Mariners Insider Blog

Athletics 3, Mariners 2: Season concludes in a spring-like atmosphere

The King and his Court one final time in 2016.
The King and his Court one final time in 2016. AP

If you’ve never been to spring training, Sunday’s regular-season finale at Safeco Field offered a reasonable facsimile. Felix Hernandez pitched just three innings. Nelson Cruz and other regulars didn’t play.

Et cetera.

For the record: Oakland scored three runs against Hernandez and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Mariners in front of a crowd of 24,856 on a pleasantly cool afternoon.

And the game chugged along in stark contrast to Saturday night’s roller-coaster thriller, when the Mariners, still alive in the postseason chase, erased a series of deficits before succumbing 9-8 to the A’s in 10 innings.

That loss ended the Mariners’ postseason hopes and framed Sunday’s game in a March-like sense of urgency.

"They asked me if I wanted to pitch today," Hernandez said. "I said, `You know what? I’m going to go out there for the fans, but I’m not going to be in there for long.’"

Hernandez (11-8) gave up three runs and four hits while throwing 47 pitches in closing out a disappointing injury-interrupted season. He finished with a 3.82 ERA; his highest since he finished 2007 at 3.92.

His career mark entering the season was 3.11. Not surprisingly, perhaps, he is already planning a more-rigorous winter conditioning program.

"I was disappointed, for sure," Hernandez admitted. "I’m the guy who always wants to throw 200 innings and win the most games that I can and get the most strikeouts that I can. It happens.

"I’ve just got to forget about this and be ready for next year."

That’s true, pretty much, for everyone.

Sunday’s game was more notable, from a Mariners’ perspective, for what didn’t happen.

Robinson Cano entered the game with a .299 average and in quest of reaching .300. He served as the designated hitter in place of Cruz but went hitless in three at-bats and finished at .298.

Third baseman Kyle Seager has been stuck on 99 RBIs since his three-run homer Wednesday capped a 12-4 romp at Houston in the Mariners’ final road game. He finished with 99 RBIs.

As for the Mariners, the loss meant they finished the season at 86-76, which represented 10-victory improvement over 2015 but nonetheless extended their postseason drought to 15 years.

"It’s a good example for everyone here," Cano said. "Everyone has a feeling that we can make it, but we didn’t make it.

"Now everyone has to go home and prepare themselves not just to play 162 games but make it to the playoffs."

Oakland lefty Sean Manaea (7-9) limited the Mariners to two runs in six innings before the last-place Athletics (69-93) closed out their victory with a bullpen relay of Liam Hendriks, Daniel Coulombe and John Axford.

"We certainly didn’t have a whole lot of wind in our sails," manager Scott Servais said. "(Saturday) night and the run that we’ve been on, it took a lot out of everybody physically and emotionally."

Stephen Vogt jumped a first-pitch curve from Hernandez for a two-out homer in the first inning.

Oakland extended its lead to 3-0 after Matt Olson’s leadoff double in the third inning. Olson scored on Marcus Semien’s one-out line single to center.

Semien went to second on the throw home and scored on pinch-hitter Chad Pinder’s two-out ground single into center. Pinder batted for Vogt.

Hernandez finished the inning, but that was it. Pat Venditte replaced the King to start the fourth.

The Mariners did little against Manaea through four innings but broke through with two runs in the fifth.

Dae-Ho Lee led off with a single. Ben Gamel followed with a double that hopped the center-field wall. Manaea retired the next two hitters, but Guillermo Heredia grounded a two-run double past third base.

That was it, though.

Afterward, the Mariners were left to wonder what might have been.

"We fought to the end," Cano said, "but this is life, and that’s baseball. You’ve got to be ready when you win and ready when you lose. Now, there’s nothing else you can do.

"Just go home and be ready to come back next year and win the division. You don’t want to have to wait for some other team to lose."

PLAY OF THE GAME: Third baseman Kyle Seager recorded the Mariners’ final defensive out of the year by battling the sun on a foul pop by Matt Olson near the Oakland dugout in the ninth inning.

PLUS: Guillermo Heredia started in center field for the first time and went 2-for-4 as the leadoff hitter…rookie reliever Dan Altavilla worked a one-two-three ninth inning with two strikeouts. He gave up only one run in 12 1/3 innings over 15 appearances following his Aug. 27 promotion from Double-A Jackson…utilityman Mike Freeman started at second base in place of Robinson Cano and had two hits in three at-bats.

MINUS: Kyle Seager made a final bid for 100 RBIs when he sent a deep one-out drive to right field in the ninth inning. Matt Olson made a leaping catch at the wall that snatched back a game-tying home run…catcher Chris Iannetta played for the first time since Sept. 20 and went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and a walk. He batted .159 (18-for-113) from June 21 through the end of the season…the Mariners were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

STAT PACK: The two strikeouts by Dan Altavilla in the ninth inning enabled the Mariners to tie and then break their franchise single-season record. They finished with 1,318. The previous record was 1,317 in 2014.

QUOTABLE: "I don’t know the exact number," general manager Jerry Dipoto said, "but we have played about 1,000 games as an organization, and today will be the first one that doesn’t mean anything."

The exact number is 966. (Close enough)

All seven of the Mariners’ minor-league affiliates reached postseason, and the big-league club wasn’t eliminated until game 161 in a 162-game season.

SHORT HOPS: Nelson Cruz got the day off because of his sore wrist, and second baseman Robinson Cano served as the designated hitter…the Mariners finished second in the American League West Division for the first time since 2007. They haven’t won the division since 2001…the Mariners led the majors with 60 one-run games. They went 30-30…the Mariners finished 38-38 against American League West Division opponents.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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