16,491 fans were in attendance Monday night—approximately half of which I presume were A’s fans—to witness something truly incredible. On of July 1, the Mariners—standing at an 86.5% chance to make the playoffs—were a near lock to make the postseason for the first time in 17 years. Meanwhile, the Oakland A’s were a mere afterthought. With Oakland possessing just a 7.6% chance of playing October baseball, the San Francisco Giants, who as of this writing are 15.0 games back from a Wild Card spot, had three times as good a chance of appearing in the postseason. Nonetheless, the champagne and cheap beer was flowing in the vistor’s clubhouse tonight at Safeco Field as the A’s clinched a playoff berth while the Mariners gear up to play another meaningless game tomorrow night.
Mariners fans actually had reason to be optimistic early on tonight. The Big Maple was toeing the rubber seemingly in line to notch his 200th strikeout of the night and was cruising early after Robinson Cano, who is slashing .360/.422/.573 in 20 games this month, homered to give him a lead in the first inning. After a solo home run by A’s catcher Jonathan Lucroy in the top of the third, the inevitable struck as Jed Lowrie hit his nightly (vs. the Mariners anyways) home run in the A’s half of the fourth inning, after which Paxton exited the game, one punchout shy of 200. As it is any time the Mariners counted on one of their trade deadline acquisitions, the team was let down—this time by Adam Warren—when Khris Davis connected for his 46th home run of the season to extend Oakland’s lead to 3-1. It was then that the Mariners hottest power hitter went deep for the second game in a row, tying things up at 3-3.
September feel-good-story Shawn Armstrong entered in the seventh attempting to minimize the damage done by Oakland’s offense. In true “we can’t have nice things” fashion, the right hander’s 10 game, 11.1 inning scoreless streak was snapped when a hit by pitch preceded a line drive home run by Matt Chapman that left the bat at 111.3 mph to give the A’s a lead that they never gave back.
In all honesty, I abandoned this game by this point and turned my attention to attempting to force myself to like Ozark, (it’s kind of working!), but apparently the pesky A’s added on a pair of insurance runs off mop-up man Casey Lawrence and his 5.55 xFIP. Justin Grimm and Nick Rumbelow combined to hold the Athletics hitless over the final two innings, striking out three. Gordon paired his sixth inning ‘blast’ with his ninth walk of the season, and was joined by Mike Zunino, who went to 2-3 with a single, double, and a strikeout, as the only Mariners’ hitters to reach base twice on the night..
The M’s draw a matchup with Brett Anderson tomorrow night, and will counter with Mike Leake as they attempt to force the A’s to travel to New York for next Wednesday’s AL Wild Card as opposed to hosting down in Oakland. As they currently trail the Yankees by 1.5 games, I’d expect to see the best the A’s have to offer again tomorrow night. Buckle up.