"One pitch here or there," Melvin said, the sarcasm dripping from
his lips, "is the game."
There was no need for clarity of pitch to which Melvin referred, as
both the A's manager and batter Nick Punto were ceremoniously
ejected from a game that had just ended when Punto watched a high
fastball from Seattle closer Fernando Rodney get called for a strike
to give the Mariners a 3-2 win.
The final pitch, on a full count with a runner on third base,
appeared to be at the letters of Punto's jersey, but home plate
umpire James Hoye rung him up to end the game. Punto immediately
slammed his helmet on home plate and began jawing with Hoye, who
then got an earful from Melvin as he went to pull his player away.
A few minutes later, a red-faced Melvin told reporters: "Tough way
to end the game."
The final pitch couldn't overshadow an otherwise splendid pitching
matchup between Seattle's Felix Hernandez and Oakland's Jeff
Samardzija, both of whom lived up to the billing while putting in
Hernandez overcame a rough first inning to keep up his streak of
impressive starts before handing the ball to Rodney in the ninth.
"He settled down pretty good and threw the ball extremely well from
there," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Hernandez gave up two runs in the top of the first inning, matching
the highest total he allowed in the entirety of any of his previous
10 starts, but bounced back to throw seven consecutive scoreless
innings before Rodney survived the tense ninth for his American
League-best 27th save of the season.
Hernandez (11-2) allowed two runs and six hits while striking out
nine in the eight-inning performance.
Asked what he told himself after the first inning, Hernandez said,
"I just said, 'No more. No more runs.' I knew Samardzija was a tough
pitcher, so I couldn't give up anymore."
Hernandez's final pitch, his 101st of the night, led to a Brandon
Moss groundout to end the top of the eighth after the Seattle
starter appeared to tweak a leg one pitch earlier. McClendon and
trainer Rick Griffin came out to the mound to check on Hernandez,
who was suffering from a cramp, and he remained in the game to get
Moss out. Hernandez said afterward that he would "for sure" be
available to pitch in next week's All-Star game.
Back-to-back two-out doubles by Seattle center fielder James Jones
and second baseman Robinson Cano pushed across the go-ahead run in
the bottom of the sixth inning after the Mariners (50-43) rallied
from the early 2-0 deficit. Cano went 2-for-3 with the RBI double
and has now had three consecutive multiple-hit games.
Samardzija (1-1) allowed three earned runs and five hits in an
eight-inning complete game for the A's (58-35). Seattle first
baseman Logan Morrison hit a leadoff home run in the second inning
to cut the A's early lead to 2-1, then the Mariners tied the score
on an Endy Chavez sacrifice fly in the third.
Cano drove in the eventual winner with a two-out double to score
Jones easily from second in the bottom of the sixth.
"The only bad pitch (Samardzija) made was the one Morrison hit out,"
Melvin said. "Every other pitch was a good pitch."
[to top of second column]
Seattle's Hernandez extended his streak of consecutive games
pitching seven or more innings while allowing two runs or fewer to
11 on Friday, despite a shaky first inning that saw the A's get
three hits and two runs against him.
Oakland right fielder Stephen
Vogt, the A's No. 2 hitter, turned Hernandez's fifth pitch of the
game into a solo home run and a 1-0 lead. Vogt hit an 0-2 pitch over
the right-field fence, marking only the sixth time in Hernandez's
career that he has allowed a homer on an 0-2 pitch.
A's third baseman Josh Donaldson followed that with a one-out single
on the next pitch and came around to score from second on shortstop
Jed Lowrie's single two batters later to put Oakland up 2-0.
Oakland first baseman Alberto Callaspo came out of the game in the
top of the second inning after straining his hamstring running out a
ground ball. Melvin said he will be re-evaluated on Saturday.
Rodney made it interesting in the top of the ninth. He came on with
Seattle nursing a one-run lead and issued a one-out walk to catcher
Derek Norris, who moved to second on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter
Yoenis Cespedes moved Norris to third on a flyout, leaving Punto at
the plate with two outs and a runner 90 feet from tying the score.
Rodney caught Punto looking on a 3-2 pitch, causing the Oakland
second baseman to spike his helmet into home plate and begin arguing
with Hoye, who immediately ejected him. Melvin came out to pull
Punto away, only to exchange a few words of his own with Hoye on the
way back to the dugout and get ejected as well.
After the game, Rodney was asked whether his final pitch was a
"All of my pitches," he said with a slight grin, "are strikes."
NOTES: Mariners OF Michael Saunders (strained oblique) was placed on
the 15-day disabled list before Friday's game. Saunders suffered the
injury during an eighth-inning at-bat the previous night. 1B Justin
Smoak, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, took the available
roster spot. ... The A's rolled out a Friday lineup that was missing
all three of its primary starters in the outfield. RF Josh Reddick
(knee) is on the disabled list, while CF Coco Crisp (neck) and LF
Yoenis Cespedes (day off) were not in the lineup. ... Seattle
manager Lloyd McClendon said Friday that he intends to give C Jesus
Sucre his first start on Saturday while giving Mike Zunino the day
off. ... Oakland RHP Jeff Samardzija was making his second start
with the A's after being traded from the Chicago Cubs earlier in the
month. Samardzija went 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA with the Cubs before the
July 5 trade.
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