Athletics

Instant Replay: Mariners rough up Graveman, rout A's 14-3

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Instant Replay: Mariners rough up Graveman, rout A's 14-3

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OAKLAND — He’s been a steadying force for the A’s rotation in 2016, but Kendall Graveman had an afternoon to forget Saturday.

That it came against Seattle wasn’t a surprise.

The Mariners have had Graveman’s number this season, and that continued in their 14-3 demolishing of the A’s at the Coliseum. Graveman got tagged for eight earned runs and 12 hits, both career highs, in five-plus innings.

Thus, a matchup against Felix Hernandez that had the makings of a pitcher’s duel instead became a laugher. Graveman (10-10) came in having allowed just four earned runs over his previous three starts, with a 9-3 record and 3.18 ERA over his past 18 outings dating back to May. But the Mariners remain a riddle he can’t solve. Graveman is 0-3 with a 7.48 ERA in four starts against Seattle in 2016.

Nelson Cruz has been the biggest thorn in his side, and the Mariners cleanup man went 3-for-3 against him with two doubles and three RBI Saturday. For his career, Cruz is 10-for-15 against Graveman. Leadoff man Nori Aoki also did damage, with two doubles, the second of which scored two runs in the sixth and chased Graveman, with Seattle leading 8-0.

It’s been an odd homestand from a pitching standpoint, with the A’s having allowed three runs or fewer in four of the games, but 10 runs or more in the other four. Saturday’s loss also ensured the A’s (60-81 overall) finish with a losing record at home for a second consecutive season. Only three previous times in Oakland history have they posted back-to-back sub-.500 records at home.

Starting pitching report:
Things took a wrong turn early for Graveman, and that’s unusual. He entered the day with the third-lowest ERA in the first inning in the league (1.33). But Aoki led the game off with a double and eventually scored on Robinson Cano’s double-play grounder. With the bases empty, Graveman couldn’t close the inning out. Cruz doubled and Kyle Seager scored him with a single to right. It was the first time Graveman allowed any runs in the first since May 24. He turned in a scoreless second, but the Mariners struck for four in the third. Cruz lined a two-run double to the left field wall with the bases loaded. Jesus Sucre dribbled an infield single that scored another and Ben Gamel’s fielder’s choice grounder brought a run home. Anki’s two-run double in the sixth finally ended Graveman’s day.

Bullpen report:
J.B. Wendelken relieved Graveman and struck out Seth Smith and Cruz to finish the sixth. But Seattle poured it on with six more in the seventh, with five of those runs behind charged to Wendelken in his 1 1/3 innings.

At the plate:
Given a comfy early lead, Hernandez (11-5) blanked the A’s over six innings before leaving things to his bullpen. He improved to 12-3 lifetime at the Coliseum. But the A’s haven’t been scoring many runs regardless of opponent. They’re averaging just 2.79 runs per game over the past 14 contests, and two of their most important run producers have gone very cold. Cleanup man Khris Davis is just 6-for-47 (.128) with 21 strikeouts over his last 14 games. No. 3 hitter Stephen Vogt snapped an 0-for-18 streak with a first-inning single, but he’s hitting just .184 (25-for-136) over his last 39 games.

Ryon Healy provided something to cheer about with a two-run homer in the eighth. He has eight homers and is hitting .290 in 51 games.

In the field:
The Mariners committed the game’s only error, which brought the A’s first run home in the seventh on Joey Wendle’s grounder to third.

Attendance:
The announced turnout was 18,438.

Up next:
After struggling big-time with his command in his big league debut, Raul Alcantara (0-1, 15.00) takes the mound for his second career start in Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. series finale. The Mariners counter with lefty James Paxton (4-6, 4.03), who is making his first start against the A’s since Sept. 2014.

MLB rumors: A's looking at San Jose Giants stadium as alternate site

MLB rumors: A's looking at San Jose Giants stadium as alternate site

The A's might get to use San Jose after all.

Years after the A's unsuccessfully tried to move to the South Bay, they could send their pool players there to work out.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported Tuesday night, citing two sources, that the A's are looking at Excite Ballpark, the home of the San Jose Giants, the High-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

Excite Ballpark is approximately 40 minutes south of the Coliseum, so if the A's need to get a player to Oakland quickly, it's the best option.

