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Game #45: A’s bats stay hot in 7-5 win over Mariners

Two straight good days at the plate!

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners
Kemp + Lowrie = 5 hits, 3 RBI, 4 runs
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

What’s the definition of irony? The Oakland A’s can’t score any runs this year, and nobody can seem to score much against them, except for during their action-packed games against the Seattle Mariners.

The two sides played another wild one Tuesday, and this time the A’s came out on top 7-5 in a seesaw affair at T-Mobile Park.

*** Click here to revisit tonight’s Game Thread! ***

Entering this series, Oakland had scored 24 runs over their previous 10 games. They’d allowed 48 during that span, but remove a couple aberrant blowouts and that figure drops to 25 runs in eight games. Meanwhile, over the past couple decades the average A’s/Mariners game has finished with a score of roughly one to negative-one, a perpetually sleepy matchup between two clubs with an uncanny ability to shut each other down.

Not this year. In Monday’s series opener Seattle won 7-6, initially building a comfy lead and then barely warding off a late comeback attempt by the green-and-gold. Tonight it was Oakland breaking out the superior lumber and then hanging onto a slim advantage in the final innings. It’s only the second time all year that the A’s have scored at least six runs in two straight games.

Early leads

It only took three batters for Oakland to notch their first run. Tony Kemp singled to lead off the evening and stole second base, and one out later Chad Pinder drilled a 99 mph rocket off the wall for an RBI double. It was just inches away from clearing the fence.

They picked up another run in the 3rd inning. Once again Kemp set the scene with a single, and this time Jed Lowrie doubled him home.

The Mariners tied it up in the bottom of the 3rd, but the A’s answered back in the 5th, in eerily similar fashion. Yet again it was Kemp serving as sparkplug with a single, and yet again he was driven home by an extra-base hit, this time a two-run homer by Lowrie.

Lowrie now quietly leads the team with a 113 wRC+ mark, at least among those with 100 plate appearances or more.

Seesaw

The first half of the game had seen the A’s gain a lead, lose it, and retake it. They lost it again right away in the bottom of the 5th.

Starter James Kaprielian made it through the first two innings unscathed, but in the 3rd a two-run double evaporated the early cushion his teammates had given him. When Oakland climbed on top again in the 5th, Seattle immediately got to Kaprielian again, with an extended rally that included an RBI groundout and then a two-run homer.

  • Kaprielian: 5 ip, 5 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR, 7 hits, 74 pitches

On the bright side he did miss some bats (12% of his pitches) and at least didn’t offer much free help via walks. But the hits were pretty much all hard contact, and the bottom line was that he exited the mound trailing on the scoreboard.

Comeback!

Fortunately, tonight’s seesaw wasn’t done tilting.

The A’s wasted no time getting Kaprielian off the hook, just four pitches into the top of the 6th, when Elvis Andrus blasted a solo homer. At 102.4 mph and 391 feet it was no cheap shot, he got all of it. Tie game. They threatened for more after that as the inning continued, including a walk by Kemp for his fourth time reaching base, but on this occasion he was stranded.

In the 7th, Oakland took the lead again, for the third time in the game. With a runner on first and two out, Andrus lined a single and the left fielder clanked the pickup. The ball bounced off his glove and dribbled away long enough for the runner (catcher Sean Murphy!) to score all the way from first.

Next up was Luis Barrera, who smoked a double over the right fielder’s head to drive home Andrus.

That was Barrera’s second hit of the night, raising the rookie to a 152 wRC+ through 43 plate appearances since being called up earlier this month. He also stole a base.

More importantly, Barrera’s booming double gave the A’s a two-run lead, and this time they held onto it. Four relievers combined to keep the Mariners off the board the rest of the way.

  • Sam Moll pitched the 6th and got the first out of the 7th, lowering him to an 0.61 ERA on the season.
  • Domingo Acevedo walked a batter but promptly finished off the 7th.
  • Zach Jackson put a couple runners on in the 8th but locked it down with a strikeout.
  • Dany Jimenez breezed through the 9th, stranding a walk between a popout and two strikeouts. He now has an 0.52 ERA and nine saves in as many tries. Danymite!

The bullpen allowed only one piece of hard contact that wasn’t a routine skyout or popout, which went for a groundball single off Moll.

Victory!

Oakland tied a season-high with 13 hits, and their two-day total of 25 hits is also their best showing of the year so far. That’s a welcome sight amid a quiet campaign at the plate, especially over the past month.

And it came against the Mariners, an opponent they hadn’t beaten in their past 13 matchups dating back to last July, and whom they’ve mostly had pitching duels against throughout this century. Who would’ve thought?