In his first game coming off the injured list, Chad Pinder brought in the tying run in the fifth inning before the A’s batted around in the seventh, scoring three runs to beat the Mariners 6-2 and finish the 2020 regular season with the second seed in the AL playoffs.
The A’s end the regular season on a high note. Frankie Montas (ND, 2 R, 4 H) had a season-high 13 strikeouts in six innings, and adrenaline plus confidence allowed him to prove he is ready for postseason, wherever that may take them.
Bob Melvin explained what winning the final game of the regular season means:
“The mood is always better after a win. It is not necessarily, you don’t have to, but we do have an off day tomorrow and if you won 6 games in a row and lost your last game, it’s still a loss and there is a different mood to it. Guys come to the ballpark everyday to play to win so I am not going to say it isn’t a better feeling going into the workout tomorrow.”
Seattle got on the board with on two singles in the first. J.P. Crawford hit a grounder that curved around third base before he stole second when Marcus Semien bobbled a beautiful throw from catcher Sean Murphy. Semien was charged with an error on the play making the run unearned. Ty France then hit a hard line drive to bring in Crawford and the Mariners took a quick lead in the first 1-0.
Montas said a lot of his success came today from his confidence and constantly reminded himself what he is capable of:
“I feel like the difference is, I went out there just to pitch and not even care about what happens… just like ‘hey I am going to pitch, I’m going to throw my best pitches today’… It was huge. I have struggled a little bit but today I was able to put that behind me and just go out there and compete and try to do my best.”
In the home half of the first, Tommy La Stella smashed a ball down the left field foul line that landed him on second. Khris Davis sent a hard line drive up the middle and La Stella was held at third to put runners on the corners with one out. Mark Canha hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring La Stella to tie it 1-1.
Jose Marmolejos walked to lead off the second inning and a Lamb error that could have been a double play to end the inning ended up putting runners on first and second with one out. Crawford singled in the right infield gap to make it 2-1..
Melvin said Montas pitched with edge Sunday and, when he went to take him out, Montas asked for one more inning:
“I was going to take him out, I really needed him kinda to give him one more inning if he wanted to do it. We weren’t going to use Soria or Hendriks today so one more inning would help but he came in before I really said anything to him and said ‘I want one more,’ and then went and struck everybody out so 13 strikeouts, pitched with quite the edge I think that is going to do wonders for him going forward.”
In the fifth inning, Murphy led off the fifth a double off a post supporting the right-center wall just in front of the State Farm sign. Semien followed with a fly ball deep to the warning track which allowed Murphy to land on third with one out. Pinder, who had pinch hit for Davis in the third, sent a line drive to right field to tie the game at 2-2, a nice welcome back after returning from a strained hamstring.
Pinder missed 15 games off but has been taking live batting practice, so when he stepped up for his first at-bat, it wasn’t like he forgot what to expect. Getting out of the box was the only thing the coaches couldn’t stimulate for Pinder but he seemed comfortable and ready. He said:
“We did a lot of work to get me back out there and I was just really, really hopeful I got some game experience, game at-bats, get the heart rate going again and test things a little bit before you go into the postseason.”
Prior to the game, Melvin said they are still evaluating Montas for post season:
“I don’t want him going into today’s game thinking I am going to cut him short…. we will see on how we use him in the postseason, obviously it wouldn’t be in a starting role. We will see how many pitches he throws today, if we feel like if he could be a help out of the bullpen.”
Pinder was pleased with Montas and was happy for his teammates performance:
“Frankie knows that every single person on this team wholeheartedly believes in everything he does when he gets on that mound. … He showed what he is capable of today and hopefully he is going to have that opportunity to show that he is that guy.”
Yusmeiro Petit pitched the seventh and only needed ten pitches to end it perfectly. The Mariners sent out Yoshihsa Hirano to pitch the seventh after Joey Gerber relieved staring LHP Gonzalez and pitched a perfect sixth inning.
Jake Lamb led off the seventh with a solo homer to left to give the A’s their first lead of the game at 3-2. Murphy walked before Kemp hit a double just fair down the right field line to put runners in scoring position with one out. Canha hit a ball to deep center field that bounced off the heel of Kyle Lewis‘ glove scofing two runs for a 5-2 A’s lead.
Brandon Brennan relieved Hirano and intentionally walked Matt Olson to load the bases with rookie Nate Orf coming up. Orf, who has yet to get a hit in the big leagues, flew out to right, too shallow to advance the baserunners, especially considering Pinder was on third and can’t afford to be put in a situation that could re-injure him in his first game back. Stephen Piscotty struck out to end the three-run inning.
Melvin said his team can head into the postseason fresh, with the 60-game regular season behind them:
“It is a clean slate, going into the postseason. There is a lot to grind on today, some guys had some numbers you know you are human … it has been a difficult season for some guys and it’s a new clean slate, you can really make up a lot of ground having a good postseason.”
Jake Diekman kept the Mariners scoreless in the eighth before Yohan Ramirez loaded the bases before walking Canha to bring in Murphy for a 6-2 lead. Lou Trivino threw a perfect ninth to end the A’s season.
The A’s have an off day Monday and will spend it at the Coliseum before they host Game 1 of the AL wild card series Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.