Oakland, CA – The Mariners scored five runs in the eighth and never looked back. Four players hit two-run homers after only mustering two hits in Thursday night opener. Seattle’s 9-5 victory over the A’s put a damper on the game but not the Fourth of July fireworks that brought a sellout crowd to O.co.
J.A. Happ snapped a four-start losing streak, earning his first win since May 9. Despite scattering three runs over eight hits, he got more than enough run support. Happ yielded three runs in the second and was at 81 pitches. But he recovered by retiring the last seven batters he faced before ending his night on the mound after tossing six innings.
“No excuses, they found holes and put a couple of runs on the board in the second,” said Happ. “I tried to bear down and put up zeroes after that, and it was awesome to go out there in the sixth and pitch with the lead.”
Jesse Chavez whose managed to stay away from giving up home runs, surrendered two for the night. Coming into the game, Chavez was ranked fourth for fewest home runs per inning. In his last four starts, he’s allowed a combined two home runs totaling five for the season. But tonight he gave up a pair in the the third and sixth frames.
“No one ever expects to swing on the first pitch,” Chavez said. “A good hitter like that executed and I didn’t. The other one shouldn’t have happened.”
Billy Burns tried to ignite the offense with a leadoff single in the first. Stephen Vogt followed with a single putting two on with no outs. But Ben Zobrist hit into a forceout and Billy Butler followed hitting into a double play to end the frame. But a few errors by the Mariners put two batters on base in the second.
Mark Canha’s RBI single put Oakland on the board with a 1-0 lead. Marcus Semien grounded out but picked up the RBI for scoring in Josh Reddick making it a 2-0 game. Both Brett Lawrie and Reddick got on base with singles following a few mistakes from Seattle’s defense. Burns RBI double put another run on the board, extending Oakland’s lead 3-0.
Happ had given up three runs. The Mariners defense fell apart and the A’s took advantage. But the lead didn’t last long when Logan Morrison took Chavez deep on the first pitch in the third making it a 3-2 game. Mike Zunino led off the frame with a single and Morrison’s two-run homer got the Mariners back in the game.
The A’s turned a few double plays which frustrated Seattle through two innings. Chavez had retired eight batters until he gave up a a single to Kyle Seager in the sixth and former Oakland player Seth Smith followed with the two-run shot giving the Mariners the lead for the first time tonight.
Down by a run, the A’s bullpen didn’t fair any better against Seattle’s offense that did a complete 180. By the eighth Oakland’s bullpen had unraveled. The Mariners scored five runs in one frame. Robinson Cano led off with a single, and Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer making it a 6-3 game.
“We bounced back real nice today,” said Seattle’s manager Lloyd McClendon. “That was a big win for us, particularly falling behind 3-0. The guys kept fighting.”
Seager followed with a double, Dustin Ackley grounded to first base, but Vogt mishandled the ball and was charged with an error. Ackley reached first safely on a fielding error scoring in Seager. Brad Miller blasted a two-run shot to right field extending Seattle’s lead 9-3.
The A’s tried to rally a comeback in the ninth. Eric Sogard led off the inning with a single, Ike Davis struck out but Reddick singled putting two on. Canha doubled clearing the bases making it a 9-5 game. But the hole was too deep to dig. Four Mariners hit two-run home runs a piece.
Evan Scribner has been no surprise to giving up home runs. He allowed his eighth and ninth home runs of the year and now leads American League relievers for most home runs. Scribner gave up two home runs in the eighth to both Cruz and Miller. His ERA went from 1.10 in early May to 3.64 in just one month.
“When I first started struggling, it was just my fastball location,” Scribner said. “I lost it for like a week, and then I think I tried to overcompensate with my off-speed stuff, and now everybody’s just sitting on that.”
“It’s some balls up in the zone, whether it’s a heater up or whether it’s a curveball hung to Miller,” Oakland’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He has the ability to pitch very well for us. He’s just going through a tough time.”