Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 7-6 10-inning loss to Mariners


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 7-6 10-inning loss to Mariners


OAKLAND — A degree of optimism permeates this A’s team due to the influx of young prospects now getting playing time.

But Tuesday night showed this is still a mistake-prone team that often is its own worst enemy. Three errors contributed to the A’s losing all of a four-run lead, and they dropped a 7-6 game in 10 innings to the Seattle Mariners to open a three-game series at the Coliseum.

Oakland led 6-2 after five innings, but the Mariners chipped away against Kendall Graveman and Oakland’s bullpen. A throwing error from Matt Chapman opened the gate to the Mariners’ tying rally in the eighth. Errors from shortstop Marcus Semien and right fielder Matt Joyce also pushed along Seattle scoring rallies.

Leonys Martin homered off Josh Smith in the top of the 10th to break a 6-6 tie. The A’s rallied in the bottom half against hard-throwing Seattle closer Edwin Diaz, but Chad Pinder struck out with two aboard and Matt Chapman flied out to right.

GRAVEMAN STILL TRYING TO FIND FORM: Kendall Graveman was better in his second start off the D.L. than his first, but the right-hander still wasn’t particularly sharp Tuesday. He went 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits before leaving plenty of work for his bullpen. Seattle scored twice off him to begin the comeback from its 6-2 deficit.

30/30 VISION: Khris Davis connected for his 30th homer, an opposite-field three-run shot in the first, as part of his four**-RBI night. That made Davis the first A’s hitter in 15 years to post back-to-back 30-homer seasons. It hadn’t been done since Miguel Tejada did it three straight years from 2000-02 and Eric Chavez did it from 2001-02.

STAY A WHILE: Matt Olson was promoted from Triple-A Nashville as expected, and the rookie will platoon at first base with Ryon Healy following the trade of Yonder Alonso to these very Mariners.

It’s the sixth call-up of this season alone for Olson, but the feeling is that this promotion is a long-term one. Olson ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League with 23 homers and his on-base, slugging and OPS percentages are all up from last season. Olson entered as a defensive replacement for Healy and singled in his only at-bat in the 10th.

“I said, you could unpack your bags,” manager Bob Melvin said of his conversation with Olson. “… I think he realizes that this time he actually gets to stick around for a while, and may have to find something other than a hotel.”

ROUGH RETURN: Matt Joyce, back after a two-game suspension for directing an anti-gay slur at a fan in Anaheim, struck out in all three of his plate appearances and was replaced by pinch hitter Jed Lowrie in the ninth.

ANOTHER SHOT FOR SMITH: Chris Smith will re-enter the rotation and make Thursday’s start against Baltimore. With Daniel Gossett being sent down, the A’s have an opening on their starting staff. The team was off Monday, creating some tinkering with the rotation, and Melvin said the idea was to keep Gossett pitching on his regular turn, even if it’s in the minors.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach


A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect


Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.