Athletics

All-or-nothing A's offense leads to another frustrating defeat

All-or-nothing A's offense leads to another frustrating defeat

SEATTLE — The A’s can only hope that the sight of Khris Davis and Stephen Vogt circling the bases leads to brighter days ahead.

If you need a positive takeaway from Monday’s 6-5 loss to the Mariners, it was those two hitters breaking long home run dry spells. But as the A’s are proving, the long ball doesn’t get the job done by itself.

Right now, the A’s are doing just enough wrong to negate all the right.

In getting swept by the Rangers, they took a lead in every game but couldn’t build on it, leaving the door open for Texas to break through against the bullpen.

On Monday, they fell behind early thanks to starter Sean Manaea’s wild ride of a first couple innings. They battled back with Davis’ solo homer and Vogt’s two-run shot to pull within a run. But then another shaky outing from reliever Liam Hendriks coupled with a throwing error from shortstop Chad Pinder led to two more Seattle runs in the eighth that ultimately proved the difference.

The game ended with the Rangers’ Tony Zych painting the outside corner with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball to ring up Adam Rosales with the bases loaded, an A’s comeback rally thwarted.

“‘We had one other bases-loaded situation and didn’t get anything out of it, which hurt us at the time,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s easy just to look back at how the last inning played out, but there were some opportunities when we had a chance to score some runs.”

Primarily, there was the seventh. The A’s loaded the bases that inning, trailing 4-3, but Matt Joyce chased a third strike from Dan Altavilla and Jed Lowrie grounded to second.

What to make of this A’s offense? They rank fourth in the American League in homers and they’re tied with the Yankees and Rangers for most multi-homer games (17). But it’s all or nothing, as the A’s rank second-to-last in the league in runs scored, which is the only stat that ultimately matters. Their .205 average with runners in scoring position is the lowest in the majors, and missed opportunities are contributing to losses of the most frustrating variety.

“We should have won that ballgame — bottom line,” Vogt said.

Manaea put them in an early hole, walking four in a two-run first and giving up four runs but finishing strong in a crazy five-inning return from the disabled list.

The lefty said his issue was trying “to make things too fine when I should be out there attacking and making guys put the ball in play and trusting my defense. I just didn’t do that. … It’s tough, I try not to think like that. But sometimes it just happens like that.

“That’s just been the story of this whole season is walking guys. I just gotta figure out a way to eliminate them.”

Big picture, Melvin and Vogt both came away encouraged with the way Manaea steadied himself with three perfect innings to close his night.

Davis came away encouraged with his homer to dead center that capped a 12-pitch at-bat and snapped a string of 12 games without going deep.

An inning later, Vogt — who lives in Washington in the offseason and always has a big cheering section at Safeco Field — hit his first homer since Opening Night and ended a career-long streak of 27 games without a home run. He’s been working hard with hitting coach Darren Bush and assistant hitting coach Marcus Jensen to turn around what’s been a dismal start to his season.

“The whole season has been weighing on me offensively,” said Vogt, who’s hitting .217. “I really didn’t think about homers as much as just trying to see good pitches. I got away from that my first six weeks. I’m still battling that and trying to come out of that. I felt really good about my last week, unfortunately it didn’t matter tonight.”

Individual triumphs will have to do until the A’s find a way to get all parts of their game clicking.

A's notes: Mark Canha hits career-high 17th homer in win vs. Twins

A's notes: Mark Canha hits career-high 17th homer in win vs. Twins

OAKLAND — Mark Canha blasted a pinch-hit two-run home run to tie the game in the sixth inning Friday night. It was his 17th homer of the season, a new career high.

“That's kind of cool,” Canha said after the A's walked off the Twins in the 10th inning. “To know that you don't have a ceiling of 16, it's just kind of cool for me. I love home runs. My favorite part about the game is hitting home runs. Hopefully I can get to 20. That's kind of been a goal for me the past couple months.”

“[He's meant] a lot,” added manager Bob Melvin. “He plays multiple positions, knows how to come off the bench. ... He's ready for every situation. He's a lefty killer. ... He's a real weapon for us later on in the game and has been really for a few years now.”

Canha has hit 13 of his 17 home runs against left-handed pitchers, second most in the American League behind the Rangers' Joey Gallo.

--- The A’s scored seven or more runs in their eighth straight home game, setting a record for the longest streak in franchise history.

--- Blake Treinen leads MLB pitchers with a 0.83 ERA. He has allowed seven earned runs the entire season. Treinen has not allowed a hit in his last 13 1/3 innings, the second-longest streak in Oakland history.

--- Liam Hendriks has thrown seven straight scoreless first innings as an “opener.” He lowered his ERA to 2.35 in his seven starts this season.

--- Matt Chapman set an Oakland record with his league-leading 25th double since the All-Star break. Chapman also leads the majors with 41 extra-base hits since the Midsummer Classic.

--- Khris Davis set a career high with his 44th and 45th home runs of the season, fourth most in Oakland history and sixth most in A's history. This was his 22nd career multi-homer game, and his seventh this season.

--- Oakland starting pitchers have a streak of 35 consecutive games of seven innings or fewer. A's starters have pitched 798 innings this season. The fewest in a non-strike season in A's history is 858 2/3 in 1997.

--- The A’s have won eight of their last nine games against the Twins, and 17 of their last 20 at the Coliseum.

--- Oakland improved to 30-13 (.698 winning percentage) in one-run games, which is the best record in MLB. The A's record for winning percentage in one-run games is .698 (30-13) in 1928.

--- The A's are 38-19 since the All-Star break, which is the best record in the majors.

A's slugger Khris Davis stakes AL MVP claim with two homers vs. Twins

A's slugger Khris Davis stakes AL MVP claim with two homers vs. Twins

OAKLAND — Khris Davis probably isn't going to win the AL MVP award. Heck, he might not even finish in the top five. But after Friday night's performance, it became even more clear that there is no one in baseball more valuable to their team than the A's designated hitter.

Davis hit two more home runs, including a walk-off blast in the 10th inning, which sent the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum into a frenzy, followed immediately by boisterous chants of “MVP.”

“I was one of those (chanting),” A's manager Bob Melvin joked. “You look at his numbers and what he's meant to this team, he definitely needs to be in the conversation.”

“What do you say?" asked outfielder Mark Canha. "I'm at a loss for words. He does things that just leave you speechless. It's crazy.”

“I can't explain (the feeling),” Davis said. “There's not a better feeling in the world.”

Davis set a new career high with his 44th and 45th home runs of the season, four more than anyone else in MLB. His 119 RBI are also a career high and rank second in baseball, five behind Boston's J.D. Martinez.

“It's one-of-a-kind power,” Melvin marveled. “He's so strong. He uses his lower half well, but sometimes he loses his lower half and just kind of flicks it, and that means his hands and forearms are pretty strong. He keeps himself back just enough to drive it.”

“I thought it was a double, just the ball off my bat initially,” Davis said of his game-winning home run. “I was thinking, 'Get on second.' And then it just kept carrying, which is even better.”

Davis will likely finish behind Martinez and Mookie Betts of the Red Sox, Cleveland's Jose Ramirez, Houston's Alex Bregman, and Mike Trout of the Angels in the MVP voting. They are all admittedly terrific players, but are any of them truly as valuable to their team as Davis is to the A's?

Take Davis out of Oakland's lineup and it's a completely different team. Sure, Oakland has other good hitters. But Davis affects the way opposing pitchers approach the entire lineup. He is a constant in the back of their mind, lurking just beneath the surface.

“He's obviously awesome for us on the field,” Canha said. “He's an awesome teammate. We love the heck out of him.”

“It's pretty dramatic how he started the game and ended the game,” Melvin added. “He's as good a power hitter as anybody in the game.”

Davis' 45 home runs are already the fourth most in Oakland single-season history. He is trying to become the first A's player to lead MLB in homers since Mark McGwire in 1996.

“It would be a nice achievement,” Davis acknowledged. “But first and foremost, I want to get deep in the playoffs. That means a lot more.”