get.  When asked if he would like to remain a starter once Ryan returns, he left no indication that he wants nothing more than to help this team win games.

“Whatever they need me to do, obviously, I’d like to start,” he explained.  “If it comes down to me going to the pen, and that’s what’s best for the team, then I’ll be down there ready to go.”

“We didn’t have any offense going tonight and they just shut us down,” said manager Kirk Gibson.  “I think you have to give [Gaudin] some credit.  He was throwing the ball well to both sides of the plate.”

It was a fresh start for San Francisco, they took an early lead in the first frame.  Gregor Blanco got a free pass to start the inning and Buster Posey’s double RBI scored in Blanco for the Giants first run.

Hunter Pence went 2-for-4 with a RBI and recorded his 32nd multi-hit game of the season.  San Francisco extended their lead with Pence’s hit.  Brandon Belt followed with a fly ball to left field that dropped in between three Arizona players.

The D-Backs rallied in the eighth against the Giants bullpen but failed to score any runs.  Both A.J Pollack and Adam Eaton singled and Aaron Hill walked to load the bases.  Santiago Casilla (who was recently activated off the disable list) replaced Jose Mijares.

Casilla forced Paul Goldschmidt to groundout into a forecourt to end the inning.  After that closer Sergio Romo tossed a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout.  He extended his scoring streak to 29 games against Arizona.

“We can’t keep looking ahead of ourselves,” Romo said.  “But today was a great way to start the second half.”

A’s Griffin shutouts Boston for win

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – It’s often said that the past can come back to haunt you.  But in A.J. Griffin’s case it turned out to be sweet victory.  It wasn’t his best outing but good enough to even the series and shutout the RedSox for the 3-0 win.

The last time Griffin faced Boston was back in April when he allowed a career-high nine runs in four plus innings.  Tonight he pitched eight scoreless frames while scattering six hits.  Despite runners in scoring position he never allowed any to score.

“He definitely was a lot more efficient with somebody on than when nobody was on, but that’s what a lot of great pitchers do, said Derek Norris.  “They have to bear down when people get on base, and he did.  He made his pitches when he needed.  Even when he fell behind, he got ahead and worked efficiently.”

“Days like this, you try to keep them off the board as long as you can and minimize things,” A.J. said.  “Luckily for me, I got to make good pitches at the right times and got out of some jams and that’s big.  Especially after my showing against them last time at Fenway.  That didn’t go very well.  So I wanted to go out there and pitch my game.”

Griffin did more than pitch his game, he also got some good backing from his team offensively.  Norris’ fifth inning solo home run to left field on a 0-2 pitch ended a scoreless tie.  A good sign for Oakland as they got on board first.

“My first at-bat with two strikes, he gave me a heater as well, and I check-swinged to first base,” said Derek.  “Maybe in his mind he thought I was looking off speed.”

In the sixth Yoenis Cespedes broke out of his hitting slump for an RBI single that extended the A’s lead 2-0.  It was his first RBI of the month and he got on base in three innings for the first time since June 4.

Early in the day before batting practice Cespedes was practicing hitting.  Coaches were on hand to assist him as he prepares for the Home Run Derby in this years MLB All-Star game.  In his first appearance Yoenis does not want to disappoint.

“When he’s going well, he’s using the whole field and he has power to the entire ballpark,” Oakland’s manager Bob Melvin said.  “That’s when he’s at his best.  It was a good night for him and hopefully that’s something to build off of.”

Boston on the other hand had no tricks up their sleeve against the A’s.  Last night the RedSox were able to take advantage of a few errors but tonight the defense was stellar.  In fact, they were unable to score any runs despite baserunners getting on in each of the first six innings.

“When you don’t score any runs it’s tough to win,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  “As hitters, we got ourselves out.  We got a lot of good pitches to hit and we just didn’t do anything.”

Southpaw John Lester also failed in keeping the A’s offense contained.  In 6 2/3 innings he struck out four and allowed three runs which included an RBI single from Coco Crisp in the seventh.

“A loss is a loss,” Lester said.  “It doesn’t matter how well you pitched when you lose.  You got to take the positives out of the game and move forward.  That’s all I can really do.”

