A’s bite the dust in one-run defeat

A fireworks show courtesy of Khris Davis was not enough for the Oakland Athletics who lost 4-3 Monday night.

Kendall Graveman (1-3, 4.40 ERA) was able rebound from a long, yet scoreless, first inning. But the relentless attack from the heart of the Seattle Mariners (14-11) order was too much as the A’s (13-14) starter suffered the loss, giving up four runs in 6-1/3 innings. Seattle starter Nathan Karns fooled everyone except for Davis, who homered twice off the righty, to pick up the win on six strong innings.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

After a second consecutive one-run loss, this one coming with runners on first and third in the ninth, All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt spoke about the frustration:

“When you lose by one, you start second-guessing everything throughout the course of the game. Wondering what you could have changed. Like we always do, we get the tying run — the winning run — on base late in the game, one hit away, and we couldn’t execute.”

Long before Jed Lowrie struck out with two on to end the game, Davis began the night’s scoring leading off the second. The opening salvo came in the form of a line drive homer (4) just over the 367-foot marker in left field.

Heating up on the A’s recent 10-game trip to the east coast, it was the left fielder’s first home run in Oakland and may have opened the flood gates.

During his pre-game batting practice, Davis came mere feet from breaking a luxury box window. Asked if he was trying to do so he responded, “It would be more impressive in a game.”

After being robbed of a single up the middle by a Seattle defensive shift, Davis came up with Josh Reddick on first, down 4-1 in the seventh.

Leaning into a first-pitch curveball from Karns (3-1, 3.81 ERA), the slugger crushed a two-run jack (5) off the concrete just below the luxury boxes in straight away center field. It was Davis’ seventh career multi-homer game, and first since Sept. 27, 2015.

Though Davis was not available for comment following the game, Melvin said the shot was especially impressive given the situation:

“To hit one as far as he did, in our ballpark, to center field, at night, it means you can hit it out anywhere.”

Added Vogt:

“He’s got such great power. He’s going to be big for us in the middle of the order all year. He got his pitch twice, and he didn’t miss it. It was fun to watch him hit the ball a long way.”

Graveman labored through the first inning, throwing 27 pitches, only 13 for strikes. With the help of a running, lunging catch by Reddick, Graveman escaped the jam un-scored upon.

The hurler settled in for the second and third, retiring six consecutive batters. But Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano led off the second with a booming double. A Nelson Cruz single was followed by an Adam Lind base hit, driving in Cano.

Graveman received a momentary reprieve, as center fielder Billy Burns caught a medium-deep fly ball then gunned down Cruz, attempting to take third.

It was another lead-off hit from Cano in the sixth that started yet another rally. This time, however, a double play wasn’t enough as Kyle Seager stroke a first-pitch curve into the right field corner for an RBI to give the M’s the lead.

Following the game, Graveman acknowledged that the Seattle offense had grown aggressive, saying the first pitch needed to be better:

“After a long first inning, we put up a zero. I’ve got to bear down and throw some quality pitches there, once we get the double play. I threw a breaking ball to Seager that was up in the zone, and he got a double.”

Melvin brought Marc Rzepczynski in relief of Graveman after the Seattle lead-off man Nori Aoki led off the seventh with a double.

The left fielder then scored what would prove to be the deciding run on a throwing error by Vogt, after a steal of third. The backstop’s throw skipped into third, but did’t seem to be terrible.

Asked if any of the blame for the error fell on Mark Canha, playing his fourth career game and first start at third base, Vogt vehemently assumed responsibility:

“It’s 100 percent on me. … It’s not on Mark, not at all. That’s on me. I’ve played catcher enough to know I shouldn’t throw that baseball. I was trying to make something special, instead of just doing my job — to make the best decision possible.”

Looking to come back from the loss, Vogt and his A’s will get back to work Tuesday evening as ace Sonny Gray (3-2, 381 ERA) will take the hill against Hisashi Iwakuma (0-3, 4.65 ERA).


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.