A’s Thursday off day report: Preview of A’s-Mariners series starting Friday

By Jerry Feitelberg

The A’s return home after a successful 6-2 road trip. The A’s were beating the Tigers in one game that was suspended due to bad weather. That game will be completed when the Tigers play the A’s in September. The two losses on the trip happened when the A’s played the Mariners in Seattle.

The Mariners and A’s have met four times this season, and the M’s have won them all. The A’s lost the first two in Japan to open the season and the last two in Seattle on May 13th and 14th. The games in Seattle were close. The Mariners won on May 13th 6-5 even though the A’s hit five home runs in that game. They beat the A’s again on May 14th, 4-3. Since that time the A’s won three in Detroit and three in Cleveland.

The A’s have also moved up in the standings in the AL Central. Oakland ‘s record is 25-25, and they are in third place just 1/2 game behind the surprising Texas Rangers. Seattle, on the other hand, played well to start the season but have fallen on hard times. They currently reside in last place in the AL West with a record of 23-29. They have lost 3 in a row and are 3-7 in their previous 10 games.

The Mariners have placed several key players on the 10-day IL. They include second baseman Dee Gordon, first baseman Ryon Healy, pitcher King Felix Hernandez, and third baseman Kyle Seager.

The Mariners still have a potent lineup. First baseman Daniel Vogelbach, DH Edwin Encarnacion, outfielders Jay Bruce, Domingo Santana, and Mitch Haniger all have power, and all of them have hurt the A’s with their bats. Infielder Tim Beckham has also punished the A’s with his power.

The pitching matchups for the series will be the following. On Friday, Oakland will send Daniel Mengden (1-1 3.65 ERA) out to pitch. Mengden is 0-2 with an ERA of 5.89 in four career starts against the Mariners. The Mariners will counter with lefty Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc, in his last outing against the Minnesota Twins, went 2 and 1/3rd innings and gave up seven hits and seven runs. LeBlanc missed five weeks due to a strained oblique. In two starts against the A’s last year, LeBlanc held the A’s scoreless for eleven innings.

Saturdays’ game will feature Mike Fiers (3-3, 5.05 ERA) going for his fourth win of the year. Fiers has an ERA of 2.53 over his last five starts, and that includes the no-hitter that he had against the Cincinnati Reds. Fiers is 2-2 with an ERA of 6.36 in 10 starts against Seattle. Rookie Yusei Kikuchi (3-1, ERA 3.43) will go for the M’s. Kikuchi is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.03 in his last four starts.

On Sunday, The A’s will have lefty Brett Anderson on the mound. Anderson (5-3, ERA 4.14)is returning to action after he left the game last Monday in Cleveland with a cervical strain. Anderson is 8-5 and has an ERA of 2.38 in 20 games against the M’s. Mike Leake goes for Seattle. Leake is 3-5 for the year and has an ERA of 4.73. Leake is 2-2 against Oakland in nine career starts.

The A’s are playing better as the offense has come alive and the pitching has been better. The A’s have seen improvement from Chris Bassitt, Mike Fiers, and Frankie Montas. Anderson has pitched well, and Mengden is still a work in progress.

Following the three-game series with Seattle, the A’s will face the LA Angels and then host the first-place Houston Astros.

 

Still the King: Mariners Hernandez brings A’s first half to a quiet end

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Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez turns and lets out a yell after striking out Oakland Athletics’ Jed Lowrie to end the top of the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

By Morris Phillips

One of the worst pre-All Star break runs in Oakland A’s history wouldn’t be complete without a contribution from King Felix.

Consider the A’s first half complete.

The 31-year old Felix Hernandez has maintained a hex on the A’s for more than a decade, winning 24 times in 45 career starts, a roll that continued on Sunday with the Mariners 4-0 win in which Hernandez and four relievers shut down the A’s, allowing just two hits.

The A’s concluded the first half with a 39-50 record, the ninth-worst record at the break in the team’s Oakland history. Despite winning four of five coming in, and Hernandez attempting to reinvent himself after a string of injuries, the A’s and their nemesis experienced deja vu once Hernandez took the mound on Sunday.