“The way they pitched against us, the three-run difference loomed large,” said Boston’s manager John Farrell.  “On a night where we score our typical amount of runs, we’re probably having a completely different conversation with the way Lester pitched.”

A’s lose a close one to Red Sox

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – It’s only fitting this series is scheduled right before the MLB All-Star break.  Two of the best teams in the American League could possibly face each other in the playoffs.  But before that happens the A’s must leave little room for mistakes.

Oakland’s 4-2 loss to the Red Sox was credited to two early runs in the second frame and a two-run single in the eighth.  Righty Jarrod Parker got off to a rocky start on an otherwise pretty good outing.

He surrendered a leadoff single to Mike Napoli, followed by a pitch that hit both home plate umpire CB Bucknor in the face and Daniel Nava in the shoulder.  Bucknor left the game which caused a 15 minute delay.

Once the game resumed Parker got the next two batters out and then allowed a two-run single to Brock Holt for the early 2-0 lead.  Boston capitalized off two errors from the A’s in that inning.

“He was struggling early on with his command,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.  “You could see him bouncing several pitches and really fighting himself.  After the seventh, usually he fights for it pretty hard.  We had a chance to go with a clean inning right there.  I think he was spent.”

After the second he settled in and retired 16 in a row.  Through seven innings Jarrod yielded two runs on three hits, walked none and struck out three.  Oakland then rallied back to tie the game 2-2 in the fifth.

Seth Smith leadoff the frame with a double and John Jaso hit a RBI single to right field to cut the lead in half.  Josh Donaldson grounded into a double play to end the inning.  Jed Lowrie leadoff the sixth with a solo blast to left field.  It was his seventh home run of the season.

“There’s no secret,” said Dustin Pedroia.  “We’re just turning out quality at-bats.  Brock [Holt's] at-bat was huge.  We’ve just been able to find ways to find that one pitch and make sure we don’t miss.”

The momentum quickly changed when the A’s bullpen took over for Parker.  Sean Doolittle had a shot at a double play after Jose Iglesias got on first with a single.  Holt’s sacrifice bunt was an opportunity for Oakland but Doolittle slipped when trying to go for second.

“I had a play at second, but I slipped,” Sean said.  “I went to plant my feet and just slipped.”

WIth runners at first and third Doolittle hit Shane Victorino on his wrist.  After trainers came out to check on him Melvin brought in Ryan Cook.  While Pedroia was at-bat, Victorino stole second.  Cook then surrendered a two-run single to Pedroia to seal the Red Sox’s victory.

Sean had never hit a batter in his career.  “I feel terrible where I hit him and how I hit him and the fact that I hit him,” Doolittle said.  “But you get a guy whose a good fastball hitter, you want to come inside and make him a little less comfortable in there.  It just got away from me.”

The A’s provided good defense to prevent Boston from scoring the remainder of the game but failed to muster up any runs of their own.  Former Oakland pitcher Andrew Bailey pitched a scoreless inning in the eighth and closer Koji Uehara struck out the side in the ninth.

“Honestly, it was kind of a grind,” said John Lackey.  “I didn’t feel as good as I have in the last four or five games, but I was able to kind of grind through it.  Guys made a couple of nice plays for me, especially Pedroia on the double play ball.  It was a huge play for me, and then they picked me up with a couple of runs in the end.  It was a good team effort.”

Dustin came up big to rally the double play in the fifth with one out and runners in the corner.  Pedoria grabbed  Donaldson’s liner off the ground tossing to Iglesias at second, than to first to end the inning.

“That’s the momentum shifts we’re talking about ,” Melvin said.  “We had a lot of momentum there.  J.D’s up and hits a bullet.  As soon as he hits it your thinking there’s no way he’s going to make that play, and all of a sudden it ends up into two.  That was probably the biggest play of the game.”

Giants fall to Dodgers in ninth

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – It was a good ole fashion duel until the ninth inning.  There was a time when this used to be a battle between two Cy Young Awards winners.  Instead, Clayton Kershaw faced Chad Gaudin who matched the southpaw pitch for pitch.

