The club got a solid start from Felix Hernandez, but the lack of offense allowed a first-inning home run stand up in a 2-1 win.
A day after banging out 17 hits and scoring 10 runs, the Mariners, who managed just two hits, were shutdown on Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 loss to the Oakland A’s.
“Little different game today,” manager Scott Servais said with a wry smile.
What happened to that explosive offensive in less than 24 hours?
Astros @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
Well, Sean Manaea happened.
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The big lefty, who is easily the most talented pitcher on the Oakland staff, shut down Seattle hitters in a manner that hasn’t happened often in the first 13 games. Manaea tossed seven innings, allowing just one run on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
“Give Manaea credit, he threw the ball really well,” Servais said. “Our offense has been doing so, so good. You don’t expect that type of game out there today. But that’s baseball and the beauty of it. We didn’t have a lot of scoring chances.”
The Mariners’ first hit came in the fourth inning when Kyle Seager slapped a two-out single to center. Their first and only run came in the fifth inning when Taylor Motter launched a solo homer to left to cut into a 2-0 deficit.
“I was just hoping for a fastball and I got it,” Motter said. “With the offense we have, you hope it sparks a lot of things. We have a lot of damage potential in this lineup. So if I can do something in the bottom of the order to help, it’s good.”
But any flicker was quickly extinguished.
The other three batters that reached base against Manaea never got into scoring position. When the Mariners did hit balls hard, they were caught. It was the third time in four starts that Manaea has pitched seven-plus innings and allowed two or fewer runs.
“Located really good, maybe the (velocity) isn’t the best we’ve seen it this season, but he located his fastball really well,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Good slider today, good changeup today, good three-pitch mix. He’s throwing strikes.”
Seattle saw its hope for a sweep and its four-game winning streak snapped, while falling to 8-5.
Still, the weekend was a success on most levels. The Mariners won their third three-game series of the season and are still not even at full strength.
“It was a good series and we won the series, that’s the goal,” Servais said. “We’ll keep rolling in that direction.”
But that direction will feature a major impediment in the form of a raised level of competition when the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros come strutting in to town on Monday for a three-game series.
The Marinerswere 5-14 record vs. the Astros last season, including 2-7 at Safeco Field.
“We played some close games with them last year, but that was last year,” Servais said. “We’re a different club. We’ll see.”
The Mariners got a solid start from Felix Hernandez, who worked 61/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. The A’s grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Hernandez left a 3-0 fastball over the middle that Jed Lowrie redirected into the seats in right field for a two-run homer.
“I was trying to go sinker down and away, but it didn’t sink,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t know he was going to swing because he’s so patient, but he did swing and it cost us the game right there.”
There could be an argument made on whether it should have been a two-run homer or a solo homer.
Before Lowrie’s homer, Hernandez made an awkward pickoff throw to first base that caught Marcus Semien off balance. It looked like Semien would be out in a rundown. However, first base ump Carlos Torres called for a balk.
“It wasn’t a balk,” Hernandez said. “I stepped off the rubber. I don’t know what happened there. It was a weird play.”
Servais came on the field to dispute the call as Hernandez stood behind the mound and fumed. While Hernandez’s pick off throw looked mildly uncoordinated, he did not, by rule, balk on the throw. He had clearly stepped off the rubber and Torres simply misread it. The umpires conferred and ruled that it indeed was not a balk. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Semien got to return to first base because Torres’ balk call meant the play was dead immediately.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “It should have been an out. I stepped off the rubber clearly. I don’t know what happened.”
But from the misplaced fastball to Lowrie, Hernandez settled in and started using his secondary pitches efficiently.
He retired 13 hitters in a row before hitting Stephen Piscotty in the fifth. Hernandez couldn’t quite work a full seven innings. With his pitch count at 97, he exited with one out and runners on first and second. Lefty James Pazos entered the game and threw one pitch for an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
“I gave up two runs; it should have been one,” Hernandez said. “I gave my team a chance to win. Next time it will be better.”
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