SEATTLE — It wasn’t Turn Back The Clock Day at Safeco Field, but the A’s saw a rather vintage version of Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez.
The former Cy Young winner, who hasn’t been particularly sharp so far in an injury-marred season, held the A’s to two hits over six innings as Oakland lost 4-0 on Sunday. With that, they settled for a four-game split with the Mariners heading into the All-Star break.
The A’s are 39-50 at the intermission, their ninth worst record at the All-Star break in their Oakland history. It hasn’t been any one thing that’s landed them in last place in the AL West, but rather a collection of breakdowns that have surfaced at any given time. On Sunday, they couldn’t anything going offensively, advancing just one runner as far as third base and only one other as far as second.
Here’s five things you need to know from this one before the A’s head their separate ways for the four-day All-Star break:
Gossett’s day: Rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett has surrendered eight home runs in his first six big league starts. That’s a switch from the pitcher who gave up just four long balls in 60 2/3 innings for Triple-A Nashville before being promoted, but obviously the task is much different facing major league hitters. Nelson Cruz got to him for a two-run shot in the fourth. Gossett lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his final start of the first half and gave up three runs on five hits. Keeping the ball in the yard will have to be an emphasis coming out of the All-Star break.
Impressing with the glove: There’s no doubt third baseman Matt Chapman is struggling at the plate, but it sure hasn’t affected his defense. The rookie turned in his finest play yet in the field since being called up to the majors. In the second inning, Cruz hit a ball down the line. Chapman backhanded it and quickly unloaded an off-balance sidearm throw from foul territory that was a strike all the way across the diamond to get Cruz by several steps. It generated quite a reaction from the Mariners crowd. On the downside, Chapman went 0-for-3 with two more strikeouts, leaving him 2 for his past 24 with 13 strikeouts.
Cruz strikes again: Traditionally an A’s, killer, Cruz once again did damage with his two-run shot that gave Seattle a 3-0 lead. He also homered in Thursday’s series opener, which was the 300th homer of his career.
Bullpen shuffle: Sean Doolittle was called upon in a somewhat uncharacteristic scenario, with the A’s trailing 3-0. Doolittle handled the sixth and registered a 1-2-3 inning. With the All-Star break coming up, manager Bob Melvin probably didn’t mind going to his lefty on back-to-back days, even with the A’s trailing.
Rotation update: Melvin announced that Sonny Gray, Paul Blackburn and Sean Manaea will start the first three games out of the break against Cleveland.