It was a pretty good outing for the right-handed pitcher considering he just came off the disabled list.  However, it wasn’t good enough for the win as the Giants lost 4-1 to the Dodgers.

“A huge play,” said Kershaw.  “He covered so much ground.  I wasn’t sure he’d get there.”

Clayton was referring to the hit that sealed their victory when catcher A.J. Ellis’ three-run single opened the offense behind his superb pitching.

“Once again we ran into a well-pitched game against Kershaw,” manager Bruce Bochy said.  “One of the best, and he shut us down again.”

After tossing eight innings, yielding one earned run on three hits, one walk and three strikeouts.  Clayton had no worries when his offense backed him with hits in the ninth.  Yasiel Puig leadoff the frame with a single.  Adrian Gonzalez followed with an infield single off first baseman Buster Posey’s glove.

Posey then threw to second and the ball rolled into left field allowing Puig to advance to third.  Closer Sergio Romo issued an intentional walk to Andre Either and struck out Juan Uribe.  Ellis three-run RBI was the nail in the coffin.

“With Sergio right there, you know what his bread and butter is,” said A.J.  “You know he was trying to throw a slider.  Unfortunately for me and for the team, I found a ball that I could hit.”

Gaudin in his fifth start this season was just reinstated off the disable list with a right elbow contusion.  It was a great start, he allowed one earned run on four hits, one intentional walk with a season-high nine strikeouts.  The last time he had nine-or-more strikeouts in a game was June 28, 2009 at Texas with the Padres.

“He was good and gave us what we needed,” Bochy said.  “It was an impressive outing, especially with the layoff he had, but he was really locating well, threw strikes, looked sharp, showed no effects on the arm and really did a nice job to give us a chance to win.”

Hanley Ramirez extended his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games in the second when he leadoff with a triple.  Andre Either followed with a RBI single to score the only run for Los Angeles at the time.

The Giants responded in the third with a leadoff double from catcher Guillermo Quiroz.  He advanced to third base on a wild pitch and a play later Andres Torres hit a sacrifice fly to score in Quiroz to tie the game 1-1.

San Francisco did not score after that, they now fall 6 1/2 games behind Arizona who sits atop the division.  They are now 1-2 on this current six game homestead. The New York Mets are up next for a three-game series and the Giants hope to stay close in this race.

Giants get much needed win behind an All-Star

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – It was a bizarre start but some how, the Giants got a much needed win out of it.  San Francisco snapped a four-game losing streak and split the series with a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers.

In the first frame Madison Bumgarner who will be making his first Major League All-Star appearance retired the side.  Bottom of the inning the Giants got a leadoff double from Gregor Blanco.  Marco Scutaro was out on a sacrifice bunt and Buster Posey followed with a RBI double that was overturned when the umpires realized he batted out of order.

Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly walked onto the field with a lineup card to show that the order was different, thus Posey’s double was overturned and Pablo Sandoval who was listed in the number 3 position was charged with a groundout without stepping to the plate.

“I just said at that point what else?” said San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy.  “At that point you just want to win the game.”

If that wasn’t enough to add to the Giants list of things that have gone wrong over the past month.  They did see the end of the rainbow when Bumgarner pitched seven solid innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits with nine strikeouts.

The outing marked his fifth straight quality start and twelfth of the season.  Four of the last six wins for San Francisco have come in Madison starts.  Also, not a bad way to thank his manager, teammates and fans on the day FoxSports announced the MLB All-Star starters and reserves.

“That’s a huge honor for the All-Star game, but we really needed the win,” said Bumgarner.

The Giants were well aware of what was at stake if they lost another game.  The NL West division is a tight race and San Francisco is only 5 1/2 games behind the first place Arizona Diamondbacks.  So, the offense took advantage of a few crucial errors made by the Dodgers.

The Giants scored three of their runs in the second.  Brandon Belt was hit by a pitch and Andres Torres hit a infield single.  A throwing error on a fielder’s choice loaded the bases and Stephen Fife gave a free pass to Madison for an RBI walk.  Blanco hit a RBi single and Scutaro’s sacrifice fly scored in the third run.

