by Charlie O. Mallonee
Oakland puts it together in the top of the ninth inning
In the top of the ninth inning on Saturday night, the game between the A’s and Mariners was tied 3-3. Seattle replaced Nick Vincent with Edwin Diaz on the mound.
Rajai Davis led the inning off by legging out an infield single on a ball hit to third baseman Kyle Seager. That brought a visit from the Mariners’ pitching coach but Diaz remained in the game.
Matt Joyce went down on strikes but Davis moved up by stealing second base on the strike three pitch. Marcus Semien then flied out to left field for the second out of the inning.
Seattle then decided they did not want to pitch to All-Star first baseman Yonder Alonso who had hit his 20th home run of the year earlier in the game so they intentionally walked him.
That brought A’s DH Ryon Healy to the plate. With a count of 0-2, Healy hit a line drive into right-center field that bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. Davis scored but Alonso — who would have scored easily — by rule had to hold at third.
Jed Lowrie grounded out to first to end the inning and the A’s took a 4-3 into the bottom of the ninth.
The Athletics called in Santiago Casilla from the bullpen
Casilla induced Kyle Seager to fly out to left field for the first out and then struck out former Athletic Danny Valencia for second out of the inning.
Just when it looked like it would be an easy close for Casilla, Mitch Haniger hit a double to center field and the M’s had the tying run just 180-feet away from home plate.
After a coaching visit, Casilla was able to get Jarrod Dyson to fly out to left field for the final out of the game.
For Casilla, it was save number 15 of the season.
Chris Smith made his first MLB start for the A’s (BTW he is 36-years old)
The A’s pitching staff is literally the walking wounded. Pitchers have moved on and off the disabled list on a regular basis. On Saturday night, the A’s had to turn to a 36-year old pitcher who had made 63 appearances in the major leagues but had never started a game.
Chris Smith made the start and even though he did not figure into the decision, Smith did the job he was asked to do by the Athletics. He worked 6.0-innings giving up three runs (all earned) on three hits. Smith struck out four Mariners and walked just one. He did allow one home run while throwing 97 pitches (55 strikes).
The A’s bullpen gave Smith the support he needed. Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle and Santiago Casilla worked one-inning apiece and allowed no runs on one hit combined over those three innings. Doolittle picked up the win as he was pitcher of record in the top of the ninth when the A’s took the lead.
Top performers for the Athletics
- Ryon Healy — had a 2-for-4 game including what proved to be the game-winning RBI-double in the top of the ninth inning. It was his 19th double of the year and his 52nd RBI. Healy also scored a run in the game.
- Yonder Alonso — the All-Star first baseman hit his 20th home run of the season in the third inning off Seattle starter Andrew Moore. Alonso also lifted his RBI total to 43.
- Marcus Semien — continued to show he is ready to be back on the field and be productive for the A’s. Semien hit his first home run of the season in the fifth inning off Moore. He 3-for-13 in the series with three RBI.
The A’s can win the series on Sunday and move up in the Wild Card Standings
Oakland (39-49) has won two of the three games in series in Seattle with the victory on Saturday night. A win of Sunday would give a series victory to Oakland and give them their 40th win of the season. That would be a very nice way to into the All-Star Break.
The A’s are currently just 6.5 games out of a Wild Card spot in the American League. In fact, no team in the AL in more than 6.5 games out of Wild Card contention. That should serve as motivation to this young A’s team.
Mariners stars at the plate
- OF Jarrod Dyson — did everything he could to give his team a victory on Saturday night. He went 2-for-3 at the plate including a home run (5) in the fifth inning off Smith. Dyson also hit a double and upped his RBI total to 22.
- Jean Segura — continued to be hot in the leadoff spot. He went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and a run scored. His batting average stands at .355 after the game on Saturday.
Seattle on the hill
- Andrew Moore — struggled over his 6.0 innings on the mound. He gave up three runs (all earned) on six hits while walking two and striking out two. Moore also issued two home runs which really was his undoing.
- James Pazos — made his 35th appearance of the season working one inning of perfect baseball from the mound striking out one Oakland hitter.
- Nick Vincent — worked the eighth inning for the M’s giving up one hit, one walk and striking out two.
- Edwin Diaz — worked the disastrous ninth for Seattle and was hung with the loss.
The final game of the series and the final game before the All-Star Break will played on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. PDT.
The A’s will send rookie Daniel Gossett to mound to face the Mariners. He has a record of 1-3 with a 6.23 ERA in his five starts this season. The home run has been a problem for Gossett who has given up seven round-trippers in 26 innings.
Seattle will counter by sending the willey veteran King Felix Hernandez out to make the 368th start of his career. The King is 3-3 this season with a 5.04 ERA in nine starts. He had a no-decision in his last start versus the Royals when gave up five earned runs in five innings.