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9:03AM

S.F. Examiner: Amidst global turmoil, sports trudge forward in Europe

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

PARIS — Unable to find Giants or Athletics results in L’Equipe, the historic French sports daily, one goes to the Internet and ESPN and gets not, say, the Red Sox but so help me Qarabag FK, an Azerbaijani soccer team. Yikes.

Not until I open the Examiner website do I discover the Giants have been in a free fall that began in San Diego, of all places, and continued at Fenway Park. The A’s unfortunately have been in a free fall since April.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner

8:53PM

Newsday (N.Y.): Michael Pineda gets first win since April 6

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

OAKLAND, Calif. — Michael Pineda stood taller, literally, extending his body to the maximum, which is considerable for someone who is 6-7. And also figuratively, finally looking like the pitcher he and the Yankees believed he was.

It had been a difficult seven starts for Pineda, who was winless in each of them. But he came to the mound at O.co Coliseum on Sunday after working on standing more erect, which would help him throw sliders to the bottom of the strike zone.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2016 Newsday. All rights reserved.

10:38AM

Newsday (N.Y.): Rob Refsnyder gets big hit, but will he be staying with Yankees?

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

OAKLAND, Calif. — The question was inevitable. So was the answer.

Rob Refsnyder had the big hit Saturday, proving that on this day, at least, he deserved to be on the Yankees. But not unexpectedly, the present seemed less important than the future — the immediate future.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2016 Newsday. All rights reserved.

6:59PM

A’s pull a number on the Royals

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — He was wearing a Warriors T-shirt, as seemingly half the Bay Area is these days, the gold one passed out a day before, the one reading “Strength in Numbers.” But for Chris Bassitt, a Cleveland Cavaliers fan under that shirt — understandably, since he’s from Ohio — there was only one number Sunday, 114, the career-high number of pitches he threw for the Athletics.

He didn’t get a win for that effort, but the A’s did, beating the World Series champion Kansas City Royals 3-2, and suddenly everything was as joyful and upbeat at the Coliseum as it had been some 24 hours earlier next door at Oracle Arena.

The weather was the best of the weeks-old baseball season, only 70 degrees at first pitch but climbing to 79 at the final out of an efficient, tidy game that required only 2 hours 37 minutes. The A’s closed out a home stand that began with four straight losses and ended with two wins, both over K.C., of course. And the stadium, often as lonely as a graveyard at midnight, was nearly full, 29,668 fans, after 25,584 on Saturday.

John Axford got the pitching victory. He was the one in the lineup when, in the bottom of the eighth, Billy Burns tripled down the right field line. “It was this close to going foul,”  said Burns, pinching his fingers together, “and that close to being caught.” Burns then scored the tie-breaking, winning run on pinch hitter Josh Reddick’s sacrifice fly.

But the 6-foot-5 Bassitt was no less responsible for the victory than anyone in the Oakland clubhouse. He went the first seven innings, giving up two runs, one a homer by Mike Moustakas. “I was not committed on the pitch,” said Bassitt. That’s acceptable. The A’s — every team in the majors — would delight in their starter allowing only two runs.  

Sunshine and success alter everything at the Coliseum. Maybe it’s not AT&T Park, and yes, the A’s still need a ballpark, but with blue skies the figurative atmosphere is changed. So too are the A’s fortunes. Now, one game below .500, they head to New York for three games at Yankee Stadium.

“We’ve got some momentum,” said Burns. “Scratching out a win against (the Royals) is big.”

The Royals pride themselves on their late-inning relief. Their template for winning the World Series was to get through the sixth inning in front or tied, then call on a bullpen some would say is the best in the majors. So A’s manager Bob Melvin was particularly pleased the way his team, trailing 2-1 into the seventh, rallied to tie and win.

“Coming back against this team is something,” said Melvin. “Typically, in the seventh, eighth and ninth, it’s a big challenge.”

So many games in baseball, 162, and yet this one game, especially at home, where the A’s were 2-7, the second-worst home record in the American League, was important. Teams need to do well at home to make believers of the ticket buyers. People want to leave a ballpark in a good mood. And Sunday at the Coliseum, most of the people did.

“We’d been struggling at home,” confirmed Melvin. “Now we’re going on a 10-game trip against good teams.” Those teams, in order, are the Yankees, Blue Jays and Tigers. “This was significant,” Melvin added.

Ryan Madson pitched the ninth to get his fourth save (and the A’s only have six wins).

“He did the job,” said Melvin the onetime catcher.

Which Madson considered ordinary, or at least nothing out of the usual. Just get on the mound and throw strikes, whether it’s the Royals — with whom he won a World Series last season — or the Mariners. “The idea,” said Madson, “is to keep the pressure on the hitters.”

The pressure’s been on the A’s in many ways. They’ll always be in the shadow of the club across the Bay until they get that ballpark and then have the revenue to retain their stars. Also, having bottomed out in 2015, the Athletics need to prove they’ve put together a team that can win and also be attractive, not that one doesn’t follow the other.

So there’s Bassitt, wearing his shirt for the most attractive, winningest team in the region — and in basketball — that of the Warriors. “I’ll root for them until the finals,” said Bassitt, who played at the University of Akron, close to Cleveland. “Then I’ll root for the Cavs.”

Everybody makes mistakes.

12:03PM

S.F. Examiner: Even years and errors: Differing expectations await Bay Area MLB teams

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

The Even Year Odds. That’s the headline in the regional edition of Sports Illustrated. In baseball, in the West, those four words are enough. It’s the Giants’ time for a World Series. That is if the Giants have enough.

For the other team, the one across the Bay, the Athletics, the issue is less about picking up a pennant than, having led the majors in errors, picking up or throwing a ground ball. It is a problem that during the exhibition games in March appeared as serious — and uncorrectable — as during last season.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner

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