Valdez makes first start in nearly seven years, Oakland wins
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OAKLAND, Calif. — Cesar Valdez waited so long to step on a major league mound again, he can only hope his return all these years later might eventually lead to a long stay.
The second chance he has been so coveting. One to make his late father proud.
In the minds of many, Valdez earned a victory just by getting back at long last to pitch in the big leagues for the first time in nearly seven years during the Oakland Athletics' 9-6 win against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
"I thank God first and I thank Oakland for the opportunity to return to the majors after seven years," Valdez said. "It's preparing me for the next opportunity, whenever the second chance comes."
He allowed three runs and five hits in four innings, struck out four and walked two. This marked just the third start of his career at age 32 and 10th appearance in all — and he is probably headed right back to the minors soon.
A right-hander from the Dominican Republic, he was called up from Triple-A Nashville to fill in for injured opening day starter Kendall Graveman. Valdez last pitched in the big leagues on June 10, 2010, with Arizona just more than a month after his previous start on May 8.
"Oh, that's amazing right there," teammate Rajai Davis said.
Valdez was traded to Pittsburgh that December to complete the trade that sent pitcher Zach Duke to the Diamondbacks, and his contract was bought by Florida in July 2011 and by Toronto later that month. He was released by Toronto after two days, played several years in Mexico, spent 2016 in Houston's organization and signed with the A's during the
"What a great story. It's been a while since he's been in the big leagues," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You really feel good about guys that have persevered and hang around with the aspirations to get back to the big leagues. He performed well for us this spring, he's done well early in the season in Triple-A so we're rewarding him with a start and it's great to see because very competitive guys like that don't take no for an answer and end up coming back to the big leagues again you know they have some moxie."
Trevor Plouffe hit a three-run homer in the seventh and Ryan Dull (1-1) pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings for the victory in Oakland's third straight win.
Reliever Evan Scribner (0-2) took the loss against his former club.
Taylor Motter hit a two-run homer for Seattle in the sixth against Frankie Montas.
Adam Rosales had an RBI single and sacrifice fly and Ryon Healy added an RBI single among his three hits as Oakland erased an early 3-0 deficit then held on. Davis' RBI groundout in the sixth was the go-ahead run.
Seattle starter James Paxton's scoreless innings streak to begin the year ended at 23 when Oakland got on the board in the third. He struck out eight over 4 1-3 innings.
Paxton allowed more than two runs in a road start against the AL West for only the fourth time in 12 outings.
"Just didn't have it today. But I'll be back out there next time," he said.
Mariners: SS Jean Segura is set to be designated hitter at Double-A Arkansas on Friday as he rehabs a strained right hamstring that landed him on the 10-day disabled list April 11. He will play there through the weekend. "He feels good, ready to get back in there," manager Scott Servais said.
Athletics: CF Davis strained his left hamstring and will sit out Friday, Melvin said. ... SS Marcus Semien returned to the ballpark after undergoing surgery Tuesday on his fractured right wrist that included inserting a pin. He will soon begin using a splint. "Hopefully we can do another CT scan sooner than six weeks because it looked so good," he said. "Obviously I can't use my right hand right now. I'm getting dressed with one hand, I'm eating with my left hand. I can't hold my son." ... C Stephen Vogt sat for a second straight day against a lefty starter but will play again Friday night. ... Oakland 2016 second-round pick RHP Daulton Jefferies will undergo Tommy John surgery. ... The A's optioned C Bruce Maxwell to Nashville to make room for Valdez.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (0-1, 5.40 ERA) — a 16-game winner last year — tries again for his first win of the season in his fourth start of 2017.
Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (0-1, 5.51) didn't allow a hit over five innings of a 10-6 A's loss last Saturday to Houston.
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