Sigh. Looking past all the fun with the trades, and the wins, and the season and stuff, I'm not sure we adequately prepared Jeff Samardzija for the A's current demons, otherwise known as Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez. Both own the A's. As in, it doesn't really matter what happens in the game; how it starts or anything along the way, the A's will end up on the losing end, just like clockwork. Seattle even adjusted their pitching rotation so Felix would throw against the A's. It's hard to blame them, even as much as I hate losing to Hernandez.
Tonight, thanks to a bloop double by Seattle in the sixth, breaking a 2-2 tie, the Mariners beat the A's by a score of 3-2, and the way Felix was pitching, you might as well have sent the players off the field after that run (maddeningly) scored, despite the minor teAse in the ninth. I tell you what. Even in the most magical first half of many of our lifetimes, where everything seems to come up green and gold daily, the A's simply cannot beat Felix Hernandez It's especially frustrating in a game where you saw the A's score two early runs (in the very first inning), staking Samardzija to an early lead. Samardzija would pitch a complete game and still lose. Realistically, he got his two runs of support, and couldn't hold the Mariners to fewer than that, and that, in a nutshell is what all A's pitchers will learn about Seattle's ace. Two runs is a anomaly, and only a near-perfect pitching performance will beat Felix against the A's, and as good as he was, Samardzija wasn't good enough.
The A's staked Samardzija to a 2-0 lead before he ever took the mound. With one out in the first, Stephen "IBISV" Vogt cranked a home run off Hernandez to give the A's a 1-0 lead, and after Donaldson moved to second base after his single, Lowrie (who had another multiple-hit day), drove him in. That was it for the A's. They wouldn't score again.
Seattle would get a run back on a second-inning home run, and would tie the game on a shallow sacrifice fly in the third. The game would stay tied until the sixth inning when a two-out real double, and an absolutely back-breaking bloop double (by Cano, who really might have been walked in that position) gave Seattle the lead, one they wouldn't relinquish.
Hernandez finally left the game after the eighth inning, appearing to limp off, and the A's had one last shot against Fernando Rodney. Derek Norris walked with one out, giving the A's a glimmer of hope, and Cespedes, who was sitting this one out, pinch-hit for Nate Freiman, who was in the game only because the A's had lost Callaspo way back at the beginning of the game, pulling his hamstring running to first. Cespedes got the 3-0 pitch, and the 3-1, and could deliver on neither with the runner on second, courtesy of a wild pitch. He did move the runner to third, and Punto, with two outs, battled from an 0-2 count to a full count. He took ball four, up and under his chin at the letters, but in a pretty horrific way to end a game, the pitch was called strike three. You'll see that one in umpire James Hoye's low-light reel.
Of course, the Angels win again, as they do every day, so the A's lead is a slim 2.5. And the Mariners hold the second Wild Card, so the A's might want to win the Division outright. Because right now, they'd face Felix Hernandez in a one-game playoff. And that is terrifying.
The A's do it again tomorrow night. We'll be right here with all of your action.