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11/10/2018

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OAKLAND, Calif. http://www.falconsrookiestore.com/Falcons-Jack-Crawford-Jersey/ . -- The Oakland Athletics are hardly accustomed to playing in first place at the All-Star break. Yet the top spot seems to fit them just fine at the moment -- even if its quite a change for the low-budget club long known for those second-half surges that make for a dramatic September. The As are all alone atop the AL West at the break for the first time since 1990. And thats saying something for the defending division champions, who last June 30 trailed the Texas Rangers by 13 games before rallying to capture the West crown on the seasons final day. It didnt hurt for momentum that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes won the Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities Monday in New York. At 56-39, the As are making another statement after surprising everybody with a stunning sweep of the Rangers to end the 2012 regular season and steal away the AL West title from Texas. "I really believe that the guys in this clubhouse really believe that we have one of the best teams in baseball," third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "Its just one of those things, where when we get an opportunity to play a good team like the Red Sox or the Pirates or the Cardinals, were out there sending a message that we are a good team, that were for real." Cespedes has continued to make strides in his second major league season, and perhaps winning the Derby will help propel him into the second half. The second-year slugger from Cuba has 15 home runs and 43 RBIs. And Oakland announced Wednesday it would open the gates an hour earlier to fans for remaining Friday home games so they can watch Cespedes and others take batting practice. "Hes not happy about his average right now but his productions still there for a guy whos hitting (.225)," manager Bob Melvin said. "Hes always on the verge of a hot streak." Oakland has seven wins in 10 extra-inning games, and six walkoff victories already after 14 last season led the majors. The As also have their first winning first half since 2008 -- with plans on making another run at an underdog division title. "Everythings rolling pretty well," Donaldson said. "Weve got a lot of guys in the lineup that can do some damage, not only just hitting home runs but getting on base. ... From 1 to 25, we feel like we can put anybody in the game and theyre going to be successful." Who would have thought Angels stars Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Co. would sit a surprising 11 games back at this stage? The As lead Texas by two games. "Theyve got a pretty good team to work with, too," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It was very impressive what they did last year, because I dont think they envisioned theyd make the playoffs. At the beginning it was kind of like, Do the best you can and well worry about the future later. I dont think BoMel (Melvin) got into that, because you cant have that attitude as a manager, because that transfers to your players." General manager Billy Beane did acknowledge his club was in rebuilding mode, so the As overachieved. They lost in the deciding Game 5 of the AL division series to the Tigers, who went on to be swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Melvin has done an admirable job mixing and matching to cope with injuries to key players such as centre fielder Coco Crisp. Oaklands substitutes have done their share. "It shows that there are 25 guys in this room that, when used properly, can compete and win games," said Nate Freiman, who singled home the winning run against Mariano Rivera in an 18-inning win over the Yankees last month. "And it shows that the guys making the decisions are good at making the decisions and they know how best to use guys." Donaldsons steady bat is a key reason the As are in the lead. He is hitting a team-best .310 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs and 107 hits, most in the first half by an As player since Carney Lansfords 118 in 1988. Donaldson is the first As player to bat at least .300 with 15 or more home runs before the break since Jason Giambi in 2001. Donaldson didnt make the AL All-Star team, with closer Grant Balfour the lone representative in place of 40-year-old, 12-game winner Bartolo Colon. These young, unselfish As are accustomed to being snubbed, and certainly dont mind the role of overlooked opponent. Though that image might be wearing off in a hurry if they keep this good thing going. Along with Donaldson, Brandon Moss also has 16 home runs. "Its fun to watch our lineup hit," lefty starter Tommy Milone said. "Theres no easy out. That makes it tough, especially for other pitchers. Its good for us because we go out there and feel comfortable with any lineup that we put out there." http://www.falconsrookiestore.com/Falcons-Tevin-Coleman-Jersey/ . -- Charline Labonte couldnt have asked for a better homecoming. http://www.falconsrookiestore.com/Falcons-Ryan-Schraeder-Jersey/ . -- Kyrie Irvings last-minute 3-pointer helped seal another victory for Cleveland -- and the Cavaliers longest winning streak since LeBron James left. http://www.falconsrookiestore.com/Falcons-Ra-Shede-Hageman-Jersey/ . As he recorded his 23rd and 24th points of the evening, a segment of the sellout Air Canada Centre crowd expressed their appreciation for the Raptors point guard with a smattering of MVP chants. New South Wales 2 for 95 trail Victoria 6 for 510 dec (Handscomb 215, Dean 134, White 75*) by 415 runsScorecard Victoria batsman Peter Handscomb made his case for inclusion in Australias Test squad almost irresistible by raising 215 against New South Wales at the SCG. In front of selector Mark Waugh, and against Test captain Steven Smith and vice-captain David Warner, Handscomb scored the first double-century of his first-class career to deliver Victoria into a powerful position as they declared on 6 for 510.By the close of play, New South Wales had already lost both Warner and Smith in reply. On 11, Warner was caught at first slip off Scott Boland when he tried to glide the ball fine, and on 8 Smith flashed outside off stump and was caught at slip off Chris Tremain. Both men are certain starters for the Adelaide Test, but the manner of their dismissals was hardly ideal given Australias batting failures against South Africa.At stumps, New South Wales were 2 for 95, with opener Daniel Hughes on 42 and Kurtis Patterson on 28. Patterson is another potential contender for a Test call-up, but Handscommb has set the bar high for batsmen trying to impress the selectors. http://www.falconsrookiestore.com/Falcons-Brian-Poole-Jersey/. He resumed on 110 alongside Travis Dean on 134, and although Dean was bowled by Doug Bollinger without adding a run, Handscomb was set for a long stay.Handscomb batted for 356 balls and nearly eight hours in compiling his 215, and became the first man since Brad Hodge in 2008-09 to score a Sheffield Shield double-century for Victoria. Since the start of last summer, Handscomb has scored 1147 Shield runs at 52.13 - more than any other player in the competition. He now appears a likely replacement for Adam Voges in the Adelaide Test squad.Eventually, Handscomb was dismissed when he advanced to the part-time legspin of Smith, missed, and was stumped by Peter Nevill. His team-mates Matthew Wade (6) and Glenn Maxwell (10) failed to enhance their Test hopes, but the in-form veteran Cameron White continued his prolific season by adding an unbeaten 75 batting at No.7, before the declaration came. 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