Melvin: 'I couldn't be prouder'
Sonny Gray struck out eight Mariners, five looking, over five shutout innings Sunday in Seattle. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Chris Young scored on Seth Smith's double in the second inning as part of a four-run rally. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SEATTLE – In a regular-season finale that had the feel of a spring training game, the Oakland A’s routed the Seattle Mariners 9-0 at Safeco Field.
The teams combined to use 11 pitchers, and there were substitutions and position switches throughout the afternoon. The upshot was that the A’s finished 96-66, notching their most victories since the 2003 club also won 96.
Sunday’s outcome certainly won’t have any bearing on the American League Division Series, as the A’s have four days off before starting a best-of-five series with the Detroit Tigers. But Oakland capped off a 19-8 September while managing to get a few innings of work for starters, key reserve players and end-of-the-bench players alike.
Starting pitching report
Sonny Gray threw five shutout innings and then handed things over to his bullpen. If the A’s brass needed one last sign of reassurance that the rookie deserves a spot in the postseason rotation, Gray appeared to deliver it.
[RELATED: Gray shines in preparation for bright lights of postseason]
He walked three, all coming within a four-batter span bridging the third and fourth innings, but allowed just three hits and struck out eight (five looking). He had his sharp curve working, and he froze Dustin Ackley on a 95 mph fastball for strike three in the third.
Five relievers combined to finish off the A’s 13th shutout of the season.
At the plate
A pair of four-run rallies, in the second and fifth innings, zapped the suspense out of this one. Chris Young, hitting leadoff with Coco Crisp sitting, delivered a two-run single to start the scoring in the second. Seth Smith drove him in with a double and Brandon Moss yanked a double down the right field line to make it 4-0.
Alberto Callaspo had an RBI single in the fifth, Josh Reddick’s double to right brought home another run and Daric Barton’s blooper to right fell in for a two-run single.
Andy Parrino chipped in an RBI double in the ninth.
In the field
The substitutions came early and often. Josh Donaldson got one at-bat and then was removed for pinch runner Jemile Weeks. Derek Norris started behind the plate but made his first major league appearance at first base in the sixth. He handled a couple of routine grounders with no problem. Weeks saw time in center field and handled a fly ball to the warning track with ease in the sixth.
The Mariners drew 17,081 to their final game of 2013. Well, at least the Seahawks pulled out their game against the Texans. That game was playing on the JumboTron before first pitch.
The A’s will take Monday off and then hold three days of workouts at the Coliseum before hosting Game 1 of the ALDS on Friday. Game time has yet to be announced. Bartolo Colon is expected to take the ball for the A’s. Detroit’s starter has yet to be announced.