ADDITIONAL NOTE: Nick Franklin suffered a laceration on his left knee that required stitches.
Danny Farquhar closed out the ninth for his eighth save, sealing an improbable 7-4 win for the Mariners.
9:40 p.m.: This isn’t the type of inning the Mariners are used to having late in games in which they trail. The Mariners scored five runs in the eighth inning to take a 7-4 lead and sent the 13,041 fans at the Coliseum into a frothing fit of anger.
It’s really unbelievable, given how the Mariners had been held to only two hits by Sonny Gray before he left after seven innings. But Sean Doolittle could not get anybody out in the eighth, giving up an RBI double to Henry Blanco and then a single by Brad Miller.
Nick Franklin came up next and ripped a tying single to left for his third RBI of the night. Quite a game for the rookie, fighting out of a terrible slump. Ryan Cook came on to ptch after that and issued a walk that loaded the bases and then uncorked a wild pitch that put Seattle ahead 5-4 and sent Franklin to third.
Kendrys Morales then hit a hard shot to second baseman Alberto Callaspo, who threw home. But the sprinting Franklin stuck his right leg in ahead of the tag for a 6-4 lead.
Franklin got his trail leg spiked by catcher Derek Norris near the knee and had to be helped, limping, off the field. Norris also was shaken up and had to leave the game.
Cook then walked Raul Ibanez before unleashing another wild pitch that brought home the fifth Seattle run of the evening. So, in other words, what you’re feeling now having watched that is what opposing fans have experienced all year long courtesy of the Mariners bullpen. About time the pendulum swung in the other direction. It’s been long overdue.
Brandon Maurer is now in line for the win.
9:02 p.m.: Joe Saunders did a very good job of keeping his team in the game after allowing that early four-spot. No way did I think Saunders could make it through six innings after a 40-pitch first. But he did and the Mariners are still down only 4-2 midway through the seventh.
Brandon Maurer is now on in relief in the seventh, but his team is running out of time to score again.
8:02 p.m.: Nick Franklin has been in an awful slump the past three-plus weeks and had not gone deep in that time. But he just came up big in the third inning, connecting for a two-run shot to right field to cut Oakland’s lead to 4-2. The two-out blast by Franklin was his 11th homer already this season — even with the recent drought.
7:28 p.m.: The best thing to happen to Joe Saunders in the first inning was Chris Young getting nabbed at first base on a pickoff throw. Otherwise, Saunders might already be done for the night, because he needed 40 pitches to get out of the first inning and now trails it 4-0.
Seriously, Saunders wasn’t fooling anybody that frame. He issued a leadoff triple by Jed Lowrie that was allowed to bounce around in the right field corner by Michael Morse. Then, a hard hit single to right by Derek Norris opened the scoring.
After that, it was bombs away as Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer to left and then — after a groundout — Nate Freiman hammered a solo shot deep to left for the fourth Oakland run. Saunders then walked Young and was fortunate to get the pickoff. He then walked Josh Reddick and gave up a single to center by Alberto Callaspo that put runners at the corners.
Eric Sogard also hit one on the numbers, but Raul Ibanez got over for the catch to spare his team any more runs allowed. Brandon Maurer was warming up and the way Saunders pitched, I would not be stunned if he took over at this point. I know the Mariners don’t want to blow their bullpen out, but if they have any doubts about Saunders now is the time to pull him before the game gets completely out of hand.
Chances are, we’ll see Saunders again.
7:05 p.m.: The Mariners get their first look tonight at Sonny Gray, making his third start and fifth career appearance in the majors. Gray held Houston scoreless over eight innings his last time out after giving up a pair of earned runs over six frames in his starting debut at Toronto. Prior to that, he’d tossed four innings of scoreless relief, so his ERA is at a nice, neat 1.00.
He was Oakland’s first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2011 draft. Yes, the same draft in which the Mariners selected Danny Hultzen, so you can see why A’s fans are so enthused about having one of their own young guys get to the majors so quickly.