Programming note: A’s-Mariners coverage starts today at 5:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California. CHANNEL LISTINGS
SEATTLE – A victory could have been a soothing tonic for the A’s on Friday night, but that’s proving elusive when the late innings arrive and the score is tight.
The clubhouse atmosphere was predictably melancholy after the Mariners’ Logan Morrison hit a walkoff homer that beat Oakland 4-3 in the bottom of the 11th. After the defeat, word was still spreading about Jarrod Parker’s elbow injury that was suffered in a Triple-A rehab start thousands of miles away in Nashville.
Depending on the severity of Parker’s injury – he’s coming back from his second Tommy John elbow surgery – it could deal a costly blow to the A’s season-long fortunes moving forward. But in the short term, the A’s continue to grapple with their inability to pull out a close game. Friday’s loss dropped them to 1-9 in one-run games and 0-5 in extra-inning contests, the main culprit being a bullpen that simply can’t get key outs when it needs to.
Evan Scribner and Fernando Abad combined to give up a two-run lead in the seventh as Seattle tied it 3-3. Then Dan Otero gave up Morrison’s walkoff shot on the first pitch he threw upon entering in the bottom of the 11th. Oakland’s bullpen has absorbed nine of the team’s 19 losses, and that’s tied for most in the majors. Coincidentally, the Mariners’ bullpen is the other team with nine.
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's fall victim to Mariners' walk-off home run]
It makes for a delicate dynamic in the postgame clubhouse, where A’s players straddle the line between acknowledging the obvious (the bullpen not getting it done) and not wanting to throw teammates under the bus.
“I’m not gonna bad-mouth anybody because these guys are here for a reason,” right fielder Josh Reddick said. “They’re big league pitchers and they’re really good at what they do. So nobody’s here to bad-mouth anybody. But at some point we’ve gotta have somebody that steps up. … We’ve just gotta have somebody step it up and hopefully when somebody does, everybody else jumps right along with him.”
A’s officials don’t have any specifics on Parker’s elbow injury. He was making his fourth rehab start, and second for Triple-A Nashville, when he hurt his elbow in the sixth inning after his 87th pitch against Round Rock. He was scheduled to throw up to 90 pitches.
Eye-witness accounts on Twitter said that Parker fell to the ground and was grabbing at his elbow. The A’s released a statement saying only that Parker indeed injured his elbow, and that details wouldn’t be known until he sees a specialist. But manager Bob Melvin had a hard time finding words when discussing his right-hander, who is approximately 13 months removed from his second Tommy John procedure.
Parker’s comeback had unfolded seamlessly until Friday, and he was looking on target for two more rehab starts before potentially rejoining the A’s rotation for the first time since the end of the 2013 season.
“I don’t know what to say about that,” Melvin said. “A guy that works as hard as he has to get back. I don’t have words for that. You feel really bad for him. We have our fingers crossed that it’s not too bad.”
Compounding things, Melvin announced before Friday’s game that starter A.J. Griffin – working back from Tommy John surgery himself – was headed back to the Bay Area to be evaluated after experiencing shoulder soreness.
As it is, the losses on the scoreboard are tough enough to digest for the A’s (12-19), who have dropped 11 of their past 15 and now occupy sole possession of last place in the A.L. West.
“I feel like we’re obviously a lot better than how we’re playing,” said Sonny Gray, who held Seattle to one run over six innings. “I really believe that. Just a few things here and there (where) we’ve made a few mistakes … When you’re playing close games like we have been, they just really come back to bite you. Pretty much every game we’ve played this year that we’ve lost, we’ve been in a lot of them. We’ve been right there. Hopefully sometime soon we can start being on the other side of these games.”