San Francisco’s final run came by way of their southpaw whose sacrifice fly scored in Torres after he advanced to second on a fielding error by Hanley Ramirez.  After that the Giants offense was stifled but that was sufficient as long their defense kept Los Angeles runs down.

The Dodgers bullpen pitched 3 2/3 hitless innings after Fife’s outing lasted 4 2/3 innings but failed to to get the runs they needed for the win.  Bumgarner retired the first 14 batters he faced, didn’t walk a batter which he hadn’t done since April 19th.  He also flirted with a no-hitter through four innings.

Andre Either was the first batter on base after he hit a single that landed right in front of left-fielder Andres Torres.  Two pitches later Los Angeles catcher Tim Frederowicz belted a two-run home run that cut San Francisco’s lead in half.

“I let him [Stephen Fife] down,” Ramirez said.  “We didn’t do the job today.”

The Dodgers tried to rally back in the seventh when Hanley tripled.  But when Juan Uribe grounded to third baseman, Sandoval threw Ramirez out at home.  Hanley could’ve stayed at third but got anxious and tried for the score.

Rookie Puig has been the talk of the MLB since arriving to the Dodgers June 3.  He’s accomplished so much in just on month, including striking out four times in all four of his plate appearances.  The rookie donned the sombrero just hours after being named one of five candidates for the All-Star National League Final Vote by the fans.

“He’s [Yasiel] a good hitter and we’re fortunate enough to get him out today,” said Madison.

Uribe’s seven RBI’s too much for Giants

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – The last time the Los Angeles Dodgers were at AT&T Park they were swept by the Giants and in last place in the National League West Division.

Tonight they returned to the ball park and this time San Francisco holds the last spot in the division while the Dodgers have soared since the addition off Yasiel Puig in June.

But, the guy that sparked Los Angeles 8-1 win over the Giants was former San Francisco player Juan Uribe.  He not only knocked Matt Cain out of the game but was the first player to ever drive in five runs in one game off Cain who lasted only 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing since September 22, 2009 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“We’re getting tested,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.  “Hopefully you get stronger when you’re tested.  This is a strong group.  When you go through a period like this, it’s been awhile, but you have to remember what they’ve done.”

After a great start, Matt allowed no runners on base in the first frame.  In the second he loaded the bases with two free passes and a single to Andre Either with no outs.  A.J. Ellis flew out to right fielder Hunter Pence who threw home to prevent Hanley Ramirez from scoring.  But what the Giants couldn’t stop was Uribe’s two-run double to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

“They hit a ball we couldn’t handle and that opened the floodgates,” said Bochy.

Cain got himself into another jam surrendering two RBI singles to both Ramirez and Ellis.  He then loaded the bases again and this time Juan cleared them with a three-run triple.  Six runs in one inning and Matt’s night on the mound ended.

“We didn’t fool him [Uribe] at all today,” Matt said.  “I wish I could tell you, but I don’t know.  I got ahead of guys, but just couldn’t finish them off.”

San Francisco got a 1-0 lead in the first when Andres Torres leadoff the inning with an infield single.  Los Angeles pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu gave a free pass to Buster Posey to set up Pence’s ground out to score in Torres.  After that the Giants offense disappeared along with their pitching.

The injuries have taken a toll on San Francisco and there’s not much they can do about it.  Just shy of the cycle Juan blasted a two-run homer to left field in the seventh.  Uribe tied his career-high of seven RBI’s since June 19, 2004 when he was with the Chicago White Sox.

“I remember that game very well,” said Juan.  “When you do well you always remember, but I know I had a good game tonight.  I’m happy, more happy because we won the game.”

Brandon Belt leadoff the seventh with a double and Bobby Abreu’s RBI single gave the Giants another run. But that did nothing for the offense which fell flat after that.  In 6 2/3 innings Ryu dominated San Francisco with two runs on four hits, three walks and three strikeouts.

“They’re [Dodgers] taking advantage of when they get guys in scoring position,” said Cain.  “When things are good, that’s what happens.”

