BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Their AL West championship secure, the Athletics playoff seeding and confidence both took a blow heading into the postseason Saturday afternoon in the form of an ugly doubleheader loss to Seattle at the Coliseum.
The losses all but assured the A’s of a third seed and a date with the Houston Astros in the upcoming best of three wild-card series scheduled to begin in Oakland on Tuesday.
The A’s got a fine pitching performance from recent acquisition Mike Minor in the opener, but a rare collapse from the usually highly reliable Liam Hendricks (3-1, 1.78) in the eighth inning of the truncated game led to a 5-1 Mariners victory.
Hendricks pitched a perfect seventh, but with Dee Gordon starting the eighth at second base as the automatic runner, Oakland’s closer gave up an inning opening sacrifice that moved Gordon to third before allowing a pair of singles that were sandwiched by a J.P. Crawford stolen base to give Seattle a 3-1 lead. Lou Trivino then came on and gave up a two run home run to Kyle Seager for the final margin.
Minor only allowed the one run on five hits while striking out seven in five innings, but the A’s bats were relatively silent with the exception of a Mark Canah double and Tommy LaStella triple. The A’s bats have picked a bad time to go cold, scoring just 18 runs in the past seven games as the team has gone 2-5. Oakland wound up going just 2-16 with runners in scoring position in the two games.
But it would be in the night cap where the wheels really fell off for Oakland in a 12-3 loss. Right-hander Paul Blackburn (0-1, 27.00), in his first start of the season, started strong, retiring the first seven Mariners of the game. He would not record another out as Seattle ended up sending 13 men to the plate on the way to an eight-run inning that gave them an insurmountable 8-1 lead. The A’s Robbie Grossman hit a pair of solo homers against Mariners starter Justin Dunn (3-1, 4.34) on the way to a three hit game, but Oakland could only muster one other extra base hit in the game.
Seattle’s J.P.Crawford had five hits and four RBI’s in the doubleheader while Kyle Seager homered in both games.
The two teams return to the field tomorrow for an early 12:10pm finale to the regular season that will see Seattle send Marco Gonzalez (7-2, 3.06) to the mound to face the A’s struggling Frankie Montas (3-5, 6.32).
The doubleheader was Oakland’s fifth of the season and fourth in the last 19 days. It’s the most doubleheaders the A’s have had since also playing five in the 1986 season.
The loss in the first game snapped a streak of seven consecutive wins for the A’s in extra innings, their longest since the 2004 season.