Athletics

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's go 0-6 on road trip

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's go 0-6 on road trip

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE — The A’s must be happy they’re heading home after a winless six-game road trip that concluded Sunday.

The Mariners would have liked them to stick around a bit longer.

They took three in a row from Oakland and climbed to within 2 1/2 games of the American League’s second Wild Card spot with Sunday’s 10-2 victory. Before arriving in the Pacific Northwest, the A’s were swept by the Los Angeles Angels, who themselves are fighting for a postseason spot.

This isn’t the way the A’s want to impact the playoff race. After sweeping the Rangers at home last week, they’ve dropped a season-high tying six in a row and are 3-6 in this stretch of 15 consecutive games against AL West opponents.

Seattle lefty Andrew Albers (3-1) held the A’s hitless until the sixth Sunday, when Matt Olson hit an opposite field homer to pull the A’s to within 3-1. It felt like the A’s were trailing by more all afternoon however. They were out-hit 17-5, with the Mariners pouring it on with three runs in the eighth inning.

Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger went 4-for-5 with two RBI and a homer. For the series, Seattle hit eight homers total off A’s pitching.

STRUGGLING STARTERS: One of the themes of the 0-6 trip was Oakland starters not pitching deep enough into games. Rookie Daniel Gossett (3-8) had trouble locating the strike zone and lasted just 3 2/3 innings, the third time in six games on the trip that the A’s starter went four innings or less. Gossett walked five, gave up three runs and threw just 46 strikes compared to 43 balls among his 89 pitches.

ROUGH RETURN: Top prospect Franklin Barreto spelled Jed Lowrie at second base, his first action since being recalled from the minors Friday. Barreto went 0-for-4, striking out swinging in his first two at-bats and grounding into a double play as the A’s were trying to rally from a 5-2 deficit in the eighth. Before the game, manager Bob Melvin said Barreto is likely to get a little time at shortstop as well as second base before the season wraps.

OLSON REBOUNDS: After a rough game Saturday, first baseman Matt Olson drove in both A’s runs Sunday as part of a 2-for-3 day. Ryon Healy typically plays first base against lefty pitchers, but Melvin said the A’s envision Olson as an everyday player in the future, and he wanted Olson to face a left-hander. The night before, Olson struck out twice and committed two errors.

ALONSO HURTS HIS OLD TEAM: Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso homered Saturday and singled to assist the game winning rally that night. On Sunday, he drove in another run as part of Seattle’s 17-hit attack. The A’s traded the All-Star to the Mariners on Aug. 6 for outfielder Boog Powell.

MORE ADDITIONS ON THE WAY: After Triple-A Nashville wraps up its season Monday, the A’s will call up more players to supplement their roster. Third baseman/outfielder Renato Nunez will be one of those, and Melvin mentioned perhaps another position player. Right now, given the struggles of Oakland’s starters, some pitching reinforcements appear the most crucial need.

“You always feel like you maybe have enough, and then something transpires and you don’t wanna get caught short,” Melvin said Sunday morning, before Gossett went out and lasted just 3 2/3 innings.

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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USATSI

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.