SEATTLE — The manner in which the A’s surrendered the winning run Saturday was a shocker.
The fact that they put themselves in position to lose a 7-6 game to the Mariners to begin with? That you could see coming.
It was one of those nights where the mistakes and the missed opportunities all led to the feeling this wouldn’t end well for a team that’s been hurt all season by so many individual breakdowns.
After the game, rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell faced reporters and took the responsibility for the game-ending play, on which the Mariners’ Jean Segura raced home from third with the winning run on a play ruled a wild pitch by closer Blake Treinen. Treinen threw a breaking ball that dove down and away. Maxwell shifted into position to try to block the pitch, but it squirted through his legs and the A’s didn’t have a play on Segura.
“I just didn’t get my glove down in time. It’s on me,” Maxwell said. “(Treinen) executed, and I miss a ball to lose a game. That’s how it works sometimes.”
The A’s are 0-5 so far on this six-game road trip against the Angels and Mariners. The two defeats that stick out are Wednesday’s and Saturday’s, when the A’s held an 8-3 lead against the Angels and a 6-2 lead on Seattle, respectively.
In both games, the A’s starters — Kendall Graveman on Wednesday and Jharel Cotton on Saturday — didn’t take advantage of the leads they were given and work deep enough into the game, leaving lots of burden on the bullpen. On Saturday, Cotton surrendered three homers and left without retiring a hitter in the fifth.
“The off-speed wasn’t down enough today and that’s where they got me,” Cotton said. “… These guys came out here to play today, and they put some runs on the board for me. I was supposed to go out there and go six or seven hopefully, with the lead I had. I didn’t do that today. It’s frustrating.”
Two errors from normally sure-handed rookie first baseman Matt Olson led to two unearned runs. He missed a pick-off throw from Simon Castro to usher along a rally in the sixth. In the ninth, the Mariners’ winning rally began when Olson let Segura’s grounder get past him and into right field.
For the second outing in a row, setup man Chris Hatcher gave up a costly homer. On Wednesday, it was a go-ahead grand slam to the Angels’ Cliff Pennington. On Saturday, Hatcher threw a pretty decent slider to Mike Zunino in the eighth and Zunino drove it out to the opposite field to tie the game 6-6.
But the fact is, Hatcher is taking on a bigger role than one might have anticipated when he was acquired in a low-profile trade from the Dodgers in mid-August. Such is the state of the A’s bullpen right now. They’re searching for anybody showing the ability to get key late-inning outs.
Manager Bob Melvin made a point not to lay full blame on his pitching staff or the defense, saying the A’s offense went too silent after building a 6-2 lead on the strength of three homers.
“The bullpen really did a good job, we used a lot of guys to try to get through that game,” Melvin said. “But it would behoove us to try to add on a run or two as well. You just can’t sit there and say, ‘Here you go bullpen, shut ‘em down.’ (Seattle is) a real good offensive team.”
The A’s surely left Safeco Field on Saturday night sharing the blame as a team for this loss. They’ll return Sunday looking to avoid a winless two-city road trip.