Tony Gwynn: Wild AL West up for grabs
SEATTLE (AP)—This wasn’t the first time Dan Haren didn’t feel very good warming up in the bullpen.
Unlike previous episodes, Haren’s struggles with control followed the Oakland right-hander to the mound. Fortunately, his offense provided some early support, giving Haren time to find a groove and continue Oakland’s remarkable dominance of Seattle.
Haren pitched seven strong innings, leading the A’s to a 5-2 win over Seattle on Saturday afternoon, Oakland’s 11th straight victory over the Mariners.
The win streak is now tied for the second longest in Oakland history against one team, matching an 11-game stretch against the Chicago White Sox in 1970. The A’s won 16 straight games against the New York Yankees from September 1989 to May 1991.
Oakland is now 11-1 against Seattle this year and dropped the Mariners 5 1/2 games back in the AL West.
“Sometimes I fight myself,” Haren said. “I just felt a little off, but we got some runs and I just told myself to be aggressive and then settled in and threw more the way I like to throw there at the end.”
Haren’s performance allowed the A’s to overcome leaving a season-high 16 runners on base. It was one short of the Oakland franchise record of 17 set on Sept. 18, 1982 against the White Sox.
Leaving men on base was frustrating for the A’s offense, ranked last in the majors in hitting. At the same time, Oakland scored four of its five runs with two outs, and eight of its 10 runs in the series have come with two-out.
“These are the type of games that normally come back to bite you,” said Frank Thomas, who had three hits and was on base five times. “We just keep fighting right now. Guys are playing hard and we’re finding ways to win.”
Haren (9-9) continued his own streak, winning his third straight decision and besting Seattle for the second time this year. The right-hander has worked at least seven innings in his last three starts, and allowed only four hits while striking out seven on Saturday.
Haren was rarely hit hard, and made just one mistake when Adrian Beltre hit a two-run homer just beyond the wall in left in the third inning. Haren retired the last 12 batters he faced and struck out the side in the sixth on only 10 pitches.
“Anytime Street comes in with a lead I think it’s over. When he gives it up it’s a fluke to me,” Haren said.
Seattle starter Joel Pineiro struggled yet again and made Oakland’s offense look quite potent in his 2 2-3 innings on the mound.
Milton Bradley hit a pair of doubles in his first two at-bats and the A’s batted around in the second, scoring three times.
Pineiro (7-9) was miserable, failing to last three innings for the second time since July 1, and watching his ERA against Oakland climb to 8.70 in four outings. He allowed eight hits, four runs and walked three.
“Typical Pineiro start, I guess—go out there, get hit, walk a lot of people,” Pineiro said. “My last two starts have been good. I had a bad one today when I tried to come out and get the team out of its slump against Oakland. It didn’t work.”
Bradley scored in the first on Thomas’ two-out single, then Bradley drove home Jason Kendall in the second, lining a hanging curve ball down the right field line for his second double.
“It seems like we’ve been gaining confidence with that,” Thomas said of Oakland’s two-out hitting. “The first of the year, we were awful with it, but baseball is a long season, you’re going to have those spells of not getting it done and the run into those hot spells and get it done all the time.”
Beltre’s homer was his 11th of the season, but was all the offense Seattle could produce. The Mariners didn’t have a hit after the third inning.
“We haven’t been consistent with our hitting and our pitching today was inconsistent,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said.
Oakland 3B Eric Chavez had a 65-game errorless streak snapped in the third when he misplayed Richie Sexson’s grounder. He’s made three errors this season. … Kotsay’s single in the second extended his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest streak by an Oakland player this season. … RF Ichiro Suzuki entered Saturday hitting . 400 against Haren, but went 0-for-4 and has just two hits in his last five games.