Thursday, May 8, 2014

Game of the Day (5/7/14)

Mariners 6, A's 4 (10). Oakland's Dan Staily, a young pitcher off to a rough start so far this season, took on Seattle's Felix Hernandez, a pitcher who's basically on his way to the Hall of Fame given health. Not the most spectacularly even opening pairing.

Naturally, given the skewed nature of the matchup, it was Straily who was perfect in the first and Hernandez who allowed three hits. Coco Crisp was caught stealing after his single and before the ones hit by John Jaso and Brandon Moss, so the A's failed to score, and Seattle promptly seized the lead when Corey Hart led off the second with a homer.

Following the homer, Straily issued a pair of walks in the second, and the starters would allow a baserunner in each of the next three half-innings, but no runs. Straily managed a 1-2-3 fourth, and his teammates rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the inning when Yoenis Cespedes singled, Jed Lowrie reached on an error, and a pair of groundouts brought the lead runner around from second. Craig Gentry then flied out with the go-ahead run at third, and Seattle promptly reacquired the lead a half-inning later on a Mike Zunino homer.

The Mariners extended their advantage in the sixth. James Jones led off the inning with a walk and stole second, then moved to third on a groundout. Hart walked as well, and also stole second. Justin Smoak flied to center, which both scored Jones with Seattle's third run of the game and ended the inning when Hart was thrown out trying to advance as well. Hernandez worked around a Josh Reddick single in the sixth, and Fernando Abad replaced Straily and threw a perfect seventh.

The bottom of the seventh saw the A's demolish the lead with admirable swiftness. Eric Sogard led off with a single, and Gentry doubled him to third. Jaso singled in one run, Josh Donaldson added a sac fly to tie the game, and Moss followed with a triple that put Oakland in the lead for the first time. Danny Farquhar replaced Hernandez and stranded Moss at third with a strikeout and a flyout, and that kept the Mariners close enough to even things once more in the top of the eighth. Abad walked Michael Saunders with one out, and Luke Gregerson then walked pinch hitter Stefen Romero and surrendered a game-tying single to Robinson Cano.

Farquhar allowed nothing beyond a Daric Barton walk in the eighth. Kyle Seager greeted Sean Doolittle with a ninth-inning double, but only made it to third after that. Yoervis Medina got the ninth inning off to an eventful start, hitting Jaso with a pitch and then wild pitching him to second. Donaldson struck out, and Moss was intentionally walked to set up a pivotal showdown between Yoervis and Yoenis. Cespedes hit into a force, and Lowrie flied out to send the game into a tenth inning.

Ryan Cook allowed a Saunders leadoff single in the tenth; Saunders then stole second and moved to third on a bunt. Cano was intentionally walked, and Hart struck out. Dan Otero relieved Cook and promptly allowed back-to-back RBI singles to Smoak and Seager, and Fernando Rodney permitted a Sogard double in the bottom of the inning, but stranded him at second to secure the save.

Everyone says that there are no moral victories in professional sports - but this one has to be at least halfway close, right? The A's forced extra innings in a Dan Straily vs. King Felix pitching matchup, and would have won the game if the Yoervis vs. Yoenis showdown had gone differently (or if they'd otherwise done better than 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position).

On second thought - that RISP performance, combined with the 12 runners left on base and the 7 walks issued by the pitching staff, probably rule this one out of "moral victory" status, consigning it instead to the "games that could have been won" category. But then, that description fits virtually every Game of the Day - which is why they're here.

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