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A’s slug 5 homers, but bullpen falters twice

Khrush slugs first homers since April 12; Melvin tossed in the 8th
@DKramer_
May 14, 2019

SEATTLE -- The A’s road woes continue. Oakland dropped Monday’s game against the Mariners, 6-5, at T-Mobile Park to open a nine-game, 10-day road trip, after Joakim Soria surrendered back-to-back two-out hits to Domingo Santana and Omar Narvaez in the bottom of the 10th that Seattle rode to a walk-off

SEATTLE -- The A’s road woes continue.

Oakland dropped Monday’s game against the Mariners, 6-5, at T-Mobile Park to open a nine-game, 10-day road trip, after Joakim Soria surrendered back-to-back two-out hits to Domingo Santana and Omar Narvaez in the bottom of the 10th that Seattle rode to a walk-off victory.

The A’s have lost 14 games this season away from the Coliseum, one shy of the MLB-worst 15 by the Reds.

Box score

There were unique quirks throughout Monday night's three-hour, 47-minute affair that made it one of Oakland’s odder contests this year. Here’s a breakdown of a few things that stood out.

The bullpen blew two saves -- and from its best relievers

Soria wasn’t the only Oakland reliever credited with a blown save. Lou Trivino also took one after he gave up a three-run homer to Daniel Vogelbach -- off a 97.6-mph, middle-middle fastball -- in the eighth that tied the game.

With Blake Treinen and Ryan Buchter unavailable after each pitched twice during last weekend’s series against Cleveland, Oakland needed more length out of Trivino and Soria, who have been their two best relief arms.

Before Monday, Soria hadn't been scored upon in nine of his past 10 outings. In the 10th, which was Soria’s second inning, he walked Vogelbach (who was pinch-run for by Dee Gordon), then Santana turned on a four-seamer that just barely stayed fair down the left-field line, and Narvaez waited on a curveball that was off the plate away.

"I think what hurt me was the walk. I was a little bit out of gas, but it's part of the game. ... We're all over there trying to help this team win. Obviously, we've been pitching a lot. It's just part of the job. Sometimes you have to go out there and try to support your teammates, and if you can give two innings or more, that's a plus for us."

"It was flat,” Trivino said of the hanging fastball to Vogelbach. “I was trying to go two-seam down, and instead, it just stayed straight for him to hit, and to his credit, he hit it."

The A’s bullpen won’t get another breather until Wednesday’s off-day. As a unit, A’s relievers lead MLB with 2.3 Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs, but they have shown more vulnerability than they did last year, when they were arguably the Majors’ best.

“Our bullpen has been pitching pretty well here recently, too,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We've been a little back and forth with it, but with the workload that we've had recently, with the extra-inning games and so forth, you're not going to have everybody available. So you do the best you can with what you have, and we still have a lot of confidence in Soria."

All five runs came from solo homers

The A’s made some unique history in how they manufactured runs on Monday -- all five came via solo homers, marking the first time they’ve exclusively scored that many runs on solo shots since May 22, 1996.

If there was a positive on Monday, it was that Khris Davis, Matt Olson and Mark Canha showed not only that they appear healthy, but that they can also provide a much-needed punch to a lineup that ran to the postseason last summer largely by doing damage.

Each homered, including Davis twice, to back a solid start from Mike Fiers in his first outing since throwing a no-hitter last Tuesday. Ramon Laureano also homered in the 10th, which looked like it’d be the game-winner before the Mariners’ comeback.

"It's a game we feel like we can win,” Melvin said. "We had a couple of opportunities to do it, but obviously we didn't. We've got some guys that are coming back. We're a lot healthier now and I think the offense should pick up because of it."

Davis, who missed most of a five-game stretch last week after slamming his left hip into the wall in Pittsburgh on May 5, hadn’t homered since April 12 -- a 20-game stretch that is his longest since joining the Athletics in 2016.

"I feel like we definitely got it in us,” Davis said. “We know our identity offensively, and it's going to come and go. You've just got to manage it. We've got to manage it."

Melvin was ejected for the first time in in ‘19

Melvin was tossed for the first time this season after Vogelbach’s game-tying homer, but it was related to a call in the at-bat prior.

Melvin argued with home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn over a called-ball four to Edwin Encarnacion that directly preceded Vogelbach’s homer on the pitch prior. Statcast suggested the call should’ve been strike three.

The call proved paramount, as it allowed the Mariners an extra baserunner. Had Encarnacion been called out, Vogelbach’s homer would still have left the Mariners with a one-run deficit, and they didn’t score again until the 10th.

“Everybody saw that,” Melvin said. “It had an effect.”

"From my vantage point, I thought it was a strike, but at the same time, I didn't put myself in a position to succeed, and one call good or bad shouldn't decide the whole entire outing,” Trivino said. “It was my fault."

Earlier in the game, play was halted when Mariners reliever Cory Gearrin was informed by the umpires via Major League Baseball that the toe tap within his delivery is illegal. The umpires then corresponded with the league over headsets similar to when a play is challenged, but the A’s -- who Gearrin pitched for last season -- did not incite the dispute over the delivery.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.