Bad Luck + Ibañez + Morales Walk-Off = 2nd Place

This never gets old. Apparently.

Kendrys Morales' pinch-hit 3-run HR off of Grant Balfour, giving Seattle a 6-3 win in 10 innings, capped the A's road trip in style: A 2-5 journey that saw them lose games started by Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm, Josh Lindblom, Aaron Harang, and Jeremy Bonderman.

This game, by all rights, should have been an A's blowout win. That's how badly Jeremy Bonderman pitched and how hard the A's hit him. In the 1st, Seth Smith ripped a single to RF and then Jed Lowrie launched a fly ball to the RF wall, caught by Endy Chavez. In the 3rd, Eric Sogard lined a single to LF and then Coco Crisp hit a slashing liner -- caught by Kyle Seager, DP. In the 4th, Lowrie took Franklin Gutierrez to the right-center field wall and then Yoenis Cespedes backed him onto the warning track. Then walks to Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss, and a ball smoked as hard as Josh Reddick can hit a ball -- right at Chavez for the third out.

Meanwhile, Jarrod Parker cruised through 8/9 of the order, stumbling only when throwing to Ibañez. The 41-year old crushed an inside fastball for a 2-run HR in the 1st, then golfed an ankle high changeup for another HR in the 4th. Parker went 7 strong innings, charged with 3 runs on 5 hits, with just 1 BB and 6 Ks.

The A's battled back in the 6th, finally chasing Bonderman on back-to-back singles from Smith and Lowrie, a Cespedes fielder's choice, and Moss' single to LF to load the bases. Bonderman hung around long enough to uncork a run-scoring wild pitch and complete a walk to Donaldson before Danny Farquhar took over. Reddick brought home a second run with a bouncer to 2B, making it 3-2 and leaving runners at 2B and 3B with two outs.

Here, Bob Melvin made a decision that in hindsight he probably regrets. He pinch hit John Jaso for Derek Norris, a move that looks great on paper when you consider that Norris is batting under .150 since May 1st, looks increasingly lost at the plate recently, and that Jaso not only hits RHPs extremely well but has also been sizzling hot lately. Trouble is, Jaso's left hand abrasion, enough to keep him out of the lineup initially, was also enough to render him pretty helpless on both sides of the ball today. Jaso grounded weakly to 2B to end this rally and would be a major player -- and not in a good sense -- the rest of the way.

Farquhar was dominant for 2.1 IP, retiring all 8 batters and keeping the Mariners on top 3-2. For reasons unknown to anyone other than Eric Wedge, Wedge decided to stay with Farquhar with Brandon Moss at the plate and lefty Oliver Perez ready in the bullpen. Moss crushed a 3-1 fastball into the RF seats to tie the game 3-3.

2 scoreless innings for Sean Doolittle kept it tied. Jaso came up against Perez in the 9th with Smith at 1B and nobody out and made 3 terrible attempts to bunt. The first one popped high in the air and landed in the 6th row of seats. The second one died at the plate whimpering something about "tell my mother I loved her," and the 3rd one was popped high and foul behind the plate, caught (unnecessarily) by Mike Zunino.

Now to the bottom of the 10th, with Grant Balfour in for a non-save situation. Justin Smoak bounced out and then Zunino waved at a slider in the dirt for strike 3. Jaso could not keep it in front of him as it caromed into the on-deck circle along the 1B line. However, Jaso retrieved it in time to get Zunino at 1B -- only he missed Moss by 10 feet with a wild heave (I would unleash one soon after). Michael Saunders singled Zunino to 3B, Kendrys Morales pinch hit for Brendan Ryan, and the rest -- including the ball -- is history.

The loss drops Oakland into 2nd place pending the outcome of Texas' game at St. Louis. The A's are, frankly, tired after playing 30 games in 31 days, and the days off tomorrow and Thursday should do them good.

Note: Susan Slusser reports that Dan Straily has been optioned to AAA Sacramento but that it is because the A's will not need a #5 starter for a while, and that Straily is likely to be called up when the A's need a 5th starter again (presumably Sunday, July 7th, by which time Straily will be eligible for a call-up).

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