The A's originally wanted to use Banner Island Ballpark, the home of their High-A affiliate in Stockton, but as Slusser reports, the rising number of coronavirus cases in San Joaquin County is a growing concern.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Banner Island Ballpark is an hour east of the Oakland Coliseum.

Last Friday, A's general manager David Forst addressed the issue of an alternate site for the players that don't make the 30-man Opening Day roster.

“That has not been easy,” Forst told reporters. “We’re working on that. We have a lot of players and staff members waiting by the phone anxious to hear when they’re leaving and when they’re going. I’m spending a lot of time working on that, as are a lot of other people.”

[RELATED: A's home-field advantage won't be same]

Forst also mentioned the ever-evolving situation with the coronavirus, and how it factors into the decision of where to send the players and coaches.

“Stockton is in the mix,” Forst said. “Anywhere we’ve looked around here, the situation with the virus is a factor. San Joaquin County, Stanislaus County -- we’ve looked around Alameda County -- how each county is handling things and their particular orders come into play when we’re looking into alternate sites.”

The A's are set to open the 2020 MLB season on July 24 against the Los Angeles Angels, so Forst and the front office still have a little time to sort through the options and lock in an alternate site.

Marcus Semien embraces leadership role to keep A's safe amid coronavirus

Marcus Semien embraces leadership role to keep A's safe amid coronavirus

Marcus Semien reached out to general manager David Forst before the A’s started their three-week training camp at Oakland Coliseum.

The shortstop told his GM that he’s going to take a leadership role in making sure A's players are staying as safe as possible during baseball’s return to work.

Semien is a Bay Area native and a full-time resident here. He sees how seriously people are taking the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and wants to make sure the A’s act the same way. It’s not just about keeping 42 finely tuned athletes healthy. It’s about more vulnerable parts of the A’s staff still going about their business.

Forst came away thoroughly impressed. Semien talked about setting a good example, and at times being a traffic cop.

“There are a lot of ways you can do it., especially amongst the group,” Semien said in a Tuesday video conference. “We talked today about it, reminding people that if you see someone not following the protocols, I have no problem reminding someone to put a mask on. It’s not me trying to be a stickler. Everybody understands why it’s important. With the testing system that we have, it’s known that we don’t get results right away. That means you have to do everything you can to be safe at all times.”

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Major League Baseball’s testing system has already caused some hiccups. The A’s full squad couldn’t get on the field Sunday because they’re intake results got delayed over the Fourth of July holiday. They had to wait until Monday night to take the field while results were processed. There were a bunch of elite ball players waiting in the parking lot for the green light to start work

“There was a possibility that we could get sent home if we didn’t get the results in, but we told [A”s manager Bob Melvin] that we would wait to hear what they were,” Semien said. “For everybody who is negative, we were able to get in the building. It was a little later than we wanted to do it, but I’m glad we got the work in last night so we could have a good day today.”

The A’s played a simulated game Tuesday afternoon, and Semien had a groundout, a double off the wall and a single up the middle. It was clear he enjoyed just talking baseball as MLB tries to return to work while trying to keep infections to a minimum.

The game should be the same between the foul lines, though Semien gladly accepts the additional responsibility. He’ll try to match the career-year of 2019 on the field while increasing his leadership role at a time when he needs it most.

“It’s a tough one, and it’s why I’m going to be as safe as I can be. I’m not just going to be thinking about myself,” Semien said. “I’m thinking about teammates, coaches, my family. That’s something that we have to live with off the field anyway. We get to do what we love and go back to work. We’re all in good spirits because of that. The testing thing, I’m hearing it could get better. It’s still early in the process and I knew there would be some hiccups along the way. As long as we can minimize the positive tests, it’ll get better over time.”

[RELATED: Diekman says MLB coronavirus testing delays 'just can't happen']

Forst is thankful to have someone like that in the clubhouse to make sure everyone’s adhering as closely as possible to the safety protocols.

“Everybody is in this together,” Forst said. “That was something that Marcus relayed to me unsolicited and I really appreciated that, and I trust that he'll lead those conversations with teammates and that we'll have other guys step up and do the same thing."