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Game #69: A’s lose to Mariners 8-2

Nick Allen’s first career home run, though!

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland dropped the first game of the series to the Mariners 8-2 on a warm Tuesday night at the Coliseum.

The starting pitching was strong but nothing else went as well for the club tonight. The lineup collected seven hits and scored a pair of runs, but an implosion in the seventh inning by the bullpen doomed any chance at a comeback attempt.

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

Solid start from Kap

The temperature at first pitch was 89 degree, so it was a hot evening for Oakland. A’s starting pitcher James Kaprielian, having a rough season in his sophomore campaign, came out of the gates firing, getting four strikeouts in the first two innings.

The top of the third was a tad bit more wobbly for the righty as the first pitch of the inning was belted for a home run by Taylor Trammell. Seattle got another double in the inning before Kap got Julio Rodriguez to fly out to end the inning. It was smooth sailing for the next couple frames for Kap, whose breaking ball was working especially well tonight. Per Matt Kawahara:

Kaprielian has just five called strikes and whiffs on fastballs but 17 on secondary pitches (13 on his slider) and is through five innings with one run allowed. A’s still scoreless.

His day ended on a slightly sour note, however. A leadoff single by Rodriguez started the sixth inning and Seattle offseason addition Jesse Winker smacked a double down the right field line, and with Rodriguez running on the pitch scored all the way from first base (hey, he does lead the A.L. in steals). The next batter flew out all the way to the warning track with Chad Pinder making a nice catch at the wall in left. Manager Mark Kotsay had seen enough after that scare, bringing in left-hander Kirby Snead, who was one of four players who were just recalled this afternoon.

  • James Kaprielian: 5 13 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 89 pitches

After a string of rough starts it’s certainly encouraging to see Kaprielian have a quality performance. Even though he was saddled with the loss and continues to look for his first win, he certainly pitched well enough to deserve one tonight. Fingers crossed he’s figured it out and takes this momentum into his next outing, which is preliminarily lined up for the Royals.

A seventh to forget

Snead stayed in to start the inning and back-to-back walks got things going for the Mariners. A double play on a comebacker to Snead got the A’s ever so close to escaping the inning but Kotsay was too smart for himself tonight, bringing in Austin Pruitt. His third pitch to Ty France resulted in an RBI single and brought in Seattle’s third run. And then it started.

Rodriguez took a hanging curveball from Pruitt and yanked it into the left-field stands for a 2-run shot. Winker followed that with his own blast, a deep drive to center, and for good measure Eugenio Suarez got in on the fun and made it back-to-back-to-back home runs for the Mariners. When the smoke finally cleared, Pruitt had given up four runs while getting just a single out. The two-run deficit that looked surmountable suddenly became a mountain that would take a Herculean effort to overcome.

Lineup scuffles

Overcome, they did not. The A’s had a couple useless baserunners in the first couple innings before getting a couple 2-out singles in the third put runners on the corners for Ramon Laureano. After a slow start and a hot stretch, Laureano has cooled off again and he struck out here to end the inning and strand the runners. Seattle starter Marco Gonzales settled in after that, retiring 11 of the next 12 A’s hitters.

The only scoring tonight for the club came courtesy of Nick Allen, just recalled from Triple-A this morning and getting right into the action. In the seventh inning with a runner on, he took the third pitch of his third at-bat and pulled it into the left-field stands for his first career home run. And at home, too!

That was the only highlight from the offense tonight, though. Crisitan Pache doubled immediately after Allen’s home run, and that was the final base runner for Oakland as Seattle retired the last seven batters in order.

So the A’s drop the first game of the series in a game that was close until a disaster inning. The starting pitching was solid but it’s hard to win baseball games when you’re scoring a pair of runs or less on a nightly basis. It doesn’t help when your bullpen gives up six runs, too, though.

So it goes for the league-worst A’s. It’ll be same time and same place tomorrow night, with potential All-Star Paul Blackburn taking the mound against Seattle top prospect George Kirby. Looks like a potential pitching duel so runs should be at a premium.

Notes:

  • Righty Adam Oller, one of the four guys called up today, came in for mop up duty at the end and worked a couple innings. He loaded the bases in the top of the ninth and almost got out of it before a 2-out RBI single put a blemish on his outing.
  • Another one of the recently recalled players, Sheldon Neuse went 1-for-4 and scored on Allen’s home run.
  • Infielder Jonah Bride, manning the slot DH today, went 2-for-4 and worked Gonzales for a 13-pitch at-bat in the sixth that helped drive the pitch count up. He’s now hitting .333 in his first seven games in the Majors.
  • Centerfielder Crisitian Pache had a pair of hits tonight and is hitting .235 over his last seven games. It’s not much but at least it’s an improvement.
  • Even though he didn’t have an assist tonight, Ramon Laureano showcased his cannon on a couple throws and had a couple close calls. It had been a while since we saw this from him so it was nice to watch those strikes again.