Reddick snaps slump, powers A's past Mariners

Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- As right fielder Josh Reddick went hitless in his first three games, his Twitter feed became jammed with superstitious Oakland A's fans asking him to shave his mountain man beard.
The beard's here to stay, Reddick said Thursday after crushing a two-run home run in the first inning and driving in four runs in Oakland's 8-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Coliseum.
"I think everybody's getting a little too superstitious too early," Reddick said. "We're four games in. Let it go. It's not like I'm going to go oh-for for the whole year. That's just fans being fans on Twitter. So I just got to let it go in one ear and out the other. My face. I'll do what I want with it."
Reddick had his way with Mariners rookie pitcher Brandon Maurer, who made his major-league debut.
Reddick turned on a 1-2 Maurer fastball in the first inning and sent it deep into the right field seats, snapping a 0-for-10 skid, with Coco Crisp aboard after a leadoff single.
"The longer that goes, the more you press a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "To hit a home run like that and be the big blow of the game at that time and then have good at-bats after that make you relax. Hopefully we're all past that now."
In the A's three-run sixth, Reddick followed Jed Lowrie's leadoff double with an opposite-field RBI double off the left-field wall against Maurer and scored on Yoenis Cespedes' two-run laser shot to left.
Reddick said his opposite-field double was "huge" because he's been working on going the other way all spring with A's hitting coach Chili Davis.
"It's only going to improve my game with driving in more runs," Reddick said.
Reddick, who led the A's with a career-high 32 home runs last season, drove in his fourth run of the game with a sacrifice fly in a two-run eighth off Mariners reliever Lucas Luetge.
A's right-hander A.J. Griffin, who went 7-1 as a rookie last season, held the Mariners to two runs on seven hits over six innings, earning the win.
"Having a little cushion like that right off the bat is a great thing to have as a pitcher," Griffin said. "You feel a little bit more comfortable and fill up the (strike) zone and let the fielders get the outs for you."
Maurer went 9-2 for Double-A Jackson last season and was named the Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher, but he had a rough debut in the big leagues against Reddick and the A's. Maurer gave up six runs on eight hits, including two home runs and four doubles. He hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and struck out just one.
"It was definitely the first one, going out there and trying to break off a little bit of the nerves," Maurer said. "Just stressing I guess going out there the first time.
"I think there was a time there when I settled down, then I started getting away from my fastball and started getting behind in counts and got myself into trouble."
Seattle's Michael Morse continued his torrid home-run pace, hitting his major-league leading fourth of the season, leading off the sixth inning. That blast to left field off Griffin cut the A's lead to 3-2, but they rallied for three runs in the sixth.
"I'm seeing it pretty good, putting some good swings on it," Morse said.
A's relievers Sean Doolittle, Jerry Blevins and Ryan Cook each pitched a scoreless inning, preventing any thoughts of a Mariners comeback.
After losing the first two games in the season-opening series to Seattle, Oakland won the final two to earn a split. And for the second straight day, Oakland, which had 195 home runs last season, relied heavily on the long ball to prevail. Lowrie and Chris Young homered in a 6-2 A's win Wednesday. This time, it was Reddick and Cespedes homering.
"That was huge for us, especially with the way we swung the bats the first two games," Reddick said of the split. "I feel like we weren't the team we know we can be. We kind of really woke up yesterday and today."
Crisp started the A's first-inning rally by lining a leadoff single to right off Maurer.
With one out, Maurer quickly got ahead of Reddick in the count at 1-2. But Reddick sent his next pitch -- a 92 mph inside fastball -- high and deep into the seats in right field, giving the A's a 2-0 lead.
Maurer got off to a rough start in the second inning, hitting Young with a pitch. But John Jaso lined out to third, and Josh Donaldson hit into an inning-ending double play. Maurer went on to retire nine straight A's in order.
NOTES: Lowrie went 2-for-4 with two doubles, raising his average to .462. ... Seattle catcher Kelly Shoppach, making his first start of the season, went 2-for-3. ... The A's traded left-hander Travis Blackley to the Houston Astros for minor league outfielder Jake Goebbert. The A's had designated Blackley for assignment on March 29. ... A's first baseman Brandon Moss left the game after the sixth inning and went to the hospital to be with his pregnant wife, who had gone into labor. ... First baseman Daric Barton cleared waivers and was assigned by the A's to Triple-A Sacramento. ... Right-handed pitcher Josh Stinson, who was designated for assignment by the A's on Wednesday, was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles. The A's had claimed Stinson off waivers from Milwaukee on March 29. ... Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima (strained left hamstring) and infielder Adam Rosales (strained left intercostal) will not travel with the team on its six-game road trip, which begins Friday at Houston, Melvin said. Both are on injured reserve and will continue doing their rehabilitation work in Oakland. Both will likely go on rehab assignments in the minor leagues once they're healthy enough to play, Melvin said. ... After starting the first three games, Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan, catcher Jesus Montero and designated hitter Kendrys Morales were all out of the lineup Thursday. "Coming out of spring training you've got to be careful with these guys," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "It's my job more than anybody to make sure you look at the big picture."

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