Hernandez walked three, struck out a season-best eight, and threw 100 pitches in subduing the A’s for six innings. It mattered little that Hernandez has struggled this season, spending nearly two months inactive due to shoulder bursitis. In just his fourth start since coming off the disabled list, Hernandez pitched as if it were old times.

“That’s absolutely the best we’ve seen him all year,” Mariners’ manager Scott Servais said. “He was locked in, had all his pitches working. He just had a different look about him today and that’s what guys that have had the career he’s had, they can turn up the dial a little bit.”

The A’s were limited to Matt Joyce’s double in the third inning, and Jaycob Brugman’s single in the fifth while facing Hernandez. The quartet of relievers following the King were even more stingy, gifting the A’s with a pair of walks, and no hits.

The A’s came into the first half finale, hitting just .197 in their previous 10 games, a stretch hardly masked by the perfume of four wins in their previous five games.

 

A’s beat M’s 2-1 in 10 innings and sweep the series

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners
Photo Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The majority of the preseason prognosticators had the Oakland Athletics finishing dead last in the American League West. Evidently, the A’s forgot to read the predictions for their 2016 season.

On Sunday, the Athletics survived seven innings of shutout baseball pitched by “King Felix” Hernandez (0-1, o.69 ERA), had strong pitching performances by their own stater and bullpen, used the long ball to defeat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 in 10 innings and won the series on the road three games to none.

The Athletics won the game via  a solo home run hit by Coco Crisp in the top of the 10th inning off Seattle reliever Nick Vincent. With two outs, Crisp hit a 3-1 pitch 376 feet over the right field wall to give Oakland a 2-1 lead.

Sean Doolittle took the mound for the Athletics in the bottom of the 10th inning and closed out the game for his first save of the season.

The A’s record improves to 4-3 with the win and puts them in sole possession of first-place in the American League West.

The Mariners are struggling to figure out how they squandered such an outstanding pitching performance like the one turned in by “King Felix” on Sunday.

On the mound

Hernandez was a master on the mound. He pitched seven innings giving up just three hits and no runs. The “King” recorded 10 strike outs and issued just two walks. He threw 99 pitches (62 strikes). The Seattle radio broadcasters said the outing was Hernandez at his best especially with the command he showed on his change-up and breaking ball. It is hard to imagine that such a quality outing simply ended in a no decision.

Chris Bassitt made his second start of the season for Oakland. Bassitt worked seven innings giving up three hits and one unearned run. He had four strikeouts but issued base-on-balls to five Seattle batters. Bassitt threw 97 pitches (58 stikes). Bassitt has yet to figure into a decision in his two starts this year.

The A’s used three pitchers out of the bullpen on Sunday. Ryan Madson, John Axford and Sean Doolittle worked one inning each. The three relievers gave up no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out two hitters. Axford was credited with his first win of the year while Doolittle recorded his first save of the season.

Seattle also used three pitchers out of their bullpen. Joel Peralta was charged with a blown save when gave up a home run to Marcus Semien. Steve Cishek worked a scoreless inning. Nick Vincent was tagged with the loss when he gave up the game winning home run off the bat of Coco Crisp.

In the batter’s box

The A’s scattered five hits over the 10 innings versus Seattle. No Oakland player had a multi-hit day. Crisp, Lowrie, Alonso, Phegley and Semien all had one hit each.

Marcus Semien tied the game at 1-1 when he hit his first home run of year in the top of the eighth inning off Peralta. Semien hit a high fly ball over the left field wall on a 3-2 pitch.

The Mariners managed to get just six hits off the four Oakland pitchers. Nelson Cruz had a two-hit game than included his second double of the year. Seattle catcher Leonys Martin also had a two-hit game.

The Athletics went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.

The M’s were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and they left 10 men on base.

MVP

The MVP of the game has to be Felix Hernandez. The “King” was brilliant on the mound and showed why he is one of top pitchers in the major leagues. Plus, he deserves to get something for pitching that well and having his team lose the game.

Honorable Mention

Coco Crisp deserves this honor for hitting his first home run since August 27, 2014. After battling through injuries last season, it was nice to see Crisp carry his team to a big win using his bat.

Up next

The Athletics will be back in action on Monday in Oakland when they open a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.