The Oakland Athletics have one of the best bullpens in the big leagues, but it was responsible for a 7-5 loss to the Seattle Mariners tonight that put them back into a first place tie with the Rangers in the AL West.
The A’s held a comfortable 5-2 lead going into the seventh inning, but then the Mariners jumped on Jerry Blevins and Ryan Cook.
After Blevins allowed a single and a walk with one out, A’s killer Raul Ibanez did it again, drilling a curveball into the seats in right center field to tie the game. Blevins had given up just two earned runs over his previous 13.1 innings, but his ERA sky-rocketed nearly a full point to 2.70 after that homer.
Cook was assigned the eighth inning, and didn’t fare much better than Blevins. Brendan Ryan singled to lead off the frame for Seattle, then moved to second on a wild pitch by Cook, then on to third on a nice bunt single by Endy Chavez. Chavez then stole second, and Nick Franklin knocked in both Ryan and Chavez with a single to center, giving the Mariners a two-run advantage.
The A’s bullpen has been a little concerning as of late, suffering three losses and recording an abysmal 6.61 ERA during the last six games on the road trip.
Jed Lowrie led off the ninth inning with a single for the A’s, but Yoenis Cespedes promptly hit into a double play, and Brandon Moss flied out to center to end the game.
Starting pitcher Dan Straily did not have his stuff working tonight, and Bob Melvin responded by pulling him after just 3.1 innings, his shortest outing of his career. In the second, Straily allowed a leadoff home run to Franklin Guttierez, then walked the next two batters. Nick Franklin would make him pay with a single to right field, knocking in a run and giving Seattle an early 2-0 lead.
After getting the A’s on the board with a sacrifice fly in the third, Lowrie came up with a clutch single with the bases loaded in the fifth, scoring two runs on a line drive to right field. Lowrie finished 3-3, with three RBI.
The A’s padded that lead in the seventh. Josh Reddick and Josh Donaldson both hit RBI singles off of Mariners’ flamethrower Yoervis Medina, and the A’s had a three-run lead.
A lead that, on an average day, the bullpen would have held for a win. Instead, it turned into one of the most painful losses of the year.