SEATTLE — If you spent Saturday anywhere near the Sound, you know it was a beautiful night at Safeco Field.
It wasn’t just the weather, though.
Finally, in their 30th game of the season, the Seattle Mariners enjoyed, pretty much, a stress-free cruise in a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
It marked the first time this season the Mariners won a game by more than three runs. And, hey, they had only two three-run victories before Saturday. Plus, they had only lost two games by more than three runs.
So this was different.
“To have a five-run lead in the late innings is really nice,” said Dustin Ackley, who blunted Oakland’s only threat comeback threat with a diving catch in the eighth inning.
“It’s been a lot of taxing innings on our bullpen — tie games, down a run or up a run. We’ve needed one of these games and were able to control it.”
What stopped the nail-biting for at least one night? Oakland committed four errors for the first time since Aug. 22, 2012.
“I think that’s the first time all year,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “when we’ve had the opportunity to take advantage of errors. That’s not indicative of the team in the other dugout.
“Certainly, you’ve got to take advantage when it happens.”
The Mariners jumped out early by scoring twice in the first inning. They got three hits from Robinson Cano, who shows increasing signs of finding his form. Nelson Cruz got his league-leading 27th RBI. (VIDEO LINK)
OK, it wasn’t entirely stress-free.
The Athletics, down 6-1, stirred to life in the eighth inning against Danny Farquhar, who gave up a leadoff homer to Mark Canha, a 409-foot drive to left field.
Max Muncy followed with a pinch single. After Josh Phegley flied to left, Billy Burns singled off Farquhar’s glove. That was enough of Farquhar; the Mariners brought in Charlie Furbush.
Order restored. Furbush struck out Eric Sogard and then ended the inning when Ackley, who had just shifted from center to left, made a diving catch on Coco Crisp’s sinking liner.
“Sometimes, balls like that can go in the lights,” Ackley said. “And that one, unfortunately, did for the latter part of it. I got to see it the last 5 or 10 feet that it fell, and I was able to get a glove under it.”
Mariners starter J.A. Happ (3-1) lasted just five innings (VIDEO LINK) and labored on occasions while throwing 93 pitches, but he limited the Athletics to one run.
“I still felt strong,” he said, “but I didn’t have my stuff. The (throwing) error (in the second), and then a couple of walks (that led to a run in the fifth). I was kind of battling to try to minimize the damage.”
Mark Lowe inherited a 5-1 worked around a pair of two-out singles in a scoreless sixth inning. Tom Wilhelmsen pitched a one-two seventh, with two strikeouts, in his first action since April 10.
“Like I said, everything was feeling good,” Wilhelmsen said in regard to his hyperextended right elbow. “My mind-set never left. I just picked up right where I left off. It felt like yesterday.”
After Furbush and Ackley bailed out Farquhar, the Mariners countered with a run in their eighth (on a run-scoring wild pitch) before Joe Beimel closed out the victory.
It was victory No. 100 for McClendon as the club’s manager. While he minimized the achievement, his players insisted on a postgame beer shower in the clubhouse.
“It’s a milestone,” Cruz said. “We see it that way.”
The Mariners will hand the ball to Felix Hernandez on Sunday afternoon in an effort to sweep the three-game series amid a growing feeling that, just maybe, they are beginning to jell.
“I feel we’ve got a great team and the best in the division,” first baseman Logan Morrison said. “We’ve just got to keep going. Stay healthy and keep going.”
Oakland starter Jesse Hahn (1-3) lasted one out into the sixth inning before exiting with runners at first and second. He gave up six runs (four earned) and eight hits.
Hahn had one of the A’s four errors, and it led to a run in the sixth inning. Another run scored on a double error by shortstop Marcus Semien in the first; two scored in the fifth on a bad throw by third baseman Brett Lawrie. (VIDEO LINK)
“You’re not going to win any games,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said, “making four errors.”
The Mariners took the gifts with appreciation after playing five straight one-run games and seven in their last eight.
“It was nice,” Cruz said. “It was warm, too. It was good.”
All good on this night.