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Game #159: A’s Checkmate King Felix and Mariners, 9-3

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A’s pull within 1.5 games of New York for top wild card spot

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners
Matt Olson’s first career Grand Slam powers the A’s to 9-3 Victory
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

With the Yankees losing to the Rays, the A’s needed a win tonight against “King” Felix and the Mariners to keep their slim wild card home field advantage hopes alive. Thanks to Edwin Jackson, a host of relievers and a homer happy offense, the A’s pulled out the victory against the M’s, 9-3. The win means the A’s are now within 1.5 games of New York with a weekend left of regular season games to play.

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King Felix Meets His A’s Nemesis Early
Marcus Semien came into tonight’s game hitting .341 with 4 HR’s against Felix Hernandez. Make that 5 HR’s after tonight’s first inning, when Semien delivered this blast to deep right center:

Pinder Swiped Right (or Center) in the 2nd Inning
A’s utility man, Chad Pinder, found himself playing third base tonight, spelling Matt Chapman. Pinder has started games at six different positions in 2018 (49 in left field, 12 at second base, five in right fi eld, three at shortstop, three at third base and two in center field). He came into tonight’s contest with a small sample size of sucess against Hernandez (3 for 8). With one out in the top of the second inning, he added to that sample size with a big fly to deep center, his 13th homerun of the season to make it 2-0, A’s.

Mariners Answer Off of “E-Jax”
Edwin Jackson allowed a lead-off walk to A’s killer, Nelson Cruz to begin the bottom half of the second inning. Cruz moved to second with one out when Kyle Seager walked. Pound for pound, the biggest man in baseball, Daniel Vogelbach (6 Ft, 250++ pounds) then added to the party with a walk of his own to load the bases with only one out. M’s rightfielder, Ben Gamel came up next and lined a 1-0 cut fastball to rightcenter for a double, plating Cruz and Seager to tie the game at 2. Jackson would get last night’s hero, Chris Hermann, to line out to second to freeze the runners at 2nd and 3rd for the second out. Talented Mitch Haniger then flied out to end the threat and keep the game knotted at 2.

Jackson Narrowly Escapes the Fourth Inning
Because of the A’s offensive fireworks tonight, Jackson’s fourth inning houdini act will be overlooked, but it was a great piece of pitching. “E-Jax” started off the inning with hitting lead-off hitter Denard Span. The next batter, Kyle Seager, singled to right to place runners at 1st and 2nd with nobody out. Jackson then refocused and induced a ground ball from Daniel Vogelbach for out number one. Unfortunately, both runners advanced on the play to put runners on second and third with one out and the M’s second inning run producer, Ben Gamel striding to the plate. Jackson pitched around Gamel to load the bases and bring up Chris Hermann. Jackson dialed up the fastball a few degrees, mixed in a slider and struck out Hermann in one of the biggest moments of the ballgame to record the second out. Mitch Haniger grounded out with runners on second and third for the second straight at-bat and Jackson and the A’s jogged off the field with the score still tied at 2.

A’s Pour Six (Expresso) Shots on Mariners in the 5th
In the land where coffee was invented (according to anyone who lives in Seattle), the A’s roasted Felix Hernandez in his final start of the regular season (and perhaps of his career?) in the 5th inning. It began with Mark Canha drawing a lead-off hit by pitch. Josh Phegley then grinded a seven pitch at-bat before weakly grounding back to the mound. This is where things began to unravel for King Felix. His throw to second to begin the double play off of Phegley’s grounder went wide of second and bounced into centerfield, advancing Canha to third and allowing Phegley to reach first. Nick Martini then roped a one strike pitch to right to score Canha and give the A’s the lead, 3-2.

That would be it for Hernandez as Chasen Bradford replaced him with nobody out in the 5th. Marcus Semien continued his excellent night with a line drive single to left to score Phegley and put runners on first and second to make the score, 4-2, A’s. Jed Lowrie advanced the runners to second and third with a ground ball and Khris Davis walked, to load the bases for Matt Olson. Mariners manager, Scott Servais, had the option to go to a lefthander in the bullpen, but stuck with Bradford and this is what happened next:


A’s Bullpen Closes Out the Final 4 23 Innings, Allowing One Hit, No Runs
Staked to a six run lead, Edwin Jackson found trouble in the bottom of the 5th inning. Jean Segura walked to start the inning, Robinson Cano flipped a single to right and quickly the M’s had runners at first and third. Nelson Cruz came up next and absolutely crushed a ball to center that somehow died on the warning track for out number one but scored a run for Seattle. Denard Span singled to move Cano to second and with that BoMel turned to the Bullpen. Final line for Edwin Jackson (4 13 innings, five hits, three runs, five walks). Was it enough to earn a Wild Card postseason start?

