Photo by Associated Press Oakland A’s pitcher Zach Neal deals to the Seattle Mariners in the first inning of Sunday’s game at the Oakland Coliseum
By Charlie O. Mallonee
OAKLAND–The Oakland Athletics lost on Sunday to the Seattle Mariners by the score of 8-4. The loss also meant that the A’s lost the series to M’s 2-1. After the success the Athletics had versus the Orioles earlier in the week, losing the weekend series has to be a major disappointment especially as they have to head out on a six-game road trip.
The story of the game was really about starting pitching. The Mariners started left-hander Wade LeBlanc who they acquired from Toronto for a player to be named later or cash considerations. He had made six starts coming into today’s game and had a record of 1-0.
LeBlanc worked six innings giving up 3 runs (all earned) on five hits. He struck out seven A’s batters and walked just one. LeBlanc pitched well enough to get his team to into the seventh inning where the bullpen could take over and put the game away. LeBlanc did get the win and is now 2-0.
Zach Neal – who has moved from reliever to starter – made his second start of August on Sunday. Neal struggled as he had to deal with baserunners in every inning. His pitches were elevated and flat which hurt him against the Mariners strong hitters.
Neal gave up five runs (all earned) on eight hits in 5.1 innings of work. He threw 74 pitches (45 strikes). Neal worked hard but was never able to take command of the game on the mound. He was hung with the loss and is now 2-2 for the year.
Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager was an A’s killer on Sunday as he hit two doubles, drove in four runs and scored a run in his five trips to the plate.
For the Athletics, it was all about the long ball. Khris Davis hit his 30th home run of the season – a two-run shot. Ryon Healy hit his fifth round-tripper since being called up from Triple-A, and Brett Eibner hit his second home run in A’s uniform on Sunday.
Seattle scored eight runs off 12 hits and left seven runners on base. The A’s scored four runs on nine hits and left six men on base.
Seattle is now 62-54 on the season. Oakland is 52-66 for the year.
A Game of Challenges
One the more unusual challenges to an umpiring call was made in the top of fourth inning. Everyone in the Oakland Coliseum – including the Athletics – thought inning was over when they completed a six – four – three double play. Players had left the field. The in-between innings music and videos were playing.
Slowly players, fans, reporters and others began to notice that the umpires had the headsets on to the video replay center. Seattle manager Scott Servais had challenged the double play call saying A’s second baseman Tyler Ladendorf had not touched the base with his foot before throwing to first. Prior to video replay, this was known as the “in the neighborhood play”. If the shortstop or second baseman’s foot was “the neighborhood” or near the base, the defense got the call. With video replay, “in the neighborhood” is a thing of the past. The game was delayed three minutes and 50 seconds for the replay decision to be made.
Video replay overturned the out at second. The A’s had to retake the field as the top of the fourth inning would continue. With Dae-Ho Lee at second base, shortstop Shawn O’Malley came to the plate with two out for the Mariners. O’Malley hit the first pitch from Neal up the middle into center field driving home Lee for fourth run of the game.
As you might expect, the partisan A’s crowd let the umpires at the Coliseum and the video replay officials back East know what they thought of their decision to overturn the call at second when the runner came home to score.
The Athletics also made a successful challenge of their own in the game. In the top of the third inning, Robinson Cano was on first for Seattle with one out. Nelson Cruz hit a ground ball on the left side of the infield that was fielded by Oakland third baseman Ryon Healy. Healy threw the ball to Tyler Ladendorf who stepped on second base but then dropped the ball as he began transfer the ball from his glove to his throwing hand. Second base umpire Marty Foster called the runner safe.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin challenged the call saying Ladendorf had possession of the ball when he touched the bag therefore the runner should be out. It took the MLB Video Replay Center one minute and 21 seconds to agree with Melvin and overturn Foster’s call.
On the Bump
Zach Neal is now 1-2 as a starting pitcher for Oakland this season. He has a 7.28 ERA in those three starts.
Neal’s nightmare with Adam Lind is finally over. Coming into the game on Sunday, Lind had faced Neal twice and had hit two home runs off the right-hander. Lind came to the plate in the second inning of the game on Sunday and hit a 1-2 pitch from Neal into the second deck down the right field line. At that point Lind was 3-for-3 versus Neal with all three hits being home runs. Neal finally induced Lind to fly out to the left fielder in the top of the third inning. Nightmare over.
Daniel Coulombe worked 2.2 innings of relief for Oakland. He gave up three runs (all earned) on four hits. He struck out three and walked one.
Chris Smith worked the ninth inning for the A’s. He gave up no runs or hits while striking out one and walking one.
The Mariners used three relief pitchers – Storen, Caminero and Vincent. Combined they gave up one run on four hits in three innings of work. They struck out two hitters and walked none.
In the Batter’s Box
Marcus Semien who went 1-for-5 on Sunday (double) is batting.300 (15-for-50) for the month of August.
Khris Davis hit a home run in every game of the weekend series with Seattle. 17 of his 30 home runs have been hit in the Oakland Coliseum.
Danny Valencia had a 2-for-4 day at the plate and scored a run.
Norichika Aoki had a 3-for-5 day for Seattle and has now hit safely in 19 of his 20 games with an at bat against the Oakland A’s.
Seattle shortstop Shawn O’Malley went 2-for-5 at the plate including a double, a rbi and a run scored.
A’s third baseman Ryon Healy made nice diving catch in the top of first inning. With infield in a shift to the right side of the infield for left-handed hitter Kyle Seager, Healy was alone on the left side. Seager hit a flare to left field. Healy turned and ran into left field following the ball over his shoulder while fighting the sun. He stretched out and made a diving catch for the first out of the inning.
Not to be outdone, Khris Davis had a defensive gem of his own in the top of the second inning. Leonys Martin hit a fly ball into shallow left center field making Davis dive, stretch and slide in order to make the catch.
The Athletics did not commit an error in the game.
Doolittle to Rehab in Music City
Sean Doolittle – who has been on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder – is headed to Nashville for a rehab pitching assignment. The plan is to have Doolittle pitch on Wednesday and then again on Saturday. If everything goes as planned, Doolittle would rejoin the big club in Oakland for the Cleveland series that begins on Monday, August 22.
Jesse Hahn Update
Right-handed pitcher Jesse Hahn has been on the disabled list since August 5 due to a right shoulder strain. Hahn threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Saturday and if everything is deemed positive medically, he could be headed off to a minor league rehab pitching assignment. If things go well, the plan is for Hahn to start the final game of the road trip in Chicago next Sunday against the White Sox.
The A’s left for Texas after the game where they will begin a six-game seven-day road trip on Monday night. Unlike the last several series, the Athletics know their pitching rotation for the Texas games, and there will be no call ups of starting pitchers from Triple-A Nashville. The probable pitching match ups are:
Mon. 8/15 @ Texas LHP Ross Detwiler (1-0, 2.13) vs. LHP Martin Perez (7-8, 4.22) 5:05 PM
Tue. 8/16 @ Texas RHP Andrew Triggs (0-1, 5.50) vs. RHP Lucas Harrell (1-0, 5.74) 5:05 PM
Wed 8/17 @ Texas LHP Sean Manaea (4-7, 4.57) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (3-3, 2.77) 5:05 PM
Seattle moves on to Anaheim where they will start a four-game series with the Angels on Monday night.