Thursday night’s contest between the A’s and Mariners was as close to a win-win as you can get in professional sports. The competing A’s got one win closer to a Wild Card berth, and the deflated Mariners got to celebrate a franchise legend on what will almost assuredly be his final performance for Seattle. Felix Hernandez had a solid outing, but Oakland prevailed, 3-1.
Chapman the Difference Again
Matt Chapman may be getting his mojo back at just the right time. After a massive home run in the 9th inning of Wednesday’s game, Chapman was right back at it on Thursday. He walked in the 1st inning, then managed to score on a Matt Olson single after making a terrific read on the throw from Kyle Lewis and scampering home.
The next inning it was Chapman again, blasting a two-run homer to center field after a Marcus Semien walk. The long ball, which was very similar to his blast the previous night, gave Oakland a 3-0 lead in the 2nd.
The night was about much more than winning or losing for the Mariners and their fans. Felix Hernandez started what was likely his final game with Seattle after 15 seasons and the fans were out in full force. Loudly cheering every strike, the fans rose to their feet every time Hernandez had a chance to whiff somebody.
Other than the Chapman homer, Hernandez was tough, allowing just five hits through 5 1/3 innings. At the end of the 5th, the A’s had the bases loaded but Hernandez induced a lineout from Chad Pinder to end the inning. Felix leapt off the mound in celebration as the crowd went bananas. Even A’s fans had to appreciate the moment for Hernandez, an AL West legend.
Lefty, Lefty, Liam
The A’s didn’t need any more than three runs as the pitching was lights out. Sean Manaea continued his incredible run since returning to the big leagues, allowing just one run in six innings pitched. He improved to 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA.
Manaea was followed by Jesus Luzardo who brought the heat again with three strikeouts in two innings. Luzardo didn’t allow a baserunner.
Luzardo was followed by Liam Hendriks and everybody knows how this one ends – with a drama-free 9th inning. Hendriks struck out two and allowed no baserunners, collecting save number 25 on the year.
With the Rays off today and the White Sox losing to the Indians, the A’s had a terrific day in their quest to secure a Wild Card berth. With three games left to play, Oakland leads the Rays by a game and the Indians by three full games. The A’s only need to win one more game to clinch a postseason appearance. Additionally, since they possess the head-to-head advantage over both teams, winning two out of the last three will be good enough to guarantee home field advantage in the Wild Card game.