OAKLAND, Calif. — Marco Gonzales had no answer for the Oakland Athletics’ Matt Chapman on Tuesday night, but that wasn’t where the Mariners’ left-hander directed his postgame bile.
After the Mariners lost 9-2 for their fifth straight defeat, Gonzales could not get over what he considered a “sickening” missed third-strike call by plate umpire Brian O’Nora with two out in the bottom of the fifth.
O’Nora had been clipped in the back of his head by Domingo Santana’s follow-through swing in the third inning, but remained in the game.
Two innings later, with the Mariners trailing just 2-1, he called ball four on a full-count pitch to Marcus Semien. Chapman then hit a two-run homer, and Matt Olson followed with one of his own for a 5-1 lead.
Afterward, Gonzales said that one ball-strike call turned the game.
“I’m not going to say that that (Chapman) at-bat shouldn’t have happened. Anybody watching the game, it was pretty obvious,” he said in the clubhouse.
“It’s pretty sickening to have a game in the fifth inning, one-run ballgame, 3-2 count, two outs … it feels like that’s taken away from me. Couldn’t have made a better pitch. Never in my career have I supported showing up umpires. They have a tough job. But that was absolutely awful. I’m sick about it. Changed the entire game. One-run ballgame. It’s going to be a tough one to swallow.”
Seattle manager Scott Servais wasn’t quite as animated as his starting pitcher, but he certainly had Gonzales’ back.
“He had Semien struck out and we don’t get that call and Chapman hits the home run and Olson one after that.
“Really, the game kind of hinges on the Semien at-bat. We’ve got two down, nobody on in the fifth, we’re down 2-1 and get strike three and a walk, and Chapman makes us pay after that.”
Chapman wound up with three hits and five RBI, four of them against Gonzales.
“Chapman was on him all night,” Servais said. “Chapman has been hot.”
No hotter than Gonzales, who was 5-1 in his past six starts but appeared close to tears after the game.
Asked if the payoff pitch to Semien affected him emotionally, Gonzales said, “Oh, of course. That’s common knowledge. That’s me being human. A lot of emotions. It’s a turning point in the game.
“That call, to me, that’s the call that changes the game. I don’t like to stand here and make excuses. I’ll be the first one to take accountability if I get beat up, if I get hit, but that’s a game that I feel got taken away from me.”
Gonzales went so far as to suggest O’Nora should have taken himself out of the game immediately after he was hit in the head.
Instead, O’Nora retired before the top of the sixth, leaving three umpires to handle the remainder of the game.
“If you can’t stay in the game to make calls, if you can’t do that then you shouldn’t be in the game,” Gonzales said. “He got hit. As far as I know I think he had some blurry vision, a concussion. And he had it for over an inning and he knew he wasn’t feeling good, so to me it’s unacceptable. It’s unacceptable.
“It tacks three more runs on my ERA, which is great. But that can’t happen. It can’t happen.”
The Mariners have been outscored 37-7 in four games since the All-Star break. They will try to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season — the Mariners have dropped six straight three times — when they close out the two-game set in Oakland with a Wednesday afternoon game.
Reliever Erik Swanson, just called up from Tacoma on Tuesday, will take the mound in an opener role.
Seattle’s lone bright spot was Omar Narvaez, who homered in the second and ninth innings, giving him 16 on the season.
The Mariners were able to get reliever Sam Tuivailala into the game 11 months after he ruptured his right Achilles. In his comeback game in front of friends and family from across the Bay, Tuivailala allowed two runs in the eighth, but drew praise from Servais.
“It was great to see him back. It’s a long road to come back from an injury like that,” Servais said. “I thought he had good life on the ball. He threw the ball really well.
“A couple ground ball hits and a broken-bat hit and he gives up a couple runs.”