Jed Lowrie and then Chris Young just led off the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back solo homers deep to right and then left field off Kameron Loe, who is into his third inning of relief but has given up a lot of deep drives tonight for a sinkerball specialist. So, that makes it 6-2 and the Mariners might as well be down by 10 runs for all the life they’ve shown.
Lowrie has the homer and two doubles so far, which is almost as many extra base hits as the Mariners have hits. Seattle has just four hits on the night and only one since the second inning.
9:10 p.m.: Somehow, the Mariners are only down 4-2 despite an abysmal outing by Joe Saunders that should be over now that Kameron Loe is warmed up and ready to go. The A’s have some slugging right-handers coming up next frame who scorched some drives off Saunders their last times up so we won’t be seeing any replays sponsored by the Mariners.
Saunders gave up five doubles and four walks in four innings, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about his 88-pitch adventure. The first two batters reached on a walk and a bloop single in the fourth, then, after notching a (charitable) called strikeout and a fielder’s choice, Saunders surrendered a two-out, two-run double to Jed Lowrie.
Even the outs have been largely drilled deep tonight. Saunders didn’t fool anybody out there. Meanwhile, the Mariners’ offense has gone to sleep since its first inning home run outburst. There is still time left, but the Mariners need to stop the bleeding here and start some of their own.
8:20 p.m.: The good news for Joe Saunders and the Mariners is that it’s somehow still a 2-2 game despite the fact the Oakland Athletics have been teeing off on him the first three innings. Saunders is up to 66 pitches already — it was at 59 with nobody out in the third, so it could have been far worse — and started things in the third off by yielding his fourth double of the night, to Coco Crisp. Saunders was then clearly worried by the speedy Crisp behind him and a right-handed batter up and all of a sudden couldn’t hit his spots.
He walked Jed Lowrie, then Chris Young to load the bases. Yoenis Cespedes then drilled a shot to left-center, but Franklin Gutierrez was nearby to haul it in for a sacrifice fly that tied the game. Josh Donaldson then lined a ball just as hard to left but right at Jason Bay for out No. 2.
Saunders then found the one batter he could strike out and got Derek Norris to whiff to end the inning. But this stuff ain’t going to get it done. He’ll be fortunate to last beyond the fourth inning at this rate.
7:55 p.m.: Joe Saunders is walking a tightrope without a net tonight and is fortunate to be up 2-1 after two innings. Saunders has been giving up solid contact and letting hitters get deep into counts, driving his pitch count up to 41 already.
It would have been far worse had Saunders not gotten a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Josh Reddick with two on and none out in the second. But with a runner on third, Nate Freiman lined his first big league hit for a single to center that plated the run.
Oakland nearly tied it when Scott Sizemore lined a ball into the left field corner — the second double of the inning and third given up by Saunders tonight — and the A’s waved Freiman around.
But Jason Bay barehanded the ball in the left field corner, made a good relay in to Brendan Ryan who turned and fired a laser beam to Jesus Montero for the tag out at home.
So, Saunders escapes. But he’d best find better stuff than this to offer up or he won’t last five innings.
7:48 p.m.: Quick, somebody go and tell A’s left-hander Tommy Milone that the Mariners did him a favor by stacking their lineup with right-handed hitters. Somebody apparently missed the message, as Franklin Gutierrez led the game off with a solo homer (his first since Aug. 6, 2008) while Michael Morse later crushed another one over the center field wall. That’s a 2-0 lead for Joe Saunders and the Mariners.
6:50 p.m.: Mariners left-hander Joe Saunders spent the spring getting hit hard and often and getting generally fed up with how long camp was. He was 1-1 with an ERS of 11.57 in four games, three of them starts. His final game saw him charged with eight runs over five innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Tonight, though, it counts for real and he’ll have to flip the switch.
This is a good place for him to do it. The outfield is pretty cavernous — meaning some of the fly balls he yields should stay in the park — and he’s 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA here in eight career outings.