OAKLAND — The A’s won’t be playing in the postseason come October. They haven’t even truly been in a playoff race over the past two seasons, which is probably why the remarkable numbers Khris Davis has put up over that span have been kept in relative obscurity.
Khris Davis tied his career high for home runs in a season he set last year by blasting his 42nd. The two-run homer to right-center, where most of his mammoth shots go, came off a 1-0 pitch from James Paxton to put the A’s ahead by a run in the sixth inning of an eventual 6-3 loss.
Davis has crushed 84 home runs over the past two seasons, tied with Giancarlo Stanton for most in that time. But while Stanton has turned into a mainstream star, Davis remains unknown to the casual baseball fan around the country, something A’s manager Bob Melvin believes the slugger probably prefers.
“I don’t think he really cares. He’s not a guy that’s starved for attention and wants the spotlight. He likes to just go about his business and he does it very well,” Melvin said. “But maybe based on the fact our record hasn’t been great the last two years, maybe if we’re in a playoff race right now there’s a little more attention on him.”
It was the 20th time Davis has hit a home run to give the A’s a lead this season, tying Jose Canseco’s 1991 mark for the club record for most go-ahead homers in a season. Davis also now has 26 home runs at home this year, just one behind Jason Giambi, who hit 27 in Oakland in 2001, for most home runs in a season at the Coliseum.
While surpassing his total from last season would be a nice accomplishment, Davis doesn’t care too much about that either. He’s more concerned with maintaining consistency at the plate and serving as a good example for the younger hitters. Davis has now hit three home runs in the past four games.
“I feel like I’m starting to be one of the older guys, so the main thing is just to have fun and play relaxed,” Davis said. “Play the game the right way. That’s what I try to focus on.”
Melvin said Davis is already one of the more popular players in the clubhouse. For a young power-hitting team, Davis could not be a more perfect example admire.
“They really like him. Certainly his body of work is something to watch and learn from. Hitting the ball to all fields,” Melvin said. “What he’s done, another real impactful homer today. We had a chance to potentially squeak out with a win because of that homer. One of the best pure power hitters in the league to any field. A lot can be learned from how he goes about his business.”
Daniel Mengden was unable to make the lead given to him by the A’s slugger hold up. After seeing his streak of consecutive scoreless innings snapped at 19 in the fourth, Mengden got into more trouble in the seventh.
Mengden allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach base and was pulled for Ryan Dull with no outs. Only a few pitches later, Dull surrendered a three-run homer to former A’s third baseman Danny Valencia that put the Mariners ahead for the rest of the night as they ended up scoring a total of four runs in the seventh, two of those charged to Mengden.
It was Mengden’s first start in which he allowed over two earned runs since June 3 and still a performance Melvin was pleased with overall.
“He threw good again. When he gave up a hit and a walk it was time to go get him but he pitched similar to the way he pitched last time out,” Melvin said. “He’s really come on strong here at the end.”
— Just before the loss to the Mariners, Melvin confirmed that Jharel Cotton, Matt Olson and Boog Powell have all played their last game of the season. There is an outside chance for Chad Pinder, who is going through concussion protocol, to return, but Melvin is not expecting to see the utility man play again this season.
Cotton impressed in his final start on Sunday with five innings of one-hit ball, but was pulled from the game after experiencing tightness in his elbow. While MRI results showed on structural damage, Melvin did not want to risk things potentially getting worse for the right-hander.
“He’s healthy, but we want to make sure he stays healthy. Doesn’t seem like it’s worth the risk of going out there this late in the season, throwing 100 pitches, and potentially getting a little sore again,” Melvin said. “He’s gonna throw an extended bullpen in Texas, he will not make his start. He feels good right now and we want to make sure he goes into the offseason feeling healthy.”
— Marcus Semien led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run to left, his eighth of the season and first career leadoff homer.
— Raul Alcantara will start in place of Cotton on Friday night in Texas.
Cotton’s spot in next season’s rotation is almost a lock, but Melvin said consistency will be the key for him to evolve into the anchor of the rotation the A’s believe he can be. Cotton finishes the season 9-10 with a 5.58 ERA.
“There’s been times where he looked like one of the better pitchers in the league and other times where he struggled some. It’s gonna be about consistency for him going forward. He realizes that,” Melvin said. “It’s consistent maintenance going into every start and playing the mental game a little more. An expectation for himself. He’s shown he can dominate at times, it’s just getting through the hiccups he’s had.”
— Powell will have competition for the starting center field job next year, but Melvin said he gave a good showing in his time since coming over from Seattle in the trade that sent Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Powell hit .321 with three home runs in 29 games, with the A’s while making some impressive plays in the outfield.
“He came up and was productive right away. Certainly played center as well as anybody we had here,” Melvin said. “He’s got an intensity to his game that was noticeable. For a team that struggled defensively, he really helped us out on that end. He’s done enough to show that he could be a nice piece for us next season.”
— The A’s learned Olson sustained a Grade 2 hamstring strain, which usually requires at least a couple of weeks to heal. Having taken the league by storm with his power numbers in his rookie season, Melvin said Olson has earned the everyday job at first for 2018.
“It’s amazing. Finally gets the opportunity to play every day and talk about taking advantage of an opportunity. I don’t know that I’ve been around anybody that’s taken advantage of it in the fashion he has,” Melvin said. “Pretty spectacular numbers he put up in limited at-bats. You look at the defensive side of it, he’s really good at first. It’s no longer the first baseman of the future, it’s the first baseman of now going forward.”
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