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Game #18: A's Win for Earth

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MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Earth Day, and thousands of some of the most intelligent and enthusiastic citizens of the nation took to the streets to celebrate baseball’s greenest, greatest team on the Earth, our Oakland A’s. Much like the Earth, the A’s have been getting hotter as of late, winning four consecutive games coming into today’s matchup, and with Jharel Cotton taking on Ariel Miranda the A’s were looking to push that streak to five. The A’s did a lot of recycling this offseason, reusing the likes of Adam Rosales, Santiago Casilla, and more, and many of the recycled A’s products would make a significant impact on the field today.

With scientists searching for alternative power sources from fossil fuels, they needn’t look any further than the A’s offense, whose league-leading power got the team out to an early, commanding lead. The confines of Rickey Henderson field could not contain the bats of the right-handed-stacked A’s lineup, right from the first batter for the A’s in the bottom of the first, Adam Rosales. The Mariners had gotten an early lead after Robinson Cano hit a two-strike fastball, six inches above the strike zone, to center field for a solo shot, but Rosales answered right back on a 1-1 splitter that didn’t split enough with a laser to left-center field to tie the game right back up. Determined to untie it, following a Lowrie single, Ryon Healy worked the count full before just barely clearing the high wall in left field to give the A’s a 3-1 lead before an out had even been recorded.

Pairing his deceitful changeup with a high-octane gas fastball, Cotton was not the most efficient pitcher on the mound today, but thanks to the green team behind him, he was able to get by. Having only required five pitches to record his first two outs, subpar command and longer at bats resulted in the aforementioned Cano home run, a sharp single, and eighteen pitches thrown. He had to navigate around a double and a wild pitch in the second before recording the final out unscathed again.

In the third, Cotton was bailed out by Josh Phegley as Phegley’s cannon of an arm caught Jarrod Dyson stealing second base on a delayed steal. He squandered the favor, however, by hitting Mitch Haniger on a 2-2 pitch to replace Dyson at first. Cano singled to right field to advance Haniger to third base, and Nelson Cruz hit a sacrifice fly to drive him in and narrow the score to 3-2. Following a walk to Taylor Motter, Jharel settled down and got out of the inning.

In the bottom of the third, Jed Lowrie and Ryon Healy wreaked havoc on Ariel Miranda yet again, knocking a hard single and double into left field to place runners on second and third base to start the inning. Khris Davis grounded out to score Lowrie and restore the A’s lead to two.

After a 1-2-3 fourth, Cotton appeared to be running out of fuel. A long first out was followed with a line drive double into left and a line drive out to center. After getting ahead 0-2 to the next batter, he through four straight balls to walk him and place the tying run on base with two outs. Taylor Motter, who had had good at bats against Cotton all day, fouled off two fastballs from Cotton that could have been hit 450 feet. Motter battled until the seventh pitch of the at bat, before striking Cotton’s slider offering to left-center field near the warning track, but fortunately corralled by Jaff Decker.

Cotton retired all three batters he faced in the sixth inning, but at 97 pitches thrown his reserves were completely depleted and needed to be replaced. Though he only allowed the two total runs, his command was off all game, walking two total batters, hitting another, and only striking out two. On his only strikeout before getting Danny Valencia in the sixth, two pitches prior to the K he had nearly taken the head off of the batter Heredia, the ball instead helpfully sailing into Heredia’s bat right behind where his head used to be. This was probably Cotton’s worst pitched game of the season, but he also got his best results of the season as well, so ultimately it doesn’t matter.

Frankie Montas, with a fastball so electric it could replace coal-fired power plants, needed just eight pitches to get through his inning with a strikeout. However, as the bullpen’s innings pitched leader, the A’s didn’t want to become too dependent on Montas and deplete his arm too much and sacrifice the season’s future, he would be replaced by the soft-tossing Daniel Coulombe. However, Coulombe allowed Cano to reach base on a single, and the alternative lefty was immediately discarded and replaced with a traditional hard throwing righty, yet again, in Liam Hendricks. Hendricks nearly fracked things up real good, though, as he followed the single with a walk of Nelson Cruz. He was nearly bailed out by the green defense behind him, Rosales and Lowrie turning a slick double play to get two quick outs in the inning, but Hendricks allowed a triple to Kyle Seager to the deepest cavern of the ballpark that drove in a run, despite Jaff Decker’s effort on defense. The deficit was narrowed to 4-3.

Ryan Madson, and some more strong defense up the middle from Lowrie, got the final out of the eighth inning. Madson returned for the ninth eying a save, recycling a role he’s held several times throughout his career, and promptly got two strikeouts to begin the final frame. Jarrod Dyson, with the game on the line, softly hit a bloop single into right center, and stole second base with relative ease to place the tying run in scoring position with Mitch Haniger at the plate, but Madson would strike him out on high fastball to put the Mariners’ away for good.

The A’s offense went quiet after the third inning and remained undiscovered for the rest of the game, but more offense wasn’t necessary, as there was just enough pitching to fuel a 4-3 victory, giving the greenest team a victory on the greenest day, and their fifth win in a row. The Mariners fall to 1-9 on the road this season and remain in last place while the A’s improve to 10-8 overall and remain in second. The A’s go for the four-game sweep, and sixth consecutive win, tomorrow at 1:05.