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
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.
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.
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).