by Charlie O. Mallonee
The majority of the preseason prognosticators had the Oakland Athletics finishing dead last in the American League West. Evidently, the A’s forgot to read the predictions for their 2016 season.
On Sunday, the Athletics survived seven innings of shutout baseball pitched by “King Felix” Hernandez (0-1, o.69 ERA), had strong pitching performances by their own stater and bullpen, used the long ball to defeat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 in 10 innings and won the series on the road three games to none.
The Athletics won the game via a solo home run hit by Coco Crisp in the top of the 10th inning off Seattle reliever Nick Vincent. With two outs, Crisp hit a 3-1 pitch 376 feet over the right field wall to give Oakland a 2-1 lead.
Sean Doolittle took the mound for the Athletics in the bottom of the 10th inning and closed out the game for his first save of the season.
The A’s record improves to 4-3 with the win and puts them in sole possession of first-place in the American League West.
The Mariners are struggling to figure out how they squandered such an outstanding pitching performance like the one turned in by “King Felix” on Sunday.
On the mound
Hernandez was a master on the mound. He pitched seven innings giving up just three hits and no runs. The “King” recorded 10 strike outs and issued just two walks. He threw 99 pitches (62 strikes). The Seattle radio broadcasters said the outing was Hernandez at his best especially with the command he showed on his change-up and breaking ball. It is hard to imagine that such a quality outing simply ended in a no decision.
Chris Bassitt made his second start of the season for Oakland. Bassitt worked seven innings giving up three hits and one unearned run. He had four strikeouts but issued base-on-balls to five Seattle batters. Bassitt threw 97 pitches (58 stikes). Bassitt has yet to figure into a decision in his two starts this year.
The A’s used three pitchers out of the bullpen on Sunday. Ryan Madson, John Axford and Sean Doolittle worked one inning each. The three relievers gave up no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out two hitters. Axford was credited with his first win of the year while Doolittle recorded his first save of the season.
Seattle also used three pitchers out of their bullpen. Joel Peralta was charged with a blown save when gave up a home run to Marcus Semien. Steve Cishek worked a scoreless inning. Nick Vincent was tagged with the loss when he gave up the game winning home run off the bat of Coco Crisp.
In the batter’s box
The A’s scattered five hits over the 10 innings versus Seattle. No Oakland player had a multi-hit day. Crisp, Lowrie, Alonso, Phegley and Semien all had one hit each.
Marcus Semien tied the game at 1-1 when he hit his first home run of year in the top of the eighth inning off Peralta. Semien hit a high fly ball over the left field wall on a 3-2 pitch.
The Mariners managed to get just six hits off the four Oakland pitchers. Nelson Cruz had a two-hit game than included his second double of the year. Seattle catcher Leonys Martin also had a two-hit game.
The Athletics went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.
The M’s were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and they left 10 men on base.
The MVP of the game has to be Felix Hernandez. The “King” was brilliant on the mound and showed why he is one of top pitchers in the major leagues. Plus, he deserves to get something for pitching that well and having his team lose the game.
Coco Crisp deserves this honor for hitting his first home run since August 27, 2014. After battling through injuries last season, it was nice to see Crisp carry his team to a big win using his bat.
The Athletics will be back in action on Monday in Oakland when they open a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.