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21.12.2018 08:32
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Jason O. Watson/Getty ImagesThe Oakland Athletics snuck up on us [url=http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-eddie-robinson-jersey]Eddie Robinson Jersey[/url] , the same way Matt Chapman sneaks up on a speedster who thinks he can drop a bunt down the third-base line and come up with a hit. Sorry, Dee Gordon, Jarrod Dyson or anyone else whom Chapman has robbed this year.The A's are pounding their way into our consciousness, the way their young third baseman has singled and doubled and homered his way into the national baseball conversation.If you're not paying attention to Chapman and the A's, well, you should be. If you're not making plans to check out their series this week against the Los Angeles Dodgers, or next week's playoff-race showdowns with the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros, well, go ahead and change your plans.As hot as the Boston Red Sox have been since the middle of June, the A's have been just a tiny bit hotter. That's not to say the A's are as good a team as the Sox, who seem on their way to one of those historic seasons. But by the middle of June, we already knew the Red Sox were good.In the middle of June, the A's were a sub-.500 team you almost felt sorry for because the lack of commitment by ownership was showing in their on-field performance. No team in the major leagues had a lower Opening Day payroll than the A's, whose $62 million total was less than a third of the Red Sox's $206 million, according to USA Today.Then the A's started winning. And kept winning.They've won 33 of their last 43, the best record in baseball over that span (the Red Sox are just behind at 31-11). They've gone from 11 games out of a playoff spot to holding the American League's second wild-card spot. They're just 2.5 games behind the New York Yankees for the right to host the AL Wild Card Game and just four games behind the Astros in the AL West.You can't credit Chapman for all that, because he was on the disabled list for two weeks with a thumb contusion when the run began. But he's important enough that one person who works for the A's described him as "captain material," even though he's just 25 and in his first full big league season.Chapman is already a defensive star at third base.Jason O. Watson/Getty ImagesHis numbers are good enough that you wonder why he wasn't on the All-Star team, except that the AL had two really good third basemen in Jose Ramirez and Alex Bregman, and Chapman's numbers were behind theirs when the team was picked.But look at him now: A 1.214 OPS in 16 games since the All-Star break [url=http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-matt-belisle-jersey]http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-matt-belisle-jersey[/url] , second in the AL among players with at least 60 plate appearances (Rougned Odor of the Texas Rangers is first). A triple and two home runs over the weekend as the A's swept the Detroit Tigers to continue their run.Then there are the defensive numbers. Defensive stats aren't the most reliable indicators, but in Chapman's case, he's so far ahead of everyone else the numbers don't need to be exact. Check out this tweet from Sports Info Solutions:Sports Info Solutions SportsInfo_SISMost Defensive Runs Saved - 3rd BaseMatt Chapman25Matt Carpenter 8Travis Shaw 8 RAldh1XnD4Even if you don't trust defensive numbers, in Chapman's case, the eye test tells you the same thing."A Gold Glove guy at third base," one American League scout said Monday. "A smart player and a great athlete with a plus-plus arm. One of the best, for sure."Or listen to this testimonial from Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies, who has been considered the best defensive third baseman in the game."He was my backup shortstop [in high school]," Arenado told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's funny, he's probably better than me now."Nolan Arenado was two years ahead of Chapman at El Toro High School. Now they may be the two best defensive third basemen in baseball.Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesSo yeah, the two guys who might be the best defensive third basemen in the game played together at El Toro High School in Orange County, California. It's kind of like how Didi Gregorius rarely played shortstop growing up because he and Andrelton Simmons were on the same teams back to Little League.For the record, Chapman told Slusser he still rates Arenado as better."I want to do what he's done," Chapman said.Arenado has won the National League Gold Glove at third base in each of his first five big league seasons. Chapman didn't debut until June in 2017, when Evan Longoria won the AL Gold Glove at third. Longoria isn't even in the league anymore after a December trade to the San Francisco Giants, and it's hard to see anyone denying Chapman this year.The competition to make the AL All-Star team at third base will be tough with Ramirez and Bregman, but it's easy to see Chapman joining that conversation in the years to come, too."He has a Robin Ventura-type mentality," another AL scout said. "Plays the game the way it was meant to be played. I think the offensive numbers will go up. He's an All-Star in the making, for sure."He's the kind of player you make plans to watch [url=http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-mike-napoli-jersey]Mike Napoli Jersey[/url] , just as his A's are right now the type of team you should make plans to see. Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball. KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ian Kennedy, Alex Gordon and the rest of the Royals‘ veterans have been watching as their talented young teammates delivered win after win during a surprising late-season surge.They finally got a piece of the action Saturday night.Kennedy pitched six innings to earn his first win since the first week of April, Gordon drove in five runs, and the Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 10-3 for their fifth win in six games.Another of the old guard, Alcides Escobar, had three RBIs while finishing a homer shy of the cycle, and Cam Gallagher ended a 0-for-14 skid with a career-best four hits, in a blowout that set Kansas City up for a shot at a four-game sweep of its AL Central rivals on Sunday.“We’re not looking at it like that. We feel like we’re a quality team that’s playing well right now,” Gordon said. “Whether you’re young or old, it doesn’t really matter.”Kennedy (2-8) allowed six hits while striking out four in his second start since a two-month stint on the disabled list. The right-hander allowed only Ehire Adrianza’s RBI single in the second and Logan Forsythe’s run-scoring hit in the fifth to earn his second home win in two years.“I just knew it had been a long time,” said Kennedy, who ended a 17-start winless streak with his first since April 7. “It was the first win since last September that I got at home. I did know that.”Gordon had an RBI groundout in the first, a two-run double in the fourth and another two-run double in the sixth. He finished one RBI shy of his career best, set against Baltimore on May 18, 2014.“He had some fantastic at-bats,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “His focus has been beating the shift and I told him he was like Rod Carew tonight, peppering it down the left-field line.”Most of the damage came against Chase De Jong (0-1), who was pounded for five runs — three earned — on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. It was a far different from his start against the Royals last week, when De Jong allowed one hit over four scoreless innings in a game the Twins won 3-1.This time [url=http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-carlos-baerga-jersey]Carlos Baerga Jersey[/url] , Kansas City jumped out to a 2-1 lead before a four-run fourth provided a comfortable cushion. Escobar started the scoring with an RBI triple, then scored when he was caught in a run-down and the throw toward home hit him in the back and bounced away.Twins skipper Paul Molitor and third base coach Gene Glynn took exception with the umpiring on the play, and both earned their second ejections of the season. That meant they weren’t around to see Gordon add a two-run double later in the inning and give Kansas City a 6-2 advantage.The Royals’ longtime outfielder hit his second two-run double a couple innings later, his third hit of the night, before grounding out in his final at-bat.“It was nice. I’m proud of the way Alex has continued to battle back,” Yost said. “He had a rough year last year. He’s worked hard and it’s paying off for him.”ON THE TOSSMolitor said he came out to question whether Gallagher had squared to bunt on a suicide-squeeze in the fourth inning, when he got ejected. “We didn’t execute the play and that was probably what had my emotion kind of high anyway,” he said. “They were giving us an out there and take a runner out of scoring position and we can’t execute. So, I didn’t bother to look at it. We didn’t get the call. I wasn’t happy at the time. I stepped out of the dugout, which you can’t do on a ball-and-strike call, which is why I got tossed as quickly as I did.”TRAINER’S ROOMTwins: C Mitch Garver (concussion) did some light cardio Saturday after his team sent him back to the hotel the previous night. Garver took a foul ball off his mask Wednesday, and he began to feel the effects of a concussion taking batting practice Friday. “He’s not doing as well as we had hoped,” Molitor said. “We are labeling it in the concussion category. And with all concussions kind of being unique in themselves, we’ll just have to see how he progresses.”Royals: RHP Jorge Lopez (bruised ribs) had an MRI exam that came back clean, and Yost said he’s day-to-day. Jopez left in the fifth inning of Friday night’s game. He fell three outs shy of a perfect game his previous start last Saturday at Minnesota.UP NEXTRoyals RHP Jakob Junis (8-12, 4.28 ERA) tries to keep his hot streak going in the series finale against RHP Kyle Gibson (7-13, 3.67) and the Twins. Junis has a 2.83 ERA over 10 starts since returning from the disabled list on July 21, and has 58 strikeouts in 60 innings.

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