[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”3764403584001″/]
So that wasn’t dull.
A 6-5 win that was much needed but with a final score that was probably closer than it needed to be.
James Paxton was brilliant – the bullpen not so much.
Reliever Yoervis Medina, who replaced Paxton, couldn’t seem to get the final out of the eighth inning, allowing three runs to score – two of which were charged to Paxton.
Also Fernando Rodney’s 40th save was far from simple because that’s part of the charm of having him as your closer. Rodney gave up three straight two-out doubles for two runs in the ninth before getting Josh Reddick, who represented the winning run, to ground out to end the game and stop McClendon’s rising blood pressure.
“You know, we had it the whole time,” Paxton deadpanned and then breaking into a sly grin.
It would have been a devastating loss for the Mariners in their quest for their postseason. Instead, it was a big win, though they weren’t able to gain any ground in the race for the second wild card, remaining 1.5 games behind the Tigers.
“I’ve seen this ball club do what they did a lot of times,” McClendon said of the A’s rally. “This is a tough ballpark and the crowd really pumps them up. They’re never really out of the game.”
But since the Mariners (74-63) scored more runs than they had in their previous seven games, they were able to withstand the late outburst.
Even with Medina’s issues, Paxton’s line was still pretty solid: 7 2/3 innings, two earned runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts on 92 pitches to improve to 5-1 on the season.
“I told you guys this kid is good,” McClendon said. “He’s got greatness written all over him. He just has to stay healthy. I thought it was a dominating performance.”
Paxton’s approach was simple.
“I was just going right at them with fastballs and they weren’t making the adjustment and hitting it right at guys,” he said. “I kept pounding away and they got themselves out.”
He wasn’t kidding ….
I think that “FA” is a actually a changeup. But that’s 72 fastballs.
Here are the plots ….
Paxton exited the game with runners on first and third and two outs after getting a big bases loaded double play started by Seager earlier in the inning.
Some people weren’t happy about this. Paxton admitted he was losing his feel of his fastball – the pitch that had gotten him there.
“I just kind of lost the handle and was missing down with my pitches,” Paxton said.
It was the deepest he’d pitched into a big league game this season.
“This was the first time he’d been up and down eight times all year up here,” McClendon said. “You could tell the edge was off his stuff in the eighth inning.”
The Mariners have a good bullpen. So McClendon went to Medina. And he wasn’t good. Medina couldn’t get the third out until three runs had scored. Instead of Danny Farquhar pitching the ninth with even a 6-1 lead, it was The Fernando Rodney Experience in the ninth.
A day after makings the A’s weakest starter – Jason Hammel – look like a Cy Young candidate, they jumped all over one of Oakland’s best starters – Sonny Gray.
Seattle scored six runs on seven hits and two walks off of Gray, knocking him out of the game after just five innings of work. It was just the second time this season Gray had given up six or more runs and the fifth time he failed to go at least six innings.
It’s even more surprising considering Gray came into the game with a 4-0 record and 1.10 ERA in five career starts against Seattle.
“He’s been good against everybody,” McClendon said. “We had great at-bats, grinded at-bats out.”
Seattle got to Gray with Endy Chavez and Brad Miller working back-to-back to start the third inning. McClendon played small ball and had Jesus Sucre bunt the runners into scoring position. Austin Jackson made the strategy pay off, lining a single up the middle to score both runners for a 2-0 lead.
The Mariners added on an inning later. Kendrys Morales singled with one out and Logan Morrison followed with a double to the left-center to put runners on second and third for Chavez. The crafty veteran fought off a 2-2 curveball, hitting about a 12-hop ground ball into center past the drawn-in infield. Both Morales and Morrison scored and Chavez, who read the ball off the bat, hustled around first and slid headfirst into an uncovered second base bag for a double.
“I knew they were in and the ball was on the shortstop side,” Chavez said. “I didn’t hit the ball hard. I saw Gentry playing deep, and I saw the base was empty.”
Up 4-0, Kyle Seager made his return to the clean-up spot felt in the fifth inning. Robinson Cano came up with a two-out single and Seager stepped up and belted his 21st homer of the season, crushing a ball into the right field stands to make it 6-0.
“We got the job done,” Seager said. “That’s all that matters.”