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

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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

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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.

 

Seattle Mariners sweep A’s out of Seattle with a 10-2 victory on Sunday

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Mariners Celebrate sweep
Mariners celebrate sweep of Oakland*

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

Mariners Haniger
Mitch Haniger had a 4-for-5 day at the plate*

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

Oakland

Mariners Gossett
Daniel Gossett struggled in his start on Sunday*
  • 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.

Seattle

Mariners Albers
Andrew Albers pitched six strong innings on Sunday
  • 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

Mariners Olson hits HR
Matt Olson hit his 12th HR of the year Sunday

Athletics

  • 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.

Mariners

  • 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.

Up next

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