By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
OAKLAND — They walked off the field quickly, refusing to watch the scene unfold.
The Seattle Mariners have seen this type celebration far too many times this season — nine times to be exact — and it only gets more infuriating with each disappointment
Brandon Moss blasted a solo home run to center field off reliever Carter Capps with one out in the bottom of ninth to give the Oakland A’s a 2-1 walk-off victory on Monday night.
Even in the cavernous O.co Coliseum, the ball just kept carrying out to center field.
“I watched it about four or five times already and felt like I executed the pitch pretty good,” Capps of the 96 mph fastball he fired to Moss with a 2-1 count. “I was trying to throw a strike low and away, and I did. He just got to it. It’s kind of how my season’s been going it seems like.”
It’s also how the season’s been going for Seattle. It was 10th time the Mariners suffered through the frustration of losing on the last at-bat of the game. It’s among the most in the major leagues. And they fell to 10 games under .500 at 57-67.
And while the highlights will show Moss’ ball clearing the fence while center fielder Dustin Ackley could only helplessly watch, followed by Moss leaping into mass of teammates at home plate followed by all jumping up and down in hysterics, the Mariners lost the game in the seventh and eighth inning with failures to execute two of simplest of baseball fundamentals — the slide and sacrifice fly.
After being stymied by Oakland starting pitcher Jarrod Parker for most of the night and trailing 1-0 after the fourth inning, the Mariners finally broke through in the seventh.
Nick Franklin singled to right field and scooted into second when right fielder Josh Reddick bobbled the ball as he was fielding it. Kyle Seager moved Franklin to third with a ground ball to first.
Kendrys Morales followed with a single into center to score Franklin and tie the score at 1-1.
Later with two outs and Morales running on contact, Justin Smoak hammered a ball through the right side for a sharp single. Morales took off with every intention of going from first to third. It seemed like an easy play to make even though Reddick has one of the best arms in baseball.
Inexplicably after rounding second, Morales looked back to see where the ball was and slowed up. Reddick then fired a laser of a throw to third. Morales, still not running at top speed, which is far from fast, was stunned as Josh Donaldson fielded the ball and tagged him out a few feet from the bag without sliding.
“I was yelling, ‘get down, get down, get down,’” M’s third base coach Daren Brown said. “He obviously didn’t think Reddick would come up throwing. He didn’t slide and we saw what happened.”
Morales knew he was going to third immediately, but for some reason felt the urge to peak over his shoulder.
“I just looked back and looked at the throw, that’s when I slowed down a little bit,” Morales said through translator Jaime Navarro. “I didn’t realize it. I didn’t know he was going to have a chance to throw to third. I was surprised about it.”
Thompson said Morales apologized to teammates in the dugout.
“He had a lock-up,” Thompson said. “He said it was his fault, ‘my bad and I should have been sliding.’ It was a mistake on his part. It was a base-running blunder which we can’t have.”
Brown believes the result could have been much different.
“When you look back, if he slides then whatever happens you’re okay with,” Brown said.
And if he didn’t slow up?
“I think he makes it,” Brown said. “I saw him turn around and look, thinking he was going to throw it to second. He didn’t.”
But as bad as Morales’ mistake was at third, there was no guarantee he scores with two outs.
The failures of the eighth inning were more egregious.
Michael Saunders singled off Parker to lead off the inning. Thompson had Dustin Ackley sacrifice bunt to get Saunders into scoring position. It worked better than expected as Parker fielded the bunt and tossed it by Moss at first base. Saunders advanced all the way to third on the error.
With runners on first and third and no outs, the Mariners needed a fly ball or a ground ball through the infield to take the lead. It didn’t happen. Humberto Quintero struck out swinging. Brad Miller swung at a fastball up in the zone on the first pitch, popping out to third. And Nick Franklin struck out swinging to end the inning.
“We had three chances and felt pretty good about it,” Thompson said. “We had to push that run across in that inning and obviously we didn’t get the job done.”
That failure loomed large. Charlie Furbush pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth. But Capps couldn’t make it out of the ninth.
It all overshadowed a very nice start from Aaron Harang.
The veteran right-hander who struggled in his four starts, pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
“A very nice outing for him,” Thompson said. “Too bad it was spoiled at the end.”
Harang hopes they will continue. He made some mechanical changes with pitching coach Carl Willis over a week ago, and believes the results are starting to show.
“I felt good,” he said. “The curveball was big for me today. Early on I was throwing a lot of changeups and then I was able to start mixing (the curve) in there too.”
Parker (9-6) pitched all nine innings, giving up the one run on eight hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.