This was almost a really good game.
The Oakland A’s built a five-run lead in the early innings, but the Seattle Mariners chipped away with six unanswered runs to stun the green and gold in a 6-5 A’s loss. The two teams meet again in a few minutes for the second half of a doubleheader.
*** Revisit today’s Game Thread! ***
This one seemed like it was in the bag midway through. The A’s plated an early run in the 2nd inning, then put up a four-spot in the 4th thanks to dingers by Sean Murphy and Marcus Semien. With rookie phenom Jesús Luzardo dealing on the mound, and only seven innings to get through in the abbreviated doubleheader game, it was easy to assume it was over and look ahead to the nightcap.
Murphy’s was his fourth in his last seven games.
Semien’s was his second in his last three games.
But then the surprisingly hot Mariners came to life. They entered having won 14 of their previous 21 contests, despite a lineup full of unknown names packed around two familiar Kyles (Lewis and Seager), and the A’s found out why Monday afternoon.
It began innocently enough in the bottom of the 4th, with a solo homer by Luis Torrens, such a wallscraper that it literally bounced off the top of the wall (and Stephen Piscotty’s glove on a great leaping attempt that unfortunately resulted in injury) before going over. Then in the 5th it was a solo homer by Jose Marmolejos, and then a two-run homer by Kyle Lewis.
Luzardo: 4⅔ ip, 4 runs, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 3 HR, 7 hits, 82 pitches (54 strikes)
Quick analysis: Still love the seven strikeouts and no walks, plus the 12 swinging strikes equaling 14.6% of all his pitches, and there wasn’t much hard contact outside of the three homers. And for what it’s worth, it sounds like the smoke may have affected him (see bottom section of this post).
In the 6th inning, Joakim Soria came in for his usual setup duties, tasked with holding a one-run lead. Soria has been perfect this year, but Seattle finally busted him for his first blown save of the summer. A single set the table, a double drove him home to tie it, and then three straight walks forced in the eventual winning run, which is among the most frustrating ways to lose a game.
The bright side is that the standings don’t matter too much right now. The A’s darn near have the AL West division locked up already, which would guarantee them at least a Top 3 seed in the postseason. Of course you still want to win games, but there’s not a lot of pressure right now and losses aren’t the end of the world.
And hey, every game Seattle wins brings them one step closer to passing the Astros for second place and knocking Houston out of the playoff picture entirely, so, if Oakland has to lose to someone then let’s make it the Mariners!
It’s fair to wonder whether these games should even be played at all. Due to smoke from the wildfires raging all over the West Coast, the air quality in Seattle is far into unhealthy territory.
I guess this means that 200 is not the threshold for cancellation. ... Is there one?— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 14, 2020
You can even see it on the TV broadcast, like on this amazing diving catch by Ramon Laureano — while wearing a large mask.
Luzardo had this to say after his day on the mound.
Luzardo on air quality: "I mean when I came out I think it was at 284. I’m a healthy 22 year old, I shouldn’t be gasping for air I guess you could say or missing oxygen when I’m getting to the line. So I’ll leave it at that." #Athletics— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) September 14, 2020
Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle is not mincing words.
I’ve heard many things over the years,including recently, that indicate how little some of those running leagues/teams care about the health and well-being of their personnel. Today, that fact is right out there in the light of day - well, if you could see it through the smoke.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 14, 2020