SEATTLE — In an otherwise forgettable season, Mark Canha became one of the few bright spots of optimism for the Oakland Athletics.
Canha hit his 16th home run of the season on Sunday as Oakland closed the season with another one-run loss, 3-2 to the Seattle Mariners. Seth Smith hit a solo home run for Seattle with two outs in the eighth inning as the Mariners rallied and kept the A’s from closing the season with a three-game sweep.
Canha homered with two outs in the third inning off Seattle starter Vidal Nuno. He finished with 70 RBIs, the most among American League rookies.
“Just the toughness we saw out of him. He’s banged up, we gave him the option to play today because he got hit by a pitch yesterday and had a tough time squeezing the bat,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “He got his 70th RBI, hit another home run, I don’t know how much more a guy like that needs to do to prove himself at the big league level.”
Oakland was trying to complete its first sweep of three games or more since late June.
The A’s finished 68-94, their worst record since going 65-97 in 1997 and a 19-victory drop from last season, when the A’s earned the AL’s second wild card with 88 wins. The A’s finished with the worst record in the AL for the third time in Oakland history.
Smith’s 12th homer of the season came off reliever Ryan Dull (1-2) and just eluded the leap of Sam Fuld in deep center field. Seattle avoided being swept in the final series of the season and finished at 76-86, 11 games worse than last season, when the Mariners were in playoff contention until the final day of the regular season.
Logan Kensing (2-1) pitched 1 2-3 innings for the victory. Tom Wilhelmsen struck out the side in the ninth for his 13th save, a night after blowing a save opportunity.
Seattle lost nine of its final 11 games after getting back within three games of .500 on Sept. 22. The Mariners were a popular pick to win the AL West before the season, but now have the longest playoff drought in the major leagues — 14 years since their last postseason appearance.
“This club is in a much better position now than the first day that I got here,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “There are a lot of good things going on with this club.”
Oakland starter Chris Bassitt threw six innings, giving up just five hits and two runs, but lost a chance for his first win since early August when Jesus Sucre’s groundout scored a run in the sixth to pull Seattle even at 2-2.
Bassitt’s one issue was control. He walked five and attributed that to changes in his delivery.
The A’s finished with 35 one-run losses, the most in the major leagues.
“It’s not a good feeling to lose period, let alone another one-run loss,” Melvin said.
Seattle drew 22,402 for the season finale and had a home season attendance of 2,193,581. That was up more than 100,000 from 2014 when the Mariners barely topped the 2 million mark.
NO HOME RUN CHAMP
Nelson Cruz did not play on Sunday after straining a groin muscle in the ninth inning of Saturday’s loss. He missed out his final chance to catch Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the major league lead in home runs. Cruz finished the season with 44 home runs, but failed to become the second Seattle player to lead baseball. Ken Griffey Jr. hit 56 homers in 1997 to lead the majors. The 44 homers are the most by any Seattle player since Griffey hit 48 in 1999.
Athletics: Oakland will open the 2016 season on April 4 hosting the Chicago White Sox.
Mariners: Seattle will travel to Texas to open the 2016 season.