Yonder Alonso, who was traded to Seattle (58-56) on Sunday, made his first start with his new club, going 1-for-5 with an infield single.
At the time of his trade, Alonso accounted for one-third of Oakland’s 2017 20-homer club. The other two members, Khris Davis and Ryon Healy, offered something of a farewell two-cannon salute, booming a pair of impressive blasts. But it wasn’t enough for the A’s (50-63), who committed three errors and were silenced over the final five frames, suffering defeat despite jumping to an early 5-1 advantage.
Khris opened the scoring with a moon shot three-run homer down the right field line in the opening frame, becoming the first Athletic to hit 30 or more homers in back-to-back season since Miguel Tejada (2000-02) and Eric Chavez (2001-02) each did it in the early-2000’s.
Manager Bob Melvin said he has run out of superlatives when it comes to the awe-inspiring opposite-field power of his clean-up hitter:
“Not too many guys hit the ball right down the right field line like that, and probably don’t get all of it, and hit it out. We’ve seen him do it many times. … Here recently, it seems like he’s swinging the bat a lot better again.”
He just missed another in his second at-bat, sending a liner off the top of the wall in center and settling for an RBI triple, and finished 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs.
Everything seemed to be going Oakland’s way in the opening innings.
The A’s were able to get a base runner in four of the first five frames, tallying runs first third and fifth, and starter Kendall Graveman was able to dance out of the jams he did find himself in, limiting the damage to single runs in the third and fourth. Graveman (ND, 2-3, 4.97 ERA) faced Alonso, a teammate of just under two years, three times retiring him in each. Said the starter:
“I’ve seen him all year, been able to watch him, so to be able to attack the way that I did, I think, was good. … I thought we did a good job on pitch selection with him tonight.”
Unable to accomplish similar disappearing acts, Seattle starter Ariel Miranda (ND, 7-5, 4.65 ERA) departed after 5 innings, surrendering five hits and six runs. More note-worthy, though, he served up two gopher balls — the second a solo blast (21) by Healy in the fifth — and now leads baseball having allowed 29 homers this season.
The worm turned upon his departure.
Graveman was unable to survive the sixth, yanked after allowing a two-run double to Ben Gamel. Graveman, who was making his second big league start in 2-1/2 months, didn’t disagree with the assessment of him manager who thought he’d run out of gas in the sixth, but asserted that it wasn’t an excuse:
“We started out well, limited the damage there a couple innings in a row — only allowed one — then get a quick out in the sixth. Just gotta continue to find ways to get outs.”
The Mariner bullpen zapped the air for the Oakland offense’s balloon, holding the A’s scoreless the rest of the way, including a perfect ninth from Marc Rzepczynski (W, 2-0, 3.09 ERA). All the while, the Oakland defense was far from flawless, committing three errors, each of which led to a Seattle run.
Those fielding errors were committed by shortstop Marcus Semien, third baseman Matt Chapman and right fielder Matt Joyce, whose 0-f0r-3 three-strikeout night at the plate may have trumped his defensive miscue. On the whole, though, the skipper said simply, his club did not play winning defense:
“When you play close games like that — we made three errors. … The numbers show you don’t win many games when you make three errors.”
The Mariners continued to nibble its way back, until Leonys Martin finally dealt a knock-out blow — a two-out solo shot in the top of the 10th off the bullpen’s last man standing Josh Smith (L, 2-1, 5.52 ERA). And closer Edwin Diaz (S, 24, 2.96 ERA) gingerly shut the door, getting Matt Chapman to leave a pair of Oakland base runners aboard.
The A’s and M’s renew their rivalry Tuesday afternoon with rookie Jharel Cotton (5-8, 5.48 ERA) looking to rebound from three consecutive bad starts. He will face veteran Yovani Gallardo (5-7, 5.35 ERA), who brings a 2-0 record and 2.12 ERA in three games against Oakland this season.
Jake Smolinski (right shoulder) took batting practice with the team before the game. He has not played this season, requiring surgery during Spring Training. Though the team has not yet laid out a timetable, the hope remains that he will be able to get at-bats as a designated hitter in the minor leagues before the season’s end. … Matt Olson was recalled prior to the game. This is his sixth stint with the A’s this season, in which he has batted .198 (10-for-51) with four home runs and nine RBIs over 18 games. He currently leads the Pacific Coast League hitting a home run every 12.78 at-bats. … Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who was designated for assignment on Aug. 5, has cleared waivers and accepted minor league assignment. He went 3-for-11 (.273) in six games spanning two stints with the A’s this season and has been outrighted to Triple-A Nashville. … Josh Phegley (left oblique) has begun taking dry swings. Manager Bob Melvin said there is currently no timetable for his return, nor is there a presumed date when he begin taking live batting practice. Phegley has not played since July 24.