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May 5, 2014 at 11:25 PM

Mariners 4, A’s 2 — back to .500 again

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BOX SCORE … 05.05.14 Box Score

The Mariners did something no one else had done so far this season – saddle Scott Kazmir with a loss.

Kazmir came into Monday night’s game with a spotless 4-0 record in six starts with a sparkling 2.11 earned run average. In a previous start against the Mariners on April 13 at Safeco Field, Kazmir threw six shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out nine but not figuring in the decision.

But past dominance mattered little to a suddenly surging Seattle squad. The Mariners scored four off Kazmir – the most he’s allowed this season. The win pushed the Mariners’ record to .500 at 15-15. They have won three straight and eight of their last 10 games.

“We had better at-bats,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s a real good pitcher and he had his way with us before. I thought our guys were little bit more determined, better at-bats, better approach and we were able to get his pitch count up a little bit.”

It’s early, but the Mariners have shown they can make positive adjustments when facing a starter for the second time around.

“Well, they should,” McClendon said. “When you are a good hitter, you should. If you are doing your homework and preparing yourself the way you are supposed to be preparing yourself, then you should have better at-bats. And we’ve done that.”

The plan wasn’t complicated.

“We laid off his offspeed,” said Stefen Romero. “He likes to work both sides of the plate and wants to us to expand (the strike zone) for him. We didn’t do that.”

Chris Young gave the Mariners six innings, giving up just two runs on a Brandon Moss homer. He gave up three total hits while walking two and striking out two. He’s been a nice little pick up for the team.

“My job is to go out and make good pitches over and over 100 plus times,” he said. “I try not to get too wrapped up in the score. When you have that lead, you can be a little more aggressive and not second guess yourself.”

But here’s what Brandon Moss had to say about Young.

“He’s tough,” Moss said. “It’s just different than a lot of guys you face. It looks like he’s throwing soft and the radar gun says he’s throwing soft but the way he pitches up and down, it makes it tough. It’s so rare that you see something like that.”

How is he able to do that?

“I think it’s his arm angle and his heigh,” Moss said. “He’s 6-foot-10 and he’s throwing out of the sky. The pitch up looks soft and it looks good to hit but you see what we do with it, we foul it off all the time. When he goes down it looks so far down that you can’t hit it but it stays at the knees. He’s a tough guy to hit. He’s a tough guy to square up.”

And his homer off of Young?

“It was a mistake,” Moss said. “It was just a middle-middle pitch. He had thrown me one right there earlier in the at-bat and I was a little out in front of it. The more pitches I saw against him the better my timing got. He’s a tough guy to face. I had a 12-pitch at-bat against him after that. He’s throwing strikes and you think, man, eventually you’ll put one in play but with the arm angle of it and the timing of it you just seem to foul it off and foul it off.”

The Mariners answered back immediately in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Romero blasted his first home run of the season, smashing a line drive into the second deck in left field to make it 3-2. It was just the second home Kazmir had given up this season.

“You don’t feel anything,” Romero said. “It’s off the barrel. There’s no vibration. It feels like a hot knife going through butter, it’s the best way I can explain it.”

Not that he knew it was out off the bat. He certainly didn’t slow trot it around the bases.

“It was windy and I didn’t know if it was going to get out like it did,” he said. “I put my head down and started sprinting. Fortunately, it went out. ”

The Mariners pushed it to 4-2 in the sixth. Cole Gillespie led off the inning with a single and later came around to score when Moss lost Brad Miller’s liner to left the stadium lights.

So the seventh inning was interest. There was a whole lot of managing going on.

Young was lifted after giving up a lead-off single to Josh Donaldson and walking Brandon Moss.

McClendon called on Charlie Furbush to face the switch-hitting Alberto Callaspo to turn him around to bat right-handed. McClendon had said before the game that he was hoping to avoid high-stress, high leverage situations with Furbush because of his recent struggles.  This qualified as one, but with Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen unavailable, Furbush got the call.

He did his job, getting Callaspo to hit a hard one-hopper right at Brad Miller for an easy 6-4-3 double play.

“Coming in and getting that pitch and getting a double play was huge, I definitely felt good about it,” Furbush said. “I’m not giving up. In the past week or so, I’ve went through some struggles, but you’ve got to grind your way through them. ”

We asked McClendon just what his definition of “high leverage” was since that was clearly high leverage. He cackled and then pointed out that he said he “might” use Furbush late in games for one batter.

“See I gave myself an out,” he said.

McClendon and A’s manager Bob Melvin got very busy managing after the double play.

Melvin pinch hit for John Jaso with Derek Norris. To counter, McClendon brought in Dominic Leone for the right-on-right match-up. Leone walked Norris to put runners on first and third.

It got even more interesting. With two outs, Melvin summoned lefty Josh Reddick to bat against Leone. McClendon countered by brining in lefty Joe Beimel to pitch. Melvin answered by replacing Reddick with hard-hitting Yoenis Cespedes. That little chess match resulted in a pop up to Robinson Cano at second base and a preserved 4-2 lead for the Mariners.

Beimel and Yoervis Medina combined to work a scoreless eighth inning. The Fernando Rodney Experience worked a rare 1-2-3 ninth inning for his eighth save. He did get some help. Miller made brilliant diving stop and throw to first a rocket one-hopper in the hole off the bat of Donaldson to start the inning.

“That felt cool,” Miller said. “He smoked it to my right and it’s just total reaction. I wanted to dive and stop it and keep it in.

 

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