SEATTLE — If I-5 traffic slowed you down, or if you were late turning on your TV or radio, you likely missed all the action. At least the kind that involved players crossing home plate.
Neither Oakland nor Seattle had much to brag about offensively Saturday night, but the Athletics outlasted a quiet Mariners attack for a 3-1 victory in front of 22,061 spectators. All four runs were scored in the first three innings, including three in the first inning.
The Mariners’ overall lack of production — they didn’t score after the first inning — left little margin for error for starter Erasmo Ramirez.
Ramirez fought his control all night. At one point in the third inning he had thrown more balls than strikes, and the crowd sarcastically cheered following a strike after watching Ramirez walk two consecutive hitters that inning.
He gave up a leadoff single to Coco Crisp to start the game, and Josh Donaldson made Ramirez pay by ripping a two-run homer that put the A’s in front 2-0.
From there, Ramirez found himself in and out of jams. He allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in all five innings he pitched, but he gave up just one more run. That came in the third inning, when he walked the first two batters he faced and Brandon Moss drove in a run on a strange sequence.
With runners on first and third, Moss hit a fly ball to left-center field. Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley chased the ball down and appeared to make a diving catch. But upon the transfer of the ball out of his glove, he dropped it and Moss was given a single and an RBI.
Except Moss had run past Donaldson, who was on first base, and was therefore was ruled out.
It was one of two such plays where Ackley made a catch initially only to drop the ball on the exchange. The other time, in the sixth inning, also resulted in an out when Yoenis Cespedes stopped running to first and was thrown out after it appeared Ackley caught his line drive.
Ramirez was able to escape the third inning having given up only that one run despite allowing two walks and two hits. The reality is it could have been worse — maybe even a lot worse — for Ramirez.
He turned the ball over to the bullpen after giving up three runs in five innings and the Mariners were still within striking distance. Dominic Leone and Joe Beimel kept it that way by working two scoreless innings apiece.
Seattle’s bullpen entered the night ranked sixth in the major leagues in ERA.
The problem was that the pitching staff didn’t get much assistance, the second time in three games that’s been the case.
Things started off well enough. Abraham Almonte led off the first with a single, and Brad Miller followed with a single. A Robinson Cano ground out drove in Almonte and cut Oakland’s lead to 2-1.
After that came mostly offensive silence. At one point, Oakland starter Sonny Gray retired 10 consecutive batters, and the Mariners never really hit the ball hard off Gray.
The few scoring threats the Mariners did have went unfulfilled.
In the fourth inning, Ackley had two runners on with two outs, but he struck out to end the inning. In the sixth inning, Cano advanced to second base with one out, but Justin Smoak struck out and Kyle Seager flied out. And in the seventh, the Mariners had first and third with one out, but Almonte struck out.
In all, Gray struck out nine Mariners in seven innings and gave up only five hits.
The Mariners had one final chance in the ninth inning. Willie Bloomquist pinch-hit for Logan Morrison and singled up the middle with one out off A’s reliever Luke Gregerson. Ackley then followed with a single up the middle.
But Michael Saunders struck out and John Buck grounded out to end the game.