Note – Dodgers center-fielder Matt Kemp is listed day-to-day with a left shoulder AC joint irritation.  He left the game after his first at-bat in the second inning.

“I’ve never felt anything like pain I experienced on the swing at the plate,” Kemp said.

“It’s a lot better than it could’ve been,” said Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly.  “It’s an irritation of the acromioclavicular joint, a cortisone injection and day-to-day.

Colon’s winning streak comes to an end

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – The month of June was an extraordinary time for Bartolo Colon.  He was a dominant force on the mound and was named American League pitcher of the month.  But tonight he pitched against Matt Garza who out dueled him to end his eight game winning streak.

The A’s fell 3-1 to the Cubs not because Colon didn’t give his best stuff.  Oakland’s offense couldn’t find their at-bats and their defense took a turn for the worse.

Yoenis Cespedes bore the brunt of it all, as he fumbled chasing balls that were hit to the left field corner.  Three balls resulted in a pair of triples along with a double that was the final run for Chicago in the eighth.

“They were tough balls, A’s manager Bob Melvin said.  “You have to make a decision.  If you go get it and you’re trying to keep him from second base and it gets by you, its going to be three [bases].”

Bartolo allowed his first home run since May 14 and first wild pitch since May 26, 2009.  Lasting seven frames, the right-handed pitcher surrendered two runs on nine hits, one walk and no strikeouts.

“It wasn’t a great outing for me tonight, but at the same time I give credit to the other guy who pitched well,” said Colon.  When asked how he feels about his winning streak coming to an end, he replied “I don’t worry about that, it’s in the past and I’m thinking about the next game.”

The Cubs jumped to an early 2-0 lead when Alfonso Soriano hit an RBI single in the first.  And Luis Valbuena belted a solo shot to left field in the third which Josh Reddick almost caught as the ball grazed his glove.

Brandon Moss gave life to the offense when he blasted his fifteenth  home run to cut the lead in half.  But that was the only run for the A’s against Garza’s strong arm and Chicago’s tough defense.

“I had a game plan and kept attacking,” said Matt.

In eight solid innings, Garza held Oakland to four hits, allowing only one home run.  The A’s had a chance to rally back in the sixth when Jed Lowrie hit a single and Cespedes got a free pass.  With two on, Matt struck out Moss and Josh Donaldson flew out to center field to end the inning.

John Jaso returned to the lineup after a 10-game hiatus due to a left palm abrasion.  He had one walk and no hits in four plate appearances.  But the play that stayed with him throughout the game was Bartolo’s wild pitch in the first which was a result of Chicago’s first run.

“There was nobody who felt worse about that than me,” Jaso said.  “I had to come back in the clubhouse and get away from everybody, I was so mad at myself.”

Looking ahead, Oakland still has an opportunity to win the series tomorrow.  A victory would result in their third consecutive series win against three teams in the National League.  That’s not a bad feat when you factor in they still remain atop of their division with the Texas Rangers losing to Seattle tonight.

It’s good to be back in first place

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – Last season they were known for their walk-off wins.  This year, they’re just known for winning.  The Oakland A’s are once again making noise as they approach the end of the first half of the season, but this time it’s louder than before.

The A’s 8-7 victory over the Chicago Cubs was sparked by Derek Norris three-run blast in the eighth frame.  Norris also rallied the double play to secure their win.  Luis Valbuena led off the ninth with a walk, but was thrown out at second by Derek for stealing as Starlin Castro struck out.

“He does his best work late in games with runners in scoring position,” manager Bob Melvin said.  “He’s gotten big hits for us since he got here last year.  You get the big hits in bigger situations, those are the type of things that get you the respect of your teammates and gives us confidence that when he comes up in those situations, he’s going to come through.”

The win put Oakland back in first place of the American League West and a half a game ahead of the Texas Rangers.  The A’s have won four of their last five games improving to 49-35 for the season.  That is the second best record in the American League and sixth best in the Majors.

