Danny Farquhar took over for Joe Saunders to start the eighth and immediately gave up a long, long home run to Chris Young that cut Seattle’s lead to 3-2. Makes for an interesting ninth.
9:31 p.m.: Kyle Seager just helped his team get a huge run without swinging the bat. The Mariners are up 3-1 midway through the eighth after Seager made a hard takeout slide at second base to break up a potential double-play with slow-moving Michael Morse chugging up the first base line.
If not for the Seager slide, the DP would have been turned and the inning over. But the A’s recorded just the one out, leaving runners at the corners. Raul Ibanez then rapped a ball hard and it got through the legs of first baseman Nate Freiman to score a hige insurance run for Seattle.
9:08 p.m.: Mike Zunino just gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning with his first career home run, a deep blast to straightaway center off Tommy Milone. The most impressive part was that Zunino hit an offspeed pitch — an 80 mph changeup — on the play. One of the fears about Zunino coming up so quickly was that he’d be unable to handle offspeed pitches.
Well, he handled that one.
8:48 p.m.: That was a pretty ugly way to give up the lead in the top of the fifth as right fielder Jason Bay and second baseman Nick Franklin collided and dropped the ball, allowing a run to score from first base. With two out and a runner on first, Eric Sogard blooped a ball to shallow right. Franklin raced back fot it and either Bay didn’t call loudly enough for the ball or else forgot to do it all together.
In any event, Franklin tried to squeeze it, Bay knocked into him and jarred the ball out of his glove. The ball was ruled a double and the game is tied 1-1.
About the only good news is that nobody got “Yuniesky Betancourted” on the play, In other words, Bay can still walk.
8:19 p.m.: The Mariners have a 1-0 lead midway through three, but could be up by more. Brendan Ryan hit a leadoff double in the third, then did a nice job taking third base on a 5-3 groundout by Jason Bay. But Nick Franklin did not get it done, popping out to shallow right for the second out and forcing Ryan to hold his ground.
Kyle Seager flied out to left to end the inning. That’s the situational hitting part the Mariners have flopped at this season.
They had runners at the corners with none out after a leadoff double by Michael Morse and an infield hit by Raul Ibanez in the second inning. But Mike Zunino grounded into a double play that got the run in, but helped snuff any potential for a bigger rally.
Zunino did look good on defense in the bottom of the frame. Nate Freiman was on second with a one out double when Derek Norris singled to center. Freiman halted at third as Michael Saunders went to scoop the ball up in center. But Saunders bobbled the ball and the A’s waved Freiman home. The relay by Ryan was strong, but Zunino had to move to his right for the ball, then sweep back and tag Freiman as he tried to go around wide to his left. The key was Zunino taking the plate away and forcing Freiman to go in real wide. That slowed him up enough and Zunino held on to the all for a seasoned-looking out.
7:05 p.m.: The Mariners need to post a winning record on this trip to realistically leave themselves a shot at getting back to .500 at some point in the distant future.
Tonight would help immensely in that regard, since this is the game prior to Felix Hernandez and then Hisashi Iwakuma starting. And as such, it will be Joe Saunders trying to win his first start away from Safeco Field this season.
He’ll face an Oakland Athletics club that played 18 innings in a win last night over the Yankees and is understandably a bit drained.
So, this is the opportunity to get a head start on this trip. Let’s see what the Mariners do with it.