Games 47-48, Athletics at Mariners: Nature vs. Baseball

marc w · September 14, 2020 at 12:56 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Game 1: Marco Gonzales vs. Jesus Luzardo, 1:10pm 2:10pm
Game 2: Walker Lockett/Jimmy Yacabonis vs. Mike Minor

The A’s are in town to face the M’s for two at T-Mobile Park, but there were worries earlier that Seattle’s smoky air might make playing the game – let alone two of them – too dangerous. The air yesterday cancelled the M’s taxi squad practices, and it doesn’t look appreciably better now. I’m in the south sound, where it has, blessedly, begun to rain. Hopefully that system heads north, as it might knock some particulates out of the air.

So, does anyone actually want the second AL West playoff spot? The Astros are in free fall, while the M’s arrested their slide by winning the final two games of their series in Arizona. Again, we’re seeing the impact of these imbalanced schedules, as the Astros have been playing actual good teams for the past few weeks – the A’s, the Dodgers – while the M’s really haven’t in some time. Sure, the sweep in San Francisco against a mediocre Giants team wasn’t great, but it at least happened when Oakland was taking care of the reeling Astros. The M’s are now about to face quality opposition for the first time in a while, and have another shot at meaningful late-season baseball.

It kicks off in game 1 with one of the better pitching match-ups we’ve seen in a while. The revamped, improved, clear ace-of-the-staff Marco Gonzales faces the A’s rookie lefty, Jesus Luzardo. Luzardo throws a very hard sinker at 96-97 with extreme armside run, a four-seamer with plenty of run and just shy of average rise at 97, and a very good high-80s change-up. He’s got a slider/curve thingy in the lower 80s as well, and that he throws a lot of to lefties and more rarely against righties.

He’s got as good an arsenal in terms of pure stuff as any youngster in the league, with the possible exceptions of Sixto Sanchez and Dustin May, but while he’s been good, he hasn’t dominated the way, say, Sanchez has. Part of it is so me slight HR trouble, and part is some bad results with runners in scoring position. But the biggest issue is platoon splits. Despite a good change, he’s not really dominating righties the way he could. Overall, he has good control, but it’s failed him slightly against righties, and all of his HR issues -100% of them – have come to righties.

1: Moore, SS
2: France, 2B
3: Lewis, CF
4: Seager, 3B
5: White, 1B
6: Torrens, C
7: Ervin, RF
8: Marmolejos, DH
9: Lopes, LF
SP: Gonzales

The M’s have been buoyed by the remarkable hot streak from Jose Marmolejos, the career MiLB guy who got a chance due to injuries, trades, and the implosion of Dan Vogelbach. He and Dylan Moore have carried an offense that’s seen Kyle Lewis endure his first real slump, and the reappearance of strikeout woes for Evan White, who has K’d 16 times in his last 40 at-bats over 11 games.

The M’s can potentially score some runs against Luzardo, but the strength of the A’s has been their untouchable bullpen, similar to recent years when guys from Blake Treinen to Liam Hendriks to Lou Trivino have put together great seasons.

The M’s recalled Tim Lopes and sent Aaron Fletcher down to Tacoma. The A’s have been busy on the transaction wire, too. The big blow was an injury that’s ended all-world 3B Matt Chapman’s season. To get some depth, they picked up ex-UW Husky Jake Lamb, whom I mentioned had been DFAd by Arizona back when the M’s opened their series against the snakes. They brought up long-time Brewers farmhand Nate Orf, but they’ll start recently-acquired Tommy LaStella at 3B in Game 1, with Tony Kemp sliding from the OF to 2B.

Game 2:

Can I just say, this is the strangest game to watch of any ball game I can remember. The OFs all masked up (thankfully) as they play through a thick wall of smoke/fog and an AQI in the 220s at game time. Yuck. As usual, the AQI is rising through the afternoon and into the evening, so that 220 a few hours ago is apparently right around 250. We’ll see if this game happens.

1: Moore, 2B
2: France, 3B
3: Lewis, CF
4: Seager, DH
5: White, 1B
6: Lopes, RF
7: Marmolejos, LF
8: Walton, SS
9: Odom, SS
SP: Yacabonis-and-then-Lockett

What an unbelievable win in Game 1. Down 5-0, the M’s pounced when Luzardo suddenly lost effectiveness, and then took the lead when the A’s seemingly didn’t want to put in their best relievers – using Joakim Soria instead of Jake Diekman. This is what their Covid scare does – they just played a DH a few days ago, have one today, and more on the horizon. They have to think about balancing their workload and can’t look at each game in isolation.

What a game for Tim Lopes, who’d been demoted earlier and mired in a bad slump, but three doubles in three at-bats did wonders for the M’s chances of winning as well as his own confidence. Not bad for the 29th man. Evan White, on the other hand…yeeesh. And that was easily Marco Gonzales’ worst game of the year, giving up two dingers, plunking two, and walking another. Just no command at all, but credit the team for coming back.

All of that said, for all the legitimate kudos the M’s deserve for the rally – I can’t quite believe this game happened. Luzardo’s already complained, somewhat obliquely, about it. I have no idea if it affected Marco Gonzales, but, uh…how could it not?

The M’s trot out the B-team line-up for game 2, including what looks to be a bullpen day on the mound. I don’t fault them for giving some guys a day off in this frankly dangerous air, but man, if the team wanted to win, they could start bringing up good players. (I know they won’t, and I know why, but…whatever).


2 Responses to “Games 47-48, Athletics at Mariners: Nature vs. Baseball”

  1. Stevemotivateir on September 14th, 2020 7:13 pm


  2. eponymous coward on September 15th, 2020 12:02 am

    Here’s something that blows my mind: the A’s might only play 6 games against a club over or at .500 or at this year (3 against the Padres, 3 against the Dodgers, if the Giants or Astros don’t come back over .500) before the playoffs…

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