Lots of blame to spread around as A's fall to 0-5 on road trip

Lots of blame to spread around as A's fall to 0-5 on road trip

SEATTLE — The manner in which the A’s surrendered the winning run Saturday was a shocker.

The fact that they put themselves in position to lose a 7-6 game to the Mariners to begin with? That you could see coming.

It was one of those nights where the mistakes and the missed opportunities all led to the feeling this wouldn’t end well for a team that’s been hurt all season by so many individual breakdowns.

After the game, rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell faced reporters and took the responsibility for the game-ending play, on which the Mariners’ Jean Segura raced home from third with the winning run on a play ruled a wild pitch by closer Blake Treinen. Treinen threw a breaking ball that dove down and away. Maxwell shifted into position to try to block the pitch, but it squirted through his legs and the A’s didn’t have a play on Segura.

“I just didn’t get my glove down in time. It’s on me,” Maxwell said. “(Treinen) executed, and I miss a ball to lose a game. That’s how it works sometimes.”

The A’s are 0-5 so far on this six-game road trip against the Angels and Mariners. The two defeats that stick out are Wednesday’s and Saturday’s, when the A’s held an 8-3 lead against the Angels and a 6-2 lead on Seattle, respectively.

In both games, the A’s starters — Kendall Graveman on Wednesday and Jharel Cotton on Saturday — didn’t take advantage of the leads they were given and work deep enough into the game, leaving lots of burden on the bullpen. On Saturday, Cotton surrendered three homers and left without retiring a hitter in the fifth.

“The off-speed wasn’t down enough today and that’s where they got me,” Cotton said. “… These guys came out here to play today, and they put some runs on the board for me. I was supposed to go out there and go six or seven hopefully, with the lead I had. I didn’t do that today. It’s frustrating.”

Two errors from normally sure-handed rookie first baseman Matt Olson led to two unearned runs. He missed a pick-off throw from Simon Castro to usher along a rally in the sixth. In the ninth, the Mariners’ winning rally began when Olson let Segura’s grounder get past him and into right field.

For the second outing in a row, setup man Chris Hatcher gave up a costly homer. On Wednesday, it was a go-ahead grand slam to the Angels’ Cliff Pennington. On Saturday, Hatcher threw a pretty decent slider to Mike Zunino in the eighth and Zunino drove it out to the opposite field to tie the game 6-6.

But the fact is, Hatcher is taking on a bigger role than one might have anticipated when he was acquired in a low-profile trade from the Dodgers in mid-August. Such is the state of the A’s bullpen right now. They’re searching for anybody showing the ability to get key late-inning outs.

Manager Bob Melvin made a point not to lay full blame on his pitching staff or the defense, saying the A’s offense went too silent after building a 6-2 lead on the strength of three homers.

“The bullpen really did a good job, we used a lot of guys to try to get through that game,” Melvin said. “But it would behoove us to try to add on a run or two as well. You just can’t sit there and say, ‘Here you go bullpen, shut ‘em down.’ (Seattle is) a real good offensive team.”

The A’s surely left Safeco Field on Saturday night sharing the blame as a team for this loss. They’ll return Sunday looking to avoid a winless two-city road trip.

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.

A's trade Ryon Healy to Mariners for two players


A's trade Ryon Healy to Mariners for two players

The rumors were indeed true. Ryon Healy was on the trade block.

And now Healy has been the Mariners.

The two teams announced the trade Wednesday evening.

Oakland will receive right-handed pitcher Emilio Pagan and shortstop Alexander Campos.

Healy burst on to the scene in 2016 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 72 games. This past season, he finished second on the A's with 25 home runs and 78 RBI. But he had become the odd man out in the A's lineup with Matt Olson and Matt Chapman solidifying the corner infield spots.

The 25-year-old is familiar with the Pacific Northwest as he attended the University of Oregon.

Pagan, 26, made his major league debut during the 2017 season. In 34 relief appearances with the Mariners, he posted a 3.22 ERA and struck out 56 batters in 50.1 innings. Against the A's, Pagan allowed one run in 5.1 innings over three outings. A native of South Carolina, Pagan was drafted by the Mariners in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

Campos appears to be the prize of the trade, though he's a bit further away from reaching the major leagues. Just 17 years old, Campos signed out of Venezuela in 2016 and made his professional debut this past season. In 59 games for the Mariners' Domincan Summer League team, Campos hit .290/.413/.367 with 10 doubles, two home runs and 26 RBI.

MLB Pipeline ranked Campos as Seattle's No. 15 prospect.