Kottaras' blast in Seattle puts A's at ease

Kottaras' blast in Seattle puts A's at ease
September 8, 2012, 6:30 am
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SEATTLE -- Still digesting a three-game sweep at the hands of their division rivals, and the terrifying news of a two hour surgery on their ace Brandon McCarthy, the weight of the world was seemingly placed squarely on the shoulders of the Oakland Athletics.Enter Atlas, also known as George Kottaras. With a similar physique as the Grecian mythological figure who hoists the globe, Kottaras crushed a fourth-inning, go-ahead three-run homer that seemed to uplift the downtrodden A's en route to a much-needed 6-1 win over the Mariners. Kottaras' seventh homer of the season couldn't have come at a better time, or against a tougher pitcher. It's not often you see the Mariners' ace and Cy Young Award winner "King Felix" Hernandez get knocked around. "Those types of homers feel like they put more runs on the board than they actually do," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "To get to 4-1 against Felix, it feels like a 10-run homer." When all was said and done, Hernandez allowed a season high-tying 11 hits and six runs, five earned. It is only the second time the right-handed pitcher has been pulled before completing five innings all year. "Facing a guy like that, it is good to have a little wiggle room," Kottaras said. "It puts you ahead and kind of puts you at ease a little bit." A's starting pitcher A.J. Griffin took the ball and delivered yet again. The rookie pitcher is now 5-0 to start his major league career, the first pitcher in Oakland history to do so since Todd Burns in 1988. "Seems like every time he pitches we feel good about our chances and he gives us a great chance to win," Melvin said. "The performance and results have been the same every time." Griffin overthrew the pressures of pitching opposite Hernandez in the King's Court. He tossed five and one-third innings of one-run ball, struck out seven batters and walked just one. "You just have to worry about doing your job," Griffin said. "You have no control over what he does out there, I just have to go out there and pitch the best game that I can."Having a little run support does a lot for the psyche. Stephen Drew's fifth-inning single knocked Hernandez out of the game and gave the A's a 6-1 lead. Drew has now reached base safely in 13 of his 15 games since being traded to Oakland. Drew's hit was preceded by a Josh Donaldson RBI double. Donaldson has eight doubles, five homers and 16 RBI since being recalled on August 20. Yoenis Cespedes drove in the A's first run in the first frame and went 2-for-5 registering his 32nd multi-hit game.The A's drubbing of the Mariners put them back atop the American League Wild Card standings. It also lifted their spirits. During the game McCarthy's No. 32 jersey was proudly displayed in the dugout. Before the game Jonny Gomes brought the jersey out from the clubhouse.RELATED: McCarthy shows 'great progress' after brain trauma
"It's an emotional thing thinking about it," Kottaras said. "He wished us luck before the game. Our thoughts are with him but you have a job to do as well." "He's in all of our thoughts right now," Griffin said. "We just hope that he's OK and it's really scary."

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