Mariners crush Gray, A's as Kuma cruises

May 4th, 2016

OAKLAND -- Robinson Cano, Leonys Martin and Kyle Seager homered for the Mariners, backing a tremendous seven-inning performance from right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma to help Seattle secure an 8-2, series-clinching victory over the A's at the Coliseum on Tuesday night.

Iwakuma held Oakland to one run and four hits en route to his first win of the season, while A's ace Sonny Gray scattered 11 hits with seven runs allowed -- both matching career highs -- across seven-plus innings as his ERA moved to 4.84.

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Gray was responsible for a two-run homer to Martin in the third and a shot from Cano to lead off the fourth. Norichika Aoki chipped in with an RBI single in the seventh, and Gray boarded each of his first three batters of the eighth before departing in favor of lefty Marc Rzepczynski, who offered up a three-run homer to Seager.

"It's definitely the best I've felt all year," Gray said. "I thought I threw the ball well. It was just really unfortunate the way it turned out."

The A's got an RBI single from Jed Lowrie in the sixth but would score only once more on Khris Davis' homer in the ninth, as they suffered their third straight loss and eighth in their last 11 games. Seattle has won 10 of its last 14 games and moved to a half-game lead over Texas in the American League West.

"It's fun. We're playing good ball," said first-year Mariners manager Scott Servais, whose team has won six straight series. "The team is feeling it. Confidence is rising and it's driven by pitching. The way you win series and put streaks together like that is starting pitching consistently gives you a chance to win every night and that's what we've seen here over the last few weeks."


Long ball for Leonys: The Mariners acquired Martin from the Rangers for his speed and defense in center field, but the 27-year-old Cuban has provided surprising power out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup. Martin's two-run shot off Gray in the third was his fifth homer in 25 games, matching his season total last year in 95 games with Texas. More >

"That's not part of my game, but I'll take it," Martin said. "Every time I go to home plate I'm just trying to see the ball and hit the ball hard. I thank God I've got five homers, but at the same time I've got to stay in my game."

Missed opportunity: Hits off Iwakuma were few and far between, but the A's still had a chance to break through against the right-hander in the second inning when he issued consecutive two-out walks to Chris Coghlan and Yonder Alonso to load the bases for Marcus Semien. The A's shortstop connected for a hard-hit ground ball, but it was scooped up by Cano to end the inning.

"It's been a struggle for us," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Iwakuma has struggled some, was leaving some balls up, and we weren't able to take advantage of a guy that wasn't pitching too terribly well. We have not hit our stride offensively yet for sure."

More love for the glove: Oakland narrowed the lead to 3-1 in the sixth on an RBI single by Lowrie and looked to finally be getting to Iwakuma, but shortstop Ketel Marte pulled off a slick double play -- snaring a hard smash up the middle by Davis and flipping the ball backhanded to Cano at second -- to end that threat and help secure Iwakuma's first win of the season.

"That was awesome," Servais said. "A huge play in the game. The ball was well struck. It was a very athletic play, getting the feed to Robbie and completing the double play was huge."

Sonny's struggles: Though Gray's final line isn't entirely indicative of the way he pitched, the right-hander's recent string of struggles have hurt an A's club that so heavily relies on him. Gray allowed just one run across seven innings in his first start, but he's since yielded 18 runs in 28 1/3 innings in his last five outings. More >

"I know he's been scuffling, but I think he found his stuff tonight, and I don't know if he's trusting it as much as he should, but he looked like he had his normal stuff, and I think that's a good starting point for him to get back on track," catcher Josh Phegley said.


"He's pretty special. You just have to give him a chance to play every day. Not only defense, but his offense has been great for us, too." -- Cano on the 22-year-old Marte at shortstop


The Mariners have now won six straight series for the first time since May 18-June 5, 2011, and are 13-5 since opening the season with a 2-6 mark that included a three-game sweep by the A's in Seattle.


Mariners:Felix Hernandez (2-2, 1.38 ERA) will look to break his tie with Jamie Moyer for most wins in franchise history in Wednesday's 12:35 p.m. PT series finale at the Coliseum. Hernandez is 22-8 with a 2.58 ERA in 41 career starts against the A's, including seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in a no-decision earlier this season in Seattle.

Athletics: Lefty Sean Manaea will make just his second big league start Wednesday. Manaea, the club's top pitching prospect at the time of his callup last week, went five-plus innings in his Major League debut Saturday, allowing four runs on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts in a no-decision against the Astros.

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