The Mariners blew a 5-0 lead, but the bullpen wasn’t to blame for an 11-5 loss to Oakland Monday night at Safeco Field. Hisashi “No-No” Iwakuma fell back to earth in the fifth inning as Seattle (57-68) lost for the seventh time in 10 games (box score). The Mariners have allowed six or more runs in five consecutive games and have now allowed double-digit runs five times in 16 days.
The A’s fifth inning was like an open wound. The Mariners could have stopped the bleeding if not for a mental lapse by 1B Jesus Montero. With Seattle leading 5-4 and two outs, Josh Reddick grounded to Montero at first. Rather than flip to Iwakuma for the inning-ending out, Montero tried to win a footrace to the bag – only to get beat by Reddick. Mark Canha scored from second base with the tying run, then Danny Valencia hit a two-run homer.
On the night when Safeco Field commemorated Iwakuma’s no-hitter 12 days earlier, he looked pretty good again — for four innings. In the disastrous fifth, he was tagged for seven runs on six hits and a walk.
The only real history came when Oakland’s Pat Venditte came to the mound in the seventh – the first switch-pitcher in a Safeco game. Venditte threw eight right-handed pitches to C Mike Zunino and switch-hitter SS Ketel Marte in the seventh, then put hit six-finger glove on the other hand and got lefty 3B Kyle Seager to pop out on four left-handed pitches. He threw 23 pitches over two innings – 10 with his left, and 13 with his right.
Seattle had enough offense in the third – five hits, five runs and homers from Franklin Gutierrez and Mark Trumbo – to win on most nights. But the bats of Seager, Montero and Zunino continue to drag down the offense. Marte had three hits and two stolen bases.
“Montero didn’t quite get that play right at first base, and that hurt us a bit. It opened up the floodgates.” – manager Lloyd McClendon, on Montero’s mental gaffe with two outs in the fifth
A’s starter Felix Doubront took a Robinson Cano liner off his foot in the first inning. He temporarily stayed in the game but had to come out after just two innings of work . . . Mariners LHP James Paxton made his first rehab start at Triple-A Tacoma Sunday night, and he came out of it without any health concerns. But Paxton didn’t make it out of the first inning, allowing two hits, a walk and a run on 26 pitches . . . McClendon said before Monday’s game that he planned to use RHP Tom Wilhelmsen as closer – if needed. The decision, he added, was based on matchups, and Wilhelmsen has not been anointed the new every-day closer with rookie Carson Smith struggling . . . Oakland had a familiar face coaching third base. Former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington was promoted from his job as an A’s infield coach to take over. Mike Gallegos was fired earlier in the day.
What’s this? A right-handed starter? Facing the Mariners? It’s true: for the first time in six games, Seattle won’t face a southpaw starting pitcher. Oakland plans to use RHP Jesse Chavez (7-12, 3.75 ERA) Tuesday night. The Mariners have already beaten him twice this season. Seattle LHP Mike Montgomery (4-6, 4.16 ERA) hasn’t won since he beat the A’s on July 5. He’s 0-4 since then, while the Mariners have lost eight Montgomery starts in a row.