A's lose 5-3 to drop series in Seattle

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A's lose 5-3 to drop series in Seattle

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SEATTLE (AP) Brendan Ryan hit a two-run homer, Justin Smoak added a solo shot and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 5-3 on Sunday.Ryan's homer in the second inning was his first of the season. Seattle's starting shortstop hit three home runs last season, all of them coming on the road.Snapping streaks was the tone of the day. While Ryan hit his first homer before the home crowd, Smoak snapped a skid of 11 straight at-bats without a hit when he lined a solo homer to right field with two outs in the third off Graham Godfrey (0-2).Blake Beavan (1-1) threw seven strong innings. His only trouble came in the fifth when the first two batters reached and Eric Sogard followed with a three-run homer.The Mariners took two of three from the A's, thanks to the long ball and a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning that snapped a 3-all tie. Brandon League pitched the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances.Homers are expected to come off the bat of Smoak, who was one of the key pieces in the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Texas during the 2010 season. But Ryan might be the last person in Seattle's lineup expected to go deep.After fouling off three straight 2-2 pitches, Ryan hit a shot over the hand-operated scoreboard in left field. Ryan circled the bases so quickly there was barely a chance for the crowd to acknowledge the home run.And it was a two-strike pitch that Godfrey got beat on an inning later when Smoak lined a 3-2 pitch for his second homer of the season.While the home runs provided highlights, it was Seattle taking advantage of Oakland's defensive mistakes in the fifth that became the difference in the game.Chone Figgins walked with one out and Dustin Ackley followed with a chopper to second. Instead of making a pivot and overhand throw, Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks tried to make a back-handed flip and was well wide of the bag. Ichiro Suzuki followed with a double off the wall in right for a 4-3 lead and Smoak got himself another RBI when his tapper back to the mound was initially bobbled by Godfrey, allowing Ackley to score from third without a play at the plate.That was plenty for Beavan, who struck out four and didn't walk a batter. His only problem was one stretch of three batters in the top of the fifth. Kai Ka'aihue led off with a single and Anthony Recker's jersey was brushed by Beavan's inside pitch, putting two runners on with no outs. Sogard, who had just one hit in his first 11 at-bats this season, then hit his third career homer into the seats in right field.After the homer, Beavan was terrific. He retired the next three and nine of the final 10 batters before the Mariners went to their bullpen.NOTES: Oakland has yet to record 10 hits in any of its first 10 games this year. That matches the longest streak in Oakland history to begin a season. ... After playing each other seven times in the first couple of weeks, the Mariners and A's won't see each other again until late June in Seattle. ... Hall of Fame center Bill Russell threw out the first pitch on Sunday as part of the festivities honoring Jackie Robinson. Russell one-hopped his pitch to Chone Figgins, then posed for a picture with the 5-foot-8 Figgins.

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Kurt Suzuki is headed back to the National League.

After three seasons in the American League with the Twins, the former A's backstop has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Braves.

News of the agreement was first reported by SB Nation.

Suzuki will reportedly make $1.5 million, according to Fox Sports. He has a chance to make an addition $2.5 million in incentives.

The 33-year-old Suzuki was drafted by the A's in the second round of 2004 MLB Draft. He made his debut with Oakland in 2007 and was the starting catcher until a 2012 trade to Washington. A year later, the Nationals traded Suzuki back to the A's for the final five weeks of the season.

Prior to the 2014 season, Suzuki signed with Twins. In three seasons with Minnesota, Suzuki hit .263/.316/.364 with 75 doubles, 16 home runs and 160 RBI.

Suzuki will likely serve as a back-up to catcher Tyler Flowers.

Santiago Casilla signs, but who will close for the A's?

Santiago Casilla signs, but who will close for the A's?

Santiago Casilla says he’s returning to his baseball home, which requires only a trip across the Bay Bridge.

The A’s finalized a two-year $11 million contract with the former Giants closer Friday, adding him to a bullpen that has no shortage of late-inning relief options for manager Bob Melvin.

“There’s an old saying that it’s always good to return home, and I’m very happy to get this new opportunity with the Athletics,” Casilla said on a media conference call, via interpreter Manolo Hernandez Douen.

It’s “new” in that the 36-year-old Casilla spent the past seven seasons wearing black and orange. But his major league career is rooted in Oakland. The A’s signed him out of the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent back in 2000, and he spent his first six seasons with Oakland, the first two of those pitching under the name Jairo Garcia.

He’s since won three World Series rings with the Giants, including notching four saves during the 2014 postseason. His final season with San Francisco ended on a sour note last year, however, as he was demoted from the closer’s role during a rough September.

What role will he find in 2017?

Casilla, who reportedly can earn up to $3 million in incentives based on games finished, joins three other relievers in the A’s ‘pen who have legitimate big league closer’s experience — John Axford, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Doolittle was the closer entering last spring but shoulder problems derailed him for a second consecutive season. Madson handled the ninth for most of 2016 and notched 30 saves, but general manager David Forst made it clear Friday that the Opening Night closer has yet to be determined.

“We had a number of different guys save games last year,” Forst said. “… Santiago saved almost 80 games the last couple years. He’s got a lot of experience. As we talked to him and his representatives, he made it clear he’s willing to do anything. It’s great for Bob to have a number of options. It’ll sort itself out in spring training as to who the guy is to start the season.”

Doolittle, Axford, Ryan Dull and Zach Neal combined for 12 saves last season. But even though the A’s are fully stocked with ninth-inning options, it’s fair to question whether any of them is a clear-cut answer for the closer’s role as spring training nears.

Madson’s seven blown saves tied for second most in the American League. Doolittle hasn’t pitched a full season since 2014. Axford issued 4.11 walks per nine innings last year, and Dull’s biggest strength is his ability escape jams when entering mid-inning.

Casilla went 2-5 with a 3.57 ERA and 31 saves last season, striking out a career-best 10.1 per nine innings, but there was some turbulence. He was displeased with Giants manager Bruce Bochy last May after being pulled from a game. Then he struggled mightily in September and lost the closer’s role. Bochy didn’t call on him at all as the bullpen coughed up a ninth-inning lead to the Cubs in Game 4 of the NL Division Series that ended the Giants’ season. That decision had Casilla in tears after the game.

Asked Friday if he harbored any hard feelings toward the Giants, Casilla replied: “It’s a new year, a new team. I have left this in the past.”

Forst pointed to Casilla’s sustained velocity — his fastball averaged 93.6 miles per hour last season — and his expanded repertoire over his career as reasons why the A’s went after him.

“His numbers were really good — 65 strikeouts, 19 walks,” Forst said. “As we got through the offseason I think we thought he was being overlooked a little bit just because of the narrative surrounding his departure with the Giants. I wasn’t around and I don’t know what went on, but it seems like a few blown saves marred what otherwise was a fantastic season for him.”

In other news, the A’s signed veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training. Forst noted De Aza’s ability to play all three outfield spots and his speed as traits that caught the A’s attention.