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Game #71: A’s bullpen wastes Montas’ gem, fall 2-1 to Mariners

#FilthyFrankie almost made the record books today

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s wasted the best performance from one of their starting pitchers this year, blowing a ninth-inning lead and losing 2-1 to the Seattle Mariners to secure the home sweep.

The player of the game was easily Frankie Montas, as the right-hander came within four outs of throwing the ninth no-hitter in Oakland history. He almost carried the A’s to a win before a long road trip but the offense just couldn’t get him any insurance for eight innings and a pair of relievers didn’t allow a hit and still blew the lead. The A’s are finding new ways to lose.

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

Coming into today, it looked on paper like a potential pitcher’s duel.

And that’s exactly what we got.

This ballgame started out perfectly for Frankie Montas, getting the first two outs on two pitches and four total in the first inning. Efficiency would be a theme for him this afternoon.

The offense got on the board quickly against Seattle starter Robbie Ray. A leadoff single by Sheldon Neuse and a 2-out walk to Sean Murphy brought up Christian Bethancourt, who had gone hitless in his last 12 at-bats:

Now with a lead, Montas went to work. A two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch to Taylor Trammell in the second was the only base runner the Mariners would get against #FilthyFrankie for a long while.

He did get a little help from his defense in the sixth as Chad Pinder made a great running catch to keep a potential no-no alive. This is around the point it started feeling serious. 65 pitches through 6.

The A’s wasted a golden opportunity in the bottom half of the frame after Ramon Laureano doubled to lead off the inning. The next three hitters couldn’t even move him over as Oakland stranded a huge insurance run and kept the pressure high on Montas to be perfect. One pitch could still tie this game.

Finally, the Mariners got their second base runner against him as Jesse Winker worked a two-out walk in the seventh. No matter, as Montas struck out the next batter on a devastating 98 MPH slider:

84 through 7.

After getting the first two outs of the eighth on just four pitches, Seattle finally got their first hit, a 1-2 flare to left off the bat of Adam Frazier:

Then another single put a Mariner baserunner in scoring position and suddenly this game was on a razor’s edge. A base hit likely ties this game. Manager Mark Kotsay came out for a mound visit to check on Montas while also getting Zach Jackson throwing in the bullpen. He didn’t need to use Jackson this inning, though, as Montas locked in on his final batter of the day and got a weak groundout to second.

  • Frankie Montas: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 102 pitches

Easily among one of his best career starts, Montas dominated the Mariners’ lineup with only one run of support. All of his pitches were working perfectly today and when that happens, as you can see, he’s one of the best pitchers in the league. He was still throwing gas in the eighth, too, hitting between 98-99 MPH on his last batter.

Kotsay turned to Jackson in the ninth for the save and it didn’t go to plan, walking a pair of batters to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base. A nice sliding catch by Tony Kemp on the grass and a strikeout for the first two outs brought up the left-handed Trammell.

Kotsay turned to the bullpen again, calling on A.J. Puk to lock this win down and earn his first career save. Seattle pinch-hit Trammell with a right-hander, though, and Puk walked him on four pitches to load the bases. His very next pitch went to the backstop and brought in the Mariner runner on third to tie this game. Another wild pitch brought in the go-ahead run for Seattle. A nice play by Neuse at third ended the inning but the damage was done.

Seattle scored two runs in the ninth without getting a hit in the inning. Montas would not get a win today after coming four outs away from a no-hitter. Unbelievable.

The A’s went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, ending on a close pitch that Seth Brown took exception to:

What else is there to say? We knew the A’s were going to take a step back this year and begin a rebuild, but this kind of loss is just embarrassing. Going from watching potential history to watching a meltdown isn’t any fun. This loss is just as much on the offense as it is on the bullpen, though, getting just three hits in the final eight innings today.

The league-worst A’s have now lost 18 of their last 22 and head out on their 3-city road trip on a three-game losing streak.

They begin the trip tomorrow evening in Kansas City for a three-game set against the Royals. It’ll be Cole Irvin against Zack Greinke in the series opener.