A’s lefty reliever, Ryan Buchter, who had quietly put together a really nice season (has not allowed a run in 20 of his last 22 outings and has held left handed batters to a .177 average came in with runners on 1st and 2nd and only one out. Buchter and Phegley appeared to get crossed up on signs (how does this happen at the Major League level?) and allowed a passed ball to place runners in scoring position for Kyle Seager. The A’s cushion of a six run lead suddenly looked like it wouldn’t be enough. But Buchter came up huge in this inning, striking out lefties, Seager and then Vogelback, both looking, to end the inning and keep the score 8-3, A’s. Buchter would pitch into the sixth inning, walking one and recording an out before giving way to Liam “why am I not starting” Hendricks, Hendricks September fastball continues to impress, he hit 97 mph with ease in the sixth inning tonight, retiring the two batters he faced. I believe Hendricks will make the post season roster and I am guessing he will start inning one of the wild card matchup.

J.B. Wendelken most likely won’t make the A’s postseason roster, but I believe we can expect big things from him in 2019. His combination of fastball-changeup was down right filthy in the 7th inning, striking out the heart of the Mariners order (Cano, Cruz and Span). Wendlken was recalled on Aug. 31 for his second stint with Oakland this season and has not allowed a run in eight straight outings (11.2 ip), while holding left-handers to a .050 (1-for-20) batting average. I know this will be an unpopular opinion, but I actually prefer Wendelken over Trivino and Rodney for the post-season.

Poll

Should J.B. Wendelken Make the A’s Post Season Roster?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Yes, I trust him more than Trivino or Rodney
    (147 votes)
  • 39%
    No, his scoreless innings have mainly been in garbage time
    (95 votes)
242 votes total Vote Now

Ryan Dull came on in the 8th inning and Yusmeiro Petit pitched the 9th inning, both posting scoreless innings to preserve the 9-3 victory. Overall the A’s bullpen threw 4 2/3rds scoreless innings, giving up no runs and allowing only one hit with 6 strikeouts.

Krush Ties Reggie
Khris Davis added a fourth homerun to the contest with a seventh inning opposite field blast off of Mariners reliever, Casey Lawrence. The homer was Davis’ 47th of the season and tied him with Reggie Jackson for fifth place on most homeruns in a season by a A’s player.

Season
58 Jimmie Foxx (1932)
52 Mark McGwire (1996)
49 Mark McGwire (1987)
48 Jimmie Foxx (1933)
47 Reggie Jackson (1969)
47 Khris Davis (2018)


A.L. Wild Card Update
We know the A.L, Wild Card game will be held a week from tonight, Wednesday, October 3rd aat 5:00pm pst. We know the two teams who will play in that game will be the A’s and the Yankees. What we don’t know is where the game will be played and who will be the starting pitcher for each team. (Although Ben Ross is hinting both teams will make it a bullpen game)

For the game to be played in Oakland, a lot has to go right for the A’s in the last week of the season. Tonight was step one of what needs to go right as the A’s won and the Yankees lost (9-8 to the Rays), to narrow New York’s lead to 1.5 games. The Yankees play the Rays tomorrow morning (10:10am pst). If the Yankees lose, the teams would be separated by only one game with the A’s playing their last three on the road in Anaheim and the Yankees playing their last three on the road in Boston.

*Reminder, because the Yankees own the dumb tiebreaker, the A’s have to end the season as least 1 game ahead of the Yankees in order to host the wild card game.

A Couple of Shout Outs
This is my last regular season game to cover for Athletics Nation for 2018 and without getting too sentimental or forgetting anyone, I want to say a huge “thank-you” to Alex Hall, our brillant editor/leader/chief/manager/herder of cats here at AN. He is always encouraging and gracious and makes being a part of this community really fun. Also, big shout-outs (do the kids still say this term?!) to some of the amazing, hilarious and consistent commenters to our GameThreads throughout the 2018 season, including “JustAnotherAsFan”, “player20”, “IowaAsFan” and “Ciderbeck.”

And finally, a big thank you to my fellow AN writers, the legendary Nico, and the creative and insightful crew including Frederic_Henry, Dani Baker-Gillman, Baseball Jen, Baseball girl, Torrey Hart, fatrolf, Billy Frijoles, Billy Moriaty and others I am not remembering but who are equally awesome.

See you in the Playoffs AN!!!!!