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.

Report: A's bringing back former slugger first baseman

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USATSI

Report: A's bringing back former slugger first baseman

The A's hit a lot of home runs and they appear to be bringing back a player that hits a lot of home runs.

Chris Carter, who played for the A's from 2010 through 2012, is reportedly signing a minor league contract to return to the organization.

News of the deal was first reported by FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

Carter was released by the Yankees on July 10. In 62 games for New York, Carter hit .201/.284/.370 with five doubles, eight home runs and 26 RBI.

Over the previous four seasons between Houston and Milwaukee, Carter hit 131 home runs and drove in 328 runs.

Carter's high-water mark with the A's came in 2012 when he hit 16 home runs in 67 games.

Sonny Gray keeps dealing, A's avoid sweep with win over Rays

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Sonny Gray keeps dealing, A's avoid sweep with win over Rays

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — Sonny Gray struck out six pitching into the seventh in what might have been his final home start in Oakland if the club tries to deal him before the trade deadline, and the Athletics rallied in the fifth inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 on Wednesday.

Matt Joyce hit a towering homer to the right-field seats in the eighth for Oakland.

Rajai Davis doubled home Oakland's first run in the fifth then Joyce followed with a tying sacrifice fly before Davis scurried home with the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

Gray (6-4) won his third straight start and fourth in five. When speculation arose from the White Sox side before his Friday outing that the right-hander had been scratched because of a possible deal, the A's quickly announced that he was indeed taking the mound for his scheduled outing.

After a pair of one-run defeats to begin this series, the A's avoided being swept by the Rays in Oakland for the first time. This already marked just their third lost series at home to Tampa Bay.

Gray allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings with two walks.

The Rays got three straight singles off Gray to start the fourth inning, including an RBI single by Wilson Ramos. Brad Miller also drove in a run on a groundout.

But Oakland finally got to Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Faria (4-1) in the fifth. With seven straight quality starts to begin his career, Faria took his first big league loss.

A's All-Star Yonder Alonso hit an RBI single in the inning, when Faria had two of his four walks. He allowed six hits and four runs in five innings, striking out four.

Alonso was thrown out at home in the first when he tried to go from first on Khris Davis' double to right. The throw beat him so handily Alonso didn't even try to slide and instead ran behind the plate before turning for the dugout.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: RF Steven Souza Jr. exited the game in the first after straining his left hip trying to steal second after drawing a leadoff walk to start the game. Shane Peterson replaced him. X-rays were negative and he will be re-evaluated once the team arrives home. ... Manager Kevin Cash said LHP Blake Snell would make his next turn in the rotation despite still being winless at 0-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 11 starts. "He's going to pitch well," Cash said.

Athletics: The A's hope to have Chad Pinder back from the DL and a strained left hamstring when they return home from an upcoming seven-game trip to the New York Mets and Toronto. Manager Bob Melvin plans to use him as a utilityman. ... RHP Kendall Graveman allowed five hits and four runs with one strikeout and a walk on 46 pitches in 2 1/3 innings with Triple-A Nashville rehabbing his strained pitching shoulder. RHP Jharel Cotton (blister on his right thumb) also pitched in the game, striking out six in 3 1/3 innings, while Pinder was 0 for 2 with a walk and strikeout for the Sounds.

UP NEXT

Rays: With the Rays back home, RHP Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.59 ERA) takes the ball in Friday's series opener against Yu Darvish and Texas having not faced the Rangers since April 6, 2014.

Athletics: After Thursday's day off following a cross-country flight, RHP Paul Blackburn (1-0, 1.83 ERA) pitches the series opener at the Mets in his fourth career start.