BY SPNW Staff 03:38PM 10/02/2016

Game recap: Athletics 3, Mariners 2

After a season of high drama, the end was quiet, a 3-2 loss to the Oakland A’s Sunday that had no meaning except to conclude the season that is without playoffs for the 15th consecutive year.

Felix Hernandez’s look said it all for the conclusion of the Mariners 2016 season. / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest


The Mariners’ first meaningless game of the season resulted in a 3-2 loss to Oakland Sunday afternoon that finished off the 2016 season with an 86-76 record after two consecutive losses to the A’s. Starter Felix Hernandez struggled in his three-inning performance, while Seattle’s watered-down lineup couldn’t get help from stars 2B Robinson Cano and 3Kyle Seager (a combined 0-for-8).

Essential moment

Seager nearly provided a last moment of heroism, which would have recorded his first 100-RBI season, when he drilled a long fly ball toward the right-field seats with one out in the ninth inning. But Oakland RF Matt Olson went up to steal away the home run, leaving Seager to smile sardonically.


Hernandez’s final start of a disappointing season was an indication of how his year went. He gave up a first-inning homer and two runs in the third before the Mariners took their aging ace out of his misery. Hernandez finished 11-8 with a 3.82 ERA, his highest ERA since 2007.

Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte came on and faced his former team, pitching two shutout innings, then Cody Martin, Arquimedes Caminero and Dan Altavilla silenced the Oakland bats the rest of the way.


A watered-down lineup featured Ben Gamel and Mike Freeman, trying to make statement about their futures. Each had a hit. LF Guillermo Heredia, who showed some flashes this season, had the biggest hit with a two-run double in the fifth. Cano went 0-for-3 to finish one home run shy of 40 and with a .298 batting average, while Seager’s 0-for-4 left him with 99 RBIs.

Wild card

Ummmmm . . . what’s that?


“We certainly didn’t have a whole lot of wind in our sails. Last night, and the run we’ve
been on, it took a lot out of us – physically and emotionally. But we hung in there.”  — Mariners manager Scott Servais


Playing for the first time without playoff aspirations, the Mariners went into the finale without DH Nelson Cruz, leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki, CF Leonys Martin and SS Ketel Marte. Cano served as DH.  Chris Iannetta, a third-string catcher by September, was one of five Mariners who started the opener and the finale – joining Cano, Seager, Franklin Gutierrez and Hernandez . . . The announced attendance was 24,856 – probably a lot fewer than would have shown up for a game with wild-card implications. The Mariners pulled in 2,268,573 fans this season.


Another long off-season with plenty of decisions to make. At the top of the list is a starting rotation that has questions. Does Felix Hernandez still have enough left in the tank to be considered the ace? Can Hisashi Iwakuma be a full-time contributor again? Are Taijuan Walker and James Paxton going to shake the inconsistency and develop into something better? Is Ariel Miranda a long-term solution? The rotation could look a lot different next season. One thing known – quite a statement considering where the offense was for most of the past decade – is that the heart of the order is set around Cano, Cruz and Kyle Seager. Key free agents are 1B Adam Lind, 1B Dae-Ho Lee, OF Franklin Gutierrez and RHP Drew Storen, while several relievers are arbitration eligible.



  • Long-Time Mariners Fan

    This article ends looking towards the future – questions about the starting rotation, etc. During the coming off-season, everyone will put on their General Manager’s hat (cuz’ you got it free when you signed up for your Fantasy Betting League) and speculate, plot, and prognosticate, Forget about all that. The truth of this season and next season is right there in the lede: “The Mariners’ first meaningless game of the season.” Yes, today’s game was meaningless, which (by logical deduction) means that ALL of the other 161 games were… meaningful.

    Did we play like each and every game leading up to today was meaningful? Like each and every game counted towards our playoff prospects? Because they all did. We lost on Saturday to eliminate us from playoff contention, but we lost three-in-a-row to the Twins at home at the end of May. The Twins!! The worst team in The Bigs by nine games! At home!

