OAKLAND — They walked off the field quickly, refusing to watch the scene unfold. No, the Seattle Mariners had seen this type of celebration far too often this season, and it only gets more infuriating with each disappointment
Brandon Moss blasted a solo home run to center field off reliever Carter Capps with one out in the bottom of ninth to give the Oakland Athletics a 2-1 walk-off victory Monday night.
Even in cavernous O.co Coliseum, the ball just kept carrying.
“I watched it about four or five times already and felt like I executed the pitch pretty good,” Capps said of the 96 mph fastball he fired to Moss with a 2-1 count. “I was trying to throw a strike low and away, and I did. He just got to it. It’s kind of how my season’s been going, it seems like.”
It’s also how the season’s been going for Seattle. It was the 10th time the Mariners suffered through the frustration of losing on the last at-bat of a game. That’s among the most in the major leagues. And they fell to 10 games under .500 at 57-67.
And while the highlights will show Moss’ ball clearing the fence while center fielder Dustin Ackley could only helplessly watch, followed by Moss leaping into mass of teammates at home plate followed by all jumping up and down in celebration, the Mariners lost the game earlier. It was in the seventh and eighth innings when they failed to execute two of simplest of baseball fundamentals – the slide and the sacrifice fly.
After being stymied by Oakland starting pitcher Jarrod Parker for most of the night and trailing 1-0 after the fourth inning, the Mariners finally broke through in the seventh.
Nick Franklin singled to right field and scooted into second when Josh Reddick bobbled the ball as he was fielding it. Kyle Seager moved Franklin to third with a ground ball to first.
Kendrys Morales followed with a single into center to easily score Franklin and tie the game at 1-1.
Later, with two outs and Morales running on contact, Justin Smoak hammered a ball through the right side for a sharp single. Morales took off with every intention of going from first to third. The ball was far enough into the corner that it seemed like an easy play to make, even though Reddick has one of the best arms in baseball.
Inexplicably after rounding second, Morales looked back to see where the ball was and slowed up. Reddick then fired a laser of a throw to third. Morales was stunned when Josh Donaldson fielded the ball and tagged him out a few feet from the bag without a slide.
“I was yelling, ‘Get down! Get down! Get down!’ ” third base coach Daren Brown said. “He obviously didn’t think Reddick would come up throwing. He didn’t slide, and we saw what happened.”
For some reason, Morales felt the urge to peak over his shoulder.
“I just looked back and looked at the throw, that’s when I slowed down a little bit,” Morales said through translator Jaime Navarro. “I didn’t realize it. I didn’t know he was going to have a chance to throw to third. I was surprised about it.”
Acting manager Robby Thompson said Morales apologized to teammates in the dugout right after.
“He had a lock-up,” Thompson said. “He said it was his fault. It was a baserunning blunder which we can’t have.”
Brown thought the result could have been much different.
“When you look back, if he slides then whatever happens you’re OK with,” Brown said.
But as bad as Morales’ mistake was at third, there was no guarantee he would score with two outs.
The failures of the eighth inning were more egregious.
Michael Saunders singled off Parker to lead off the inning. Thompson had Dustin Ackley bunt to get Saunders into scoring position. It worked better than expected because Parker fielded the bunt and tossed it past Moss at first base. Saunders advanced all the way to third on the play.
With runners on first and third and no outs, the Mariners needed a fly ball or a grounder through to take the lead. It didn’t happen. Humberto Quintero struck out swinging. Brad Miller swung at a fastball up in the zone on the first pitch, popping out to third. And Nick Franklin struck out swinging to end the inning.
“We had three chances and felt pretty good about it,” Thompson said. “We had to push that run across in that inning and obviously we didn’t get the job done.”
That failure loomed large. Charlie Furbush pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth. But Capps couldn’t make it out of the ninth.
It all overshadowed a very nice start from Aaron Harang.
The veteran right-hander, who struggled in his previous four starts, pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
“A very nice outing for him,” Thompson said. “Too bad it was spoiled at the end.”
Harang hopes his chances will continue. He made some mechanical changes with pitching coach Carl Willis over a week ago, and believes the results are starting to show.ryan.divish@ thenewstribune.com 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish