The outcome wasn't pretty, but there were some positives from today's loss.
The story of the day is obviously Sean Nolin, one of four players acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade. Nolin is a big lefty with a variety of pitches. In spite of his size, he is not overpowering and relies on his ability to mix speeds, locations, and hit spots.
Today, he was pretty much as advertised. He did a great job keeping the ball down, missing locations just a few times. He was fortunate to not be punished on those few pitches, and escaped the day without any major damage. The only real disappointing part of his start was his velocity, which routinely sat a few MPH under what we expected to see (fastball at 89 vs. 91). This is somewhat to be expected for a guy who is coming back from injury and is effectively in the final stages of his own spring training.
The Mariners scored their three runs off Nolin in the fifth. The inning started with a Logan Morrison single to right, and was followed by a seeing eye single by Brad Miller. Morrison tried to take third on the play, and would have had it easily should he have slid. Instead, per the bad advice of third base coach Chris Woodward, LoMo (which is the worst nickname of all time) cruised into the bag and was thrown out by Jake Smolinski, who apparently has a cannon.
Jesus Sucre, owner of a .098 batting average followed with a walk to put runners at first and second. Nolin followed with another walk, this time to Shawn O'Malley to load the bags. I chalk the walks up to being tired, which I can live with where he's at in his season.
Ketel Marte followed with an extremely pathetic but unfortunately effective single to right field, plating Miller just ahead of Smolinski's throw. A sac fly from Kyle Seager made the score 2-0, and a wild pitch plated Nolin's final run. The wild pitch could have and probably should have been blocked, but, Phegley.
Nolin pitched a clean sixth, ending the day at 85 pitches, 50 of which were strikes. He bumped up his velocity in the sixth, hitting 92 with his fastball, showing a savvy ability to sustain his stuff. His final line reads 6 innings pitched, 5 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, and a k. All in all, good debut for Nolin.
Plus, there's this.
Nolin is the first A's starter to complete six innings since Doubront did it Monday.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) September 6, 2015
Yuck. But nice of Nolin to save the pen from long innings, and nice of him to save us from the pen.
To make Nolin's transition to the bigs easier, the A's trotted a minor league-esque lineup out to face Hisashi Iwakuma. LHP masher Smolinski started against the righty, as did Butler and Phegley. Sogard also got the start at short to give Marcus Semien a day off, completing a bad lineup.
Iwakuma breezed through his first six innings, allowing just 4 hits and a walk to the anemic A's lineup. In the seventh, the A's broke through on a deep homerun off the bat of everyone's favorite DH, Billy Butler (tied with Callaspo). Clearing an excessively low bar, Butler has been better of late, OPSing 1.264 in September, selfishly trying to make personnel decisions much more difficult this offseason.
The A's threatened more in that frame, thanks to pinch hits from Coco and Reddick. An ill timed strikeout by Semien and a Burns flyout ended the threat without further damage.
The A's tacked on a run in the 8th. Canha, who is an absolute revelation, lead off with a single, going 2-3 with a walk on the day. Carson Blair, replacing Stephen Vogt and his poor testicles (more on that later) followed with a walk, and the two moved up a bag on a passed ball. Danny Valencia got the RBI on a groundout to short, moving the deficit to 3-2.
The A's put on a classic teAse in the ninth. With two down, Semien and Burns both singled, bringing Canha to the plate. Canha ripped the ball to deep left, but unfortunately a well placed Seth Smith put the ball away to seal the sweep.
The bullpen was great again today, with Ryan Dull, Drew Pomeranz, and Sean Doolittle all pitching clean innings. Dull was particularly impressive, striking out two with his nasty slider. For his efforts, the A's are treating him and three friends of his choice to ice cream before going to see Inside Out. I LOVE Ryan Dull already. His slider is filthy, he's had a great year, and he looks 12. I'm pretty sure he already owns the backpack the A's use to haze rookies, and he uses it to take his books to class.
Doolittle was also effective in his inning, topping out and 94 and getting swings and misses. Doo did give up a hard double, but escaped the inning unharmed.
The worst part of this game was Stephen Vogt's injury. With Pomeranz pitching, Ketel Marte nicked a foul ball right into Vogt's currently foul balls. It was a brutal looking injury, with Vogt in obvious pain. He limped off the field under the aide of two trainers. With the season being lost, you can expect Vogt to see some much deserved time off to recover. Best wishes to you, IBISV.
Note: this is just a random link/pic, don't take it as any source of news.
The A's were swept by the Mariners before the Astros come to town tomorrow. Riding a 5 game losing streak, the A's look to get back in the win column as Mike Fiers takes on Felix Doubront. We'll see you tomorrow!