Game #71: A’s bullpen wastes Montas’ gem, 2-1 to Mariners

The A’s squandered the best performance of one of their starting pitchers that year, squandering a ninth-inning lead and losing 2-1 to the Seattle Mariners to secure the home win.

The player of the game was easy Frankie Montas, when the right-hander came within four outs to throw the ninth no-hitter in Oakland history. He almost led the A’s to a win before a long road trip, but the offense couldn’t get him insurance for eight innings and two relievers missed a hit and still blew the lead. The A’s find new ways to lose.

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Today it looked like a possible pitcher duel on paper.

And that’s exactly what we got.

This ball game started perfectly for Frankie Montas, the first two outs on two pitches and four overall in the first inning. Efficiency would be an issue for him this afternoon.

Offense came to the table quickly against the Seattle starter Robbie Ray. A leadoff single by Sheldon New and a 2-out walk Sean Murphy brought up for discussion Christian Bethancourtwho had been unsuccessful in his last 12 at-bats:

Now with a head start, Montas went to work. A two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch to Taylor Trammel in the second was the only baserunner the Mariners would get against #FilthyFrankie for a long time.

In the sixth round he got a little help from his defense Chad Pinder made a great run catch to keep a potential no-go alive. That’s about the point where it started to feel serious. 65 pitches up to 6.

The A’s then squandered a golden opportunity in the bottom half of the frame Ramon Laureano doubled to lead the inning. The next three hitters couldn’t even move him as Oakland stranded a huge insurance run and kept the pressure on Montas to be perfect. A pitch could still tie this game.

Eventually, the Mariners got their second baserunner against him as jess winker worked a two-out walk in the seventh. Regardless, as Montas beat the next batter on a devastating 98 MPH slider:

84 to 7.

After getting eighth-place top two outs in just four spots, Seattle finally got their first hit, a 1-2 flare to stop immediately Adam Frazier:

Then another single put a Mariner baserunner in goal position and suddenly this game was on the brink. A base hit is likely to tie this game. Manager Mark Kotsay came out for a hill visit to check on Montas while he was coming too Zach Jackson throw in the bullpen. He didn’t have to field Jackson that inning, however, as Montas tied his last batter of the day and hit a weak groundout in second place.

  • Frankie Montas: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 102 pitches

Montas was one of his best career starts, dominating the Mariners’ lineup with just one run in assist. All his pitches worked perfectly today and when that happens you can see he’s one of the best pitchers in the league. He was still throwing gas in the eighth as well, hitting between 98 and 99 MPH with his final shot.

Kotsay turned to Jackson for a save in the ninth round and it didn’t go to plan. He went with two batters to take the tie and go-ahead runs to base. A nice glide Tony Kemp on the turf and a strikeout on the first two outs brought up left-hander Trammell.

Kotsay turned back to the bullpen and called him AJ Puk to secure that victory and earn his first career. Seattle beat Trammell with a right-hander, and Puk led him four pitches to load the bases. His next pitch went to the backstop, putting the Mariner runner in third place to tie that game. Another wild pitch got Seattle going. A nice play from Neuse for third ended the inning, but the damage was done.

Seattle hit two runs in the ninth without scoring in the inning. Montas would not score a win today after being four outs from a no-hitter. Unbelievable.

The A’s went down in order at the end of the ninth, ending on a tight pitch Seth Brown took offense:

What else is there to say? We knew the A’s would step back and start a rebuild this year, but that kind of loss is just embarrassing. Going from looking at the potential story to watching a meltdown isn’t fun. That loss is just as much on offense as it is in the bullpen, however, as he has just three hits in the last eight innings today.

The league’s bottom A’s have now lost 18 of their last 22 and embark on their three-city road trip on a three-game losing streak.

They begin the journey tomorrow night in Kansas City for a three-game set against the Royals. It will be Cole Irvin versus Zack Greinke in the start of the series.

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