The Oakland A’s lost again on Thursday, completing a four-game sweep by the Seattle Mariners at the Coliseum. The A’s took a lead this time but blew it in the 6th inning, ending in a 6-5 defeat.
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It couldn’t get much more deflating. After three quiet losses the past three nights, Oakland looked like they might finally have a good day and salvage the finale. All-Star starter Chris Bassitt made his triumphant return to the mound after a scary injury last month, and he tossed three scoreless innings while the A’s lineup took an early lead. But the bullpen couldn’t hold on, and the offense went quiet and couldn’t keep up with Seattle’s attack.
Oakland has 11 blown saves in their past 30 games, resulting in eight losses. They’ve also dropped 12 of their 16 meetings with the Mariners this year.
The A’s entered this week on a five-game winning streak that renewed their slim hopes of reaching the postseason, but after four gut-punch losses in a row their odds are now just a few token tenths of a point above zero. They needed to win this series to have any chance, and instead they got swept.
The afternoon began on a positive note, as Bassitt was activated from the 10-day injured list to make the start. Just over five weeks ago he was hit in the head by a line drive and needed facial surgery, and now he was already back in action. It was an amazing recovery by a relentless competitor, and what’s more, he pitched like his All-Star self with three scoreless innings.
- Bassitt: 3 ip, 0 runs, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 1 hit, 48 pitches, 82.3 mph EV
His first two batters reached and then he retired nine in a row, with only one hard-hit ball along the way for a routine groundout. He was limited to a short stint while he rebuilds his endurance after an injury layoff, but he could make two more starts this year.
C-Bass is dealing pic.twitter.com/GFdSnyPr0q— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 23, 2021
While Bassitt was spinning zeroes, Oakland’s lineup was building an early lead.
In the 2nd inning, with runners on first and third and one out, Elvis Andrus came through with a sharp sac fly for a run.
Elvis puts us on the pic.twitter.com/du2vrAtYxG— Oakland A's (@Athletics) September 23, 2021
In the 3rd they got an RBI double from Yan Gomes, followed by an RBI single from Mark Canha.
more more more pic.twitter.com/KVLt3AuP7B— Oakland A's (@Athletics) September 23, 2021
In the 4th, Sean Murphy capped it off with a solo homer.
deep and gone pic.twitter.com/JAPVUtSVZb— Oakland A's (@Athletics) September 23, 2021
It wasn’t a huge outburst, but it was a solid early advantage. After all, four runs had been enough for Seattle in each of the previous three games.
Unfortunately, the good feelings quickly dissipated into the familiar heartbreaks of 2021.
Rookie James Kaprielian had originally been slated to start Thursday, but after a career-high workload he moved to the bullpen behind Bassitt. He entered in the 4th for his first relief appearance of the year, and the Mariners quickly jumped on the scoreboard with an RBI double. They added more in the 5th on a two-run homer — by their backup catcher, hitting ninth in the order.
It was the second career homer for catcher Cal Raleigh in 43 MLB games, and both have come off the A’s. They’ve allowed a dinger by the opponent’s No. 9 hitter on 15 occasions this summer, fourth-most in the majors.
Next out of the pen was Jake Diekman in the 6th. His very first batter, star outfielder Mitch Haniger, homered to tie the score. A walk, a strikeout, and another two-run homer by a catcher (this time Luis Torrens, in as a pinch-hitter) put the Mariners on top.
Meanwhile, Oakland’s lineup fell silent. After Murphy’s homer in the 4th, their next 10 batters were retired in order, as were 17 of their final 20. All they got the rest of the way was a double in the 7th and a walk in the 8th (both stranded) and then a solo homer with two outs in the 9th by Matt Olson, just in time to not quite catch up.
Playoff hopes gone
That’s it for any tiny remaining chance of reaching the postseason. The A’s are now four games out of the Second Wild Card with nine to go, and with three teams between them and that final playoff spot. The odds are down to 0.2% at best.
Chris Bassitt: "I’m proud to be an Oakland A. I’m proud of his group even though we’ve absolutely sucked the last month. It is what it is. We haven’t done a good enough job to win games. But I’m still happy as hell to be a part of this group." #Athletics— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) September 23, 2021