What appeared to be the weakest pitching matchup of the series between the A’s and M’s instead delivered the highest quality hurling of all.
That inherently meant another close game between two teams battling for not only a Wild Card spot, but a shot at the division lead as well. After several squandered opportunities by both sides, the Mariners (70-52), who managed just two extra-base hits the entire afternoon, came away with a sweep-staving 2-0 victory on an unlikely Dee Gordon 12th-inning two-run homer (2).
The A’s (72-49) remain ahead of Seattle for the second Wild Card spot, but fall to 1-1/2 games back of the Astros in the division race.
Brett Anderson (ND, 2-3, 3.90 ERA) kept Seattle off-balance throughout his season-long 7-2/3 innings of no-run, five-hit ball. He was finally relieved of duty after allowing a Guillermo Heredia two-out single in the eighth, after just 83 pitches — he has yet to cross the 100-pitch threshold this season through 11 starts.
Anderson’s only two 7-plus inning outings this year have come within his last three starts. Ironically, the other was also an extra-inning scoreless affair, in which Ramón Laureano walked it off in the 13th.
Manager Bob Melvin said he’s seen a better all-around pitching approach from the veteran lefty:
“His changeup’s been a big pitch for him; not trying to get strikeouts, not spinning the ball as much. It’s more good sinker, good changeup, and using his breaking ball when he has to. He’s not gonna be the strikeout guy that he was anymore, it’s gonna be weak contact. And that’s what he was getting today.”
Anderson, who recorded 16 of his 23 outs via the groundball (including one double play), echoed his manager’s assessment:
“Mixing pitches, staying down in the zone, being aggressive and trying to keep the ball off the barrel. For the most part I was able to do that today, and kept us in the game.”
Seattle’s Mike Leake (8-7, 3.90 ERA) somehow seemed overshadowed by Anderson, even though he surrendered just two hits over eight shutout innings.
Although the A’s got just six hits on the day, three of them were for extra bases. Nick Martini led off the fourth with a triple and Matt Chapman doubled in the seventh. Matt Olson recorded the last of Oakland’s extra-base hits, doubling with one down in the 10th, but off the bat it appeared to be some much more.
Olson looked to have ended the game, sending a drive deep to right-center, with an exit velocity of 98.8 miles per hour. But it didn’t reach the State Farm wing, instead crashing off the top foot of the 15-foot wall near the 388-foot marker.
However, Oakland went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, making Olson the fifth of eight runners left on base.
The Mariners were even worse, going 0-for-9 in those run-scoring chances and leaving nine runners on base. The A’s bullpen was mostly spectacular once again. Lou Trivino, Fernando Rodney and Jeurys Familia combined for 3-1/3 clean innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. Yusmeiro Petit (L, 5-3, 3.39 ERA) was responsible for the game’s only runs, as well as the only free pass issued by Oakland pitching –preceding the Gordon dinger.
Melvin wasn’t concerned with his reliable long-reliever:
“It was just one changeup that was up in the zone, sped him up a little bit. If he gets it where he wants to, it’s probably a roll over type of pitch. In games like that, typically that’s what happens. It’s one pitch, and that was the case today.”
Seattle reliever James Pazos (W, 3-1, 2.75 ERA), who recorded just one out in the eleventh, was credited with the win.
Olson knows this was one slight hiccup during what has been an incredible stretch for Oakland. Win or lose, he knows this team will remain focused:
“We can only control what we can control. We won two games against a good team and just didn’t get it today. We missed a couple opportunities. Come back Friday against the Astros, ready to roll.”
The A’s continue their homestead Friday with the first game of a pivotal three-game series with the Astros. All six scheduled starters enter with ERAs below 3.50. Edwin Jackson (4-2, 2.48 ERA) will pitch the opening game against Charlie Morton (12-3, 2.88).
Matt Chapman extended his hitting streak to 13 games and his on-base streak to 29 games, both career highs. … This was the seventh time the A’s have been shutout this season, but the first since May 30 against the Rays.