Staring at a fourth consecutive loss after blowing 1-0 and 4-2 leads, the Mariners (2-4) rallied for a 5-4, 11-inning victory over the Athletics Saturday in Oakland (box score) when SS Brad Miller doubled, driving in 1B Logan Morrison with the winning run.
Essential moment (2)
In the Oakland 10th (4-4 tie), after Ben Zobrist singled, Ike Davis doubled to deep center. Miller took a relay from CF Austin Jackson and nailed Zobrist at the plate. In the 11th, Morrison singled to center and was sacrificed to second by LF Dustin Ackley. Miller followed with a double for the game-winning run.
Rookie reliever Tyler Olson of Gonzaga (two hits, two walks), who worked a scoreless 10th, had his first MLB win. Veteran newcomer J.A. Happ, making his first Seattle start, allowed two runs on seven hits over 6.1 innings and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second. Happ retired 13 consecutive batters from the third through the sixth, but gave up four singles in the seventh. Fernando Rodney had a 1-2-3 11th inning for his second save.
Oakland starter Sonny Gray, battling illness, allowed two runs over 7.1 innings and fanned four, but the Oakland bullpen blew his chance at a win.
Ackley’s home run gave Seattle a 1-0 lead. Nelson Cruz, a $57 million free-agent hire, hit a three-run homer, his first for Seattle, in the eighth, for a 4-2 lead. Cruz went 3-for-5, hiking his batting average to .200.
Leadoff hitter Jackson collected his 800th career hit in the eighth.The Mariners knocked out 10 hits to Oakland’s 12.
“I thought our guys really rebounded today,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “This shows the kind of fortitude this club has. This club really battled and came out ahead in the end.”
“I feel like every time we play them, it’s always a hard-fought game,” Miller said. “In the 11th, LoMo (Logan Morrison) started it off, Ackley did his job and I just got a pitch out over the plate and was able to stay on it.”
McClendon is no longer viewing Cruz as the club’s full-time designated hitter. Cruz started Saturday in right field for the third time in five games. While Cruz’s time in right field has been abetted by the injury to Seth Smith, McClendon said, “I just need to be smart where I put him out there and make sure he stays healthy throughout the year. So, I’ll use the DH spot to do that. But to say he’s our full-time DH, I never committed to that. And he’s not.” . . . Jesus Sucre got his first start behind the plate . . . Sidelined by a tight groin muscle since collecting three extra-base hits on Opening Day, Seth Smith returned to the lineup and went 2-for-3.
Felix Hernandez (1-0, 1.29) will make his second start Sunday in the series’ rubber match. Hernandez is 19-7 with a 2.58 ERA in 35 career starts against the Athletics. Last year, he went 4-0, 2.22 in six starts against the A’s. Hernandez will oppose RHP Jesse Hahn (0-1, 4.50). The Mariners start a three-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles Monday.
A fun game to watch. A good win. Tomorrow we need to finish the series with a Felix win.
How big was that relay home from Miller, who’s considered the defensive weak link of the infield?
It was merely huge. Great work at the plate by Zunino, too…he was well-positioned for both the throw and the runner coming in. That’s one thing about Mike: His defense is good no matter what his batting average is (thankfully). I think pitchers like working with him, too.