by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Oakland Athletics have a major problem to solve between now and the beginning of the 2018 season. They have to figure out how to win games on the road.
Winning at home has been a positive for the 2017 Athletics. They have posted a 37-31 record at the Coliseum this season. The Mariners who swept them this weekend have 37-32 record at home this year. The Athletics home record would make them competitive in any division in baseball.
The Athletics road record is where the team hits the wall at 100 miles per hour. With the loss on Sunday, Oakland is now 21-47 on the road which is the worst record in the MLB. Turning that trend around will not be easy with a team that is as young and inexperienced as the Athletics. They will have to learn the art of winning on the road.
That is all a part of the rebuilding process. If an organization commits to a true rebuilding plan, it involves pain. No one likes pain — owners, executives, coaches, players or fans. But simply put … there will be pain.
Seattle took charge early on Sunday
The Mariners jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back. Seattle added another run in fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead.
While the Mariners were scoring runs, their starting pitcher Andrew Albers was shutting the Athletics down. He allowed the A’s just one hit over the six innings he pitched. Matt Olson hit his 12th home run of the season off the first pitch Albers delivered to him in the sixth inning.
The M’s came right back and scored solo runs in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings. The A’s added their second and final run in the top of the eighth when Matt Olson hit a single that drove Mark Canha home to make it a 5-2 game in favor of the Mariners.
Then came the disastrous bottom of the eighth inning. The A’s sent Michael Brady to the mound to hold the Mariners at five runs. Carlos Ruiz led off with a double to center field and Gordon Beckham was sent in as a pinch-runner. Jean Segura — who was on fire at the plate the entire series — bunted his way on base and Beckham moved up to third.
With the infield drawn in, Yonder Alonso (yes, another former Athletic) hit a single through the shortstop position as Semien moved toward second to cover the base runner. Beckham scored and Segura stopped at third.
Robinson Cano singled to right field which drove Segura home and moved Alonso up to second. Nelson Cruz singled to left which allowed Alonso to score and sent Cano to second base.
Pitching coach Scott Emerson made a visit to the mound to explain to Brady that no help was coming from the bullpen. The A’s have an afternoon game on Labor Day so they were not going deep into the pen when they were six runs down and there were no outs in the inning.
Kyle Seager singled to left field which allowed Cano and Cruz to advance 90 feet. Mitch Haniger grounded into a force out that erased Seager at second base but Cano scored and the bases remained loaded.
Ben Gamel grounded into a force out that allowed Nelson Cruz to score the fifth and final run of the inning for the Mariners. When the dust settled, Seattle held a commanding 10-2 lead which led them to their third consecutive victory.
Seattle is now just 2.5 games out of being a Wild Card team in the American League.
On the mound
- Daniel Gossett made the start for Oakland and never was able to take control of the game. He worked 3.2-innings giving up three runs (all earned) off seven hits (one home run). Gossett walked five and struck five. He threw 89 pitches (49 strikes) to the 22 batters he faced. Gossett was tagged with the loss and now has a record of 3-8 for the season.
- Liam Hendriks was strong in his 1.1-innings of relief work. He faced just four hitters allowing no runs on one hit and striking out one.
- The rest of the A’s relievers broke the rule “Goose Eggs” in their three innings of work. All three relievers gave up at least one run when the goal is to give up no runs — a “Goose Egg”. Cassilla gave up one run, Moll allowed a run and Brady had five runs scored during his one inning on the hill. All seven of the runs allowed by the relievers were earned runs.
- Andrew Albers did everything the Mariners hoped their starter would do on Sunday. He pitched 6.0-innings to make it a quality start allowing the A’s just one run (earned) on one hit (one home run). He walked one and struck five. Albers was credited with his third win of the year to go with just one loss.
- Emilio Pagan relieved Albers and was credited with 1.0-inning of work. He did face one hitter in the top of the eighth. Pagan allowed one run on two hits but was credited with a hold (5).
- Marc Rzepczynski took over for Pagan in the eighth and faced two batters giving up one hit.
- Then it was “Goose Egg” time for the Seattle bullpen. Nick Vincent took over for Rzepczynski and shut the A’s down posting all zeros. Vincent was credited with his 26th hold of the season.
- Shae Simmons worked the ninth in a non-save situation allowing no runs on one hit and striking out two Athletics.
In the batter’s box
- Matt Olson was the real story at the plate for Oakland on Sunday as he went 2-for-3 with two Rbi and a run scored. He hit his 12th home run and upped his Rbi total to 26.
- The A’s had just five hits in the game. They had just one hit — Olson’s home run — in the first six innings.
- The Athletics were 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position (notice the lack of opportunity) and left four runners on base.
- Robinson Cano was the man of the day with the bat going 4-for-5 with four Rbi and scoring two runs. He hit his 21st home run of the season — a two-run shot in the first inning — off Gossett.
- Mitch Haniger also had a 4-for-5 day that included two Rbi and run scored. He hit his 10th home run and his 18th double of the year in the contest.
- Jean Segura had a 3-for-4 day scoring three runs. He upped his doubles total to 27 and upped his stolen base total to 20.
- The M’s scored 10 runs on 17 hits and left 10 men on base.
- Seattle went 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
The Mariners and Athletics have three games left to play against each other in Oakland on September 25, 26 and 27.
The A’s come home for Labor Day to play a day game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at 1:05 p.m. Rookie RHP Parker Birdwell (7-2, 3.52) will start for the Angels while the Athletics will counter with RHP Chris Smith (0-4, 6.27) who is still seeking his first victory of the year.
*Photos by USA Today Sports