The frustrations that have plagued the Oakland Athletics over the years in Seattle manifested themselves once again on Thursday night, with loud contact throughout the night going unrewarded in a 4-1 loss to the host Mariners.
A series of warning track flyouts yielded no results against spot starter Wade LeBlanc, who managed to get through four scoreless innings and took advantage of what was a large strike zone for both teams, and Oakland (15-16) managed little more against the Seattle bullpen. Stephen Piscotty did put the A’s on the board with his second home run of the year — a solo shot off Chasen Bradford in the fifth inning — but that was the only damage done against Bradford, who pitched three innings in relief and got the win.
On the other end, A’s starter Sean Manaea was knocked from his pedestal atop the American League ERA leaderboard, with the big blow coming off the bat of Nelson Cruz, whose two-run homer gave Seattle (18-12) a 4-0 advantage in the bottom of the third. Robinson Cano drove in the other two runs, knocking in Dee Gordon with singles in both the first and third.
Gordon led off the first with an infield hit, stole second and advanced to third on a Jean Segura sacrifice bunt before Cano brought him in with an opposite-field knock. In the third, a Gordon pop-up fell out of Piscotty’s range for a double, and he was once again bunted to third by Segura before Cano brought him home.
Manaea did give up four runs over his six innings, but needed just 84 pitches and finished the night on a high note, striking out both Ryon Healy and Mike Zunino with men on second and third. He struck out five and did not allow a walk, but the homer by Cruz meant he would take his third loss on the young season despite an ERA of just 1.63.
Lou Trivino and Santiago Casilla each pitched scoreless innings out of the Athletics bullpen, but the bats couldn’t answer against Juan Nicasio and Edwin Diaz, who each pitched for a third consecutive night and made up for their struggles on Wednesday. Nicasio worked around a one-out double by Jonathan Lucroy by striking out Marcus Semien and Mark Canha, while Diaz used a double play after Jed Lowrie’s leadoff single.
The A’s will return home for three games against the Baltimore Orioles, followed by three with the Houston Astros.