OAKLAND – First the Raiders, now the A’s?
Oakland’s baseball team found itself connected to Las Vegas on Friday with the report that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred had brought up Las Vegas as a possible new home for either the A’s or the Tampa Bay Rays.
A’s management was quick to quell talk of an A’s move, reiterating that while the Raiders may be en route to Las Vegas, the A’s plans to announce the site and building schedule for a new Oakland baseball-only stadium remain on target.
“We’re building in Oakland,” team president Dave Kaval told the Bay Area News Group. “All of our effort is going into that. We’re working with all our stakeholders to get this done. We’re looking at four sites in Oakland and we’re on target to announce the site and the timeline this year. We’re committed to Oakland.”
All of this took place before the sun set. Once it did, the A’s put together homers from Trevor Plouffe and Yonder Alonso to earn Oakland’s season-best fourth consecutive win, 3-1 over the Seattle Mariners.
The A’s, now in second place in the American League West at 9-8, saw starter Sean Manaea allow one run in six innings before relievers Ryan Dull, Sean Doolittle and Santiago Casilla cleaned up.
Plouffe’s 100th career homer, his fourth in the last seven games, got Oakland into a 1-1 tie with the Mariners in the fifth. Alonso’s third homer of the season broke the tie in the sixth, and Stephen Vogt added a sacrifice fly later in the inning, a play set up by a Jed Lowrie double.
“It’s a cool personal achievement,” Plouffe said of his game-tying shot to center. “I don’t think of personal stats much during the year, but 100’s cool. It’s nice that it helped us in this game, got us back in the game.”
Your 100th career home is something to be cherished and shared, #Athletics Trevor Plouffe says. pic.twitter.com/eEt5zqKRSp
— John Hickey (@JHickey3) April 22, 2017
Although his power has picked up, Plouffe still isn’t where he wants to be with his swing as a whole.
“It’s definitely not where I want it to be; I’m still swinging and missing too much,” Plouffe said. “I’ve put some good swings on the ball. I’m happy that I’m not packing it in and calling it a day. I’m continuing to battle.”
The A’s, who struggled for homers last year, have hit 22 in 17 games this year, which has them tied for third in the American League, just two off the league lead. That’s a competition they were never in last year.
But after Plouffe tied the game, Alonso untied it with his third homer. Like a bunch of his teammates, Alonso is getting more lift in the ball this year, and he’s tracking pitches more carefully. When Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma made a mistake with an 84-mph fastball left over the middle of the plate, Alonso cashed in.
“I’m just trying to make sure I see a good pitch, and when I do to put the bat on the ball,” Alonso said. “It’s good that we’re hitting them. But we also have to understand that we have to do the little things.”
They did when Stephen Vogt, faced against lefty reliever James Pazos, fought off two 96-mph fastballs then delivered a fly ball that scored Jed Lowrie later in the sixth inning. It was that run that made a one-run game into a two-run game, and the
“That’s not the easiest task for Vogt right there,” manager Bob Melvin said. “The difference between one run and two is awfully big as the game goes along.”
First baseman Matt Olson was promoted from Triple-A Nashville by the A’s Friday with starter Cesar Valdez sent back to the same club. While Olson is primarily a first baseman, the A’s used him in right field last September with decent defensive results.
Kendall Graveman threw a bullpen session Friday and is likely to get a start next week when the A’s play a three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim.
Chris Bassitt impressed the A’s with the throwing session he had before Friday’s game, and he goes out Monday for a 45-pitch game in extended spring training in Arizona.
Center fielder Rajai Davis was out of the lineup as expected after suffering a hamstring strain running down the first base line Thursday. Davis said he’d see how he felt when he got to the field Saturday morning, but he was expected to get Saturday off as well. Melvin said the club wasn’t considering a DL move.”
The sixth-inning sacrifice fly from Vogt was Oakland’s eighth of the year, the most in the American League.
Valdez, sent down after making his first Major League appearance since 2010, got good review from the manager at his exit interview before heading back to Nashville. “He contributed to that game last night; it started with him,” Melvin said. “He did his job; unfortunately we had to send him down. But it would not surprise me if he’s back at some point.”
Reliever John Axford’s strained right shoulder isn’t responding as quickly as the A’s had hoped. He made some sock throws earlier in the week, but felt some discomfort, so the club had him stop for the moment. “We thought he would play catch this week,” Melvin said. “That’s not the case.”