By Morris Phillips
OAKLAND — In a lot of ways, frustration trumped elation at the Coliseum on Sunday, as the Mariners’ winless road trip seemed like a bigger deal than the A’s nine-game win streak.
For one, the A’s established an early lead and cruised to a 7-1 win behind lesser names catcher Josh Phlegley and veteran starter Brett Anderson. Make no mistake, the A’s won, and looked good doing so, but the Mariners looked bad and felt worse after losing for the 30th time in their last 40 games, and seeing their season on the brink with still more than 100 games left to play.
“Some games we didn’t pitch that well, some games we didn’t play defense that well and some games we didn’t hit,” manager Scott Servais said of the Mariners’ 0-6 road trip, their worst since 2010. “When that happens and you can’t put a full game together, you are going to have a tough road trip. And that’s what we experienced.”
“We have to play good baseball and we haven’t done that,”
Servais and the Mariners’ frustration spilled over in the seventh inning when Mark Canha slid into second base outside of the constraints dictated by the rule designed to protect infielders on double play balls. Canha–running along the infield grass then finishing his slide with his leg up–appeared to go outside a direct path to the bag, which kept J.P. Crawford from unleashing a throw to first. Replay got involved, and Servais took out his frustrations on umpiring crew chief Mike Everitt, who then ejected Servais.
When play ensued, trail runner Jurickson Profar scored–along with Skye Bolt, on board with a walk — on Phlegley’s double that increased the A’s lead to 5-1.
“Clearly J.P. got taken out on the play. They saw it different in New York than I saw it. There was no explanation. It was just replay. If you argue replay, it’s not going to go well,” Servais said after the game.
Seattle starter Mike Leake approached second base umpire Bill Welke immediately after the double play was interrupted to take exception to the non-call. That was the beginning of the end of Leake’s afternoon as he steadied by striking out Ramon Laureano, but then saw Profar steal second on his watch, as he was issuing Bolt a four-pitch walk. Bolt, the rookie hitting .143, would go 0 for 3 in the game with a run scored. Bolt was Leake’s final batter, as acting manager Manny Acta lifted the starter, who left the mound in a huff.
“We need some guidance in the right direction. We’re all here fighting, being professionals. It could come from players or management, or both. I don’t know,” said a frustrated Leake, who has one win in his last nine starts.
One thing that has to get corrected when the Mariners return home on Monday is their inability to overcome deficits. The Mariners have lost 19 consecutive games in which their opponents have scored first, dating back to mid-April. On Sunday, Leake allowed a two-run shot to Matt Chapman in the first inning, and a solo shot to Phlegley in the second.
That and maybe take a cue from the A’s. By most accounts, the A’s most frustrating defeats in 2019 were to the Mariners, first in Japan to start the season, then in Seattle on their most recent, road trip. In both cases, the A’s have responded with winning baseball, and haven’t lost at all since losing 4-3 at Safeco Field on May 14.
Since that second, consecutive one-run loss to Seattle, the A’s are 9-0. The Mariners are 1-9. Thus the elation, and frustration.
The A’s open a three-game set with the Angels on Memorial Day at 1:05 pm at the Coliseum.