Athletics' Ken Waldichuk to build off encouraging outing vs. Mariners

Waldichuk to build off encouraging outing vs. Mariners originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Athletics' losing streak hit five games following a 2-1 walk-off loss to the Seattle Mariners on Friday at T-Mobile Park.

Seattle needed a win to clinch their first playoff berth since 2001 (which they got), but A's starting pitcher Ken Waldichuk was ready to play spoiler. Furthermore, the 24-year-old wanted to build momentum after securing his first MLB win.

After giving up one earned run in the first inning, Waldichuk settled in and went five innings, striking out eight Mariners batters and only allowing three hits. The A's pitcher could have gone longer had it been for his pitch count, which was at 96.

"I think the maturity is going to happen with just the pitch count gets a little elevated through five innings," Kotsay told reporters after the loss.

"He recognizes that we're going to continue to improve that area where he can hopefully get some soft contact early in the couch to get some early outs. So overall, though, stuff was good. I think maybe career-high eight punch outs. So really good night for Ken."

Waldichuk has yet to go past the fifth inning since making his MLB debut on Sept. 1 against the Washington Nationals, and part of the reason has been his pitch count, as Kotsay mentioned. In six starts for the A's, three of them have resulted in Waldichuk throwing 90 or more pitches.

Despite experiencing some recent growing pains, Waldichuk appears to be ending the 2022 MLB season on a high note, showing Oakland that one of the spots in the starting rotation could be his in 2023.

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The A's will attempt to even the series on Saturday. Oakland will deploy another young pitcher that they hope will be part of their future in lefty JP Sears (6-3, 4.22 ERA).

Meanwhile, the Mariners are countering with Luis Castillo (7-6, 3.06 ERA) as Seattle looks to take the second game of the series and build momentum heading into the postseason.