Saturday, April 4, 2015

Oakland Secures Cactus League Crown Behind Scott Kasmir and Billy Butler; Ervin Santana Sharp as Twins Fall to Boston

Players of the Day for Thursday, April 2, 2015

Grapefruit League

Ervin Santana
Ervin Santana must have figured he'd given his team a reasonable shot at winning their game with the Boston Red Sox. After all, he'd held Boston scoreless over the first five innings on one hit, walked just one batter and struck out a pair while his Twins' teammates had put two runs on the scoreboard.

All of that changed as soon as his replacement hit the mound, the Red Sox exploding for seven runs in the sixth inning, getting six of them off J. R. Graham, who allowed six hits in 1/3 of an inning, and the other off Nick Burdi, who got the last two outs of the inning, but not before giving up a two-run homer to Mike Napoli.

Thus, Santana, who has had a solid Spring, was denied his fourth win against one loss. Santana got no decision, but, he appears ready for the regular season. In five starts, he's tossed 19 innings, allowing just four runs, for an ERA of 1.89.

His teammates seem to need a bit more seasoning. After the 8-5 defeat by Boston the Twins are 12-15, while the Red Sox have improved to 16-11 and are just 1/2 game behind the Blue Jays and Mets, both 18-12.

Santana spent the first eight years of his major league career with the Angels, then went to Kansas City in 2013, before heading to Atlanta, where he was 14-10 last year. The Twins acquired the 6'2" right-hander in the off-season.

Cactus League
Butler: New A.

Kazmir: Sharp.
The Oakland A's claimed the Cactus League crown with an 8-2 win over the Giants on Thursday, but, instead of doing so amidst the desert breezes of Arizona, the finalized the deal at the Giants' home field, at AT&T Stadium in San Francisco, where an estimated 41,581 watched the A's capture the first of what they hope will be many flags this year.

Scott Kazmir looked good in his final tune-up prior to the regular season, allowing one run on four hits over six innings. He did not issue any walks, nor did his strike out any of the opposition.

Billy Butler went 3-for-5, including his fifth homer of the exhibition season, and drove in a pair of runs, giving him 15 RBI this Spring.

Kazmir is starting his second season with the A's. Last year he was 15-9 with a 3.44 ERA. Butler figures to be the primary DH for the Athletics. He was snatched away from Kansas City this off-season, after having spent his entire, eight-year career with the Royals.

The win was the ninth straight for the A's, who hold a 2 1/2 game edge on Kansas City with just two games left to play.

* * * *

With the start of the regular season, significant changes are coming to Baseball On Deck.

Instead of daily posts featuring players of the day, the format will change to a main, once-weekly post, on Mondays, in which various players of the week will be presented. Each league will feature an infielder and outfielder of the week, along with starting pitcher of the week and reliever of the week for both the American and National leagues. A special category for DH of the Week will also be part of the new mix.

Interim posts - between Mondays - will appear on an ad hoc basis, along with presentation of streaks, notable stats and other stories of note. These changes will allow Baseball on Deck to become more focused on the larger scope of the season while also providing a more literate interpretation of events.

During the season special attention will be given to the standings and schedules of contending teams, as well as expanded coverage during the pennant races in September and the playoffs and World Series in October.

These changes will begin shortly. Saturday and Sunday will be the final posts in the current Players of the Day format, but opening week of the regular season will feature daily, or nearly daily, posts. The first major post in the new, expanded format will be Monday, April 13.

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