Sad Saturday Night in Seattle for the A’s

7-6b
Matt Olson rounds the bases after hitting home run number 18 Photo: @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland A’s hoped to guarantee a series win in their final set before the All-Star Break by downing the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night. That opportunity to win the series will now have to happen on Sunday in the “rubber game” of the three-game series after the A’s lost to the M’s 6-3 on Saturday night.

The A’s staked their starting pitcher Chris Bassitt to a 2-0 lead through three innings, but the game took a dramatic turn in the bottom of the fourth inning. Bassitt gave up four runs off just four hits.

With Domingo Santana on at first and no one out, DH Daniel Vogelbach launched the first pitch from Bassitt high into the right-field seats to tie the game at 2-2. The next batter, Omar Narvaez, singled to right. Kyle Seager then hit a 2-0 pitch into the right-field seats for a two-run home run. The inning ended with the M’s up 4-2, and they would never look back after that frame.

Focus on the A’s

7-6a
Graphic/Photo: @Athletics
  • Bassitt was charged with the loss and his record fell to 5-4 on the season. Bassitt gave up multiple home runs for the first time since May 21st in Cleveland. This was just the second time in 14 games that he had allowed more than three runs.
  • Matt Olson hit his 18th home run of the year in the third inning. Those 18 round-trippers have come in just 50 games. Interesting fact: 12 of his 18 home runs have been hit on the road.
  • Ramon Laureano put another home run in the scorebook. He hit his 15th HR of the season in the top of the ninth inning. Seven of his home runs and 22 of his 44 RBI have come in the last 22 games.
  • Bob Melvin said after the game, “He (Bassitt) got off to a good start, he was throwing hard. Everything looked like it was working. Then, he ends up getting a couple of two-run homers and now we’re behind. Maybe not his best outing and I just couldn’t let something happen with Vogelbach at the plate. Looks like he had good stuff today, it just happened quickly on him.”

Mariner’s notes

7-6c
Gonzales recorded his 10th win Photo: @Mariners
  • Marco Gonzales recorded his 10th win of the season in this game. He worked 8.0-innings giving up two runs (both earned) on five hits. Gonzales struck out six and walked just one. He has now recorded 10 wins before the All-Star Break in back-to-back seasons.
  • Daniel Vogelbach hit his 21st home run the year on Saturday night. The launch angle on his home run was 43 degrees. It was truly a “moon shot”.
  • Kyle Seager ended an 0-for-21 streak at the plate when he hit his two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. This was his first HR since June 21.
  • There has been a home run hit in each one of the Mariners first 93 games this season. That is an MLB record.
  • Bob Melvin on Marco Gonzales: “It seems like we’ve played that game against him where we’ve had him on the ropes early in the game and he’s limited the damage and ended up going seven or eight innings. It feels like we’ve played that game quite often against him. So you’ve got to give him some credit. We would have liked to have (done) a little bit more damage early on and scored a few more runs and got a little more distance but we didn’t and he settles in and pitches well.”

Up next

RHP Daniel Mengden (3-1, 4.67 ERA) will take the hill on Sunday for the A’s. The M’s will use RHP Matt Carasiti (0-0, 1.80 ERA) to open the game with the plan being to turn the game over to Wade LeBlanc as the primary pitcher. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM PDT.

A’s have won eight in a row after beating the Mariners 6-5 on Saturday

AM4
Matt Olson bunts for a single Photo: @NBCSBA

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Every analyst and reporter that covers the Oakland Athletics kept telling fans that their team was going to wake up and start playing up to their potential any day now. They (including this reporter) kept reminding you that the A’s started slowly last season but found their legs in June.

After a while, it began to feel like the front office, team, media, and the fans were all in the same sports bar after a game trying to convince each other that the turnaround was going to happen.

Now, the great turnaround of 2019 is underway. The A’s have won eight consecutive games. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games. Oakland has won five of their last six series. The A’s swept the series in Detroit and Cincinnati.

This is how the A’s turned their season upside down in 2018 by winning series after series at home and on the road. The 2019 A’s may be on the verge of unlocking the secret to repeating that accomplishment.

