On Monday the A’s finally had an off day after 17 straight days with games in which they went an impressive 13-4. After beating the Yankees on Tuesday and Wednesday, it seemed as though the rest did the team well. However, an 18 inning victory against New York on Thursday seems to have zapped a good deal of energy from the A’s as they have stumbled to two straight losses against the Seattle Mariners. Much like the Honda Civic in the picture from the parking lot yesterday, the A’s look worn down and burned out, at least on the offensive side of things.
Before yesterday’s game I was in the parking lot tailgating with the crew when this Civic in the parking lot started smoking. It turns out the owners of the car dumped hot coals from a barbecue under their car before going in the stadium. That obviously wasn’t a smart move. Although somebody lost their car and has an interesting insurance claim to file, their misfortune provided an excellent analogy for the A’s offense these past two days.
Manager Bob Melvin said he didn’t think his team looked fatigued after Friday night’s loss, but the offense has been flatter than the Texas landscape. The bats have looked slow and despite a lack of errors the defense has been a bit shaky. It doesn’t help that they had to deal with Felix Hernandez yesterday, and the Mariners play the A’s extremely tough regardless of who is on the mound. So far this season the A’s have only managed three wins in nine games with Seattle, but are 17-4 against the other AL West teams according to MLB.com.
Starting pitcher A.J. Griffin was cruising along pretty well until running into some trouble in the sixth. Kendrys Morales led off the frame with a base hit and one out later Michael Morse doubled, leading Griffin to intentionally walk Michael Saunders and bring up Henry Blanco, who had not hit a grand slam since 2000, according to MLB.com.
It only took one pitch for the 41-year-old catcher to give his team the lead and the victory, sending the ball down the left field line that barely stayed inside the foul pole for a 4-0 Seattle lead that accounted for the only offense from either team on the day.
Hernandez threw 7 innings, surrendering only 5 hits and a single walk while compiling 8 strikeouts.
Things won’t be any easier today with Hisashi Iwakuma taking the hill for Seattle in the series finale. Iwakuma has absolutely dominated the A’s in two starts this year, giving up just 3 earned runs in 13 innings of work, while striking out 16 and giving no free passes. Even more impressive is that Iwakuma hasn’t given up any runs in his last 28.2 innings of work, according to MLB.com.
In fact, Iwakuma and Hernandez have both fared well against the A’s this year as the two hurlers have combined to allow just three runs total over 27 2/3 innings against the A’s, according to MLB.com. Since those three runs came against Iwakuma, that means the A’s are scoreless against Felix over 14.2 innings. Yikes.
Opposing Iwakuma will be Bartolo Colon who is 5-0 with a 0.75 ERA in 36 innings of work over his last five starts, according to MLB.com. Colon allowed just 3 hits in 6 innings of work against New York Tuesday, but he also allowed four walks, matching the number allowed in his first nine starts. Seattle may not be an offensive juggernaut in any sense of the term, but with Iwakuma pitching Colon needs to be on his best game to give the A’s a shot to win and avoid the sweep.