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Game #117: Mariners 4, A's 3

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Much like after the hard fought Battle of Hoth in which the rebels were forced to flee their base, after an intense matchup between the A's and the Mariners, the A's wound up on the losing end of this game. On Star Wars and fireworks night at the coliseum, losing by a score of 4-3, the A's were ultimately felled by the strong Mariners artillery in Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano, along with some help from old-friend Seth Smith. However, while the A's may have lost the battle, but the war is far from over, and look to take the series tomorrow at 1:05 with Zach Neal taking on Wade LeBlanc.

Expected to be the first line of defense against the Mariners for the A's today was Kendall Graveman, one of the hottest pitchers on the team to date and one of the main leaders of the pitching staff. However, today, Graveman decided to turn off his targeting computer, instead choosing to trust in his midi-chlorians, but instead of piercing through the oversized, overpowered heart of the Mariners order, far too many pitches of Graveman were landing far too up in the zone and would get hit hard. For the first three innings, Graveman was able to skirt this problem as Mariner line-drives would get hit straight at well-positioned fielders and the Mariners were always unable to string together enough hits in order to have a sustained rally, but in the fourth inning, after falling behind the A's 1-0, the empire would strike back.

The A's would take their lead in the second inning when Billy Butler and Ryon Healy hit singles to set up a runners-on-the-corners-with-two-outs situation for Jedi Coco Crisp, the team's long-time most dependable batter with runners in scoring position. Crisp would squeak a ground ball just passed the outstretched glove of Robinson Cano just like the Millennium Falcon just narrow escaped passed the outstretched mouth of the horrible worm demon in the Hoth Asteroid Field, scoring the streaking Billy Butler. The A's would rack up a total of five hits in their first two innings, six in their first three, but would only score this one run to show for all of it.

With Kendall Graveman as the seasoned, consistent veteran of the starting pitching staff currently, and Nelson Cruz as the large, foreboding strongman of the Mariners' offense, the start of the fourth inning was the equivalent of Darth Vader evaporating Obi Wan Kenobi. Graveman's first pitch of the inning, a cutter that didn't cut enough, was sent screaming like a TIE fighter to the deepest part of the coliseum in center field, knotting the game up at one.

But then, in the fifth, there was a "...great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Something terrible has happened." Iannetta and Aoki singles set up a Smith RBI single and a Cano two run blast that put the Mariners up 4-1. Graveman would pitch one more inning, but was pulled from the game after throwing fewer than eighty pitches, as his best stuff clearly wasn't on the mound and wasn't worth risking giving up any more hard contact. Graveman's final line would be six innings, seven hits, four runs, and two home runs, along with only two strikeouts and one walk.

After a couple of quiet middle innings for the A's offense, led by Khris Davis and Billy Butler, the A's would launch their counter offensive. Khris Davis would hit a Han Solo home run of his own in the sixth inning to bring the A's within two, his twenty-ninth home run of the season and sixth against the Mariners. Then Billy Butler, who had hit two hard line drives for hits in each of his first two at bats, would hit a third to center, and would shoot behind a diving Martin and roll slowly to the wall. Running at a speed somewhere in between Jabba the Hutt and "Luke raising his X-Wing out of Yoda's swamp," Butler was able to cruise into second and even had brief thoughts of trying for third before the throw finally came in. Those disappointed in being unable to see a Butler triple would not be disappointed for long, as Jake Smolinski would follow by hitting a pitch at chin level the opposite way into the right-center field gap, and, aided by Smith's throw going to second rather than to a cutoff man, Butler scored from second on the single, narrowly, with one of the most perfect and beautiful slides into home the A's have had in a long while. The score was now 4-3.

Star Wars is an incredibly optimistic franchise that ensures good will always triumph over evil and that love can conquer all boundaries. It's one of the main reasons that the films have retained their popularity and success and adoration after all of these years. Unfortunately, the world of baseball cannot always provide that sort of escape, as, despite gutty and honorable efforts from the A's relief corps to keep the game within one run, Butler's run would be the final run the A's would score, as the offense could not crack a firepowered Mariners bullpen filled with flamethrowers tossing one hundred MPH fastballs slicing through the A's bats like General Grievous sliced through everybody. Despite the loss, the fans were still treated to a brilliant fireworks show, symbolizing in some small way the triumphant story of a small group of powerful warriors who defended their galaxy far, far away from an unspeakably evil force.