Athletics

Mariners remain a riddle to A's despite Khris Davis' 42nd homer

Mariners remain a riddle to A's despite Khris Davis' 42nd homer

OAKLAND — Yonder Alonso found his power-hitting comfort zone at the Coliseum earlier this season, and it resulted in his first All-Star Game selection.

Now he does his damage in a Mariners uniform, and the A’s could do without the power he’s shown the past two nights.

Alonso, traded from Oakland to Seattle in August, went deep for the second night in a row Tuesday, and another former Athletic, Danny Valencia, added the knockout blow with a three-run shot to lift the Mariners to a 6-3 victory.

It was a trip down memory lane that A’s manager Bob Melvin could have done without. This was a game his team was in position to win, thanks to solid starting pitching from Daniel Mengden, some pretty defensive work behind the pitcher and Khris Davis’ 42nd home run, which gave the A’s a short-lived 3-2 lead.

“It’s a frustrating loss for us,” Melvin said. “(Seattle starter James) Paxton is doing his thing, and we finally get him out of the game and take the lead with a two-run homer and we can’t hold it. That’s the frustrating part.”

While the A’s recently have dominated at home this season against Texas, which just left the Coliseum on Sunday, the Mariners are one division opponent they simply can’t solve. They’ve dropped an Oakland-record eight in a row to Seattle.

They can thank Alonso and Valencia for Tuesday’s heartache. Alonso hardly has torn the cover off the ball with the Mariners — he has just five homers in 39 games since the A’s traded him for outfielder Boog Powell. But he’s made a good enough impression that there’s thought that the Mariners might try to re-sign the free agent-to-be.

His trade to the Mariners reunited him with his longtime friend Valencia, who the A’s shipped to Seattle last offseason for right-hander Paul Blackburn. Both took joy in homering in the same game at the Coliseum, though neither was looking to rub it in against their former club.

“I have a lot of love playing here. It’s a good place to play,” said Valencia, who made headlines last year when he punched then-A’s teammate Billy Butler in a clubhouse altercation.

The A’s and Mariners have combined for nine homers in the first two games of this three-game set that ends Wednesday afternoon. Marcus Semien hit his first career leadoff homer in the first to accompany Davis’ blast, helping the A’s establish a new Oakland single-season record for homers at the Coliseum (128).

But, as has been their M.O. all season, if the A’s aren’t clearing the fences, they aren’t doing enough offensively. They had nine hits total but couldn’t push any more runs across.

“Our team’s success this year has revolved around the home run,” Melvin said. “We need to find other ways to do it.”

The A’s began this series hoping to catch fourth-place Seattle and escape the AL West cellar. But in taking the first two, the Mariners have leapfrogged Texas into third place for the time being, and the A’s trail Texas by four games for fourth place with five left to play, including four against the Rangers in Arlington beginning Thursday.

Report: A's to acquire local outfielder from Cardinals

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USATSI

Report: A's to acquire local outfielder from Cardinals

It appears the A’s have checked one very large item off their to-do list at the Winter Meetings.

They’ve agreed to a trade for St. Louis outfielder Stephen Piscotty, according to a report from FanRag Sports. The A’s have not announced any deal, but Jon Heyman reports that two minor leaguers are going back to the Cardinals. Those players have not been identified.

If a deal is in place, there won’t be any announcement from the A’s until Piscotty has taken a physical. There’s no indication of how quickly that will happen.

Piscotty, who is from Pleasanton and attended Stanford, is not a household name. But if this trade reaches the finish line, it’s an impact addition for Oakland. Piscotty would assume one of the starting outfield corner spots; the majority of his major league starts have come in right field, but he appeared at all three spots for the Cardinals and even saw brief time at first base.

He fills a need that Oakland’s front office considered its most crucial of the winter — a right-handed hitting corner outfielder, which will allow the A’s to move their most dangerous hitter, Khris Davis, from left field to designated hitter.

Piscotty turns 27 in January, and he’s under team control for the next six years. He’s guaranteed $29.5 million over the next five seasons — a very manageable sum — and the A’s will hold a $15 million club option for 2023 that includes a $1 million buyout.

Piscotty made his big league debut in 2015 and followed up with an excellent 2016, when he hit .273 with 22 homers and 85 RBI. Last year was a step back — he finished at .235 with nine homers and 39 RBI in 107 games. But it’s worth noting that Piscotty dealt with quite a burden off the field, as his mother was diagnosed with ALS. He left the Cardinals for a period after her diagnosis.

Reports out of St. Louis were that the Cardinals were looking to find a trade that brought him closer to home.

A major league scout who has seen Piscotty plenty over the years said that for a man of his size, 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Piscotty shows good athleticism defensively and has an above average arm, with an above-average power bat that can play well for either corner outfield spot. The A’s can decide which spot fits best for Piscotty and returning right fielder Matt Joyce, with Chad Pinder likely to fit into the equation at one of the corner spots as well.

Oakland remains on the lookout for a left-handed reliever, likely to be found via free agency.

Ozuna trade to Cardinals could help A's land outfielder they covet

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AP

Ozuna trade to Cardinals could help A's land outfielder they covet

The Cardinals’ reported acquisition of Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins could pave the way for the A’s acquiring fellow outfielder Stephen Piscotty from St. Louis.

It’s easy to connect those dots as the third and final full day of the Winter Meetings unfold. Several outlets have reported that the Cardinals have agreed to terms to acquire Ozuna from Miami, with a physical being the only thing keeping it from becoming official.

The St. Louis-Post Dispatch mentioned Wednesday morning the idea of that trade possibly facilitating a Piscotty deal to Oakland. Acquiring Ozuna certainly would give St. Louis an outfield surplus. The A’s are known to have been targeting Piscotty since well before the Winter Meetings began. He would fit the bill as the right-handed hitting corner outfielder they desire.

Even better for Oakland, Piscotty is young — he turns 27 next month — and is under team control for the next six years. He’s owed $29.5 million over the next five seasons, a figure the A’s could easily absorb, with a club option for 2023 attached.

Piscotty attended Amador Valley High in Pleasanton and then played at Stanford. As the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported, a trade to Oakland also would bring Piscotty closer to his mother, who was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year.

Should the A’s not be able to get Piscotty, they could look elsewhere on the trade market or scan the free agent market, which they’ve expressed a willingness to do.