Oakland is two-hundredths of a percentage point out of second place in the AL West. Both Texas and the A’s trail the Astros by 7.5 games. The A’s are in a virtual tie for the second Wild Card spot in the American League (don’t laugh — it’s never too early to look at the Wild Card when Houston is in your division).

Fiers first home start since the no-hitter

Mike Fiers took the mound for the A’s on Saturday and did not throw a no-hitter, but he did keep his team in the game. The veteran worked six innings giving up three runs (all earned) off five hits. Fiers struck out three Mariners and walked two. He also earned the win which upped his record to 4-3.

Fiers faced 23 batters and gave up just two extra-base hits. Domingo Santana hit his 10th home run of the year off Fiers in the fourth inning and Mitch Haniger hit his 13th round-tripper off the starter in the fifth.  Jay Bruce hit his ninth double of the season off the starter. Fiers threw 89 pitches (66 strikes). He has pitched at least five innings in each of his last six starts, which dates back to April 26 in Toronto.

The A’s scored first

AM2
Chapman celebrates the 50th HR of his career Photo: @athletics

The A’s are 18-9 when they score first this season.

Matt Chapman put the A’s first run up on the board when he hit his 12th home run of the season in the bottom of the first inning off Seattle starter LHP Yusel Kikuchi with two out and the bases empty. Chapman is hitting just .229 versus left-handed pitching, but he has six home runs in 48 at-bats against southpaws.

Ramon Laureano went 2-for-3 on Saturday with a double and an RBI. Laureano extended his hitting streak to eight games (12-for-31) which is also a new career high. His double in the fifth inning tied an Oakland record. It was the fifth consecutive game in which Laureano had hit a double tying a record that has been done five times in A’s history. The last to do it before Saturday was Miguel Tejada back in 2003.

Treinen gets the save

Blake Treinen picked up his 62nd save as an Athletic (10th of 2019). The save did not come without some excitement. Treinen gave up two runs (earned) on three hits, including a home run, but he held on to get the save.

Seattle

The M’s have now lost five consecutive games and are 2-8 in their last 10 games. Seattle currently is in sole possession of last place in AL West 5.0 games back of the A’s and 12.5 games behind the division-leading Astros.

Starter Yusel Kikuchi lasted just 3.1 innings, his shortest start of the season since April 26. Kikuchi gave up five runs (4 earned) off 10 hits including one home run. He struck out one and walked one batter. Kikuchi was tagged with the loss and his record now stands at 3-2.

Kyle Seager made his first appearance of 2019 since coming off the injured list — it was his first ever trip to the IL. Seager hit his 250th career double in the ninth inning of the game on Saturday.

Domingo Santana had quite a game. He went 2-for-4 on the day with both his hits being home runs. He has touched them all 11 times this season. It was his first multi-home run game of the year.

Mitch Haniger loves to face the A’s. He is batting .296 (45-for-152) including 11 home runs versus Oakland in his career. Haniger went 2-for-4 with a home run and an RBI on Saturday.

Seattle is now 0-18 when their opponent scores first this season. The Mariners have scored 147 of their 278 runs (52.9-percent) via the home run.

Up Next

The A’s and M’s will wrap up their three-game series on Sunday at 1:07 PM. Seattle will go with RHP Mike Leake (3-5, 4.73 ERA) while the Oakland will counter with LHP Brett Anderson (5-3, 4.14 ERA).

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.

 

“Acquired Taste” Upsets A’s Appetite For Scoring

By Matthew Harrington

OAKLAND, Calif. – Monday night marked a pitching matchup of eerily similar pitcher profiles. Two players amid career renaissances met in a showdown that would have stolen the Sportscenter spotlight just six or seven years ago by now over a half-decade later proved to be a showdown between starters just now rediscovering the promise of their abilities. In the end the outcome was just as unexpected as the winning pitcher’s ability to find a way to win.