Oakland also has the fourth best interleague record in the majors at 10-3.  They beat two of the top teams (Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals) in the National League last week.  But for the A’s, those defeats are now in the past.  The team looks to continue their winning ways before the MBL All-Star break.  With the first half of the season coming to a close, Oakland has recorded their best record for wins since 2008.

“I feel like we started off with a better record this year than last year,” said A’s closer Grant Balfour.  “We’ve been through some adversity this year too, good and really bad.  I feel like we plateaued out and became a team that plays well together.  The starting rotation really just turned it around and has been great for us.”

Looking back to the start of the season, there were plenty of obstacles this team faced.  The pitching struggled and the injuries took a toll.  Over time, the pitching got better and so did the offense.  The momentum that propels this team now is a combination of drive and dedication from everyone.

Back in first place since holding the spot on June 21, Oakland hopes to maintain their position but knows there’s a lot of baseball to be played.  Veteran center-fielder Coco Crisp agrees that the A’s key component to winning has been a good effort from all.

“This year it’s been more of a team effort than relying on pitching as we did last season for sure,” Crisp said.  “This season has been more balanced with hitting and pitching.  And the consistency of the team all the way around has been a big difference as well.”

Taking nothing for granted, Oakland understands anything can change but right now they’re having a good time playing baseball.  It doesn’t matter who they face from either league, they’re only goal is to win games and have fun doing it.


Colon and A’s on a winning streak

oakOakland, CA – At the mere age of forty this right-handed pitcher gets better each time he takes the mound.  Lasting eight frames in his outing tonight, you have to ask yourself, why not a complete game?

Bartolo Colon earned his eighth straight win as the Oakland A’s beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1.  Colon is the second pitcher in the franchise to win eleven games by the end of June since Mark Mulder in 1991.  This win also earned the A’s their best record after 81 games since 1992.

“I don’t expect him to give anything less now,” said Josh Donaldson.  “He’s just one of those guys who goes out there and gives us a chance to win.  He’s been dominant.  It hasn’t even been a question.”

Bartolo lowered his ERA to 1.37, over eight innings he held the Cardinals to only one run.  Giving up one free pass to remain amongst a few in the American League with the lowest walks.  Colon was close to perfect game until the fifth when Oakland’s defense made a few errors that proved costly.

Former A’s player Matt Holiday was the only walk of the night and the second batter to face Bartolo in the fifth.  Matt Adams followed with a bloop single to center field, that dropped right in front of center-fielder Coco Crisp.  David Freese grounded a single right past shortstop Jed Lowrie to score in Holiday.

“Every single fastball I threw as a strike was right down the middle of the plate,” Shelby Miller said.  “They were just good pitches to hit.  This is really disappointing.  I just didn’t have it today.”

As for the opposing pitcher, Miller lasted only 1 2/3 innings, his shortest start of his career.  Shelby gave up five runs on six hits.  Oakland’s offense dominated with every starting player coming to bat.  Yoenis Cespedes leadoff the inning with a single and the A’s took an early 2-0 lead.

Then Miller walked two batters back-to-back to load the bases with two outs.  Seth Smith hit a two-run single for a 4-0 lead.  But that wasn’t the worst part for Shelby, Lowrie’s two-run double sent Miller to the dugout for the remainder of the night.

And if things couldn’t get worse for St. Louis, Stephen Vogt hit his first MLB career home run.  Vogt played his third game since being called up this week.  There’s no better way to make a difference in a game when your catching for a pitcher like Colon.

“It was really special,” said Vogt.  “He was moving his fastball in and out, throwing changeups and sliders when he wanted to.  It’s neat to catch for a guy like Bartolo, let alone to have him throw like he did tonight.”

Tied for the second-most wins before the All-Star break, Colon hadn’t had that many wins since 2005 when he won the AL Cy Young Award with the Anaheim Angels.  He flirted with a no-hitter, a perfect game and shutout.  Bartolo had retired the first 13 batters he faced before walking Matt in the fifth.

“He’s a guy who really doesn’t put himself on the run when there are guys on base,” manager Bob Melvin said.  He’s got such good movement, he keeps off the barrel of the bat and knows he’s one pitch away from getting a ground ball and getting out of an inning like that.”