Mariners Keep Hope Alive in Oakland, 3-2

Mariners manager Scott Servais. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Mariners manager Scott Servais. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

The Mariners  got off to a good start to their series against the A’s with a 3-2 win in Oakland last night to stay in the playoff race.

The Mariners‘ offense got going right away in the first inning with a Nelson Cruz RBI double off the right field wall. The clutch two-out hit came on the 13th pitch of the at bat. The Mariners made A’s starter Daniel Mengden work. He threw 35 pitches in the first, and an even 100 in just five innings pitched.

Nori Aoki hit his second long ball of the season on the first pitch of the third inning, just over the wall in right center field. Nori continues to swing a hot bat since being recalled from AAA. His HR upped his batting average to .265 and extended the M’s lead to 2-0.

Hisashi Iwakuma bounced back, after having lost his last four straight games. Kuma utilized his fastball more than usual early in the game, elevating it at times. In the fifth, he started mixing in his curve and pitching backwards, but started to fall behind in counts. The A’s finally scored their first run with two outs in the fifth on a single by Joey Wendle.

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After a visit from Mel Stottlemyer, Hisashi got back to throwing strikes. He got out of the jam in the fifth and then struck out the middle of the A’s lineup in order in the sixth.

Mike Zunino led off the seventh against Daniel Coulumbe with a mammoth 433 foot home run to dead center. Coulombe was perfect other than that one pitch to Zunino, striking out four and retiring all the other six batters he faced.

The Mariners led 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh when Adam Lind repeated an incredible play he made earlier this season, also in Oakland. Lind robbed Ryon Healy of an at bat when he ran down a pop-up a good 100 feet away from first base. Lind made an adjustment at the last second, and made a brilliant snag over his shoulder.

Kuma walked his first batter of the game, and paid for it when catcher Bruce Maxwell drove in the A’s second run with his third hit of the game, an RBI double. Dan Altavilla came in and retired Wendle for the final out of the 7th inning.

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After a perfect eighth spun by the Mariners’ Steve Cishek and the A’s Sean Doolittle, the Mariners failed to get any insurance off John Axford. So, the M’s looked to their young closer, Edwin Diaz to protect a one run lead. Diaz retired the side in order to save an important series opener in Oakland, 3-2.

The win moves the M’s to just 3.5 games back in the wild card chase.