Wow...thanks to a near epic-bout of wildness by Seattle's closer JJ Putz, this game was a LOT closer than it should have been. Justin Duchscherer pitched well enough in his first start off the DL, going 5 innings and only allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, with two strikeouts. But it was Bedard's night early. He pretty much dominated the Athletics in his 6+ innings of work, issuing 4 walks, but scattering only 2 hits and striking out 4 in order to prevent the A's from stringing anything together. Things got kind of interesting after Bedard left in the top of the 7th, but, after the A's loaded the bases on a single and a couple walks, A's foe of long ago and A's folly of recent times Arthur Rhodes got pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney* to strike out to end the inning...that should have effectively been the game right there.
But after Mike Sweeney finally got the A's on the board with an 8th inning homer, JJ Putz went to work in the 9th protecting a 5-1 lead, throwing 34 pitches total, only 14 of which were for strikes, walking 3 and allowing 2 runs to score on a single by pinch-hitter Daric Barton. The A's had two chances at the end there to tie or take the lead with Suzuki and Sweeney both up with the bases loaded but Zooks popped out and Sweeney let Putz run a fastball into his hands and weakly grounded out to end the game. With that, Safeco Field breathed a collective sigh of relief and A's fans everywhere got the sinking feeling that with all of the hijinks at the end of the game, that this one that "simply got away".
The reality is, no it wasn't. The A's were overpowered by a very good pitcher who looked to have gotten really healthy really quickly and, is so often the case, it was difficult for the A's pitching staff to keep the team in the game when the offense only decided to show up for two innings in total.
It was a spirited run there at the end and there were plenty of good things to take out of this game that will hopefully spill over into tomorrow's matchup against perennial A's assassin King Felix Hernandez. But, with just a strike or two more by JJ Putz in the 9th, and this game would have been a snoozy, 5-1 Mariner victory. But hey, it's Saturday, and even though the A's lost, it was sure as hell entertaining and cheaper than a movie!
With the Angels losing today, the A's remain tied atop the AL West, which take even more sting away from this loss tonight. So, with that, I'll say, good for Duchscherer, good for Mike Sweeney, (*bad for Bob Geren for pinch-hitting Ryan Sweeney in the 7th when he should have just rolled with switch-hitter Rajai Davis) but overall good for the team that never gave up...they're gonna need a lot of fight to make tomorrow's game even as remotely close as this one was.