A's secure home field for ALDS

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners found out before Friday night's game against the Oakland A's that their manager would not be back next season. Then they went out and provided another reason why change might not necessarily be a bad thing.
Shortly after manager Eric Wedge informed the players that he was stepping down after the weekend series, the Mariners fell 8-2 to an A's team that clinched home-field advantage for the American League Division Series with the win.
Oakland's Coco Crisp matched a season high with four hits, and Brandon Moss and Derek Norris each hit homers and drove in three runs for the AL West champion A's (95-65).
"It's going to be pretty exciting," A's manager Bob Melvin said of being able to host the ALDS. "Certainly a goosebump day."
Oakland starter Bartolo Colon (18-6) outdueled Seattle's Felix Hernandez after both pitchers allowed first-inning homers. Colon gave up two earned runs -- both on solo homers -- and three hits in six innings.
Hernandez (12-10) took the loss despite being dominating in his final five innings. Hernandez bounced back from serving up a Brandon Moss three-run homer in the first inning, eventually going six innings while giving up three runs and five hits.
"He righted himself and did a nice job," Wedge said of Hernandez. "They came after him quick, but after that he did a nice job."
Hernandez said of his turnaround: "I was able to throw more strikes. I was all over the plate in those first two innings."
Hernandez closed out the season by going 0-5 in his final six starts after posting a 10-4 record at the All-Star break.
Oakland's 3-1 lead after the first inning held up until the bottom of the sixth when a solo home run from Seattle's Kendrys Morales brought the Mariners within a run. But the A's responded with three runs in the top of the seventh, with the big blow coming on a two-run, pinch-homer that Norris hit off reliever Oliver Perez. Josh Donaldson added an RBI on a groundout to give the A's a 6-2 lead.
Norris contributed an RBI in the eighth and then came around to score, giving Oakland an 8-2 lead.
The win, combined with Detroit's loss on Friday night, gave Oakland the second-best record in the AL.
"It's something we were really looking and hoping to do," Melvin said. " ... We know we're going to be home for a week, and that's good."
The bad news for the A's was that left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who was playing in the outfield for the first time in two weeks, couldn't finish the game because his ailing right shoulder was giving him discomfort. Cespedes was replaced by Seth Smith in the fourth inning.
All the Mariners (70-90) were able to clinch was the franchise's sixth 90-loss season since 2004. Prior to that, Seattle had gone 11 consecutive years without losing more than 85 games.
A matchup of former Cy Young winners was anything but a pitching duel early on.
Hernandez served up a three-run homer to Moss in the top of the first inning, then the Mariners' Franklin Gutierrez hit a solo homer off Colon in the bottom of the inning for a 3-1 Oakland lead.
Both pitchers settled down to give up just three total hits in the next four innings.
On Friday morning, Wedge informed Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik that he would finish out the season but that he did not want to be back in 2014.
The 45-year-old Wedge, who was in the final year of a three-year contract, said before the game that "it's got to the point to where it's painfully obvious to me that I just wasn't going to be able to move forward with this organization."
Zduriencik said he was "surprised" by the announcement but complimented Wedge for all he had done to help steer the franchise through a difficult rebuilding process.
Wedge entered Friday's game with a 212-271 record with the Mariners since taking over in 2011. He inherited a team that was trying to build up its farm system and relied on a lot of young, unproven players in the everyday lineup and never was able to turn it into a contender.
Wedge said the team approached him about a one-year extension at the end of last season but that he was unsatisfied with only a one-year commitment that would have taken him through the end of the 2014 season.
Wedge told his players after batting practice that he would not be back.
"It's hard," Hernandez said after the game. "It's a sad day for everybody. He's a great guy and a great leader."
Second baseman Nick Franklin said, "It's'a little disappointing, but at the same time you have to move on."
NOTES: After an inning-ending double play in the second, Hernandez surpassed 200 innings for the sixth year in a row. Earlier this month, Hernandez secured his fifth consecutive season of 200 or more strikeouts. ... The Mariners made one change to their weekend probables when they announced that RHP Erasmo Ramirez would start Sunday's season finale. LHP James Paxton had been previously scheduled to start the game. ... A's 1B Nate Freiman (abdominal strain) is close to being able to return to the lineup, but the right-handed hitter probably won't start this weekend because the Mariners have three right-handed starters scheduled to pitch. ... Gutierrez, with his 10th home run of the season, became the ninth Seattle player to reach double digits in homers this year. It marks the first time since 1997 that the Mariners have had that many players hit 10 or more home runs.

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