After going on the road and battling in a tough series against the Texas Rangers, the A’s confidence was shaken. As they moved onto Safeco Field and a series against the Mariners, the Athletics were hoping to keep the 1 game lead they held in the American League West. And once the Rangers won their game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Athletics knew they had to pull out a win in order to stay on top.
This first game had an all-star pitching match-up. For the A’s, Bartolo Colon took the mound. At 40-years-old, this right handed pitcher has not lost a game since May 14th and is one of the Athletics’ best starters with a 9-2 record and 2.89 ERA. The Mariners put up an equally successful pitcher. Hisashi Iwakuma, who only joined the MLB and the Mariners last season, has a 7-2 record with a 2.06 ERA. This game was bound to be a battle of the strike-outs.
When Colon and Iwakuma met about a week ago during the Athletics-Mariners series at the O.co Coliseum, Iwakuma, who gave up 4 runs and 8 hits, was tagged with the lose as the A’s went on to win 10-2. Even though these two pitchers were evenly matched, the A’s offense swung with power and helped bring in the win. The Athletics were hoping for a repeat at Safeco Field.
And a repeat they got. The Athletics took control right away in the first inning when left-fielder Yoenis Cespedes hit a 2-run home run when Seth Smith was on base. The Mariners came back in the bottom of the third with a 3-run homer by Nick Franklin. But the A’s did not waver as Jed Lowrie solo homered in the 4th followed shortly by Coco Crisp who also hit a solo home run in the 6th. Going into the top of the 9th, the A’s led 4-3. Cespedes stepped up and delivered once again by hitting a 2-run home run to left field.
The Mariners did help out the Athletics by having some poor base-running incidents in both the 6th and in the 7th inning. In the bottom of the 6th inning, Mariner’s 3rd baseman, Kyle Seager, reached second on a wild pitch and decided to try for third. He was promptly throw out. Then in the bottom of the 7th, center fielder Michael Saunders was picked off trying to steal second before Colon even threw the pitch.
Even though both pitchers only allowed 8 hits each, the A’s offense swung consistently and with precision. Over the course of the game, the A’s were able to score 6 runs on 4 homers. With the help of the Athletics offense, Colon lengthened his streak by obtaining his 7th consecutive win. He was able to strike out 4 and only walk 2 throughout a total of 97 pitches. Grant Balfour came in to relieve Colon in the ninth. Having yet to blow a save this season, Balfour successfully struck out two while the other out came from a pop fly. The A’s won 6-4.
Tonight, both the Athletics bullpen and lineup stepped up to the plate in order to hold their lead in the AL West. However, with a losing record against the Mariners this season, will the A’s be able to keep this 1 game lead? We will have to see how the rest of this series plays out.