In a pitcher’s duel between Seattle’s veteran and Oakland’s youngster, the Mariners picked up their fifth consecutive win while laying a fourth consecutive loss on the home team.
After a strong start by Sean Nolin in his Athletics debut, the A’s (58-79) were unable to overcome the Mariners (66-71) fifth-inning offensive outburst.
And despite a scrappy attempt to put together a comeback in the late innings, the 3-2 win sealed a three-game weekend sweep for Seattle.
Nolin (L, 0-1, 4.50 ERA), who came into the matinée with very little major league experience, gave his offense a fighting chance, and even after his rough fifth the lefty returned with three-up three-down sixth to collect a quality start in getting the loss.
The quality, though, was outdone by Mariners righty Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3, 4.03 ERA) who got the win, going 6.1 innings and allowing one run on five hits, while striking out three and walking one.
A’s manger Bob Melvin broke down the day of his starter:
“For a good portion of (the game), other than a couple at bats where he had a couple walks, I thought he threw the ball really well. He kept (Mariners hitters) off balance. Really, not too many good swings, it was just the two walks and that cost him the two runs.”
Relying heavily on his fastball-changeup combination, Nolin looked as if he were not the pitcher who had allowed seven earned runs through his first 2.1 innings. It wasn’t until the fifth, in fact, that he faced any real adversity.
The fifth frame started when Seattle first baseman Logan Morrison lined a 1-0 changeup into left for a single.
Nolin was allotted a momentary reprieve, however, as two pitches later second baseman Brad Miller lined a single into right, and miscommunication between Morrison and Mariner third base coach Rich Donnelly.
The stellar defensive play, in the end would be for not, as Nolin walked the next two hitters – catcher Jesus Sucre and center fielder Shawn O’Malley – allowing all three runners to score.
After the game, Nolin pointed to his control as the cause for the inning:
“The fifth was a mess. I made a few mistakes there – a few walks. … The heater and changeup were working. The curveball wasn’t its best today. I guess I’ve got to touch it up a little on my side day.”
Though he did go on to say that, overall, he felt he performed well, highlighted by his first career strikeout which came against second baseman Robinson Cano in the second inning.
The score remained the same until the bottom of the seventh when, with one out and the bases empty, Billy Butler launched home run number 10 off the façade of the bleachers in right-center.
The dinger marked a season-high 11 consecutive games with a homer.
Pinch hitters Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick followed the homer with back-to-back singles, But Billy Burns’ flair into shallow center did not score a run as great speed from O’Malley’s led to a run-saving catch.
Melvin addressed the at bat by the rookie backstop:
“Usually you’re a little jumpy and antsy wanting to hit when you get up there for your first time up. To be able to draw a walk off a guy who can be pretty tough on righty’s means that he was processing everything… I though he handled himself really well.”
The reason for Blair’s debut, though, was not in the plans for Melvin.
Melvin discussed Vogt’s condition:
“He’s on the way to the hospital right now, so it could be a little while (before he returns). … He was in pain. A lot of pain.”
The 30-year old was taken to the hospital, according to the skipper.
The run scored in the eighth inning ended the offense, while a well-struck fly ball to leftfield by Burns ended the game.
The A’s will attempt to end their current skid when they face the AL West leading Houston Astros in a Monday afternoon game. Felix Doubront (2-1, 3.99 ERA) will take the hill against Mike Fiers (2-0, 2.25 ERA).