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Weekend Buzz: Red-hot A's sweep Yanks; Tigers take over first place


The last time the A's swept the Yankees in a four-game set was in New York in 1972. (AP)  
The last time the A's swept the Yankees in a four-game set was in New York in 1972. (AP)  

The Weekend Buzz while you were marveling at Vicki Santo's grace and Barry Larkin's stories at the Hall of Fame induction. ...

1. A Team Brad Pitt Can Be Proud Of: The Athletics keep this up, they're going to have to re-film some of those climactic scenes in Moneyball. Look who's tied for the AL's second wild-card slot.

Toiling away in their usual anonymity, the rip-roarin', Swingin' A's suddenly have emerged as baseball's hottest team. And if you don't believe us, just ask the Yankees, who had their pinstripes knocked horizontal in Oakland this weekend.

Now 14-2 this month, the Athletics own baseball's best record in July. And with Sunday's 5-4, 12-inning win, they swept the Yankees in a four-game series for the first time ever in Oakland, and for only the second time anywhere since 1913. Only other time it happened was in July 1972, in New York.

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Then, Reggie Jackson was ensconced as Oakland's three-hole hitter for Dick Williams.

Now, he was just another sad-faced Yankees exec watching baseball's most unexpected story in baseball's most hideous stadium.

It's like Major League sprung to life. You can imagine owner Lew Wolff behind his curtain hoping for catastrophe to befall the A's until someone finally has to build them a new stadium.

Instead, Bob Melvin has become a candidate for AL Manager of the Year.

Melvin even told reporters before Sunday's game that "you can't help but follow where the standings are."

This is Oakland? You bet, and the Athletics are doing it like they did all those years ago when Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito were young. The A's are 8-1 since the All-Star break, and a rookie pitcher -- Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook and A.J. Griffin -- recorded the victory in the first three wins against the Yanks. Last team to beat the Yankees three in a row with rookies earning each decision: The Indians in August 1916, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (Al Gould, Stan Covelski and Otis Lambeth).

The Athletics team ERA of 3.38 entering Sunday was best in the AL and fourth-lowest in the majors. Oakland pitchers had held opposing hitters to the lowest batting average (.241), lowest slugging percentage (.370) and fewest home runs (76) in the league.

They need to make that last, given that Oakland had scored the third-fewest runs in the majors (357) and owns the third-lowest on-base percentage (.303). Our Eye on Baseball blogger Dayn Perry examines what else the A's need to do to keep winning here.

The A's are eight over .500 for the first time since July 12, 2008. Sunday, they came back from a 4-0 deficit against CC Sabathia, and Coco Crisp's game-winning single in the 12th was their sixth walk-off win in their past 11 home games. They lead the majors with 11 on the season.

"It's been fun," Crisp said on the A's postgame television show Sunday. "It's exciting. We never give up."

The standings? With a roster currently consisting of 10 rookies, nobody figured the A's would have any use for the standings in 2012. Suddenly, they do. Someone from Hollywood apparently left a few props behind.

2. As the AL Central Turns: The White Sox were blasted in Detroit, and the Tigers seized first place in the AL Central for the first time since May 1. To say Detroit finally is playing better doesn't begin to cover it.

"They're a good team," Angels manager Mike Scioscia says, and he should know: The Tigers pummeled his Angels in three of four games last week en route to a 7-1 homestand.

Jim Leyland's crew now has won 13 of 15, and Miguel Cabrera is racing toward the top of the MVP conversation. After homering twice Sunday, Cabrera now is hitting .360 with 16 homers, 57 RBI and 23 doubles in 66 games since May 10.

The Tigers have become quick-strike knockout artists: Since the All-Star break, 37 of the 54 runs they've scored have come on two-out RBI hits -- including 17 of their past 22 runs.

Skidding White Sox pitchers, meanwhile, surrendered five three-run homers in six days through Saturday. Ouch.

3. D.C., as in Darned Chaotic: The Nationals blew a nine-run lead in a game started by Stephen Strasburg to lose 11-10 in 11 innings Friday night, and if the Braves win the NL East, mark that as the turning point. "That's never happened to me since I've been here," Chipper Jones said of coming back from a nine-run deficit, and he's right. Last time the Braves came back from that far behind is ancient history enough that Ken Oberkfell was playing third in 1987 against the Padres. "Arguably the worst game I've ever managed," said Davey Johnson, whose Nats had never blown a lead that big even when the franchise was in Montreal. Ah, but it was so much fun.

4. Everything goes but the napkin rings: So what does rookie GM Jeff Luhnow do after completing an exhaustive 10-player trade with the Blue Jays, in which he sent J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon to Toronto for a haul that includes reliever Francisco Cordero, outfielder Ben Francisco and what is expected to be five minor-leaguers? Sleep in? Lay on his hammock? Nope. He immediately shipped pitcher Brett Myers to the White Sox for two minor-league pitchers and a player to be named later. Luhnow's goal is to seed the Astros' farm system with the best young talent in baseball. At this rate, and with lots of caffeine, he just may pull it off.

5. One, two, three cakes you're out: At the ol' ballgame in Cleveland, at least. Roberto Hernandez -- formerly Fausto Carmona -- finally joined the Indians on Sunday. And the Indians were ready: As legendary beat man Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, they presented him with three birthday cakes to cover his sudden age increase from 28 to 31.

6. Thank you Cubs, may we have another? St. Louis equaled a club record set in 1926 by popping for 12 seventh-inning runs against the Cubs on Saturday night. A total of 17 St. Louis batters collected 10 hits, including an eye-popping, jaw-dropping, wall-hopping major league record-tying seven doubles, equaling a mark set by the Boston Bees against the Cards in the first inning of a game in 1936. At one point, folks swore they saw Stan Musial stepping into the on-deck circle. While the Cards might have won the weekend on points -- they humiliated the Cubs by a combined score of 23-1 -- the Reds and Pirates remained unintimidated: Cincinnati swept Milwaukee and Pittsburgh swept Miami.

7. Padres remove Carlos Quentin from trade market: The two agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal, and the Padres next hope to remove closer Huston Street from the market. They're talking extension with him, too, sources tell CBSSports.com, though at the moment, they're not close to a deal.

8. The Lumber Company: With Pedro Alvarez's home run Sunday, the Pirates now have 104 home runs through 94 games. As Stats LLC notes, they had 107 the entire 2011 season.

9. The Lumber Company II: How unusual was it that the Phillies' Cole Hamels hit a home run against the Giants' Matt Cain on Saturday ... and Cain homered against Hamels? First time in history two pitchers selected as All-Stars homered during the same game that season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

10. Hall of Fame Weekend: Words of wisdom in a story from Barry Larkin, who told of a time early in his career when Reds coach Buddy Bell told him to "smell the grass" one day in Dodger Stadium. It took a bit for Larkin to understand Bell meant it literally. Then, while on his hands and knees, Bell told Larkin to roll over and look up at the stadium and the sky while on his back. Larkin obediently did so, then, when asked by Bell how he felt, Larkin replied small, like an ant. Never forget that, Bell told Larkin. Compared with the entirety of baseball history, we're all small and insignificant.


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