It took until the final weekend of the 2020 season, but the Oakland A’s finally lost an extra-inning game. Although, it was only eight innings long, so they’re still undefeated in contests that go 10+ frames.
The A’s took the Seattle Mariners to extras for the second straight day, this time in the seven-inning opener of a Saturday doubleheader, but lost 5-1 in the 8th inning.
*** Revisit today’s Game Thread! ***
The game followed an eerily similar script to the previous night. On Friday, both teams were silent on offense until the Mariners scored in the top of the 10th. However, Oakland came back in the bottom half to win. On Saturday, the score was just 1-1 at the end of regulation, and once again Seattle found the plate right away in the first extra inning. But this time they exploded for four runs, and for the first time all year in extras the A’s weren’t able to conjure up the final push they needed at the end.
Oakland’s lineup also continued their troubling season-long trend. They generated plenty of base runners, including six hits and four walks, but couldn’t convert them into actual runs. The bounced into three double plays, lined into a fourth one, left the bases loaded (with one out!) in the 2nd, squandered a leadoff triple in the 6th, and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
The A’s did come through one time at the plate. Mark Canha doubled to lead off the 4th, then moved to third on a single, and scored on a sac fly by Khris Davis.
On the other side of the ball, lefty starter Mike Minor kept the Mariners at bay. He breezed through five scoreless innings, but then allowed a couple hard hits to lead off the 6th and tie the game. Otherwise the southpaw allowed almost no hard contact, and he struck out seven of the 19 batters he faced.
Minor: 5 ip, 1 run, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 4 hits, 80 pitches (55 strikes)
He also added another piece of wizardry on defense, grabbing a ball that went between his legs.
Minor's defense is major pic.twitter.com/Ed2h2V4Mpl— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 26, 2020
The bullpen held up for a while. Joakim Soria and Liam Hendriks breezed through the 6th and 7th, which would have been enough if the A’s lineup had scored earlier. But Hendriks blinked in the 8th, and Seattle used small-ball to scratch across what they needed. A sac bunt moved the free runner from second to third, a single scored him, a stolen base moved up the runner, and another single scored him.
Hendriks was then relieved by Lou Trivino, who served up a two-run homer to Kyle Seager to blow the score open — though even four runs down, the A’s have been known to knock clutch grand slams late in games. Not today, though. (Or at least not yet; there’s still another game coming!)
With this loss, the Tampa Bay Rays clinched the No. 1 seed in the AL playoff field. The A’s are now competing for the No. 2 or 3 spot, along with whoever wins the AL Central. Their first-round opponent will be either the Houston Astros (No. 6), or whoever finishes third in the Central (No. 7).
But for now, get up, stretch your legs, grab some food, go to the bathroom, (not all at once), and come on back. There’s another game coming in just a few minutes, with Paul Blackburn starting in his 2020 season debut against Justin Dunn.
Extra note: Kendall Graveman pitched the final two innings for Seattle, earning his first win since May 2018 when he was still with the A’s (before his Tommy John surgery). Even in defeat, we can dig that.