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.

Jed Lowrie hopes A's front office recognizes opportunity this year

Jed Lowrie hopes A's front office recognizes opportunity this year

The Oakland A's last made the playoffs in 2014. Beginning about a month after Salvador Perez walked Oakland off in the 12th inning of the AL Wild Card Game, the A's began the process of reshaping their team, trading away key players such as All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson and letting others walk away in free agency.

Oakland second baseman Jed Lowrie, who's set to appear in his first-ever MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, was one of those players. Naturally, the 34-year-old has a unique perspective, now that his A's have the sixth-best record in baseball. 

On Monday, Pedro Martinez asked Lowrie on MLB Network if the A's are going to stay together this time.

"You know, I've been in Oakland when we've actually added pieces," Lowrie said. "And I think that front office knows an opportunity when they see it, and hopefully they see the opportunity this year because I think we've got a good group."

His bosses might be one step ahead of him. A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Bean told The Athletic on Friday that his team is prepared to add at the trade deadline. General manager David Forst, meanwhile, told Jim Rome last week that his team "deserves a chance to stay together."

Does Lowrie believe it? 

“Like I said, it’s a smart group, and I think they recognize an opportunity when it presents itself,” Lowrie added in the MLB Network interview.

At 55-42, the A's might just have that opportunity. 

A's top prospect Jesus Luzardo honors Stoneman Douglas High School at Futures Game

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AP

A's top prospect Jesus Luzardo honors Stoneman Douglas High School at Futures Game

While A's top prospect Jesus Luzardo was impressing scouts with his arm at Sunday's MLB Futures Game, all eyes should have been on his feet. 

A graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the 20-year-old Luzardo wore cleats honoring the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida school. 

“It’s for those who passed and the people affected,” Luzardo told USA Today's Ted Berg before his start on Sunday. “After what happened, I’m glad to be here representing them — we have [Stoneman Douglas alum and Cubs first baseman Anthony] Rizzo, we have other guys. But it’s always good to be known that I went to Stoneman Douglas. I’m happy that I grew up there.”

Born in Peru, Luzardo and his family moved to Parkland when he was a baby. Luzardo told USA Today's Ted Berg he was supposed to be at his alma mater on Feb. 14, in order to throw batting practice to his old team, but stayed away from campus after coach Todd Fitz-Gerald told him there was an active shooter. 

Luzardo's honored the victims in his community elsewhere, too. He set up a YouCaring.com fundraiser to create a scholarship fund in honor of one of the victims, athletic director Chris Hixon. The fund has raised already just over $10,060, and is about $5000 shy of its $15,000 goal. 

The A's acquired Luzardo in a midseason trade with the Washington Nationals last season. Luzardo, who MLB.com ranked as the No. 60 prospect in baseball entering the season, moved up to Double-A this season. In 13 starts with the Midland RockHounds, Luzardo has pitched 63.2 innings with a 2.54 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.