OAKLAND — In a season where the A’s can take so little for granted, Khris Davis’ power has been a constant.
So even as Oakland was absorbing an 8-4 loss to Seattle on Sunday, which put the wraps on a 4-6 homestand, there was an individual milestone that provided a needed silver lining.
Davis launched his 30th home run of the season in the sixth, a towering two-run blast off Mariners lefty Wade LeBlanc that made him the first Athletic since Brandon Moss in 2013 to reach that mark.
The difference is Moss notched No. 30 on the second-to-last day of the regular season. Davis has plenty of schedule left — 44 games to be precise — to see just how much he can pump up his total.
“Thirty’s a nice round number,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Obviously there’s a lot of games left. He could significantly pass that. But it’s a feather in his cap for sure.”
Davis downplayed his accomplishment, as he’s done often this season when it comes to his individual exploits.
“It’s just a number,” he said. “I think most importantly I’m healthy and helping the team win.”
Obviously the wins haven’t come often enough for the A’s (52-66), who are 28-35 at home and have dropped 11 of their past 16. On Sunday, they trailed 4-1 in the sixth when the Mariners’ Kyle Seager split the right-center gap with a three-run double off reliever Daniel Coulombe that essentially put this one away for Seattle (62-54), which has won eight of its past nine and sits two games out of a Wild Card spot.
But in the 28-year-old Davis, they’ve found a player who appears to be an anchor piece for the middle of the lineup moving forward. He was acquired from the Brewers in February for two minor leaguers — catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Bubba Derby. He hit 27 homers last season and has picked up where he left off after a torrid second half of 2015. To put his production into context, Davis has hit 50 homers with 116 RBI over his past 162 games dating back to last season.
Davis is under team control for the next three seasons and will just enter his first arbitration year this winter.
He’s homered in each of his past three games, the second time he’s accomplished that in his big league career. And it’s possible he makes a run at another milestone. With 75 RBI right now, he’s got a legitimate shot at 100.
Rather than get caught up in chasing stats, Davis has simply tried to stick to a simplified hitting approach.
“Whenever I get ready on time, good things happen,” he said. “I just gotta go up there, make it simple, see it well and put a good swing on it.”
A’s starter Zach Neal, who gave up five runs over 5 1/3 innings, said his stuff simply wasn’t as crisp as it was Tuesday against Baltimore, particularly his sinker. In the second, he tried to elevate a 1-2 fastball to Adam Lind but instead left it over the plate, and Lind crushed it for a second-deck homer to right.
The A’s trailed 3-1 in the fourth when Neal appeared to get an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. But the Mariners won a replay challenge that second baseman Tyler Ladendorf didn’t touch the bag before throwing on to first.
“I’ve never seen that rule put in place before,” Neal said. “I thought for sure he was on the bag.”
Ladendorf concurred, saying he thought he was on the bag when he caught the ball, but added: “I just feel terrible. He does his job and gets a ground ball and I couldn’t pick him up.”
Double-A third baseman Matt Chapman had a big game Saturday with a homer and three RBI. He leads the Texas League both in home runs (29) and RBI (83) but also strikeouts (147). Chapman went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Sunday but has done nothing to tarnish his standing as one of the A’s very best prospects following a head-turning performance in major league spring training.
Elsewhere in the minors, the A’s top pick in this summer’s draft, lefty A.J. Puk, threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts Sunday for short-season Single-A Vermont in the first game of a doubleheader against Tri-City. In the nightcap, right-hander Logan Shore — the A’s second-round pick — tossed three scoreless innings with four strikeouts.