Game #32: Tired A's fall meekly to Mariners

You've gotta be kidding me. - Ezra Shaw

The A's dropped the first of four games to the M's 4-2, handing Scott Kazmir his first loss of the season.

Surprise, surprise, the A's lost the game after a 10-game, 11 day road trip that they ended with a near-four hour game in Boston and then immediately jetted across the country to play on a cold and windy night. However, just because this was sort of expected, doesn't make it any easier to take.

Losing to the Mariners is like messing around with your computer for 3 hours and failing to fix the problem. Or taking two hours to change a tire. Or some other boring, mundane, frustrating task that takes a few hours and ends in disappointment. It's a really annoying feeling, but at least there's three games left and Jesse Chavez is coming over to upgrade your damn laptop.

Scott Kazmir's first inning was a bit of hard luck. It could be argued that three of his four runs were just "that's the way baseball go" even though all four runs were earned. Michael Saunders led off with a knock that Donaldson may have had a chance on, but wasn't able to come up with. Stefan Romero softly hit a grounder that deflected off Kazmir. However, Scott struck out Robinson Cano, and it looked like he might get out of it. Corey Hart (a favorite offseason target of many AN readers) didn't allow that to happen, driving in Saunders with a groundball single. And just in case two deflections weren't enough, a diving Daric Barton deflected but couldn't knock down Kyle Seager's grounder to score Romero.

Yes, that's right, three singles that bounced off infielders. In the first inning. 2-0 Mariners, but it didn't seem like Kazmir was pitching that poorly. Kazmir did settle down for the next few innings.

On the other side, Chris Young was cruising, throwing practically nothing but fastballs in the first three innings, but the A's got to him in the fourth. Jed Lowrie broke through for the A's in the fourth inning with a solid single, and Brandon Moss tore it up with a two run bomb to the right field bleacher crew. The score was 2-2 and things were looking up.

Unfortunately, the shutdown inning eluded Kazmir. He hung a changeup to Stevan Romero, who absolutely lasered it to the left field bleachers for the first home run of his MLB career. Good for him, bad for us.

Meanwhile, the A's continued to be mesmerized by Chris Young's pitch and the Mariners' luck continued. In the top of the sixth, Brad Miller hit a line drive that should have been a routine out. However, that line drive was to Brandon Moss, who is not used to playing left field at the Coliseum. Moss had no idea where the ball was. Watching him, one felt his helplessness as he lost the ball in the lights. Miller scored Cole Gillespie for the Mariners' fourth run.

Miller wasn't done being annoying though. He stole second on a strange delayed steal (read: Kazmir and Jaso were asleep). He then stole third on a really good straight steal. However, some nifty fielding by the Athletics limited the damage. Donaldson fielded a grounder by Mike Zunino and threw out Miller at home. Zunino wasn't done making outs, though. He tried to take third base on a base hit by Saunders to left; Moss fielded it, came up throwing and nailed Zunino at third. Yes, Zunino committed the cardinal sin of making the last out at third, and it was good to know the Mariners were still gonna Mariner.

After Fernando Abad threw yet another scoreless inning in the top of the seventh, the A's started to rally with the heart of the order in the bottom half. Josh Donaldson led off with a single, and Brandon Moss drew a tough walk on twelve pitches. He was completely fooled multiple times but was able to generate enough foul tips and finally win the war of attrition. That long at-bat was enough to finally get Young out of the game. And thus started a seventh inning that dragged on forever.

Charlie Furbush came in to face Alberto Callaspo. Callaspo tagged the ball, but it was a sizzling grounder to the shortstop Miller, and generated a tailor-made double play with Donaldson moving to third (and leading to Callaspo's pained expression at the top of this article). Suddenly the rally was snuffed, but it took another half hour or so to confirm that no, the A's would not come back. The tying run was still at the plate after all, so both managers played it tight.

Bob Melvin elected to pinch hit Derek Norris for Jaso against the lefty Furbush, and Mariners' manager Lloyd McClendon pulled Furbush for Dominic Leone. Norris worked a tough walk against Leone, taking a 3-2 slider that may have been a strike to get on base. The A's now had first and third with two outs. Josh Reddick was announced as replacing Craig Gentry. Then McClendon went with the lefty Joe Beimel to face Reddick, and then Melvin used up his last outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes, to put all his chips on the table in an effort to tie up the game. If you're counting at home, that's three outfielders used on one AB (although Reddick was probably just thrown at there as a decoy with his sprained ankle).

After all that, Cespedes harmlessly popped out to end the inning. Sigh. The good thing was that Cespedes was able to go out to left for the remainder of the contest and looks to be able to start tomorrow.

The A's failed to score against Beimel and Fernando Rodney, and that was that. Four hits for the entire game. Hopefully on this Cinco de Mayo, the A's can knock down some post-game tacos, get a good night's sleep in their own beds, and come out with some more energy tomorrow.

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