A’s pen melts down in ninth hands M’s 2-1 win; Montas’ excellent pitching performance goes to waste

Oakland A’s starter Frankie Montas (47) pitched a gem but was lifted after eight innings of work against the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Coliseum on Thu Jun 20, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Jerry Feitelberg

OAKLAND–A couple of baseball adages apply to Thursday afternoon’s game between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland A’s. The first adage is the one that says the winning team has to record 27 outs.

The second adage says good teams find ways to win, and bad teams find ways to lose. The A’s found a way to lose on Thursday that had the fans booing the team after the game. The A’s Frankie Montas had his best outing of 2022.

Montas held the M’s hitless until two outs in the top of the eighth. The M’s broke up his no-hit bid with two singles. Montas retired J.P.Crawford for the final out in the eighth and left the game with the A’s ahead 1-0.

All the bullpen had to do was get three last three out to preserve the win for Montas. What happened in the top of the ninth left A’s fans shaking their heads. The A’s bullpen issued four walks and two wild pitches to give the M’s two runs without the benefit of a hit. Seattle managed just two hits in the game and won 2-1 to sweep the three-game series.

The A’s plated a run in the bottom of the first. A’s third baseman Sheldon Neuse led off with a single. M’s starter Robbie Ray retired the next two hitters. A’s DH Sean Murphy walked to send Neuse to second. Cristian Bethancourt followed with a single to drive in Neuse with the run.

There was a scary moment in the “s half of the fifth. Sheldon Neuse hit a slow grounder to M’s third baseman, Abraham Toro, with two out. Toro’s throw to first appeared to hit the first baseman Ty France in his midsection.

France dropped to the ground in agony. After, the M’s medical staff got him back on his feet. France was unable to continue. Dylan Moore replaced him at first base. Neuse was ruled safe on the play. Robbie Ray retired Jonah Bride for the third out. The A’s lead 1-0 after five.

Montas continued his excellent outing into the top of the eighth. Frankie retired the first two hitters he faced. The next hitter, M’s second baseman Adam Frazier, hitting .221, singled to left to break up Montas’ no-hit bid. M’s catcher Luis Torrens followed with a single to put Frazier into scoring position. Montas retired J.P.Crawford for the third out. The A’s still had the lead 1-0 after eight innings.

Things got a bit hairy in the top of the ninth. A’s manager Mark Kotsay called on righty Zach Jackson to pitch. Jackson committed the cardinal sin of walking the leadoff hitter in the ninth. He retired Julio Rodriguez for the first out. Jackson’s control was slightly off as he walked Jesse Winker, which sent Moore into scoring position. Jackson struck out Eugenio Suarez for the second out.

The A’s brought in A.J. Puk to face Kevin Padlo. He walked Padlo to load the bases. Seattle tied the game on Puk’s wild pitch to Abraham Toro. Puk walked Toro on a 3-2 pitch. The ball got by Christian Bethancourt. Winker scored on the pitch.

The M’s have scored two runs in the ninth without the benefit of a hit. Four walks and two wild pitches. The M’s lead 2-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth. A’s manager Mark Kotsay will probably be criticized for taking Montas out of the game. The A’s bullpen did not do the job. The ways the a’s are going, Montas has to wonder if he has to throw a no-hitter if he hopes to win a game.

The M’s closer, Paul Sewald, retired the A’s in order 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win for Seattle 2-1. They swept the three-game series.

Game Notes: The A’s are now 23-48 for the year. They are competing with the Cincinnati Reds for the worst record in baseball. The Reds kept pace with the A’s as they lost to the LA Dodgers 10-5 on Thursday.

The A’s had lost ten consecutive home series for the first time since June 20th, 1916, when they were in Philadelphia. The A’s are 8-28 in their last 36 games. 

The A’s offense continues to flounder. The A’s line was one run, five hits, and no errors. The A’s have scored one run or fewer in 26 of the 71 games played this year. They are last in hitting with a team average of .209. Teams can’t win many games this way.

The A’s starting pitching has an ERA of 4.46 for the season, which is the second-highest in the American League. The bullpen is 1-7 with six blown saves and a 6.61 ERA over the last 25 games. These numbers indicate a team that one can say is not very good.

The A’s are on their way to Kansas City to face the Royals for three games starting Friday night. Lefty Cole Irvin (2-4, 3.14 ERA) will pitch for Oakland. Former AL Cy Young award winner, righty Zach Greinke(0-4, 5.05 ERA), will pitch for K.C. The game will start at 5:10 pm.

The time of the game was two hours and fifty-eight minutes. Eight thousand two hundred seventeen fans watched the A’s hand the M’s a 2-1 win. 

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