The road gets no easier for A's as they wobble home from 1-5 trip

The road gets no easier for A's as they wobble home from 1-5 trip

SEATTLE — The A’s hit the road one week ago as a confident bunch with designs on climbing upward in the American League West standings.

They return home to quite a different story, having completed a disheartening two-city road trip that saw them drop five of six, including Wednesday’s 4-0 blanking by the Seattle Mariners that saw the A’s fail to advance a runner past first base.

Compounding things, first baseman Yonder Alonso exited Wednesday’s game in the seventh inning with a sore left knee after twisting it while trying to hold up on a swing in the fifth. He’ll be re-evaluated in Oakland and his status for Thursday’s series opener against the Boston Red Sox is up in the air.

Where exactly did things go wrong for Oakland as a team over the past week? That’s just it. If the A’s could pinpoint just one area to correct, they could start working to fix it. But in getting swept at Texas, their bullpen was the culprit. In Monday’s series opener at Safeco Field, starter Sean Manaea spotted the Mariners four early runs with faulty command.

Errors have bit them regardless of the day and made things tougher. And on Wednesday, one night after hitting three homers and scoring nine runs, the A’s offense was bottled up by Mariners right-hander Christian Bergman, who registered his first major league victory as a starter since September 2014.

“Offensively, I don’t know that we’ve looked much worse,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Now, you’ve got to give their pitcher some credit. He was on the corners, down at times. He had a little cutter. … (But) I didn’t expect that.”

It’s only mid-May, but the big picture already is beginning to look bleak for the A’s.

They were seven games out and tied for third place after completing a 4-2 homestand May 10. A week later, they are 11 1/2 games off the pace and mired in last place. Their 1-5 trip coincided with the first-place Astros rattling off a 9-1 stretch. Texas has won eight in a row to climb into a share of second place with the Angels, winners of four straight. But because the Astros aren’t taking their foot off the gas, the Rangers and Angels are stuck eight games back.

Not that the A’s are in position to worry about the outside world right now. They’ve got enough issues on their plate. The most pressing immediate concern is the health of Alonso. He said after the game he doesn’t feel his knee is a major concern, but he also wasn’t venturing a guess on whether he’d be in Thursday’s lineup.

“I was stopping my swing halfway and just got a little bit stuck,” Alonso said. “… I was trying to pivot. My whole body just turned and my back foot never really turned.”

Alonso cooled off at the plate during the trip, going 2-for-19. But it goes without saying that the A’s can’t afford to lose their home run and RBI leader for any length of time.

Oakland (17-23) now returns home and faces a daunting stretch of schedule, starting with four against the Red Sox, who will send Chris Sale to the mound Friday. The A’s catch a breather for two games against the Miami Marlins (14-25), but then hit the road to face the AL East-leading New York Yankees and the defending AL champion Cleveland Indians. They’ll return home from that six-game trip and welcome the Washington Nationals, who lead the NL East by a wide margin.

Regardless, the A’s need to focus on playing more fundamentally sound baseball regardless of who’s in the opposing dugout.

“I think as a group we know we can play a lot better,” right fielder Matt Joyce said. “We’ve just got to find a way to do it. Come back tomorrow, face a new team and start over again.”

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Mets rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 Saturday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda delivered a tying single with two outs in the eighth off left-hander Daniel CoulombeJay Bruce hit a two-run homer in the sixth to begin New York's comeback, and Jose Reyes tripled twice.

Flores connected on a 96 mph fastball from Simon Castro (0-1), sending a line drive to left field for the second game-ending homer of his career. That sent a frenzied crowd of 39,629 home happy - hours after fans lined up early in the heat outside Citi Field to get their Noah Syndergaard as Thor bobbleheads.

Matt Joyce hit a leadoff home run and Matt Chapman added a prodigious shot for Oakland, which scored four in the first off struggling Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Sean Manaea took a shutout into the sixth but then wilted after throwing a career-high 115 pitches Sunday in his previous start, a win against Cleveland.

Hansel Robles (6-1) tossed a hitless inning to win for the second straight day.

MAN ON THE MOVE:
With Mets second baseman Neil Walker nearing a return from the disabled list, perhaps Monday in San Diego, Asdrubal Cabrera made his first major league start at third and played flawless defense after working out at the position once. Cabrera's only previous appearance at the hot corner came during his rookie season in 2007 with Cleveland. "He's a middle infielder who's going to play third base. Got great hands, great arm. He'll be fine," manager Terry Collins said. Cabrera initially balked at shifting from shortstop to second when he came off the DL about a month ago.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Athletics: Ryon Healy had a pinch-hit single after getting hit near the left temple by a bad-hop grounder Friday night. Healy went through the concussion protocol and was cleared, manager Bob Melvin said. ... Melvin said he would have news after the game regarding RHP Jharel Cotton, on the DL since July 4 with a blister on his right thumb. Cotton threw a bullpen Friday. Oakland needs a starter for Monday night at Toronto. ... INF-OF Chad Pinder (strained left hamstring) homered Friday on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville and could come off the DL when Oakland begins a homestand next weekend. "That's kind of the target area," Melvin said.

Mets: Walker (left hamstring) went 1 for 3 with Triple-A Las Vegas at Memphis in the first game of rehab assignment. The switch-hitter has been on the DL since June 15. ... LHP Josh Smoker threw a scoreless sixth in his first outing since coming off the disabled list Thursday. Smoker had been sidelined since June 14 with a strained left shoulder.

UP NEXT:
Oakland rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-5, 5.79 ERA) makes his eighth career start in Sunday's series finale against RHP Rafael Montero (1-6, 5.40). Gossett has given up 10 homers in 37 1/3 innings after yielding only four in 60 2/3 innings at Triple-A.

Healy exits early, Blackburn suffers first loss with A's

Healy exits early, Blackburn suffers first loss with A's

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Michael Conforto hit a pair of two-run homers and Jerry Blevins rescued the Mets' bullpen with a five-out save as New York held off the Oakland Athletics 7-5 on Friday night for its third straight victory.

T.J. Rivera put the Mets ahead in the sixth inning with a two-run single that turned into a Little League home run. Rivera came all the way around to score on the play after third baseman Matt Chapman, trying to get Rivera at second, threw the ball away into right field for a costly error that made it 5-3.

Moments earlier, New York loaded the bases when Lucas Duda's bad-hop infield single struck first baseman Ryon Healy near the temple. Healy left the game and walked off under his own power with a swollen bruise next to his left eye.

Conforto's second homer made it 7-3 in the seventh. Oakland rallied for two in the eighth, but Blevins replaced closer Addison Reed with the bases loaded and got five straight outs against his former team for his fifth major league save and first this season.

Normally a lefty specialist, Blevins recorded five outs in a game for the first time since 2014 with Washington. He retired All-Star slugger Yonder Alonso on a foul popup and struck out Khris Davis to escape the eighth-inning jam.

"We just tried to find some matchups that worked," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Yoenis Cespedes had three hits after raising eyebrows when he told the San Francisco Chronicle before the game that he wants to play the final season of his career in Oakland, his first big league team.

Cespedes, who signed a $110 million, four-year contract in the offseason to remain with the Mets, also said A's manager Bob Melvin is his favorite skipper and he doesn't think there's a better one.

"Bob's a great manager. I don't blame him," Collins said after the game. "This is the first I've heard of it."

After the game, Cespedes clarified his comments while speaking with reporters through a translator and said he meant no disrespect toward Collins or the Mets.