James Kaprielian threw seven shutout innings and the A’s avoided a sweep Wednesday afternoon when they beat the Mariners, 6-3. Oakland snapped a three-game losing streak, hearing the song “Celebration” play after the game for the first time in the seven-game homestand.
The A’s (29-22) put six runs on the board in the first four innings. Prior to Wednesday’s eighth inning, Yusmeiro Petit had only allowed seven runs all season, but he allowed three runs in just 1/3 of an inning and his day came to an end after he recorded the second out. The A’s did just enough to get the win and stay ahead.
Kaprielian (W, 2-0, 1.53 ERA) got through his first three scoreless innings in 40 pitches, but he needed 30 to escape a bases-loaded fourth. In his first start in Oakland, Kaprielian fell into his first sight of trouble when Mitch Haniger led off with a single before 2020 Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis singled to put two men on with one out. Kaprielian walked Ty France to load the bases but escaped the inning almost doubling his pitch count.
Melvin believed the pitch count was going to be an issue but was impressed with how the rookie handled it. He compared it to his first start at Fenway:
“He had to do it in his first inning in Boston, too. He threw almost 40 pitches or so in his first inning in Boston, then his last inning in Boston he had to pitch around a little traffic and get through that inning too. I think all those things leading up to that allows them to be confident in those types of situations and certainly were confident in him.”
Kaprielian threw perfect fifth, sixth and seventh innings, needing just 11 pitches total in the fifth and seventh frames while picking up his fourth strikeout in the sixth.
He said it wasn’t his best stuff today but gave credit to his catcher for calling a good game and making adjustments as the game went along. Melvin throught Kaprielian pitched great considering his pitch count in the first couple innings:
“It was great and we needed it. We lost what three in a row, so you needed a big start and our bullpen arms available but getting deep into that game and pitching that well, that’s just going to bode well for him going forward, knowing that not only has got a couple good starts before this, but then seven innings. I was a little reluctant to send them out for the seventh, but it’s been a while since he’s thrown 90 pitches, 95 pitches and to come back on five days rest. It has been a long time but he was up for it had a quick seventh inning and pitched great.”
Robert Dugger started for the Mariners (23-27) and struggled to find a first pitch strike in the first, handing walks to Mark Canha to lead off and Ramon Laureano with one out. Seth Brown hit an opposite field ground-rule double to drive in the A’s first run, then Matt Chapman followed with a sacrifice fly to left field. Laureano tagged on the play and the A’s led 2-0 after the first.
Matt Olson (13) led off the third with a solo shot 350 feet just over the wall in right field to put the A’s up 3-0. Dugger (L, 0-1, 6.06 ERA) was relieved in the fourth after Elvis Andrus singled through the left-infield gap and then Dugger hit backup catcher Aramis Garcia with a 70-mph curveball.
Olson’s ball was just fair and he joked that his home run couldn’t have come at a better moment:
“I wasn’t too sure about it…I am glad it was a day game and not a night game here because that is probably an F9 but yeah picked the right spot and right time of day to do it I guess.”
Wyatt Mills relieved Dugger with one out and runners on first and second in the fourth. Canha drew a walk to load the bases before Olson had a line drive caught in the tracks of left center by Lewis, who continues to prove why he earned top rookie honors last season. Olson’s sacrifice made it 4-0 for the second out. Laureano kept the two-out rally alive when he followed with a blooper to shallow center that landed to make it 5-0. Brown singled up the middle, nutmegging Mills on the mound to make it 6-0. Both of Dugger’s runners scored and he finished the day going 3-1/3 innings, allowing five runs on five hits.
Mills walked Chapman to load the bases and Stephen Piscotty was the ninth plate appearance of the inning and grounded out. Mills was relieved after 1-2/3 innings where he allowed one run on three hits. He struck out Tony Kemp and walked Chapman before his day came to an end. Anthony Misiewicz took the rubber in the sixth and had a quick perfect inning with a pair of strikeouts, although Olson’s was very questionable. Yohan Ramirez relieved Misiewicz and threw a perfect seventh to keep the game at 6-0.
Kaprielian threw seven shutout innings, allowing onlyy two hits and one walk. His first start in Oakland was one to remember. Yusmeiro Petit also had an outiing to remember, but not in the best way. He gave up a leadoff single to Campbell to start the eighth inning and it got ugly fast. Jose Godoy followed with a line drive that bounced off the wall in right field to put runners on the corners with no outs and top of the order up.
Melvin spoke about what a great job Kaprielian has done so far, and said if he keeps pitching like he has been his time in the big leagues could be a lot longer than most expected:
“You keep pitching like that you make your opportunities and it starts with having a first couple good starts and excelling when you have the opportunity just like a position player. You get an opportunity to play a few games and you go 0-for-8 and then you are saying oh well I didn’t get much of an opportunity but at the big league level you have to create your own opportunities and that is what he has done in his three starts. So if he keeps pitching like this, we will find a spot for him.”
Jarred Kelenic grounded out to Olson but the Mariners were able to get their first run of the game to make it 6-1. Haniger followed with a double to left-center to make it 6-2. Seager hit a line drive to right to make it 6-3. Petit was able to retire Lewis before Jake Diekman came in to get the final out in just five pitches. Diekman came back out for the ninth and earned the save but allowed a single and a walk.
Melvin took full responsibility for Petit’s not so great 2/3 inning outing on Wednesday. Petit has not pitched in a while and usually enters games at high-intensity game situations:
“He is not used to being in a game like that. He hasn’t pitched in three days and I probably should have done something different. He is used to coming in when the game is on the line, he is used to coming in with a one run or two run lead. You don’t want him going too long without pitching because he likes to pitch a lot and that is how he stays effective but I think today was just a matter of being in a 6-run game and having to throw the ball over the plate so that is probably my fault.”
Chris Bassitt (4-2, 3.69 ERA) will take the rubber against one of the current greatest in baseball. Shohei Ohtani is not only killing it on the mound (1-0, 2.37 ERA) but is also ranked second in the majors when it comes to home runs (15) just one shy of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (16), who leads the majors. The Angels starting pitcher has a batting average of .269, which is higher than every single position player on the Oakland A’s roster prior to Wednesday’s game against Seattle. Ohtani can even do damage on the basepaths with has six stolen bases. Bassitt will make his eleventh start of the season and it will be a very, very interesting game Thursday night, first pitch set for 6:40 p.m.