Jamie Moyer helps his comeback cause with two strong innings

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Jamie Moyer helped himself nicely in his attempt to make the Colorado Rockies rotation out of spring training on Wednesday, breezing through two scoreless innings.

Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports that his fastball topped out at 82 mph and that he kept the Giants hitters off-balance, allowing just one hit and throwing only 22 pitches. All in all, for those who have watched the veteran left-hander over the years, it was a pretty typical Moyer outing.

“I was happy with how things went, I threw for strikes and got some groundballs,” Moyer said. “I will continue to push … I believe I have a long way to go yet. I want to prove something to this team, to make this team. I don’t think I can dwell too much on this one outing.”

That’s a good sign for the 49-year-old, who is attempting to return to the majors after missing the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery. Jhoulys Chacin, Jeremy Guthrie and Drew Pomeranz likely have rotation spots locked up, and Juan Nicasio, who is recovering from a broken neck, has looked great so far this spring. That leaves Moyer to compete with Guillermo Moscoso, Alex White, Tyler Chatwood and possibly Josh Outman for the final rotation spot. And don’t forget, Jorge De La Rosa is expected back from injury perhaps as early as July.

The competition is fierce, but don’t bet against Moyer. I spoke with him in Scottsdale this spring and he is as determined as ever, saying “I don’t think I’d be standing here if I didn’t think I could play.”

It’s a pretty remarkable story, and you can read all about it here, but here are a couple tidbits:

    • Moyer is a Pennsylvania native and he considers the World Series title with the Phillies in 2008 among his favorite career moments. When the Phillies won the title in 1980, he cut high school to attend the parade, then in 2008, he was in the parade. Pretty cool.
    • The Moyers have eight children. Dillon, a sophomore at UC-Irvine, and Hutton, a high school senior, are infielders who will both be eligible for the 2012 draft, so there could potentially be three Moyers in pro ball.
    • His three favorite teammates? Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken Jr., and Andre Dawson. All Hall of Famers who he “put on a pedestal,” for the examples they set on and off the field.

There’s much more, so check it out.

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Athletics tie for first place in AL West

Athletics
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The Athletics are tied for first place in the AL West for the first time since Opening Day. They took the first of a three-game series against the Astros on Friday with a wild (and controversial) overturned replay call in the ninth and Matt Olson‘s decisive walk-off home run in the 10th — the first of his career to date — then returned on Saturday and bested the Astros 7-1 to take first place.

Saturday’s win was less of a nail-biter than Friday’s had been, but its rewards were just as sweet. Trevor Cahill led the A’s through the first seven innings of one-hit, seven-strikeout ball, backed by seven runs on five RBI doubles from Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty and Josh Phegley. All told, the four players struck eight doubles to tie the franchise single-game record.

The Astros, meanwhile, were stymied by both Cahill and the A’s bullpen through the first eight innings of the game. Following Cahill’s seven shutout innings, Jeurys Familia took the ball in the eighth and blanked the Astros to preserve the seven-run lead. Yusmeiro Petit wasn’t quite so lucky: with one out in the top of the ninth, he pitched to a full count against Tony Kemp, then saw his 90.1-MPH fastball returned to right field for a home run. That was the first and last time the Astros crossed home plate, however, as Kyle Tucker popped out to third base and Alex Bregman cemented the loss with a fly ball to right.

Entering Saturday’s game, the Astros had not been out of first place since June 13, when they played second fiddle to the now third-place Mariners. They’ll share first-place honors with the Athletics until Sunday’s finale; it’ll take a series sweep for Oakland to take the lead in the division, but they’ve already delivered incredible results over the last two weeks (and it’s worth noting, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart pointed out, that Houston has now lost seven of their last eight games). The A’s climbed out of the no. 3 spot at the start of August and have steadily progressed toward first place ever since, driven by two separate four-win streaks and their two decisive wins this weekend. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle also notes that the club has not been in first place in a non-April month since August 25, 2014 — the last year they qualified for the playoffs.