Only the 2023 Oakland A’s could lose this game.
Mason Miller, the A’s rookie phenom, in just the third start in the majors and the thirteenth starts of his professional career pitched the game of a lifetime. Over seven efficient innings, the young righty threw exactly 100 pitches to strike out 6 batters and hold the Seattle Mariners completely hitless. Of his 6 Ks, 3 were on his wicked slider, 2 on his flaming four-seamer, and one on his infamous Demon Cutter.
He wielded his elite stuff to near perfection, carving up opposing batters with ease. Outside of an uncharacteristic 4 walks, he was everything the A’s have been hoping for and been needing this whole season.
Mason Miller's third MLB start was nothing short of electric ⚡️— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 3, 2023
The @Athletics' third-ranked prospect averaged better than 97 mph on his heater and collected 23 called strikes + whiffs: pic.twitter.com/9luNmLJXWc
And yet, even when this team gets exactly what they need, they inevitably find a way to screw it up. Starting with the disappointing offense, the A’s lineup were only able to muster 5 baserunners and 1 run throughout the winning game. The one run they scored was on an Esteury Ruiz double down left field to score Tony Kemp from 2nd base in the bottom of the 6th. Theoretically, that would’ve been enough if the bullpen finished off his no-hitter or, better yet, if he was allowed to complete it himself.
But of course, that didn’t happen. That can’t happen with the 2023 Oakland A’s because we can’t have nice things.
Out of the many problems weighing this team down, Mark Kotsay has kept himself very low on the blame list. He’s done the best he can with a weak, inconsistent, and young roster. But today, he made a decision that’ll certainly make some A’s fans angry, especially old school ones. After seven hitless innings, Kotsay replaced him in the 8th inning with southpaw reliever Richard Lovelady, who almost instantly gave up the Mariner’s first hit and the game-tying run: an AJ Pollock solo homerun. A few batters later, Jeurys Familia allowed the winning run to score on a Jarred Kelenic RBI double.
We get it. Miller’s young, doesn’t have a lot of innings under his belt, and has missed a lot of time with health and injury problems. As good as he is, they want to protect him as much as possible. But given the circumstances — a one-run game, a poor bullpen, Miller cruising with the chance at a no-hitter — it just feels wrong to go the way they did.
Regardless of whether it was the right or wrong decision, the result was bad and it didn’t feel good. The team lost their chance at a no-hitter, their first starting pitcher win of the season, and their first back-to-back win this year. The A’s have been bad all season, but this game feels like the most glaring example of what this team isn’t capable of.
To end on a positive note, Shintaro Fujinami pitched a shutdown 9th inning! Big losses, small wins.