Mariners 5, Athletics 0
(Oakland, CA) Heading into Monday, the Seattle Mariners only had three games remaining against non-playoff teams. All three of those games would come this week as the Mariners began a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics. In a series the M’s need to win, and should probably sweep, the tone would be set early in game one. Seattle had to show that they were ignoring the past couple weeks and treating every game like a playoff game from here on out. A great start to this series would come off the bats and arms of young, unsung heroes as Bryan Woo and Jose Caballero came through as the Mariners cruised to a franchise record 16th shutout of the season and a 5-0 win over the A’s.
It was more of the same in the 1st for the Seattle Mariners which was not a good thing in this case. The first four pitches from JP Sears all missed as J.P. Crawford drew a walk and the fifth pitch hit Julio Rodriguez to put runners on first and second very quickly for the M’s. After Teoscar Hernandez struck out swing for the first out, Eugenio Suarez worked a walk to load the bases and give the Mariners a prime opportunity to jump ahead early. But once again, Seattle could not cash in on the opportunity to. Ty France popped out to second and Dylan Moore struck out swinging as the M’s left the bases loaded in the top of the 1st. Luckily, Bryan Woo pitched around a couple of one out walks to keep all zeros on the board for both teams after an inning of play.
The top of the 2nd started off solid for the Mariners as well as Sam Haggerty led off with a single to record the first hit of the game. He would move to second on a groundout by Jose Caballero but remained there as Luis Torrens popped out to second. It looked to be another wasted opportunity for the Mariners as J.P. Crawford fell behind quickly at 1-2. A sweeper ran off the plate away from Crawford and he would chase it. Luckily, Crawford would put it in play and pull a soft line drive just over the glove of Zack Gelof and into right field for a two-out single. Haggerty was able to score without a throw thanks to his speed and the Mariners cashed in with two outs to take a 1-0 lead.
Bryan Woo again left runners stranded at first and third in the bottom of the 3rd and protected the 1-0 lead. The bottom of the Seattle order put pressure on Sears again in the top of the 4th beginning with a single from Dylan Moore. With Moore on first and one out, Jose Caballero came to the plate. More known for his speed and fantastic baseball IQ, Caballero has never been seen as a big power threat. Every once in a while, Cabby wants his turn with the trident. Caballero absolutely obliterated a first pitch fastball towards the bottom of the zone and watched as it sailed out for his fourth home run of the year. The 437-foot blast was a no-doubter and had Seattle feeling good all of a sudden with a 3-0 lead.
Pitching in his hometown of Oakland for the first time in the Major Leagues, Bryan Woo made sure to make this a memorable start. Despite having constant traffic on the basepaths, Woo would come out unscathed every single time. In the bottom of the 4th, back-to-back two out singles from Jordan Diaz and Tyler Soderstrom had runners on the corners for Nick Allen. Woo would blow him away on three fastballs for a strikeout as Woo jumped and screamed in celebration. In the bottom of the 5th, a one-out walk for Ryan Noda was quickly erased when Woo got Zack Gelof to hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and end his day. Woo completed five innings of three hit, shutout ball with four walks and six strikeouts. While it wasn’t the best outing of his young career, Woo protected the lead and gave way to the bullpen with a solid lead in what felt like a must-win game.
Before the bullpen had to throw a pitch, the Mariner offense would extend the lead a little bit. In the top of the 6th, with the bases empty and two outs Jose Caballero started a little rally. A single would be Caballero’s second hit of the day and he put himself into scoring position with his 26th stolen base of his rookie season. Seattle’s #9 hitter would prove that the bottom of the order would take care of the offense in this one. Luis Torrens in his second stint with the Mariners ripped a line drive down the left field line and into the corner. Caballero trotted home as Torrens pulled into second with his third double of the season. The bottom third of the order had driven in three of the four Mariner runs as they extended the lead to 4-0.
Seattle’s bullpen trio of Tayler Saucedo, Justin Topa, and Trent Thornton only allowed three baserunners in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings. Two of those would be allowed by Trent Thornton but he erased one by getting a double play. With a 4-0 lead in the top of the 9th, Seattle added another run with two outs. A third walk for J.P. Crawford and a Teoscar Hernandez single put runners on first and second with two down for Eugenio Suarez. Geno put together some very good at-bats in this one and this AB was no exception. On the seventh pitch from Kyle Muller, Suarez laced a 3-2 fastball right down the middle into the gap in left center. Esteury Ruiz would cut it off from left which held Geno to just a single and kept Teo at third. Crawford would score though which tacked on another run, making it 5-0 going into the bottom of the 9th.
Isaiah Campbell would come on to pitch the final inning against 6-7-8 in the Oakland order. Brent Rooker would pinch hit but Seattle continued to keep him in check with a lineout to Julio in center. Jordan Diaz would then flyout to Teoscar Hernandez in right and there were a quick two outs. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a completely clean inning for the mustached Mariner as Campbell walked Kevin Smith to extend the game with two down. It would not extend the game by much as Nick Allen sent a grounder to J.P. Crawford who made the routine play for the final out. For the first time in franchise history, the Seattle Mariners had recorded their 16th shutout of a season as the M’s snapped a three-game skid with a 5-0 win over Oakland.
All around the league, it was a great day for the Seattle Mariners (82-68) as they made a dent in their AL West and AL Wild Card deficits. The Houston Astros lost to Baltimore thanks to a three-run home run by Cedric Mullins in the 9th and Texas fell to Boston due to a lack of offense. The Toronto Blue Jays had the day off which means Seattle gained half of a game on them as well. The Mariners are now tied with the Texas Rangers for second in the AL West and for the third and final Wild Card, just one game behind Toronto. Both Seattle and Texas trail Houston by 1 1/2 games in the division race. The Mariners and Oakland Athletics (46-104) will continue their final series against one other this season on Tuesday at 6:40pm. Mariner ace Luis Castillo (13-7, 3.08 ERA) will look to continue his late season Cy Young push when he takes the ball in game two. Seattle has won Castillo’s last nine starts in which Castillo has recorded seven quality outings (6+ innings while allowing three runs or fewer) but La Piedra has struggled in his career in Oakland where he has a 7.45 ERA in two career starts. Seattle will face another one of Oakland’s top pitchers as Paul Blackburn (4-5, 4.14 ERA) gets the start for the A’s. Blackburn does have an issue with command as he has walked 38 batters this season in 95 2/3 innings. Blackburn was roughed up in a short outing against Houston his last time out but doesn’t often allow anymore than four runs in an outing.
- Jose Caballero- 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, SB
- J.P. Crawford- 1-2, RBI, R, 3 BBs
- Bryan Woo (W, 4-4)- 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO
- Zack Gelof- 1-3, BB, SB
- Ryan Noda- 1-2, 2 BBs
- JP Sears (L, 5-12)- 5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO