For a hot minute tonight, it looked like the A’s would find a way to win a game in which they were outhit 11-3, but their defense and their bullpen ensured the loss. Sean Manaea struggled in two innings, but managed to right the ship and pitch a very respectable seven innings, allowing just the three runs. Unfortunately, thanks to everything else in the loss column today, three runs would have lost the game, and seven (congratulations to Nelson Cruz and his 300th home run) made it a certainty.
It’s hard to draw up a huge amount of ire for a game in which the A’s basically were two-hit for the entire evening, but still. Aside from Marcus Semien’s timely double that scored two, the rest of the night was marked with frustration on both sides of the diamond for the A’s. Jed Lowrie missed a double-play that could have kept the lead for the A’s, and Rajai Davis inexplicably assumed Cano wouldn’t run home on a sacrifice fly (and Rajai’s arm). He was wrong.
Manaea was in trouble from the word go in tonight’s game. After the A’s were retired meekly in their half of the first, Manaea allowed three straight one-out singles to plate the Mariners’ first run (Nelson Cruz’ first RBI of the game), and it would have been more but for an exceptionally well-timed double-play to end the inning. To be fair, the first single rocketed off Manaea in a stroke of bad luck and cheap hits. Only tangentially related, neither Davis can throw. I know we know this; I know the rest of the league knows this, but there are games when it is glaringly obvious. This was one.
With the Mariners leading 1-0, and the A’s folding like a cheap deck of cards in the second, they finally caught a break in the third. After Matt Chapman struck out for approximately the fiftieth time tonight (Narrator: It was three in three at-bats) Matt Joyce singled, moved to second on an overthrow and Rajai Davis walked with two outs. Marcus Semien’s double brought them both in. Again, it was sheer good luck that the A’s only two non-ninth-inning hits happened to be in the same frame. Could they make a 2-1 lead hold up? (Narrator: Nah.) Could they hold the lead for even a half-inning? (Narrator: Have you been watching this team this year?)
Manaea put the first two batters on via singles to open the third inning before racking up a 3-0 count to Cano. Predictably, he swung at 3-0, fouling it back, and grounded into the most can-of-corn double-play you’ll ever see on the next pitch, not even running to first. And then, Jed Lowrie just fell apart. He had the ball, he was going for the first out at second, and he fumbled, booted, and only a great play by Semien got even one out on the play. Because the out was recorded and you can’t assume a double-play, no error was charged. The runs will be earned. Enter Nelson Cruz, who singled in the run from third to tie the game (RBI count: 2). Manaea allowed another single to load the bases, but induced a shallow fly ball to Rajai Davis for the second out. Rajai caught the ball, saw the runner (Cano. CANO!) was planted on third, so casually jogged with the ball, taking his sweet time to return it to the infield. Meanwhile, Cano decided to hold a footrace with Rajai’s arm and win. 3-2 Mariners, and again, because an out was made on the play, no error was assigned. Manaea would take all the earned runs on his record, and I daresay he didn’t exactly earn those. More fodder for errors are a useless statistic.
Nothing happened for five innings, giving Manaea plenty of time to clean up his line score and turn in a very respectable outing; seven innings pitched, three “earned” runs, despite his early trouble. Meanwhile, the A’s didn’t record another hit. And then came Liam Hendriks, looking to hold the deficit at 3-2. (Narrator: Wow, was that a mistake.)
It took Hendriks exactly two batters to set the table for the red-hot Cruz, allowing a double and a walk in front of the obvious three-run home run; the 300th of Cruz’ career and his fifth RBI of the night. Zach Neal cleaned up after Hendriks, but was sure to wild pitch a runner to third and allow that seventh run to score.
Meanwhile, the A’s recorded their third hit of the night in the ninth, which was promptly erased by a double-play. If that isn’t a metaphor for Friday night game threads, I don’t know what is!
The A’s and Mariners pick up game three tomorrow night. Chris Smith, obviously of the Witness Protection Program, will be starting.