FINAL: OAK 3, SEA 1
Sometimes, it's difficult to remember that the A's are good. Like, win-the-division good. Forget-where-first-base-is-on-fielding-blunders-and-still-win good. Part of me will always believe that they're on par with the Mariners, locked in an endless tug-of-war for third place behind the Rangers and Angels.
Tonight, however, it wasn't difficult to remember. The M's managed a pair of hits and an RBI groundout early in the 1st inning, but Sonny Gray quickly found his rhythm and began blowing away hitters one by one. From the 1st to the 4th, the right-hander retired 11 batters in a row. He capped a seven-inning performance with nine strikeouts, tying his previous career high from a 5-0 shutout against the 2013 Indians. In 19 innings this year, Gray has given up only two runs.
Erasmo Ramirez never quite found his balance in this game, finishing with six hits, three runs, three walks, and three strikeouts over five innings. Things went sour from the second pitch, a soft grounder that Coco Crisp chopped to first base for a single. It was quickly followed by a two-run blast from the bat of Josh Donaldson, a shot that nearly made it to the second deck and ricocheted off of the scoreboard above Edgar's Cantina.
Ramirez allowed just one more run during the game on the first of two odd plays involving Dustin Ackley and a case of butterfingers. With Donaldson and Crisp at the corners, Brandon Moss skied a pitch to deep left center, which was caught and bobbled on the transfer. According to new guidelines set by MLB, "the ball must be controlled in the bare hand for a catch to be ruled." The bobble was ruled a hit and Donaldson should have been safe at second, with Moss on first and Crisp scoring the final run of the game. Instead, Moss apparently bypassed his teammate at first base and was ruled out, while Crisp scored and Donaldson stayed safe at first base.
Ackley's second bobble had another unexpected, positive outcome for Seattle. In the 6th inning, Yoenis Cespedes drove a pitch from Dominic Leone to shallow left field. Ackley again dropped the transfer, giving Cespedes an automatic hit. Unfortunately for the A's, Cespedes was the last to realize this, and headed for the dugout until the umpire told him it was a fair ball. By then, the 7-6-3 put-out was already complete.
To their credit, there were a few moments tonight where the M's weren't actively trying to lose. Dominic Leone and Joe Beimel held the A's to one hit after Ramirez's exit in the 5th. Ackley went 2-for-4 with a single and a double, becoming the only Mariner of the game to reach base multiple times. Abraham Almonte led off the game with a base hit and is now 7-for-11 in the leadoff spot. Willie Bloomquist jump-started a rally in the 9th inning, going back-to-back with Ackley on base hits to Craig Gentry in center field. The rally suffered a short death as Michael Saunders struck out on three consecutive pitches and John Buck swung at the first pitch for a grounder to short.
Tweet of the game
"You don't get the ice cream for playing well. You get the ice cream for winning." Lloyd McClendon post-game gold -- with sprinkles on top.— Aaron Goldsmith (@aaronmgoldsmith) April 13, 2014
Tomorrow, the Mariners close out their homestand with a rubber match between Chris Young and Oakland's Scott Kazmir. First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m. PST and will be televised on ROOT and broadcast on 710 ESPN.