I told you not to watch today, in my Game Thread preview. If you did, it’s your own fault.
The Oakland A’s lost by one run again, this time 4-3 to the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Sunday. Another close game, another round of more stuff going wrong than right, and another chapter in an oddly exasperating season that still has the A’s in playoff position — for now.
Oakland has played 19 games in July, and 11 have been decided by one run. They are 3-8 in those games. They were 12-10 in such contests entering this month.
This afternoon was more of the same. When the A’s were rallying and they hit a grounder that pegged the opposing pitcher, it ricocheted directly to an infielder to end the inning. When the Mariners had nobody on and two out and were doing nothing at the plate and they hit a grounder that pegged the opposing pitcher, it ricocheted away from all the fielders for a single that sparked a four-run rally.
When the A’s pitcher had put two on with two out and then drilled a batter with a pitch, he took his base and later came around to score. When the Mariners pitcher had put two on with two out and then drilled a batter with a pitch, the ump didn’t see it and then the replay review booth didn’t see it so he didn’t get his base and instead struck out to end the frame. “Unbelievable. It’s a waste of time to talk about,” said NBCS broadcaster Glen Kuiper about his opinion of that replay decision.
That’s the way things are going for Oakland these days. Maybe they played a worse game than Seattle did today, or maybe the chips just fell the wrong way. The A’s hit two homers and an RBI double, while the Mariners scored in only one inning and they only hit four singles in that inning. Who would you have guessed won, given only that one sentence of information?
Here’s how it unfolded this time.
The A’s opened the scoring in the 2nd inning, when Stephen Piscotty doubled home a run. They might have extended the rally further, but Mark Canha’s sharp grounder (100 mph exit velocity) hit the pitcher — that was actually fortunate because the shifted middle infielders would have gotten to it, but it then switched to unfortunate when it went straight at a Gold Glove third baseman for a lucky out.
In the 3rd, Matt Olson homered, but with nobody on base. Still, Oakland now led 2-0.
But it all unraveled in the bottom of the 3rd. Starter Cole Irvin was cruising, and he got the first two outs before J.P. Crawford grounded one off Irvin’s foot and through into center field — there’s at least a chance it would have been fielded if not for the kick.
Next came an eight-pitch walk, and one baserunner turned into two. Then a HBP, and suddenly the bags were loaded. Then a sharp single for two runs, another sharp single for one run, and a weak doinker for one more RBI. That was Seattle’s entire offense for the day, and it was enough.
- Irvin: 4 ip, 4 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 5 hits, 77 pitches, 83.6 mph EV
That one rally was pretty much all the hard contact off Irvin. What got him was those two free passes in the middle of it, because both scored in an eventual one-run game.
The A’s put a couple runners on base in the 6th and almost loaded them when Matt Chapman appeared to be hit by a pitch, but the umps ruled otherwise and he struck out to strand everyone. In the next inning, two batters later, pinch-hitter Seth Brown hit a dinger but now there was nobody on base.
Seth Brown homers to bring the A's within one pic.twitter.com/TIuOtZQYwb— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 25, 2021
They got one more chance in the 9th inning. With one out on the board, Chapman got hit by another pitch and this time they counted it. Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland then delivered a single to LF, but Chapman aggressively tried to advance to third base and got thrown out by a fingernail.
Bad break for Chapman, or bad idea? After two straight games in which the winning runs scored on wild pitches, and amid a lineup that’s great at sac flies but bad at singles w/ RISP, and against an outfielder not known for his arm, maybe this is what you need to try, to create your own luck and get yourself to third base with one out. When you’re in a slump, it feels like nothing works.
Next on the A’s schedule? The San Diego Padres, who conveniently acquired All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier from the Pirates today, just in time to face Oakland. Sounds about right.
The A’s lead in the standings for the Second Wild Card is down to 1.5 games over the Mariners. This was their chance to put Seattle away, and instead they breathed new life into their division rival and let them back into the race.
That’s bad enough mathematically, but it gets exponentially worse when the timing of the Mariners’ momentum makes them start talking about upgrades like this tweet below. Yikes.
The Mariners are making a push to trade for INF/OF Whit Merrifield of the Royals, sources tell me and @DKramer_. Merrifield is under control through 2023 at a reasonable cost (approx. $10M over 2 years incl. ‘23 option) and offers positional versatility, a good bat & great speed.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 25, 2021