Morning glory: Early wakeup for fans in Oakland

Associated Press Modified: October 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm •  Published: October 6, 2012
Advertisement
;

Game 2 of the division series between the Tigers and Athletics is Sunday at 12:07 p.m. Detroit time — or 9:07 a.m. back in Oakland.

With a night game Saturday, it will be a quick turnaround for everyone.

"I think the postseason — doesn't really matter — you're going to be fired up for any game whatever time it's at," said left-hander Tommy Milone, the Game 2 starter for the A's. "Just go out there and pitch your game and take it from there."

Milone will try to reverse a trend from the regular season in which he pitched much better at home. Milone's ERA was 2.74 at Oakland and 4.83 on the road.

"We feel comfortable wherever he pitches," manager Bob Melvin said. "I think this ballpark is a lot like ours and it's fairly big — use a big part of the ballpark and pretty deep to center field and the gaps here."

___

FIRST PITCH: Alex Smith proved he's much better at throwing a football under pressure for the San Francisco 49ers than a baseball off a mound.

Smith got rewarded with the ceremonial first-pitch honor for his loyalty to the Giants and responded with a one-hop pitch in the dirt.

"I'm disgusted with myself," he said after the pitch. "Stick to throwing a football. It's so great to be out here. A huge honor, definitely. I'm humbled by it."

Smith was decked out in a Matt Cain Giants jersey and hat to throw out the first pitch before Game 1 of San Francisco's division series against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.

Smith said he hadn't thrown off a mound since he was about 10 years old and practiced a little bit this week but was saving his arm for his day job of quarterback of the 49ers. He got some tips from Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who visited Niners practice earlier this week, but his pitch from just in front of the rubber to Sergio Romo still didn't make it there on the fly.

"He was trying to give me help with my grip, how I should hold the ball," Smith said. "He's definitely not to blame. I should have listened."

The honor comes a few weeks after Smith revealed that the NFL had fined him $15,000 last season for wearing a Giants hat to a postgame news conference — a penalty that was later revoked.

Shortly after that news came out, Giants manager Bruce Bochy wore a 49ers hat for his pregame media briefing and Giants infielder Ryan Theriot bought 49ers hats for all of his teammates.

"We certainly appreciate his support wearing a Giants hat," Bochy said. "That's why we wanted to reciprocate and wear a 49ers had and have some fun with it, and have him throw out the first pitch. This club has a lot of 49ers fans, especially when they're playing that day and it's going to be good to have him out there. We may take a look at him, too. He has a good arm."

Coach Jim Harbaugh gave Smith permission to leave the team hotel the night before a home game against the Buffalo Bills for the honor. He got a police escort to the stadium and went right back after the pregame ceremony.

___

REDS SOLO CUP: Sitting on a table near the back of the visitor's clubhouse at AT&T Park is a 2-foot high gold and silver trophy cup — a mini Stanley Cup of sorts that Cincinnati has used for motivation this season.

To capture the cup, the Reds have to win each individual series they play.

So far the idea has worked pretty well. Cincinnati won nine of its final 15 series to pull away and win the NL Central for the second time in three years.

"It's kind of a symbol of winning each series," Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan said. "We carry it around with us, we drink out of it. It's just something to keep us loose. We haven't lost too many so it's been working for us and we're going to keep riding it."

The cup began showing up around midseason, though no one is quite certain who originally came up with the idea. Outfielder Ryan Ludwick gets the most credit, but all of Cincinnati's players take part in naming the trophy for every series. They called it the Cheddar Cup in Milwaukee and the Friar Cup in San Diego.

Continue reading this story on the...