The Oakland Athletics, playing the kind of game the Seattle Mariners wish they had in their arsenal, swept a three-game series at Safeco Field with a 4-2 victory Sunday - outscoring Seattle 16-4 overall.
“Timely hits,” John Jaso said. “They had – what? – three three-run homers in this series? They had good at-bats with men on base.”
And now, Seattle heads out on a six-game trip through Toronto and Texas – two teams that have always given the Mariners trouble.
“This is what September baseball is about,” manager Eric Wedge said. “You’re playing teams fighting for something, and you’ve got to play at a high level if you’re going to win.”
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Jason Vargas, working for his 15th win, had the Athletics scoreless through 4 2/3 innings but couldn’t close the fifth inning out.
With two outs, No. 9 hitter Adam Rosales singled.
“I’ve got to stop him from extending the inning right there,” Vargas said. “That’s the at-bat that upsets me.”
Coco Crisp singled Rosales to second base, which brought up Jonny Gomes, who had faced Vargas 10 times in their careers – and gone 0-for-10.
“He's one of those left-handers who gives me a headache,” Gomes said. “But I was able to lock it in with men in scoring position. I was going to take the first two pitches, but I was able to jump on the first strike he threw.”
Vargas worked the count to 1-1, then threw a fastball in and up.
“I wanted to throw it above his hands, above his bat, but he stayed right on it and hit the upper deck façade,” Vargas said.
The home run was the 16th of the season for Gomes and was what Wedge likes to call ‘a game changer.’
“It’s tough when the offense doesn’t loosen up,” Wedge said. “We’re getting our hits, but we’re not doing damage with them. Michael Saunders came through for us with a two-out triple that got a run home, but you need multiple guys doing that.
“Somebody’s got to come through with men on base,”
The Mariners didn't, going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners two runs were the result of extra-base hits, but not with the best of timing.
In their half of the fifth, Alex Liddi led off with a single, stole second base and watched Brendan Ryan pop up and Franklin Gutierrrez fly out. Saunders them lined a ball down the right field line to score Liddi – and kept running until he was at third base.
That made it 3-1, and brought up Jesus Montero – Seattle’s hottest hitter – with two outs and a man on third base.
Montero struck out.
Kyle Seager hit his team-leading 17th home run leading off the sixth inning to make it 3-2. It was all the Mariners offense could produce.
“I led off the ninth inning with a double and we didn’t score, but timely hitting doesn’t have to come in the bottom of the ninth inning," Jaso said. "For Oakland today, it came in the fifth inning.”