The main takeaway from this evening is that the A's began the night 4.5 games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West standings, and they finished 4.5 games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West Standings.
Moreover, despite a terrible outing from Sonny Gray, the A's actually managed to turn this game into a nail-biter by the 9th inning. Thanks to big hits from Adam Dunn (who came into the game as a pinch-hitter for Alberto Callaspo) Sam Fuld, Brandon Moss, and Craig Gentry, the A's put up five runs in the 8th and 9th innings, but came up just short in a 6-5 loss to the Mariners.
As I mentioned, it really wasn't Sonny Gray's night. He gave up seven hits and walked two in just five innings of work, capped by a two-run, no doubt blast by Kyle Seager in the 5th inning that extended the Seattle lead from 4-0 to 6-0.
Drew Pomeranz, in another silver lining, worked three stellar innings of relief, and he continues to pitch exceptionally well following his return from the disabled list. Pomeranz is a talented pitcher, and he's already in the rotation in the way-too-early 2015 A's depth chart.
Alberto Callaspo continues to struggle whenever he's placed in the A's lineup — he went 0-for-2 tonight, complete with a groundout on a deflected ball that 95 percent of players in the league beat out for a base hit. His average dropped to .227 on the night, and his lack of power might suggest that even the left-handed Adam Dunn (60 wRC+ vs. LHP) is a better option than Callaspo (55 wRC+ vs. LHP) in typically righty-heavy lineups.
The A's did well for themselves to score five runs, particularly given the awesome talent that James Paxton displayed tonight. The rookie came an out short of eight innings, giving up just four hits and allowing three walks in that span. Two of Oakland's runs in the 8th were charged to him, but it was clear that Paxton could have a long and fruitful MLB career. His breakout August has been impressive to watch, and he could quickly become Seattle's version of Sonny Gray — a homegrown, cost-controlled talent (ableit a slower developing one) who could be in their rotation for quite a while.
Oakland's phenomenal almost-comeback ended a run too soon in the 9th inning on a Josh Reddick groundout, but it was Josh Donaldson's at-bat, not Reddick's, that left fans grumbling as they left the ballpark. After taking three straight balls from Fernando Rodney, Donaldson swung and missed on 3-1 (which decidedly would've been ball four), and, fittingly, took the third pitch for a strike. If Donaldson gets on base, the A's may well send the game to extras or win it outright in the 9th.
Instead, Oakland blew an opportunity to further cut the Angels' division lead – they could've finished the night 3.5 games out after Los Angeles was beaten badly in Houston, 8-3.
The A's aren't faced with an easy task tomorrow, either, as the A's face longtime nemesis Felix Hernandez at 12:35 at the Coliseum. At least they have Jon Lester countering — this one should be quick, low-scoring, and if the A's have any real shot, decided in the late innings by pinch-hitters and bullpens.