And so with a touch of sadness the 2015 Oakland A's season comes to an end. As we look towards 2016 we can already see pieces from 2015 beginning to coalesce into a promising roster for next season. For example, today featured a home run by Mark Canha, who finished the 2015 season with 16 home runs and 70 RBIs. Also, Danny Valencia, a sparkling mid-season addition at third base, got a base hit today to wrap up his campaign with an even .290 batting average in 345 total at-bats. Hopeful optimists have a full five months till Spring Training to fantasize about next year's team. But enough puffing about next year, let's talk about the 2015 finale.
Fittingly, the A's ended their season in the same fashion displayed most of the year; in another frustrating 1-run loss. Chris Bassitt, sporting a new wind-up, took the mound for the A's looking for only his second win of the year. His return to the starting rotation in September was less than spectacular having given up nine earned runs in two starts, but Chris's ERA still stood a solid 3.60 entering today's contest. Opposing him was Vidal Nuno, who bounced in and out of the starting rotation all season for the Mariners. Despite the job insecurity, Vidal sported a similar ERA under four. Combine that with an A's roster peppered with late-season call-ups and this had the makings of a low scoring affair.
Both teams led off their respective halves of the first inning with singles, but neither team could capitalize. Marcus Semien led off for the A's with a single, which was quickly followed by a Mark Canha single. With men at first and second Brett Lawrie came up looking to plate some early runs, but instead grounded into a double-play, followed by a Danny Valencia strikeout to end the inning. Similarly, Ketel Marte led off the Mariners half with an infield single before advancing to third on a wild pitch/throwing error to second base by A's catcher Bryan Anderson. Luckily, after a Franklin Gutierrez walk, Robinson Cano grounded into his own double-play to end the first.
After a 1-2-3 second inning for both teams, the A's took an early lead in the third. Craig Gentry led off the inning with a triple. You read that right. Gentry got another hit today, which raises his average to .120 on the season. He was then sacrificed home on a long fly ball by Anderson to give Oakland a 1-0 advantage. Wanting more, Canha came up one batter later and belted a solo home run to give the A's a two-spot in the inning.
Chris then got the shutdown inning in the bottom of the third, but encountered real trouble in the fourth. He gave up a one-out single to Cano before a double to Mark Trumbo advanced Cano to third. A walk to Seth Smith loaded the bases with only one out and Logan Morrison coming to the plate. If you were listening to the radio broadcast like me then this was perhaps the scariest moment of the game for you, too. I don't remember exactly if it was Ken Korach on the call, but apparently the ball Morrison hit looked like a grand slam right off the bat, but luckily the Safeco dimensions kept the ball in the ballpark. No grand slam for Morrision, but a sacrifice nonetheless, so leaving the fourth inning the A's lead was trimmed 2-1.
The fifth and sixth were defined by runners left on base as both teams finished the day a combined 0-12 with runners in scoring position, but the Mariners were able to squeeze one across to tie the game. After both teams stranded runners on the corners the previous innings, the Mariners again had first and third occupied in the bottom of the sixth. Hoping for a double play, Chris threw a high-inside pitch that Jesus Sucre barely turned his bat on. The nubber off the handle dribbled past Canha before Lawrie had to settle for the second out at first, meaning the runner at third scored on the ground out to tie the game.
Chris was pulled after the sixth in a tie game, meaning any hopes for a second win were dashed. His line for the day: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 Ks. He lowered his ERA to a promising 3.56 on the season.
The A's bullpen took over for Chris and was oh so close to being 100% effective. Fernando Rodriguez came on in relief and got a scoreless, 1-2-3 seventh before Ryan Dull took over in the eighth inning. Ryan got two tough outs in Cano and Trumbo, but unfortunately gave up a solo home run to Seth Smith to give the Mariners a 3-2 lead. Ryan got the final out of the eighth, but the damage was done.
On the other side of the ball the A's looked pathetic in their final three innings at the plate. The seventh saw the A's get two base runners without a hit when Jake Smolinski was hit-by-pitch and Anderson walked, but to everyone's regret Semien grounded into a double-play to end the threat. The A's went down meekly 1-2-3 in the eighth before Butler, Reddick and Coco Crisp each struck out to end the game. The final pitch of 2015 was a borderline outside strike from Tom Wilhelmsen that Coco watched sail by for an embarrassing close to the season.
The A's finish the 2015 season with a 68-94 record, 20 games back of the AL West Champion Texas Rangers, who won the division with 88 wins. And so it goes.