ANAHEIM — Among the large group of players sitting in the A’s joyous clubhouse enjoying a postgame meal Sunday was Yonder Alonso.
The All-Star first baseman found out he was traded to Seattle in the morning as A’s players were just arriving to Angel Stadium. He stuck around and had to like what he saw as his former teammates battled from a five-run deficit to beat the Los Angeles Angels 11-10 in one of Oakland’s most improbable victories of the year.
Certainly one person who will miss Alonso is Bruce Maxwell. The A’s catcher, who has slumped badly of late, came through big in the eighth, lining a two-run single off Angels closer Bud Norris that capped the A’s five-run rally that inning. They strung together six hits in a row, all with two outs.
The A’s have seen their share of veteran teammates shipped off this season, but of the Alonso trade, Maxwell said:
“That’s one that hits a little closer to home for me, him being my locker mate last year and being like a brother.”
Alonso, who often talks of the importance of team unity, veteran leadership and camaraderie, was in no hurry to leave his A’s teammates. He accompanied the A’s on their team charter back to Oakland after the game, gearing up for what’s sure to be an odd couple of days for him.
His new team, the Mariners, are off Monday and begin a two-game series against the A’s at the Coliseum on Tuesday. So Alonso enjoyed one last plane ride with players he’ll be opposing on the field come Tuesday.
He’s looking forward to joining Seattle, which is fighting for an American League Wild Card spot.
“I know a lot of those guys over there,” Alonso said of the Mariners.
It’s silly to make too much of one victory in August for a team saddled in last place as the A’s are. But surely for manager Bob Melvin, Sunday’s stirring comeback was the kind of grittiness he wanted to see from his team on a day yet another key veteran was sent packing.
“There’s just no quit,” Melvin said. “We’ve talked about this group for a while now. They like to play. You persevere, you battle through and give yourself a chance at the win and come up with some really good at-bats. That was an all-around team win.”
The Mariners claimed Alonso on revocable waivers, meaning the A’s could have pulled him off the waiver wire, simply let the Mariners take him and assume his salary or work out a trade. They did the latter, receiving minor league outfielder Boog Powell in return. Powell, a one-time A’s farm hand who was drafted in 2012, will head to Triple-A Nashville.
The trade was all about opening up a spot for highly regarded prospect Matt Olson to finally come up from Nashville and get an extended big league shot with Oakland. Melvin said the left-handed hitting Olson will platoon at first with Ryon Healy. Olson can also play the corner outfield spots.
“We wish (Alonso) the best,” Melvin said. “He’s done a great job for us, not only been productive for us, but a great resource for our younger guys. He’s probably going into a little better situation for him as far as the record goes. But it’s time for Matt Olson to get a chance to play here. This guy, a couple years ago, was our top prospect and does a lot of things really well.”
Chad Pinder, one of those young players who are now the emphasis for the A’s, went 4-for-5 Sunday and finished just a triple short of the cycle. The A’s took two of three from the Angels after they’d lost seven in a row at Angel Stadium.
“When our guys are seeing the ball and clicking at the plate, these young guys, we can do some damage,” Maxwell said.