Nightmare 8th Inning Results in Painful Loss for A’s


There is a lot to be said about the notion of adding on after scoring in the first inning.  Failing to do so often can lead to the opposition chipping away at that lead and potentially mounting a dramatic comeback to steal the victory.  Tonight’s game between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners was a classic, textbook example of why failing to add on can haunt a team.

The A’s dropped four runs on Seattle starter Joe Saunders in the bottom of the first inning on a Derek Norris RBI single, a Josh Donaldson two-run homer, and a Nate Freiman solo homer.  They would not plate another run the rest of the game.  Although they would have numerous chances to do so.

Joe Saunders wobbled the rest of the way, as Ken Korach appropriately described on the radio, he allowed baserunners in every single inning of the six total he worked, but managed to wiggle his way out of trouble every single time.  Three times he was the benificiary of a double play, twice in the conventional ground ball sense, and once in the line drive sense.  The A’s simply could not keep their foot on the gas pedal to put this game out of reach when they had the opportunity to do so, and it would ultimately cost them everything.

Sonny Gray had yet another strong outing in his third career start, and second in the confines of the Coliseum.  He did allow a third inning two-run home run to Nick Franklin.  He stifled the Mariners offense through seven innings, allowing just two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.  He departed the game with only 94 pitches after the seventh inning, and that’s when the game turned from good to bad.

Aug 20, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Ryan Cook (48), catcher Derek Norris (36), and manager Bob Melvin (6) speak with home plate umpire Paul Schrieber (43) after a against the Seattle Mariners run during the eighth inning at Coliseum. The Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland Athletics 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Doolittle came in to work the 8th inning and wasn’t fooling anyone.  He allowed hits to each of the four batters he faced, and would be charged with two runs without retiring a batter.  Ryan Cook came in to help snuff out the growing fire, but instead poured gasoline all over it by walking the bases loaded, then uncorking a wild pitch to give the Mariners the lead as Kendrys Morales stood at the plate. Morales would hit a grounder that Alberto Callaspo would throw home to try and cut down the run, but Nick Franklin would beat the tag to pad the lead.  Derek Norris would be injured on the play and would have to leave the game.  The Mariners would add their final run on yet another wild pitch by Cook, thus concluding the horror that was the top of the eighth inning.

The A’s would mount little resistance in their final two chances.

Bob Melvin stated in his postgame press conference that Norris suffered a broken big toe on the play.  So chances are he’ll be headed to the DL and may miss an extended period of time.  With the catcher position already weakened by the concussion problems plaguing John Jaso, the team can not afford to lose Norris as well.  One would figure Luke Montz would get the call back to Oakland for the time being if Norris is indeed DL bound.

The A’s fall back to 1.5 games behind the Texas Rangers, and will attempt to salvage this homestand with a victory tomorrow as A.J. Griffin (10-8, 3.76 ERA) battles with the tough right hander Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6, 2.95 ERA).  For a struggling and inconsistent offense, a matchup with a pitcher like Iwakuma is about the last thing they need.