    Dipoto has put together a winning ballclub (I’m sure that Steve Rudman will report shortly how 2016 stacks up to the past 40 years) and Servais has (for the most part) kept their heads all pointed in the same direction. Next year, we need to crank it up one more level, focus that much more intently, keep out goals directly in front of us. Trades will be made, free agents will leave and get signed, players will come and go. All if it will be for naught if the Mariners step on to the field for that first game and say, “Ah, tonight doesn’t matter that much if we lose. 161 to go after this. We’ll make it by the end of May.”

    • Kevin Lynch

      Good points in above response! I left the o out of ‘points’ accidentally when first typing the prior sentence. ‘Good pints’! A few good pints is what is left of the season. The M’s did not have a dominant starter this year so it may not have mattered they missed the single game wild card event. Actually, had they swept the A’s they would not have made the playoffs anyway as Toronto and Baltimore won on Sunday.

      What hurt most was the average innings pitched from their Top 4 starters – 152. If that number was 175 they probably would have made the playoffs. Too much reliance on the bullpen. They were 15-23 against the two Texas teams. Aoki’s numbers from the leadoff position were far superior to anyone else. It helped mitigate lack of OBP from the bottom half of the order.

      They have to resolve the first base and catcher situations. You need a first baseman with a better OBP (Belt was .394 for SF) and better range around the bag. No ideas about shortstop or catcher. You had the talent this year overall. You can’t expect hitters 3, 4 and 5 to have the same year next year. The team was 3rd in pitching? 4th in hitting? 6th in fielding? Is that right? And didn’t make the playoffs?

      • art thiel

        Good point about starting IP. Way too stressful for the pen. Mariners burned up a lot of offense coming from behind so often. Walk-off wins are fun, but it’s like expecting to be healthy on a diet of French pastry.

        • Bayview Herb

          You do have a way with words, Have you considered a career in journalism?

    • art thiel

      I don’t think effort or focus was any more an issue for this team than any other MLB team. The shortfall was mostly a lack of quality starting pitching, the most valuable commodity in the game.

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  • 1coolguy

    Well, I bought my one game this year, as I have for the past 10+. I buy 1 game and it’s always a great seat to watch Felix pitch. Unfortunately he was lit up that night (8-0 loss) and unfortunately, with their not making the playoffs AGAIN, I will go into next season as a sceptic, AGAIN, Hopefully with the new GM and ownership this offseason will set them up for a playoff run next year.

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    • art thiel

      One game? I thought you liked the Moose.

  • Bayview Herb

    Felix hasn’t been the king for 3 years. that’s when he peaked.

    • art thiel

      He’s no longer capable of carrying the staff.

      • Bayview Herb

        Miranda looks like he has promise.

  • Topcatone

    Playoff teams have pitching. With Felix becoming just a “good” starter, M’s need to add to quality starters and most importantly, a real closer. How many games were lost this year in the 8th and 9th innings? They have a great hitting team, lots of good young players getting better. Get them the pitching.

    • art thiel

      And in a weak free agent market, how do you get pitching? Trades. Which premium prospects do you give up to get a quality starter, when the M’s don’t have many premium prospects?

  • jafabian

    Very fun to have meaningful baseball all season until Sunday. There’s work to be done though for the M’s to be playing into October though. Felix isn’t the same picture he was a few years ago. The M’s need to look at bringing in another pitcher to challenge him as ace unless they believe Karns, Walker or Paxton can. Felix needs to accept he isn’t Randy Johnson anymore and look to becoming more like Jamie Moyer. Using an arsenal of pitches rather than overpowering them with a fastball. During the offseason if Dipoto does any trades (I’m sure he will) he needs to be more discerning on what exactly he’s trading away. You don’t think the M’s couldn’t have used Mark Trumbo and his 47HRs or Brad Miller and his 30? I can see letting them go but what the M’s got in return certainly didn’t match up. Still, I’m looking forward to next season. That’s 2 of the past 3 seasons the M’s have been in it until the end of the season. They’re close to getting over that hump.

    • art thiel

      I’m not sure that the Mariners don’t have five question marks in the rotation. They may be worse off than a year ago because of the declines of Felix and Kuma.

      • jafabian

        I agree however if Karns, Paxton and Walker continue to progress they could push Felix and Kuma a notch down in the rotation. However that’s a big if. The question is are the Mariners willing to take that risk with them next season? Or do they trade them?