After dropping their previous series against the Astros, given the standings, it was an absolute imperative that the A’s salvaged the final game of this series. The difference between a win and a loss today was the difference between being 5.5 games ahead of the Mariners in the standings rather than being 3.5 games ahead with just over twenty games left to play, and three head-to-head matchups remaining. Thankfully, due to the efforts of Edwin Jackson and Stephen Piscotty, the A’s were able to keep the game close before piling on the Mariners’ bullpen to drive the team to victory.
Things didn’t get off to the greatest of starts. With Edwin Jackson starting, Mitch Haniger smashed a double to kick off the action, and he came around to score after a potential inning ending ground out bounced off of second base and into center field off the bat of Nelson Cruz. That single was followed by yet another double, and it seemed as though Jackson’s August struggles were spilling over into September, but the veteran escaped the jam by inducing an easy to handle comebacker, and before anyone knew it he was on cruise control.
Beyond a pair of walks, no other Mariners reached base for the remainder of Jackson’s six inning outing, and neither of those walks came close to threatening to score. Jackson’s pitches had some heavy movement today, and he kept his offerings in locations where the Mariners couldn’t do any major damage. While he only got two strikeouts on the day, he instead expertly induced lots of soft contact and his pitch count was never a concern.
Felix Hernandez is a shell of his former self, but daggum it if he still doesn’t pitch like he was a decade younger whenever facing the A’s. Through the first four innings, he faced the minimum, the two baserunners the A’s managed each getting erased on double plays. However, in the fifth inning, Stephen Piscotty got hold of a hard pitch to hit and punished it over the left field wall to tie the game up at one apiece.
The A’s knocked King Felix out of the game in the sixth after Chad Pinder and Matt Joyce reached base to start the inning before advancing to second and third on a wild pitch. In desperate need of a clutch hit, Marcus Semien delivered by hitting a two-RBI single to left field that just barely evaded the reach of Kyle Seager at third base. With Hernandez on the bench, the A’s offense came alive, and the Mariners needed to use three relievers to escape the sixth, though not before the A’s tacked on two more runs to push their lead to 5-1.
The Mariners did manage to scratch a run across against Fernando Rodney, necessitating the usage of Blake Treinen in the 8th inning, but Piscotty ensured that any comeback hopes were squashed with a three run blast, his second of the day and 21st of the season, in the A’s final inning at the plate.
The A’s won 8-2 in an all around team effort victory, defeating their long time nemesis in the process. The team couldn’t afford to lose a series of this magnitude this late in the season, so while a split is disappointing overall it is certainly more preferable than the alternative. The A’s have three more games to play, against a tough Yankees team, before getting a much needed day off, as the season enters its final push. But with guys like Piscotty or Jackson stepping up and making an impact each and every day, the A’s should have nothing to worry about.