Andrew Triggs, who was responsible for the first of the five straight wins for the A’s (10-9), suffered what was by far his worst outing of the season, allowing six runs in 4-2/3 innings of work.
Putting an earned run on the board in the first, the Mariners (8-12) ended Triggs’ Oakland record of starter innings without an earned run allowed to start a season. The streak ended at 18 innings.
All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt, who went 1-for-4, said the starter wasn’t nearly as sharp with his command, particularly with the cutter.
“This is not an indicator of what is to come from Triggs. I think the first three starts are more accurate, as far as the way he’s going to work this year. … We’re not worried about him whatsoever.”
Triggs (L, 3-1, 2.42 ERA) came into the game having not allowed an earned run to cross through his first 17-2/3 innings pitched. On this day, something was different from the get.
After limiting self-inflicted pressure — just four walks — through his first four starts, Triggs hit a batter for the first time this season with his fifth pitch of the game. Speedy Seattle lead-off man Jarrod Dyson shook off the pain while applying some to the A’s. After stealing second (6), he was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Mitch Haniger then back to whence he began on a Robinson Cano RBI single.
Triggs held the line there, but he was forced to work through the threat and into the game without his favorite weapon — the cutter.
In his first at-bat, leading off the second, Mariner shortstop Taylor Motter got a cutter. And it was hanging, tantalizing the slugger from the middle of the zone at the belt. As Triggs spun into a squat on the front of the mound, Motter just missed the mistake sending a lazy fly ball into left field. He got no such luck in the third.
The Oakland starter had a chance to limit the damage once again, despite walking both Cano, to load the bases, and Nelson Cruz, to give the Mariners their second run of the afternoon. Triggs rebounded after falling behind Daniel Vogelbach to blow the first baseman away with three straight fastballs. With two down, he fell behind Motter, missing with the slider he had earlier hung to the rookie.
Like he did with Vogelbach, Triggs tried to salvage with at-bat with a fastball down and in. Motter was more than ready, jumping all over it for a home run (5) well over the wall in left-center. The grand slam — the first of Motter’s career — gave Seattle a very comfortable 6-0 lead.
Triggs said the pitch selection — going away from his trusty cutter, in favor of a sinker — had more to do with the overall lack of confidence in his best pitch, rather than what had happened in Motter’s previous at-bat:
“I wasn’t commanding (the cutter) that well, I didn’t want to go 1-0 to 2-0, I’d rather take my chances with a well-located sinker in that 1-0. It was down, but I missed location. … In a perfect world, a cutter would have been great to get a rollover ground-out, but I just wasn’t executing that well.”
Six was more than enough for Yovani Gallardo (W, 1-2, ERA). The veteran hurler cruised through an Oakland offense that looked nothing like the one that had scored 29 runs in winning its previous five contests.
The A’s could manage just five base runners — four hits and a walk — against Gallardo, who threw 6-1/3. It was the longest he had gone surrendering one earned run or fewer since June 27, 2015.
Manager Bob Melvin said he expected more from his offense coming into the game, but wasn’t expecting this particularly “unpredictable” vintage of Yovani:
“His first few outings weren’t so good. With his numbers coming in, and especially the way we were swinging the bats, we expect to probably do a little bit more. But he’s a veteran guy, he’s had some good years and he’s certainly had some good games, and he kept us off balance today.”
“We had good at-bats today, but he was better than us. That’s why we lost.”
Oakland did finally get on the board in the seventh.
Ryon Healy, who continued his scorching stretch logging the only multi-hit game (2-for-4) by an A’s hitter, led off the frame with a booming double over the head of Dyson in straight-away center. He was eventually brought home on a one-out sacrifice fly from Matt Joyce. Reliever Tony Zych came to Gallardo’s rescue, forcing the green and gold to settle with a single tally, not even enough to respond to a three-run homer from Cruz (3) in the top half of the inning.
The M’s continued to add with two more in the ninth, and finished the afternoon with 11 hits to the A’s five.
Melvin said the important thing for his team is to focus on the positives of this 5-4 homestand and move forward:
“We’ve felt a little better, based on how we’ve played here, with the win streak — just something to build on. We lose a game, we move on.”
After a travel day, their first scheduled day off in 13 days, the A’s engage in their longest road trip of the season — nine games — beginning with a three-game set against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (8-11). Oakland is 3-3 on the road, and 8-7 against divisional foes, thus far in 2017. The Angels are 5-3 at home and 7-7 versus the American League West.
Prior to the game the A’s made a trade, acquiring outfielder Ryan LaMarre, 28, from the Angels for a player to be named later, Chris Bassitt (Tommy John Surgery) was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room on the roster. LaMarre is 11-for-41 (.268) with four stolen bases in 10 games with Triple-A Sat Lake this season, and 2-for-30 (.067) in 27 career games at the major league level. … Kendall Graveman (right shoulder strain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen schedule Monday. Melvin expects the starter to be back on the mound in Anaheim. … Raul Alcantara made his first appearance since April 14, serving up five runs and six in 3 innings. His ERA for the season now sits at 16.71.