Mariners 5, Athletics 3
(Oakland, CA) After taking the finale over Toronto on Sunday, many Seattle Mariner fans looked at the upcoming series with the Oakland Athletics as an opportunity to salvage a winning record on their long nine-game road trip. After taking the first two games in Oakland, it was even more realistic heading into the finale on Thursday afternoon. The trend of unlikely heroes carrying the offense continued in the finale as the bottom of the order came through multiple times while George Kirby kept the Oakland offense at bay to break out the brooms as Seattle swept Oakland with a 5-3 win.
Every game in the series saw Oakland strike first and that was the case once again on Thursday. This time it would be earlier than in the first two games as the A’s got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd. JJ Bleday, in his second game of the season, hit a 108-mph rocket down into the right field corner and it carried out of the park for his first home run of the season. The solo shot gave Oakland a quick 1-0 lead.
That lead evaporated quickly. In the top of the 3rd, J.P. Crawford drew a walk on five pitches to reach base to start the inning. Taylor Trammell then recorded his second hit of the season…and his second home run. Trammell drove one the other way into deep right center field. It didn’t look as good as it was off the bat but it got out for a two-run shot to put Seattle out in front 2-1.
It was then Oakland’s turn for a quick response. In the home half of the 3rd, Nick Allen drew a walk to leadoff the inning. Then, Esteury Ruiz lined one into deep right center field. Jarred Kelenic tried to make a diving catch but came up empty as the ball got all the way to the wall. With two speedsters on the basepaths, Allen scored easily while Ruiz reached third for his first triple of the year to tie the game 2-2. Tony Kemp got to the M’s again as he hit a routine grounder to Kolten Wong at second who threw out Kemp but Ruiz came in to score to give Oakland back the lead 3-2.
The flip-flopping of the game continued in the top of the 4th. Rucinski retired the first two batters but just like in game two, the offense got going with two outs. Cal Raleigh walked and he reached third on Teoscar Hernandez’s fifth double of the season. J.P. Crawford then walked to load the bases with two outs. Taylor Trammell didn’t have to do much as a 3-2 fastball was way high and he drew a bases loaded walk to tie the game 3-3. Kolten Wong then recorded his biggest hit as a Mariner. Wong slapped a ground ball out of the reach of Kemp and Allen up the middle and into center field for a two-out base hit. Hernandez and Crawford both scored easily to put the M’s back in the lead at 5-3.
George Kirby did get in some trouble in the bottom of the 6th. With runners on the corners and just one out, Kirby had his work cut out for him with Jesus Aguilar at the plate. Kirby would get the job done by getting Aguilar to pop out to Ty France at first for a big second out. Carlos Perez then did the same thing as France made another catch to end the inning to help Kirby escape the jam. His day would be done and while the line doesn’t blow you away but it was a very solid outing for George Kirby. He went seven innings and allowed seven hits but just three runs with one walk and two strikeouts. While it wasn’t as good as his complete game in Philadelphia, Kirby once again gave the Mariners an opportunity to win.
Paul Sewald looked to continue his strong start to the season as he came in for the save opportunity in the bottom of the 9th. Ryan Noda flew out to AJ Pollock in left for the first out. He then threw possibly his best slider of the season to Carlos Perez as it split the outside corner to strikeout Perez and put the Mariners one out away from the sweep. They would get that out as Jace Peterson grounded out to Crawford at short to finish off the win and the sweep 5-3.
Seattle (15-16) wraps up the road trip with a 5-4 record and now head home for six games with the Texas division foes starting with three games with Houston (16-15) starting on Friday at 7:10pm. It will be ace Luis Castillo (2-0, 1.82 ERA) getting the ball in game one of the ALDS rematch. Cristian Javier (2-1, 3.48 ERA) will start for the Astros who are dealing with plenty of injuries in their rotation.
Well that was some end to a frustrating road trip. How mad can we be about a winning road trip that included a trip to Toronto? The offense does still need to pick it up. Against the worst pitching staff in baseball the Mariners scored just nine runs before extra innings in Oakland. They need to figure out what’s going on. Julio Rodriguez is clearly frustrated and I think he needs to take pressure off himself. Ty France did get a hit which hopefully gets him going. However, we do need to give some respect to some unsung heroes. Jarred Kelenic is clearly MVP of this team but J.P. Crawford has been absolutely incredible. Obviously his defense is spectacular but his on-base percentage .374 at the bottom of the order is giving ample opportunities for the top of the order. Taylor Trammell’s power surge lengthens the lineup and AJ Pollock looks like he’s figured out some things to help notch up his game. Lastly, Kolten Wong finished the road trip strong. Wong is now 9-19 (.473) in his last six games played. If you have bashed him over the last week, then you just aren’t paying attention any more. As soon as guys like Julio and France get going and if Teoscar Hernandez can cut down on the strikeouts, we will see this lineup hit its stride.
- Taylor Trammell- 1-2, HR, 3 RBI, R, BB
- Kolten Wong- 2-4, 2 RBI
- George Kirby (W, 3-2)- 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
- JJ Bleday- 2-4, HR, RBI, R
- Esteury Ruiz- 1-4, 3B, RBI, R
- Drew Rucinski (L, 0-2)- 3.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 SO