OAKLAND — Ryan Madson hadn’t allowed a run since July 27 when he took the Coliseum mound on Sunday afternoon.
Three batters later, that scoreless streak was over, as Ketel Marte’s single bounded into center field and Ben Gamel raced home representing the go-ahead run.
“He’s going to give up a run every now and again,” manager Bob Melvin reasoned after the 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Earlier in the day, Melvin hadn’t made things easy for Raul Alcantara in the right-hander’s second major league start.
With the score tied 2-2, the manager sent the rookie out to start the sixth — even as his pitch count sat at 88 and the heart of the Mariners lineup loomed.
Alcantara responded by getting a groundout from Robinson Cano and pop-out from Kyle Seager sandwiched around a Nelson Cruz single. After Dae-Ho Lee hammered a double to left, Melvin called on Ryan Dull to get the final out.
Alcantara didn’t ace the test, but he came close.
“You could tell he was a lot more poised when he went out there [and] was throwing strikes right away,” Melvin said. “That’s what they’ve seen all year out of him [in the minors], so I think the first time out was more just nerves.”
While limiting the Mariners to two runs in 5.2 innings of work, Alcantara looked nothing like the pitcher who endured a nightmare debut last Monday.
In that outing, Alcantara allowed five runs in his three innings of work and hit three batters in the first — becoming the first pitcher in franchise history to accomplish that feat in a single inning.
Alcantara’s only blemish against Seattle came in the second when he served up a two-run blast to Mike Zunino that left the catcher’s bat at 107 mph, per MLB statcast.
“I thought he looked really good,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “After that homer he really settled down and kept his composure. It was good to see him kind of get hit and make the adjustment.”
Half an inning later, the A’s leveled the score thanks to a bases loaded walk by Brett Eibner and a sacrifice fly by Yonder Alonso.
The team wouldn’t get another runner past first base until the seventh when Eibner hit a towering one-out triple off the out-of-town scoreboard in left field. Eibner was left stranded at third after pinch hitter Joey Wendle grounded into a double play two batters later.
— Melvin said Sonny Gray felt great after throwing an 11-pitch bullpen session, a big step toward making a potential late-season return.
“He’s going to go on the trip with us and hopefully throw a bullpen in a couple of days,” Melvin said of Gray, who’s been sidelined since Aug. 6 with a strained right forearm.
“If he throws a significant bullpen with all his pitches next time around, then maybe we’re on the road to potentially getting him some innings,” Melvin said.
— Sean Manaea, who has been shelved since Aug. 29 due to back soreness, is officially set to return to the rotation on Wednesday in Kansas City.
— After the loss, Vogt admitted that he was less than thrilled to see the team release Billy Butler earlier in the day.
“We loved him here. It’s unfortunate the way it went,” Vogt said. “He’s going to land on his feet somewhere. He’s going to come back. He’s a professional hitter, he’s a professional person.”
“So, you never want to get news like that of a teammate and somebody who’d become a friend over the past year and a half. It’s hard to see anybody go — it happens a little too often, but, yeah, obviously we wish him well.”
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