SEATTLE – The problem for the A’s on Friday wasn’t generating base runners. It was knowing what to do with them.
In the opener of a pivotal three-game series between wild card contenders, Oakland couldn’t cash in on its opportunities and lost 4-2 to the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Coupled with Detroit’s victory and Kansas City's loss, the A’s are lead the AL wild card standings with the Royals and Mariners tied for the second spot just a half game back.
The ending fit perfectly with the theme of the night. The first two runners reached in the top of the ninth against Seattle closer Fernando Rodney, then three straight outs, including strikeouts from Josh Reddick and Josh Donaldson to finish things.
Hey, at least the A’s found a way to keep it interesting in losing for the 14th time in 19 games.
Due to a back injury to starting catcher Geovany Soto, the A’s lost their designated hitter in the third inning when Derek Norris shifted from D.H. to behind the plate. Right-hander Jason Hammel wound up making a plate appearance, and it was more competitive than many of those turned in by his teammates lately. Hammel dropped a bunt that the Mariners played into an error that contributed to a scoring rally.
But the A’s went 1-for-14 with runners when the final out was recorded, the scoreboard once again showed the A’s on the losing end. And on Saturday, they get the joy of facing Felix Hernandez for the sixth time this season, and you know how that history has played out.
Starting pitching report
Hammel could have pitched deeper into the game, but the loss of the D.H. forced Melvin to pinch-hit for him in the top of the sixth. Hammel gave up three runs in five innings, and after three sharp outings in a row, the home run ball resurfaced and bit him. Robinson Cano took him deep in the first. Then with the score 2-2 in the fifth, Logan Morrison hit a shot that stayed just inside the right field foul pole for a solo homer.
Hammel struck out six and walked one.
Eric O’Flaherty relieved Hammel to start the sixth and he served up Kendrys Morales’ solo shot that provided the Mariners some breathing room.
At the plate
Given how things have played out offensively for Oakland, things looked relatively promising when they scratched out single runs in the third and fourth innings and erased a 2-0 deficit. But despite driving up the pitch count of Seattle starter James Paxton early, the A’s couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities. They wound up stranding 10 runners for the game.
They got on the board in the third when Josh Donaldson singled home Sam Fuld with two outs. But Jed Lowrie went down swinging with the bases loaded, one of three strikeouts on the night for the A’s shortstop.
They had a man on second with no outs in the fifth, but Donaldson popped up on the first pitch, then Derek Norris and Lowrie each struck out to end that threat.
In the field
Seattle took a 2-0 lead in the second when Mike Zunino’s shallow fly fell just out of shortstop Jed Lowrie’s reach. It was an odd looking play, as left fielder Jonny Gomes didn’t seem to give full pursuit, glancing at Lowrie as if assuming the shortstop had a bead on the ball.
A crowd of 29,090 was on hand.
The weekend’s marquee pitching matchup awaits in Saturday’s 6:10 p.m. game, as Sonny Gray (13-8, 3.22) takes the mound against Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.12). The Mariners have won all five games in which Hernandez has pitched against Oakland this season.