Long road trips can be tiring for any team, but for the A's this 10-game three city tour couldn't end soon enough. Throw in Felix Hernandez as the opposing pitcher on the final day of said road trip and you have a recipe for dejection. Coming into today's game the A's were losers of four straight trying to avoid a sweep by the equally disappointing Seattle Mariners. Jesse Chavez, who pitched brilliantly in his last outing, took the mound for the A's trying to salvage some hope for the plane ride home.
The first two innings had the air of a pitchers duel as both starters worked efficiently. The A's got singles from Marcus Semien in the first and Stephen Vogt in the second, but Felix stranded both Oakland runners. Similarly, Jesse worked a 1-2-3 home half of the first and should of had another in the second. Unfortunately, with two outs Semien bobbled a grounder from Logan Morrison for his ninth error of the season; an all too common occurrence for the young shortstop. Jesse induced Dustin Ackley into a ground out to end the inning, however, so no damage done as the game entered the third inning scoreless.
The A's box score for today's game is quirky in that the team collected six hits, but Semien and Vogt are the only two players to get those hits. Both singled in their first two at bats before Semien came up again in the top of the third. Having just committed an error in the second Semien made up for it by hitting a solo home run off of Felix to give the A's a 1-0 lead. Semien had been hitting the ball well all weekend and at this point was 6 for 11 in Seattle. Jesse responded with a shutdown 1-2-3 bottom of the third increasing the A's optimism of a rare Felix loss.
Reality outpaced desire, however, as poor defense again left the A's trailing midway through the game. Jesse opened the bottom of the fourth with a four-pitch walk to Rickie Weeks, but shocked Robinson Cano on a fine pitch on the outside corner that the home plate umpire called strike three. With one out Nelson Cruz singled Weeks over to third bringing Kyle Seager to the plate with runners at the corners. Jesse pitched around Seager to a three ball count, but Seager didn't want to settle for a walk. He mashed the 3-0 meatball from Jesse for a game-tying double over Josh Reddick's head. Jesse got the second out, but with a man on second and third, Sam Fuld was cheating in from left field most likely trying to prevent the runner on second from scoring on a single. Unfortunately, Ackley then hit liner to left-center that Fuld couldn't track down to score both runners. You can play the "what if" game here to say that if Fuld is in normal positioning he catches Ackley's line drive, but the reality of it is the A's were now down two runs against Felix.
The fifth inning saw a piece of history as Felix got strikeout number 2,000 for his career, perhaps appropriately against Fuld, who slammed his bat down thinking strike three was ball four. A memorable day for King Felix was becoming rather forgettable for Sam Fuld. Felix would have a 1-2-3 top of the fifth before Jesse would again allow the lead off hitter aboard in the bottom half. A double by Seth Smith and sacrifice fly by Cano put the score at 1-4 Mariners.
The sixth inning saw a ray of hope shine down on the A's in the form of another Semien solo shot, his second of the day. Take away the errors and this was Semien's best series as a member of the team. He would finish the day 3 for 4 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs. Overall he was 7 for 13 in the series and 14 for 37 on the road trip. Semien is now batting .310 on the season, but for all the hitting, he still needs to account for the errors.
Entering the bottom of the seventh the A's were still down 2-4 after going down 1-2-3 in the top half of the inning. Jesse was still in the game and got the first two outs of the inning before walking Seth Smith. Bob Melvin then decided to pull Jesse for Fernando Rodriguez, who proceeded to issue back-to-back walks to Weeks and Cano. Now with walked batters loading the bases the Mariners had a great chance to blow the game wide open with Cruz coming to the plate. Antithetical to the A's M.O. this season, Fernando induced Cruz into a ground out to end the inning without allowing the Mariners to score. Despite the two walks, the A's bullpen survived, albeit in a game the A's were already losing.
In the final innings the Oakland fans were allowed one more offensive highlight as Vogt hit a solo home run off of Fernando Rodney, the A's third solo home run on the day, to make this a one run game with one out in the ninth. Sadly, Ike Davis would fly out before Coco Crisp was brought on to pinch hit for Brett Lawrie. Still hitless for 2015, Coco would stare at a 2-2 pitch cross the outside part of the plate to strike out looking, ending the game. Coco dejectedly walked off the field as Rodney shot his invisible arrow into the ether. Five losses in a row for the A's to conclude a 3-7 road trip.
As stated earlier, Semien and Vogt were the only two A's to gets hits today, the rest of the team going 0 for 25 with only one walk, striking out seven times. Stark contrast to the first four games of this road trip when the A's scored seven runs in each contest.
The A's now head home to start a three game series against the Boston Red Sox. First pitch tomorrow 7:05.
- the A's are off to their worst start since 1999 when the team was 9-24 in the first 33 games