There didn’t figure to be a starting pitcher duel Friday night at T-Mobile Park, not with the way A’s starter James Kaprielian had pitched this season.
But that’s what fans got, with the Mariners’ Marco Gonzales and Kaprielian matching zeros through four innings and both came through with quality starts.
Kaprielian was just a bit better than Gonzales, and despite some tense moments for the Oakland bullpen in the seventh, the Athletics ended the Mariners’ three-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory.
“Not much run support the last couple of times out,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Gonzales (4-9), who lost 2-1 to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday in his previous start. “I thought he navigated through some innings that had traffic, (and) I thought he threw the ball really well. He gave us a chance with six innings.”
It wasn’t a surprise that Gonzales would pitch well against the woeful A’s, having beaten them twice already this season and going 5-0 against them since his previous loss to Oakland, in 2019.
The Mariners lefty allowed 10 base runners in six innings Friday, but only two runs.
“I feel really confident about the game plan we executed,” Gonzales said. “We got ahead (in the count) a bunch, which was good — and limited it to mostly weak contact, and so it was a win in that regard.”
Gonzales worked out of trouble in the second inning after allowing a one-out single to Christian Bethancourt, then a double to Chad Pinder to put runners on second and third base with one out.
But Gonzales got Elvis Andrus to ground out, keeping Bethancourt at third, and Sheldon Neuse grounded out to end the inning.
Gonzalez worked around one-out hits again by Bethancourt and Pinder in the fourth.
Oakland finally broke through in the fifth inning, aided by uncharacteristic wildness from Gonzales. He hit Tony Kemp to start the inning, walked Ramon Laureano with one out, and Kemp scored when Sean Murphy hit a soft line drive into right field.
Kaprielian entered the game with a 0-5 record at 5.88 ERA, and had allowed seven earned runs in 10 1/3 innings in his previous two starts against Seattle.
But he was sharp from the beginning Friday night against Seattle’s depleted lineup because of injuries to several top hitters and shortstop J.P. Crawford serving the second of a four-game suspension.
Kaprielian retired the Mariners on six pitches in the first inning, and needed just eight in the second while retiring Seattle’s first six hitters.
Kaprielian allowed just one hit through five innings, with the Mariners unable to get a runner in scoring position.
But the Mariners broke through in the sixth. Julio Rodriguez, who had homered in the previous two games, nearly hit another one out. His line shot to center hit the wall, and he settled for a one-out triple.
Rodriguez scored on a ground out by Jesse Winker to cut Oakland’s lead to 2-1, and the Mariners had a chance to score more after a double by Eugenio Suarez and a walk to Carlos Santana. But Kaprielian struck out Abraham Toro to end the inning.
That was it for Kaprielian, who had his best outing of the season, allowing the run in six innings on three hits and a walk. He struck out four.
The bullpens took over in the seventh inning.
Seattle reliever Penn Murfee allowed a two-out homer to Sean Murphy to give Oakland a 3-1 lead.
The pivotal moment of the game came in the bottom of the seventh. Sam Haggerty hit a two-out single off reliever Domingo Acevedo to put runners on first and second with two outs.
Oakland brought in Zach Jackson to face Rodriguez. With the crowd chanting “Julio,” Jackson walked the Seattle rookie on five pitches.
That was Jackson’s 25th walk in 29 2/3 innings, and with the bases full, he fell behind Winker 3-1.
Jackson challenged Winker with a 95-mph fastball, which Winker hit about 395 feet. But it was hit to center field and Ramon Laureano caught it at the warning track for the third out.
“I thought Winker hit the tar out of that ball, and he thought he got it too,” Servais said. “He worked himself into a good count, put a good swing on it and wish he would have pulled it a bit more. But that’s baseball. It happens some nights.”
The Mariners got a one-out walk from Dylan Moore in the ninth, but Lou Trivino got Cal Raleigh to fly out to center field and Sam Haggerty to ground out to get the save.
It was the missed offensive opportunities in the sixth and seventh innings that the Mariners were regretting afterward.
“When you have a couple of chances like that, you need to get the big hit,” Servais said.