The Mariners had everything going for them. Best pitcher in the game through three starts going up against a guy who hadn’t cracked the Majors since 2010. A quality lineup that had just put up a 10-spot the night before. The overwhelming majority of the Athletics lineup being average-to-below-average thus far this season. Everything about this matchup screamed a Mariners victory.
So, yeah, the M’s lost 9-6. Makes sense.
I kinda want to just throw up my hands and say, “Hey, Paxton just didn’t have it! It happens!” But, the first time through the lineup, he actually DID have it. His scoreless streak to start the season didn’t get snapped until the third inning. From that point to the end of his night, he was rocked like we haven’t seen since last season. Four hits in the third tied the game at 3-3, then Paxton settled back down to get out of the fourth inning 1-2-3, then three more hits, a 2-base error, a sac fly, and a walk into the bottom of the fifth inning and he had to be pulled. The A’s had a 5-3 lead by that point, and cue the “That Escalated Quickly” memes.
But, it DID escalate quickly! Going into the bottom of the third, the game was going according to plan. Dyson led off the game with a single, tagged up on a deep fly ball to right, then scored on a Cano RBI single. Then, in the second, a Motter leadoff double eventually came around to score on a Zunino double. Leonys Martin, who got on with a fielder’s choice, ended up scoring on an RBI single by Dyson to make the game 3-0. This was it! We were exposing an over-matched career minor leaguer in Cesar Valdez, Paxton was dealing, and this game would slowly unravel as a dominating Mariners victory.
Flash forward what felt like 90 seconds, and there we were, down 5-3, needing a Monster Motter 2-run homer to tie the game back up. From there, it felt like the game could’ve gone any number of directions. Obviously, the offense was still humming along, and if the bullpen could just keep a lid on things, it was only a matter of time before the Mariners tacked on the game-winning run.
What it ended up being was only a matter of time before the A’s put the M’s away. The very next half-inning, in fact, when Scribner let the leadoff man get to third base with one out, who ended up scoring on a sac ground out. The game wouldn’t become out of reach until the next inning, when Dan Altavilla – after getting the leadoff out – walked two guys and surrendered a 3-run homer. Altavilla, it would seem, has a lot of problems right now. A lot of problems that will likely require a stint with Tacoma to rectify, because I don’t see how you can trust him in a close game right now, with how his last four appearances have gone.
I turned the game off and went to bed after that. Sure it was a risk; it wasn’t IMPOSSIBLE that the Mariners would put up a 4-banger to tie the game back up, but I was tired and didn’t much feel like waiting around for that remote possibility. So, I missed Evan Marshall’s scoreless inning of relief. And I missed the little mini-rally started by Valencia’s double (who would go on to score to make the final 9-6) in the ninth inning.
The best part of baseball is that there’s almost always another game to play the very next day. Well, I’ve got good news and bad news: the good news is this holds true – there is another game tonight – but the bad news is that Felix and Paxton have already pitched the last two days, and we’re staring down the barrel of an Iwakuma-Miranda-Gallardo weekend. In Oakland, who will probably sweep us right on out of town and into yet another shame spiral.
As it turns out, the worst part of baseball is that there’s almost always another game to play the very next day. Who knew?