This one’s gonna be a bit shorter tonight—probably, anyway—because it’s already past 1 a.m. as I’m starting this, thanks to the NHL playoffs for making me stay super late at work. But I think a game that was this exciting definitely deserves at least a few words. Honestly, do you think we wouldn’t write about a game in which our large adult son hit his first career big league home run? It wasn’t the decisive blow in the game, but it provided the Mariners some much-needed breathing room in their 7-4 win over the A’s on Friday night.
The game started out with a bang, and not the good kind, when Khris Davis smashed a two-run homer into right-center field with Jed Lowrie aboard to give the A’s an early two run lead. Luckily, A’s starter Andrew Triggs was in a generous mood, allowing three consecutive singles to Jean Segura, Robinson Cano, and Mitch Haniger to plate the Seattle’s first run. Kyle Seager followed it up with a laser beam double—his first of three hits on the night, though one really should have been ruled an error—to drive Robinson Cano in to tie the game.
That’s pretty much the way you have to score against Triggs, because he rarely allows hitters to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Triggs has allowed 0.98 HR/9 in his short career (or 15 dingers allowed in 137.1 innings pitched), well below the league average of 1.27. Of course, even that is well above his rate of 0.2 HR/9 allowed in the minors. No, that’s not a typo. Triggs allowed just seven home runs in 254 combined innings across the minors, which seems like some sort of glitch in baseball. Someone opened the command console and set his groundball rating to 110 out of 100, apparently. Luckily, they forgot to boost the rest of his attributes, so the Mariners were able to chase him after 5 innings.
Mike Leake pitched one more inning than Triggs, but wasn’t exactly stellar. Leake gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks, and two of those hits were unfortunately home runs. Two walks in six innings is fine, and four strikeouts are solid if unspectacular, but it’s his season numbers that are troubling to me. Through three starts, Leake has 9 walks and 8 strikeouts, and his ground ball rate of 41.7% is nearly 10% below his career rate. Not walking guys and keeping the ball on the ground have been big keys to Leake’s success, and he’s having trouble doing either of those things right now. Also concerning is the fact that opposing hitters are making contact on 89% of their swings against him, compared to a career mark of 84%. The good news is it’s only three starts, but the Mariners need Leake to be good. It’s something to keep an eye on.
The A’s used six relievers, after Triggs left the game, but the good news none of them are very good. Yusmeiro Petit got two quick outs before allowing Jean Segura to single, so Bob Melvin brought in his LOOGY, Danny Coulombe. Coulombe pulled a Rzepczynski, walking the one guy he was brought in to face before being lifted for righty Chris Hatcher. Haniger worked a 2-2 count before blasting a go-ahead three-run donger into the A’s bullpen.
Curiously, this is when Melvin decided to stop overmanaging his bullpen. Kyle Seager lined a single into left, bringing up our large adult son and our big brave boy bashed his first career home run to right field and gosh dang it we are just so heckin’ proud of our little man! The crazy thing, as you can see from the picture below, is that Vogelbach didn’t even barrel it up, and it still left the yard by plenty. Daniel, if you’re reading this—and we know you probably aren’t—I hope you don’t take this large adult son stuff too negatively…it’s just super fun for us as fans! I can see how it wouldn’t be fun to be referred to as a big brave boy, though I, for one, would love it if a large group of people thought that about me. But it’s probably because I’m a coward!
Juan Nicasio gave up a Khris Davis’ second home run of the night on an 86 MPH slider in the eighth inning. He entered the game throwing in the low 90s once again before dialing things up to the 93-95 range later in his appearance, much like he has all year. I’ll have to take a look at whether this has always been the case for him, or if this is just a 2018 thing. Either way, it’s getting both annoying and worrisome. If he’s hurt, they should put him on the DL. If it’s not, they need to find a way to have him enter games breathing fire from the get go. My previous theory that he needed more time to warm up seems less likely after today—he began warming up after Haniger’s blast, and had three more M’s batters as well as the break between innings. Whatever the reason, they have to figure it out.
After Davis’ home run, the rest of the game was fairly uneventful. Edwin Diaz didn’t have his best stuff or command, but it was more than enough to dispatch the A’s. Marco Gonzales goes against Kendall Graveman later tonight at 6:10 p.m. in the second game of the three game series. They better win it, because after that, Ariel Miranda is coming.