Tuesday brought cold, damp Seattle-like weather to the Oakland Coliseum. By the time the 10th inning rolled around, the light yet steady mist had moistened the grass just enough, and the Mariners took advantage, pulling out a 3-2 victory over the Athletics.
The A’s (25-23) entered one of just eight teams with as many as three wins and one or fewer losses in extra-innings games. The Mariners (28-19), though, were one of the other seven, having gone 3-0 to Oakland’s 3-1 in such situations.
The A’s also entered 9-17 against American League West opponents, and with a Guillermo Heredia opposite-field double that slithered just under the glove of center fielder Dustin Fowler, Oakland was knocked further off the AL West pace.
Of Fowler’s inability to pick up the roller in the right-center field gap cleanly, manager Bob Melvin admitted that the elements were against his rookie outfielder:
“It’s slick out there. You’re trying to get your feet underneath ya’ and get a good handle on it because you know you’re going to have to get it in, there’s going to be a play at the plate.”
The fleet-footed Fowler got to the ball before Jean Segura, who started the play at first after singling with one out, got to third, but his attempt to scoop it with his glove yielded nothing more than minimal contact. Fowler quickly scrambled to it, and his relay through Jed Lowrie to the plate forced a head-first dive from the Seattle shortstop. In the end, the speedy Segura was safe by about three feet.
“Whether or not he would have been safe or not [in dryer conditions] I’m not sure.”
The back-to-back one-out hits were collected against Yusmeiro Petit, who started the tenth after Melvin had used Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen in their customary eighth and ninth innings. The setup man and the man he sets up collected a combined six strikeouts in two scoreless frames.
Petit (L, 1-1, 3.72 ERA) stopped the Mariner attack there, giving his offense just one run to make up. Seattle closer Edwin Díaz (S, 16, 1.85 ERA) snuffed out any hopes of a comeback, however, benefiting from a tiny slice off the bat of Marcus Semien carrying a two-out liner just to the left of the left field foul pole with home run distance.
Mike Leake (ND, 4-3, 5.46 ERA) was left off the decision despite appearing to have done everything right. The Seattle starter waited until the fifth, when the A’s had two down with no one on base, before he collected on his teammate’s debt. After Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger was hit by a pitch leading off the fourth, Leake planted a first-pitch 92-mph sinker into Mark Canha‘s hind quarters. Everything was as baseball would have wanted it.
There was just one problem that faced Leake: Canha was the A’s No. 9 hitter, and the top of the Oakland order turned the payback into a payout.
With back-to-back singles from Matt Joyce and Semien, the A’s cashed in on Canha’s hit-by-pitch for a 2-0 lead. It could have been much more, but Oakland could muster just a single run from a bases-loaded, no-out situation, with the heart of the order producing a Matt Chapman run-scoring double play and a Stephen Piscotty groundout.
“At the time, you get a run and you’re on the board. You’d like to do a little more with that, but we had some other opportunities, too. … We just didn’t do enough offensively.”
The knee-high sinkers in the fourth helped Leake escape a crooked number, but a purpose sinker in the fifth forced him out of the decision despite a two-run homer (7) by Mike Zunino in the seventh. He finished his evening scattering six hits while striking out three and not issuing a walk. One of his two runs allowed was unearned, produced by his own throwing error in the fourth.
The two runs allowed matched a season low for Leake, and the seven innings pitched matched a season best.
Trevor Cahill (ND, 1-2, 2.75 ERA) continued his run of consistency, holding the M’s to that Zunino homer.
He was tagged for four total hits while striking out three and walking two. It wasn’t the 3-2 mid-thigh slider that Cahill threw to Zunino that he left regretting, though, it was the sequence of pitches leading up to, including the one-out walk of Daniel Vogelbach in front of the Mariner catcher:
“The biggest thing was the walk. I knew going into that, We’ve got a two-run lead and a pretty good back-end of the bullpen. If anything, you don’t want to give a free pass to get the tying run up there.”
“It ended up being two at-bats, the walks and then the homer. … Man, he’s pitched so well for us. We haven’t given him much, in terms of run support.”
The important number in Cahill’s line was the seven in the innings pitched line, offering some much-needed relief to a bullpen group that had been forced to eat 24-2/3 innings over the seven days.
Cahill has now posted quality starts in four of his six starts this season and has given up three or fewer runs while working five or more innings in each outing.
Daniel Gossett (0-1, 11.05 ERA) will be called up from Triple-A Nashville to make the start Wednesday. Gossett made two big league starts in early-April, surrendering nine earned runs in 7-1/3 innings, he has since held PCL opponents to 26 hits and seven earned runs in 38-2/3 innings spanning seven appearances (five starts). The A’s will be opposed by Marco Gonzales (3-3, 4.66 ERA), who has allowed four earned runs in 7-1/3 career innings against the A’s.
Khris Davis, who was lifter in the fifth Sunday’s game in Toronto, underwent an MRI Tuesday, revealing a Grade 1 — the least severe — right groin strain. Manager Bob Melvin said that the team’s decision whether or not to place its home run leader on the disabled list will be made Wednesday. Prior to the game, Melvin said:
“Losing Khris Davis would be a tough one for us. He’s as prolific a home run hitter, power hitter in baseball. … Hopefully we don’t lose him for a long time. But if that is the case, then other guys have to step up.”
Andrew Triggs, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday, underwent an MRI over the weekend. The results show structural damage, according to A’s athletic trainer Nick Paparesta, who said that the right-hander is suffering from a triceps strain which is causing forearm numbness. There is currently no timetable for his return. … Prior to Tuesday’s game, Melvin said that Daniel Gossett would get the starting assignment in Wednesday’s game against the Mariners. He has yet to name a starter for Thursday’s game, however. The official move to add Gossett to the 25-man roster will be made Wednesday. Seattle’s Mitch Haniger, who was hit on the left elbow by a pitch in the fourth inning, is listed as day-to-day after X-rays came back negative.