Monday, April 11, 2016

Sweep Swing: Crisp sends A's past M's in 10

A's outfielder Coco Crisp hit a solo home run off Seattle reliever Nick Vincentin the 10th inning Sunday, breaking a tie and helping Oakland secure a 2-1 series-sweeping victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
It was Crisp's first home run since Aug. 27, 2014, and the second of the day for the A's, who also got a game-tying shot from shortstop Marcus Semien in the eighth off Joel Peralta, leaving a dominant Felix Hernandez with a no-decision.
"In that count, I'm just looking for a pitch, my pitch, that I can hit hard without expanding the zone," Crisp said. "That ball was a little bit up, and I was able to make good contact."
"I fell behind him a little bit and then I just left a pitch up," Vincent said. "Big league hitters are going to hit that ball out. I've just got to make a better pitch on a 3-1 count right there. If the ball is down, it's probably a ground ball, but it was up the middle and he jumped on it."
Hernandez fired seven shutout innings, striking out 10 and yielding just three hits in a pitching duel with A's starter Chris Bassitt, who also went seven innings with only three hits allowed. Bassitt pitched around five walks and struck out five, with one unearned run scoring in the sixth.
"Bass didn't deserve to lose that game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's one unearned run, and when you pitch against Felix, you know you gotta be close to perfect. His contributions today were immense. He was pretty spirited on the mound today."
Pitching prevails: The A's were up against a formidable opponent in Hernandez, whose career ERA against them dropped to 2.56 on Sunday, but it was their own pitching staff -- led by Bassitt -- that proved triumphant. Following Bassitt's exit, right-handers Ryan Madsonand John Axford kept the Mariners off the board in the eighth and ninth innings, and lefty closer Sean Doolittle worked around a leadoff double to Kyle Seager with two strikeouts for his first save of the season.
A's relievers have already totaled 26 1/3 innings in seven games this season, with 21 strikeouts next to just two walks recorded in that span.
"Once we get to bullpen versus bullpen," Bassitt said, "I really like our odds."
To pull or not to pull: Mariners manager Scott Servais debated about sending Hernandez back out for the eighth inning. He chose to pull his ace at 99 pitches after seven innings, and Peralta served up Semien's leadoff homer in the eighth.
"We discussed it, kind of where he was at going into the game, pitch-wise, and if he had enough to get through the next inning, but at that point it was probably best to go with somebody else," Servais said.
Hernandez said he was OK with the decision.
"We talked about It. It's early in the season," said Hernandez. "It's my second start. I had 99 pitches and I didn't want to throw 115 in my second start." More >
Error leads to run: Bassitt was nearly out of the sixth inning unscathed after putting runners at first and third, but Jed Lowrie couldn't field a routine grounder off the bat of Ketel Marte, allowing an unearned run to score with two outs. Lowrie made three errors in the series, his first two coming in Friday's opener.
Coming away empty: Before the bullpen let the game slip away, Hernandez made key pitch after key pitch in crucial situations. The A's loaded the bases in the third inning on a leadoff single by Josh Phegley, a walk to Semien and a two-out walk to Josh Reddick, but Hernandez escaped by striking out Stephen Vogt.
"It came easier after that," Hernandez said. "You just have to make good pitches and get out of that inning."
The right-hander stranded five runners on the day, with Oakland finishing 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. More >
"We had some chances. We got on base via the walk in a couple innings, we tried to create something, but we just didn't hit with runners in scoring position today. We've got to get better. We're just not getting it done." -- Servais, on his team's struggles with runners in scoring position
Hernandez's 10 strikeouts raised his career total to 2,158 and within four of franchise leader Randy Johnson, who struck out 2,162 in his 10 seasons with the Mariners. Hernandez remains two victories behind Jamie Moyer, the franchise leader with 145.
Athletics: The A's will have their ace on the mound for Monday's three-game series opener against the Angels at the Coliseum, with Sonny Gray scheduled to make his second start of the season. The right-hander went seven innings in his 2016 debut, allowing just one run and three hits with four walks and five strikeouts against the White Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT.
Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma makes his second start of the season against Texas to open a three-game home series Monday night against the Rangers at 7:10 p.m. PT. The right-hander allowed two runs on six hits in five innings Tuesday, but did not get a decision in the Mariners' 10-2 victory. He is 8-3 in his career against the Rangers.

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