The Seattle Mariners (15-15) bested the Oakland Athletics in the battle of the unbeaten starters, with lanky right hander Chris Young topping fellow former All-Star Scott Kazmir on a Monday evening match-up at O.Co Coliseum. Oakland got a two run home run from Brandon Moss but M’s outfielder’s Stefan Romero’s first career long ball proved the difference-maker as Young and the Seattle bullpen held the Swinging A’s to just four hits in a 4-2 Mariners win.

“You don’t see him a lot,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “He’s an acquired taste. He’s unique in what he does. You look at the gun, he’s throwing 85 miles per hour throwing balls by you.”

Young (2-0, 3.03 ERA) baffled A’s hitters despite boasting a fastball that could be measured in miles per day, not hour. Young’s “heater” sat comfortably in the mid-to-low eighties on the radar gone throughout the evening, a speed that’d usually make any pro hitter’s eyes light up. Despite the shortcomings in velocity, the towering 6-foot-10 righty pitched six innings, holding the A’s (19-13) to just three hits while striking out and walking a pair each.

“It’s just different than a lot of guys you face,” said Moss of facing Young. “Obviously it looks like he’s throwing soft and the radar gun says he’s throwing soft but the way he pitches up and down makes it tough. It’s so rare that you see something like that. With that arm angle and that height it looks like he’s throwing out of the sky.”

Young did not pitch in the MLB at all during 2013 and pitched a combined 159 innings with the New York Mets and San Diego Padres since 2010. Like pitching foe Kazmir, Young appeared on the track to superstardom after earning an All-Star spot in 2007 with the Padres but had injuries derail a promising career. Young picked up the loss in the game, saw his ERA balloon from 3.12 in 2007 to 3.96 in 2008 before bloating to 5.21 in 2009. He now appears on track to becoming a valuable contributor to an MLB team after being released by the Washington Nationals earlier in the Spring.

“He’s not a guy that some team just runs out there,” echoed Moss. “He knows what he’s doing. He knows how to pitch. He knows how to get outs when he needs them. People see velocity and they want to judge people on that, but he can pitch.”

Young’s over-the-top delivery baffled Oakland batters for three and 1/3 no-hit innings to open play before shortstop Jed Lowrie broke through with his fourth-inning, no-out single. Left fielder Moss plated Lowrie with his two-run blast to right center on a belt-high 86 mph fastball, his fifth round-tripper of the season. The dinger marks the 10th all-time round-tripper against Seattle for Moss, the most he’s hit against one team.

“It was a mistake,” said Moss of the pitch he hammered over the wall. “He had thrown me one there earlier in the at-bat and I was in front of it. The more pitches I saw, the better my timing got. He’s a tough guy to face.”

Moss’ four-bagger pulled Oakland even after the Mariners capitalized early on an off-night from Kazmir (4-1, 2.64) by pushing two runs across in the first inning. Leadoff man Michael Saunders and Stefan Romero greeted the southpaw with back-to-back singles just out of reach of A’s infielders to open the game. Big offseason acquisition Robinson Cano struck out looking but designated hitter Corey Hart drove a single through the right side of the infield to bring Saunders around from second.

“That’s baseball,” said Kazmir. “I just had to focus on the stuff that I can control. With Saunders I ended up getting two strikes on him. I tried throwing him a fastball outside but it ended up being right over the middle of the plate and up and he was able to handle it. Then there was the changeup hit into the hole (by Romero). That’s something where, if maybe I pitched a little better there’d be a different outcome. After that first inning I just tried to get as deep as I could into the game.”

Romero advanced to third on the play as well, though if Craig Gentry weren’t subbing in in right field due to Josh Reddick’s ankle injury sustained Sunday in Boston, a play at the plate or third base could have been a possibility. Romero instead came around to score on Kyle Seager’s groundout for a 2-0 M’s lead with a half inning in the books. Romero also touched Kazmir for another run in the fifth, turning around a Kazmir 0-1 delivery to left field for his first homer in the Major Leagues.

“His velocity was down,” said batterymate Jaso. “He left a couple off-speed pitches in the zone. The homer was on a changeup and it was on a guy who swings and misses on changeups but location is key. When he got hurt it was just location.”

