SEATTLE -– No surprise ending was in store Friday night at Safeco Field.
What happened to the A’s was downright predictable based on how things have unfolded so far in this wayward season. They got a dynamite starting effort from Sonny Gray and a go-ahead home run from Josh Reddick. It wound up going down the tubes in a 4-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners that ended with Logan Morrison’s walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th off Dan Otero.
The A’s continue to give away leads like Halloween candy. Their beleaguered bullpen relinquished a 3-1 lead in the seventh when the home team scored twice off Evan Scribner and Fernando Abad. The dominoes fell from there as the A’s blew a prime scoring opportunity in the eighth.
Things stayed even until the 11th, when Otero entered and served up Morrison’s game-winner on the first pitch he threw.
The A’s are now 0-5 in extra-inning games, and they fell to 1-9 in one-run games.
It capped a dismal day overall that included the news of starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, both on the mend from Tommy John surgery, suffering injury setbacks. Parker’s in particular could be worrisome because it involves his twice surgically repaired elbow.
Starting pitching report
Gray turned in six innings of work that should have resulted in his fifth win of the season. He held the Mariners to one run over six innings and struck out nine. Four of Seattle’s six hits off him never left the infield. Send Gray to the mound against an A.L. West lineup and watch him go to work.
He’s now posted a 1.05 ERA against the division this season. In his lone start outside the West, against Kansas City, Gray gave up 11 hits and four runs.
He bore down in the sixth, after Eric Sogard threw wildly to first on Nelson Cruz’s infield single to move him to second. Gray struck out Kyle Seager, Logan Morrison and Mike Zunino in succession to end the sixth with his pitch count at 104. Manager Bob Melvin wouldn’t send him out for the seventh. It was a somewhat risky maneuver considering the bullpen’s body of work in 2015.
But surely the fact that Gray threw a career-high 119 pitches in his previous start factored into the decision.
Scribner has been terrific all season and Abad was coming off an encouraging outing Thursday, but the A’s let another late-inning lead slip away. On the bright side, Fernando Rodriguez turned in another excellent outing for the second straight day.
At the plate
The A’s struck for just six hits, but they were positioned to win after Josh Reddick blasted a 2-2 pitch from right-hander Taijuan Walker over the wall in right-center for a two-run shot that put Oakland up 3-1. Reddick’s bat cooled off in Minnesota, as he went 2-for-13 in that four-game series against the Twins.
But he put a charge into that fifth-inning homer, No. 5 for him on the season.
With the score tied 3-3 in the eighth, they came up empty after getting a runner to third with one out. Pinch hitter Billy Burns was hit by a pitch, went to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on Reddick’s deep fly to center. Billy Butler was intentionally walked, bringing up the A’s best hitter all season, Stephen Vogt, with one out against lefty Charlie Furbush. Vogt looked at a fastball for strike three, then pinch hitter Mark Canha hit into a fielder’s choice against righty Mark Lowe to end the threat.
That lost opportunity seemed to take the steam out of Oakland’s offense, and the A’s hitters went down quietly the rest of the way.
In the field
Gray got a lift in the second, when he gave up his only run. Dustin Ackley lined a shot toward right that Josh Reddick hauled in. Logan Morrison got caught way too far off first base, and Reddick’s throw to Ike Davis easily beat him to the bag for an inning-ending double play.
But Walker got some help too. Third baseman Kyle Seager made a running catch on Josh Reddick’s foul pop near the railing in the third. Eric Sogard got robbed when Seth Smith made a sliding catch of his sinking fly ball in the fifth.
Reddick would be on the wrong end of another terrific play in the 10th when Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano made a diving catch of his line drive headed for right field.
A crowd of 25,187 showed up to this series opener on an unusually mild night of weather in the Northwest.
Just once in his first five starts has Jesse Hahn (1-2, 4.33) worked as deep as six innings, and that came in his very first outing. He’ll try to end that trend when he takes the hill for Saturday’s 6:10 p.m. game. Lefty J.A. Happ (3-1, 3.51) goes for Seattle.