Slams by Suzuki and Johnson keep Mariners sinking as A’s win 9-3
SEATTLE (AP)—The Seattle Mariners’ historical slide reached a new low— permitting something that had happened only one other time in 106 years.
It was the second time in their 106-year history the Athletics had two slams in one game. Oakland had only three in their first 144 games this season.
“We love home runs,” said manager Bob Geren, whose team won for just the second time in six games on its road trip. “Two of them for eight runs? You can’t do much better than that.”
Mariners starter Horacio Ramirez allowed five runs in 1 2-3 innings as Seattle lost for the 14th time in 16 games, among the worst falls by a contending team in September over the last half-century.
The Mariners are 5 1/2 games behind the wild card-leading New York Yankees and 8 1/2 behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West with 20 games remaining. On Aug. 26, they were leading the wild-card race by two games and were just one game behind the Angels.
“As long as there is a possibility, you always work for the playoffs,” All-Star Ichiro Suzuki said through an interpreter.
Asked what can be done that hasn’t been tried, Suzuki said “nothing.”
Rookie manager John McLaren stepped over ice cubes strewn across a carpeted hallway inside the silent Mariners clubhouse and then paused for a moment when asked what’s left to do.
“Pitch a little better. Maybe hit a little better,” McLaren said, glumly. “It’s easy to get down, but the guys care. To a man, they’re not happy right now.”
Suzuki, who grounded into just his sixth double play in 640 plate appearances to end the third inning, was asked what is the difference from the Mariners of two weeks ago to now. The franchise cornerstone glared with his arms folded across his chest and said through an interpreter, “Look at the box scores.”
This one showed Joe Blanton (13-9) allowing two runs and eight hits over seven innings. He won for the fifth time in six decisions—but for the first time in four starts against Seattle.
Huston Street got the final four outs for his 13th save in 17 chances. Rookie Daric Barton, a 21-year-old called up from Triple-A Sacramento by Oakland on Monday to start at first base for the rest of the season, walked twice, doubled in the sixth for his first major-league hit and singled in the eighth.
“A great debut from a guy we’ve all heard a lot about,” Geren said of Barton, who dressed quickly and ran out to meet his waiting family.
Ramirez (7-6) was as bad as the Mariners needed him to be good—which about summarizes his first season with them.
In the second, Ramirez gave up a single to Mark Ellis and walked Johnson— who was batting .163 since July 3. Then Jack Hannahan, 3-for-16 (.188) on the road trip and a minor leaguer until last month, singled home Ellis.
Ramirez walked Barton on a full count to load the bases. Kurt Suzuki, the No. 9 hitter, drove Ramirez’s second pitch off a cement wall deep in the A’s bullpen. That put Oakland ahead 5-0.
“When I do get one, I’m not sure if it’s gone,” Suzuki said.
After an out and another single, McLaren walked briskly to the mound, stared past Ramirez into the bullpen and summoned rookie Ryan Feierabend. McLaren extended his left arm to get the ball from Ramirez without saying a word and without making eye contact. Ramirez trudged off to loud boos.
“I was walking off the mound. I wasn’t noticing,” a frustrated Ramirez said of McLaren’s steely glare.
Feierabend pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out five. McLaren hinted he may have earned a start—perhaps for Ramirez.
Ramirez’s ERA climbed to 6.80 by allowing at least five runs for the seventh time in 19 starts. He has won just once in the last 30 days, a span of six starts. His wins are largely because his hitters were giving him an average of 7.19 runs per start—the fourth-best support in the AL—until they met Blanton on Monday.
The A’s pulled Barton, who was acquired from St. Louis in the trade of LHP Mark Mulder in December 2004, out of the PCL championship series so he could get a true test against contenders Seattle, Cleveland, Boston and the Angels over the last 18 games. Barton hit four home runs in a five-game playoff series with Sacramento that ended Sunday. … Guillen was hit by a pitch in the fifth, his team-record 18th time this season.