The Oakland Athletics are looking to build some momentum going into the postseason.
Maybe the 10th inning Friday night will help.
Ramon Laureano doubled home the tying run with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, and Mark Canha followed with a two-run homer as the A’s defeated the visiting Seattle Mariners 3-1 in the opener of a four-game series that wraps up the regular season.
The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday, with the Mariners (25-32) the home team in one of the games because a three-game series Sept. 1-3 in Seattle was postponed because of a positive COVID-19 test in the A’s organization.
“We have a lot of guys that are clutch. Ramon’s one of those guys, and I consider myself one of those guys,” Canha said. “The moment’s never too big for us as a team. We have that kind of special ability to win in dramatic fashion. It’s a good thing to have.”
The A’s (35-22) moved past Minnesota in the chase for the second seed in the expanded American League playoffs.
Before Friday, the A’s were hitting .218 in 22 games this month. They didn’t exactly break out against the Mariners, failing to score in the first nine innings.
“You give us a chance late and we’ve shown that we can win games like that here at home,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s a little different on the road when you don’t have the last at-bat.”
It was the sixth walk-off victory of the season for the A’s, who are 21-8 at the Coliseum.
A’s hitting coach Darren Bush said the team’s problems at the plate stem from “a lot of indecision.”
“Guys want to have success and are being a little indecisive and passive, which makes you miss pitches,” Bush said. “Then you try to get a little aggressive by expanding the zone and miss pitches you should hit. …
“We just talk about picking a zone and staying in that zone to look for the pitch you want to hit instead of going up there trying to find the baseball. Get up there, have a plan and stick to your plan. Fight to get that pitch,” Bush said.
Coming into the series, the A’s had been held to six hits or fewer in 10 of 11 games. They finished with nine Friday, including the two in extra innings.
“We’re one out away from walking off there with a big W on the road,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Give Oakland credit. They’ve won a few games like that this year, and they’ve got outstanding pitching. They really shut us down offensively.”
The Mariners are scheduled to send left-hander Justus Sheffield (4-3, 3.75 ERA) and right-hander Justin Dunn (3-1, 4.20 ERA), to the mound for Saturday’s doubleheader.
Sheffield faced the A’s on Aug. 3 and took the loss when he surrendered four runs and four hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. In two starts in his career against Oakland, Sheffield is 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA.
Dunn has not gone up against the Athletics this season but made one start against them in 2019, striking out three and walking one in two scoreless innings.
The A’s will counter with left-hander Mike Minor (1-6, 5.92) and right-hander Paul Blackburn, who will be making his first appearance of the season.
Minor got his lone victory of the season Sept. 14 at Seattle, when he pitched a seven-inning shutout in a doubleheader. He allowed two hits and struck out eight. Minor is 5-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 15 appearances against the Mariners, including 12 starts.
The 26-year-old Blackburn has made 17 starts among his 20 appearances in three seasons with Oakland. He is 5-6 with a 5.18 ERA. In his one appearance against Seattle, a start in 2017, he picked up a win by going 7 2/3 innings, allowing one run on eight hits with one walk.
–Field Level Media