In their current state offensively, the Oakland A’s aren’t good enough to be spotting opponents three-run leads in the first inning and get away with it.
They found themselves in that early hole Tuesday night and that proved too much to overcome in an 8-3 defeat to the Seattle Mariners at the Coliseum. They’ve dropped the first two of this four-game series, and as they prepare for Wednesday’s doubleheader, momentum clearly sits with the team from the Northwest.
The A’s need to sweep the twin bill merely to split this series, and making their task more daunting, they face longtime nemesis Felix Hernandez in Wednesday’s opener.
Jesse Chavez was coming off a terrific start at Texas, but he faced eight batters and was hit hard in a three-run top of the first. The A’s showed sporadic life with the bat but finished with just seven hits. Nick Punto’s two-run single in the second sliced their lead to 3-2. After the Mariners pushed it to 4-2, Yoenis Cespedes’ homer made it a one-run game again. But the Mariners broke open a close game with four runs in the ninth off Jim Johnson, who was riding a nice string of outings before things went off the rails Tuesday night. The A’s have lost four of their past five and worked their bullpen much more Tuesday than they wanted to before a doubleheader. Not the most productive of nights.
Starting pitching report
Jesse Chavez endured his roughest first inning of the season, giving up three runs on four hits and a wild pitch. But that’s not what stood out about his night. Chavez ended the top of the fourth by throwing his glove up and snaring a Michael Saunders liner that appeared headed straight for his face. The impact knocked Chavez to the ground. He rose slowly and let out a slow exhale of relief as he walked to the dugout. The home crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Chavez had surrendered one earned run or fewer in five of his first six starts. But Seattle put good wood on him in a 29-pitch first. He settled in after that, though the Mariners added another run off him in the sixth to make it 4-2. Chavez hit Kyle Seager in the foot to put him on first. Dustin Ackley’s single moved him around to third and he scored on Mike Zunino’s sacrifice fly.
A’s manager Bob Melvin went to his bullpen earlier than he would have liked in advance of Wednesday’s doubleheader. He called on Sean Doolittle with two outs in the sixth, and Doolittle proceeded to strike out all four batters that he faced. That was the good. The bad was provided by Johnson, who entered a 4-3 game and left an 8-3 game. All four of his runs were unearned, but that’s only because of his own throwing error on a bunt, which came after he issued a four-pitch walk to lead off the ninth. Johnson hadn’t allowed a run over his previous eight outings, and it was appearing that he was working his way back into the closer’s role, even if he didn’t wear the official label. Who knows where the closer situation stands? It will be all hands on deck on Wednesday.
At the plate
The A’s just aren’t getting enough timely hits right now to get any sort of sustained offense going. Mariners rookie Roenis Elias (3-2) held them to five hits over 6 1/3 innings. Punto, who entered the night with just one RBI, provided some surprise offense with his two-run single to get the A’s on the board. Cespedes hit his fifth homer. But the A’s will return to the field Wednesday afternoon looking to rediscover the hitting that they displayed over much of the last road trip.
In the field
Coco Crisp’s lack of arm strength in center was a factor in the Mariners’ sixth-inning rally. Kyle Seager didn’t hesitate going first to third on Dustin Ackley’s hard single to center. The ball got to Crisp quickly but Seager easily beat the relay throw from Jed Lowrie. That put Seager in position to score on Zunino’s fly ball to right.
Craig Gentry, playing right field for the A’s with Josh Reddick out with a sprained ankle, turned in a fantastic leaping catch at the wall to rob Corey Hart in the first inning.
Attendance A cozy gathering of 12,106 was on hand. Maybe everyone was saving their strength for Wednesday’s doubleheader?
The A’s and Mariners will play a rare traditional doubleheader Wednesday to make up for the April 4 postponement due to wet field conditions. Dan Straily (1-2, 5.01) takes the hill against Felix Hernandez (3-1, 2.53) in the 12:35 p.m. opener. Either Drew Pomeranz or Arnold Leon will start the second game against an undetermined starter for the Mariners.