Baseball is weird, guys. My gut fear going into this game was that it was going to be a total dinger fest on the Mariners' part. The A's ran James Paxton -- coming off of 23 scoreless innings -- out of the game after 4.1 innings. They sent out a pitcher who hadn't seen a major league batter since I was in the 7th grade. There were all kinds of weird errors NOT made by the A's, so that was weird in and of itself.
My fear was not exactly assuaged, as the Mariners came out hot, scoring three batters into the game. The A's also got a hit off Paxton early, but failed to capitalize. In the top of the second inning Valdez looked shakier, and an extended batting practice ensued: 3-0 Mariners.
However, Valdez seemed to settle down a bit in the top of the 3rd, and remarkably, his offense got to James Paxton in the bottom half of the inning. Jaff Decker and Rajai Davis got themselves into a first and third setup. What followed can only be described as some sort of witchcraft: Adam Rosales lined one into right field, and Mitch Haniger's throw (intended for Taylor Motter) hit directly off the second base bag. In the words of Ray Fosse, "Haniger couldn't do that again if he tried 1000 more times." Decker scored and became Paxton's first run allowed this season. Healy doubled to score Davis and Rosales later in the inning: tie game.
In the fourth, Valdez nabbed a couple of outs via the K, but walked one and generally did not look great. Nonetheless, he would only give up the three initial runs on the night. The A's went down easy in the bottom of the fourth, and Frankie Montas came in and threw a clean fifth.
Things got fun in the bottom of the fifth: Rajai led off with a line drive to centerfielder Leonys Martin, and then advanced to third when the ball seemed to magically veer off-course and roll through Martin's legs. We knew this already, but Rajai has wheels. He then scored on an Adam Rosales sac fly, which was followed by a Lowrie double. Paxton then threw his Majors-leading fifth wild pitch, allowing Lowrie to advance ninety feet. Kris Davis then walked. Healy singled, Lowrie scored, then Paxton left after allowing 5 runs.
Unfortunately, Montas couldn't hold it together and promptly gave up a single to Nelson Cruz, followed by a two-run shot from Motter: tie game.
Our old friend Evan Scribner stayed in the game to work the bottom of the sixth, and gave up a lead-off double to Josh Phegley. Decker laid down a nice sac bunt, moving Phegley to third. Rajai then grounded out, scoring Phegley. Manufacturing runs? My, how they've grown: 6-5 A's.
Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle combined for an uneventful seventh inning.
Dan Altavilla came in to pitch the bottom of the inning for the M's, and walked Khris Davis and Healy. Up came Trevor Plouffe, coming off of three straight strikeouts. Of course, he hit a no-doubter out to center field, climbing another wrung on the ladder back into our hearts: 9-5 A's.
Ryan Madson threw a crisp top of the eighth, and the A's were quiet in the bottom half.
Santiago Casilla came in to close out the game, and Rajai left the game with an apparent injury, so appropriate defensive changes were made. Update via Susan Slusser:
Rajai Davis felt hamstring grab when he got to third base last time on. He will know more what he's dealing with tomorrow.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 21, 2017
Let's hope it's minor and he'll be flying around the bases again in no time. Our frenemy Danny Valencia doubled, and then got to third on a Martin groundout. Zunino walked, then Valencia scored on Dyson's sac fly: 9-6 A's.
Luckily, the damage ended there and the A's now have themselves a three game winning (and two game errorless) streak!
Jed Lowrie put on a nice little show with a double, single, and a couple slick plays at second. Ryon Healy added two singles, and double, and walk. Trevor Plouffe neared redemption with a three-run homer following strikeouts in his first three at-bats. All in a weird day's work.
The teams will face off again tomorrow at 7:05pm.