Last month he was undefeated for the first time in his career. But tonight his career-tying six-game winning streak dating back to September 21, 2013 was snapped when the Seattle Mariners won the 4-2 decision over the A’s.
Scott Kazmir got off to a rocky start, allowing three hits and two runs in the first frame. The Mariners took a 2-0 lead when Michael Saunders hit a single off the glove of Josh Donaldson, followed with an infield single off Kazmir’s glove from Stefen Romero.
After striking out Robinson Cano, Cory Hart’s RBI single scored in the first run and a ground out single by Kyle Seager brought in Romero for Seattle’s second run. Kazmir recorded his first loss with Oakland and it didn’t come easy.
“After that first inning, I just tried to get as deep as I could,” said Kazmir. “The first inning was a couple of pitches that I left over the plate and they ended up getting a base hit when I was ahead of the count.”
“They just got him a little out of his rhythm early on,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He recovered some and battled. It probably wasn’t his best stuff we’ve seen this year.”
Oakland got their first hit off Chris Young in the fourth when Jed Lowrie knocked a single to right field. Brandon Moss then tied the game 2-2 when he blasted a two-run homer to right field. But the Mariners responded in the fifth with a solo home run from Romero (his first of the season) to give them back the lead 3-2.
“He’s tough,” said Moss. “It’s just different than a lot of guys you face. It looks like he throwing soft but the way he pitches up and down, makes it tough. It’s so rare you see something like that.”
Seattle added on another run in the sixth, Brad Miller knocked a single to left field. Moss lost the ball in lights, dropping for a RBI single which could’ve been the second out. Miller stole two bases and was tagged out at home plate and Mike Zunino was safe at first.
Saunders single to left field gave Moss a chance to make up for the dropped ball earlier, he threw to third baseman Donaldson for the out to end the inning. Kazmir who was up to 99 pitches, finished the night tossing six frames, allowing eight hits and four runs which is was season high.
“We had better at-bats,” Seattle’s manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s a real good pitcher and he had his way with us the two outings in a row.”
Young retired nine of the first ten batters before he faced before Lowrie. After’s Moss’ home run, he retired the next seven hitters until Donaldson’s leadoff walk in the seventh. Moss followed with a walk putting two on with no outs for Oakland. But Alberto Callaspo hit into a double play and the A’s failed to score.
“That was a big double play,” said Melvin. “Sometimes you can square it but hit it right to somebody. That was a little bit of a momentum shifter.”
Note – The A’s went 18-2 last month and tied the franchise record for most wins in the month of April (1981,1989). The pitching staff finished the month with 220 strikeouts, setting the franchise record for strikeouts in a month (previous, 210 in 2013). And two players finished with four wins, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir. Gray was named American League pitcher of the month for April.
Gray complied a 4-1 record with a 1.76 ERA, one shutout and 37 strikeouts in 41.0 innings pitched over six appearances (including a March 31st start) claimed his first pitcher of the month award, and the first for the A’s since Bartolo Colon in June 2013. He will receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, for his accomplishment.
“Its definitely exciting when I got the call this morning,” said Gray. “It’s not something you really don’t think about but looking back at the first month of the year, we were in a good spot as far as the team and I’m happy to have been apart of that.”
“Well deserved,” Melvin said. “He’s come such a long way in a short period of time. Last year he comes out to pitch 40 games, the playoffs, pitches opening day here and recently shutout the Rangers at their ball park, which is very difficult to do. He keeps getting better and better.”