Athletics

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 7-6 10-inning loss to Mariners

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 7-6 10-inning loss to Mariners

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — A degree of optimism permeates this A’s team due to the influx of young prospects now getting playing time.

But Tuesday night showed this is still a mistake-prone team that often is its own worst enemy. Three errors contributed to the A’s losing all of a four-run lead, and they dropped a 7-6 game in 10 innings to the Seattle Mariners to open a three-game series at the Coliseum.

Oakland led 6-2 after five innings, but the Mariners chipped away against Kendall Graveman and Oakland’s bullpen. A throwing error from Matt Chapman opened the gate to the Mariners’ tying rally in the eighth. Errors from shortstop Marcus Semien and right fielder Matt Joyce also pushed along Seattle scoring rallies.

Leonys Martin homered off Josh Smith in the top of the 10th to break a 6-6 tie. The A’s rallied in the bottom half against hard-throwing Seattle closer Edwin Diaz, but Chad Pinder struck out with two aboard and Matt Chapman flied out to right.

GRAVEMAN STILL TRYING TO FIND FORM: Kendall Graveman was better in his second start off the D.L. than his first, but the right-hander still wasn’t particularly sharp Tuesday. He went 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits before leaving plenty of work for his bullpen. Seattle scored twice off him to begin the comeback from its 6-2 deficit.

30/30 VISION: Khris Davis connected for his 30th homer, an opposite-field three-run shot in the first, as part of his four**-RBI night. That made Davis the first A’s hitter in 15 years to post back-to-back 30-homer seasons. It hadn’t been done since Miguel Tejada did it three straight years from 2000-02 and Eric Chavez did it from 2001-02.

STAY A WHILE: Matt Olson was promoted from Triple-A Nashville as expected, and the rookie will platoon at first base with Ryon Healy following the trade of Yonder Alonso to these very Mariners.

It’s the sixth call-up of this season alone for Olson, but the feeling is that this promotion is a long-term one. Olson ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League with 23 homers and his on-base, slugging and OPS percentages are all up from last season. Olson entered as a defensive replacement for Healy and singled in his only at-bat in the 10th.

“I said, you could unpack your bags,” manager Bob Melvin said of his conversation with Olson. “… I think he realizes that this time he actually gets to stick around for a while, and may have to find something other than a hotel.”

ROUGH RETURN: Matt Joyce, back after a two-game suspension for directing an anti-gay slur at a fan in Anaheim, struck out in all three of his plate appearances and was replaced by pinch hitter Jed Lowrie in the ninth.

ANOTHER SHOT FOR SMITH: Chris Smith will re-enter the rotation and make Thursday’s start against Baltimore. With Daniel Gossett being sent down, the A’s have an opening on their starting staff. The team was off Monday, creating some tinkering with the rotation, and Melvin said the idea was to keep Gossett pitching on his regular turn, even if it’s in the minors.

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

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USATI

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

Don’t count out top prospect Franklin Barreto as a possibility for the A’s in center field.

It’s long been speculated that the middle infielder might eventually get a look in center, and the idea has at least been discussed in team circles. It’s tied partially to whether the A’s exercise their $6 million club option on Jed Lowrie and bring him back as their regular second baseman in 2018.

Regardless, the battle to be Oakland’s everyday center fielder will be one of the A’s most intriguing storylines next spring. Grady Fuson, a special assistant to general manager David Forst who spends much of the season evaluating the team’s farm system, discussed several of the team’s center field options in the latest A’s Insider Podcast.

So much revolves around the health of 22-year-old Dustin Fowler, one of three prospects the A’s received from the Yankees for Sonny Gray. He’ll spend the winter continuing to rehab from a devastating knee injury suffered in his very first major league game in June while still with New York.

The A’s are hopeful he’ll be ready for spring training and believe he can be a solution in center.

“Fowler certainly is the guy we made this trade for, and I think everybody, top to bottom, in the system is counting on him taking that spot,” Fuson said. “But we all know he’s been hurt. How he comes back, who knows? Boog (Powell’s) been doing a very good job for us. And there’s other options.”

The 21-year-old Barreto, who has split time between second and short this season at Triple-A and with the big club, played some center in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2015. He’s always talked with enthusiasm about the idea.

The A’s experimented with another highly touted young infielder, Yairo Munoz, in center field in the minors this season.

“(We’ve) had discussions about taking Munoz out there, which we’ve done,” Fuson said. “We’ve had discussions about maybe Franklin Barreto, depending on what happens at second here at end of the year, over the winter, and early in camp.”

Lowrie has enjoyed a very strong season with Oakland, and A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has said the team is seriously considering picking up his option. Having Barreto be an option in center could be a way to keep him in the majors in 2018 even if Lowrie returns at second base.

Fuson stressed that the idea of Barreto in center hasn’t advanced past the early-discussion phase. No decisions have been made.

What’s interesting is that, in a short time, the A’s have gone from scarce few center field options to suddenly having several. Powell and Fowler may enter the spring as front runners, but Munoz, Jaycob Brugman, Chad Pinder, Jake Smolinski and, perhaps, Barreto may all have a shot too.

The A’s also used their first-round pick in June on high school center fielder Austin Beck, who represents another option down the road.

Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

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Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell has a history with foul tips and concussion concerns, so there was cause for concern after he took a direct shot during Wednesday's game against the Tigers.

With one out in the ninth inning, Tigers shortstop fouled a ball square into Maxwell's facemask. The A's catcher immediately fell backwards. As manager Bob Melvin and the team trainer checked on him, he appeared dazed and rubbed his eyes. In an attempt to try to stay in the game, reliever Liam Hendriks tossed two warmup pitches. Maxwell missed the first one, but even after he caught the second one, it was clear he wasn't right and was removed from the game.

Afterwards, Melvin was asked about Maxwell's status.

"He went through all the protocol. It doesn't look like a concussion at this point. We'll probably know more in the next couple of days," Melvin told reporters in Detroit. "Took a pretty good shot. More sore on his face because of where the impact was, which was right in the middle of his face."

Josh Phegley replaced Maxwell for the final two outs of the game. Hendriks managed to close out the 3-2 win for the A's.