Kazmir opened the sixth inning by surrendering a 1-2 count single to Cole Gillespie, then watched him advance to second on a wild pitch to Brad Miller. The Seattle shortstop connected on the run-scoring base hit after lifting a fly ball to left field. Moss original charged the ball and appeared to have a chance to make a routine catch, but he put up a hand to his face as the ball dropped in front of him for the hit.

“As soon as it went up it went in the lights,” said Moss, primarily a first basemen by trade. “I was hoping it would come out of it but I could tell that it wasn’t going to. I tried to back up and keep it in front of me. I wanted to keep the runner from second from scoring and keep the other guy on first. I backed up and tried to get it in to (Donaldson) as quick as possible. Sometimes those plays feel worse than errors. At least when you make an error, you know it’s your fault. You can take ownership for it. When something like that happens, that’s tough. You want to make plays for your guys.”

Miller swiped second and third off Kazmir with catcher Mike Zunino at the plate, but third basemen Josh Donaldson cut a greey Miller down at the plate after he tried to score on a tapper down the line. Catcher John Jaso applied the tag for the easy out.

Seattle ran into the third out of the inning as well when Moss caught Zunino trying to go first-to-third on a Saunders single in the gap to left center. Moss atoned for his early miscue after his throw beat Zunino to the bag for the tag by Donaldson.

Kazmir departed the game after the inning, allowing four runs on eight hits with only three punchouts and a pair of walks. Kazmir also plunked Hart for the lone hit-by-pitch of the game and fired one wild pitch in a night where his best stuff and usual velocity eluded him.

“They just got to him early,” said Melvin of his veteran hurler. “They got him out of his rhythm early on. He recovered some, he battled. It probably wasn’t the best stuff we’ve seen this year. The velocity was down a little bit. You’re going to have days like that but he still kept us in the game.”

The A’s put the leadoff batter on just once all night after Donaldson singled up the middle in the bottom of the seventh, reaching base in the 27th-straight contest. The next batter Moss fell behind 0-2 before drawing the walk in a 12 pitch battle against Young. Manager Lloyd McClendon saw enough out of his starter, lifting him for lefty Charlie Furbush to face designated hitter Alberto Callaspo.

Callaspo entered play Monday night hitting .308 with runners on base. The switch-hitter also came having hit into six double plays, “good” for second in the American League. Callaspo added to that total, bouncing into the 6-4-3 twin killing.

“He hits it hard,” said Melvin of Callaspo’s grounder. “He just hit it right at the shortstop. (Callaspo) is a guy we feel good about in those situations. He’s gotten big hits for us all year. Sometimes you just square it up and hit it right at someone. It was a bit of a momentum changer.”

Pinch hitter Derek Norris walked off newly-inserted reliever Dominic Leone to keep the A’s threat. A’s manager Bob Melvin sent Reddick to the plate for Gentry, but ended up burning the outfielder’s availability after McClendon countered by calling on Joe Beimel for the lefty-lefty match-up. Melvin sent Yoenis Cespedes, another ailing Athletics outfielder, to the plate in Reddick’s stead, but the 2013 Home Run Derby champion popped out to Cano at second to end the rally.

“He was good enough to swing the bat,” said Melvin when asked after the game if he’d send a hampered Reddick to the plate. “He was good enough to potentially stay with it.”

In total, Seattle used five relievers with set-up man Yoervis Medina picking up his seventh hold and Fernando Rodney completed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his eighth save on the campaign. Fernando Abad pitched a dominant seventh inning for Oakland and Ryan Cook pitched two innings to avoid taxing a green and gold bullpen that pitched four innings in a 3-2 extra innings win at Boston Sunday.

The A’s have now dropped three of their last four after exploding for 12 runs Wednesday to complete a sweep of the Texas Rangers. The A’s have scored just eight runs in the quartet of contests since. They’ll look to regain the scoring touch against Roenis Elias in game two of the four-game set Tuesday night. Oakland will counter with the surprise player of the season, Jesse Chavez.

“That’s just how it goes,” said Jaso. “There are ups and downs throughout the year. Maybe tomorrow we’ll come out and score ten, maybe we’ll win a 1-0 ballgame. You never know, that’s just how it works.”