Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 6, Mariners 1

Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 6, Mariners 1
September 8, 2012, 5:09 am
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OAKLAND -- With the No. 32 jersey proudly hanging in the dugout the A's took the field with heavy hearts. A's players found out on their off-day Thursday that their friend and teammate Brandon McCarthy underwent surgery to ease the pressure from an epidural hemorrhage and to stabilize a skull fracture incurred after getting hit in the head by a line drive on Wednesday. With McCarthy in their thoughts the A's opened a critical stretch of games in which they play 17 of their next 20 on the road with a 6-1 win over Seattle. More impressive, they did it in dramatic fashion, scoring all six of their runs with Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez on the mound. At the PlateThe A's plated an usually rare run on Hernandez in the first inning. Seth Smith reached on a single and came around to score on a ball hit by Yoenis Cespedes to right field. The single was a blooper but it was misplayed by right fielder Eric Thames, allowing Smith to score. The A's did the improbable in the fourth inning -- they scored three runs on Hernandez. With the "King's Court" worked into a full on lather, George Kottaras crushed a hanging slider into the right field stands for a three-run homer. With Kottaras' seventh home run of the season, you could almost see the weight of the world lifting off the A's shoulders. It also silenced the yellow triangle that is the fanatical Felix following in left field. The A's piled on in the fifth inning against Hernandez. Josh Donaldson laced a two-out double down the left field line, scoring Brandon Moss. Then Stephen Drew drove home Donaldson with a single to right field making it 6-1. Donaldson rounded third with the throw from right field incoming and didn't slide but still made it safely -- barely -- evoking memories of Jeremy Giambi with his non-slide at home. The Drew single knocked Hernandez out of the game. The A's tallied 11 hits on Hernandez, matching the most he's allowed since May 11 at New York against the Yankees. Hernandez's four and two-third innings is his shortest performance since May 16 when he only lasted three and two-third innings against the Indians. Cliff Pennington went 4-for-4. He is a streaky hitter. If he gets hot, look out. Starting Pitching ReportA.J. Griffin engaged in a duel with Hernandez on the former Cy Young Award winner's turf and upstaged the ace. With thoughts of McCarthy surely heavy on his mind, Griffin dropped his head seemingly in disbelief after a first-inning, line-drive single hit by Kyle Seager flew just over his head. Griffin allowed a run in the second inning on two hits and a walk. The damage was done when Brendan Ryan hit an 89-mph fastball that caught too much of the plate into right field, scoring Michael Saunders. Josh Reddick fielded the ball and came up throwing, but the throw shaded a little too far up the third base line to nail the runner. After giving up the second-inning run, Griffin retired the next six batters he faced. He gave up back-to-back singles with two outs in the fourth inning, but struck out Ryan swinging on a curveball to end the threat. With six runs of support on his side, the rookie righty buckled down and easily dispatched the Mariners in the fifth inning. With 98 pitches he stayed in to start the sixth inning. He allowed a leadoff single and struck out Saunders swinging on a fastball and was removed from the game. He may not have gone as deep into the game as he would have liked, but seven strikeouts, one walk, and just one earned run is still a pretty solid evening of work. Griffin hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 10 big league starts. Griffin is now 5-0 to start his career, joining Todd Burns (1988) as the only pitcher in Oakland history to start his career with five wins and zero losses.Bullpen ReportJerry Blevins relieved Griffin and retired the final two batters of the sixth inning. He came back out and started and finished the seventh inning as well. Ryan Cook pitched the eighth inning. He allowed one hit and a walk but escaped unscathed. Sean Doolittle threw a scoreless ninth inning. On the BasesCespedes tried to zoom from first to third on Moss' single in the fifth inning, but was thrown out. It looked like he might have gone into his headfirst slide a little early. The A's still ended up scoring two runs in the fifth frame, even after Cespedes ran into the out. AttendanceThe Mariners announced an attendance of 17,128. Up NextBrett Anderson (3-0, 0.90 ERA) takes on Hisashi Iwakuma (6-3, 3.14 ERA). Anderson has been unstoppable since returning from a 14-month layoff after Tommy John surgery. The A's won the negotiating rights to Iwakuma prior to last season but couldn't strike a deal. He remained in Japan and ended up a member of the Seattle Mariners this year. Oakland will face the pitcher they could have had on Saturday, and Iwakuma is on a roll. He has won five of his last seven starts for the Mariners.

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