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Gonzales left irked after ball call swings game

@gregjohnsmlb
July 17, 2019

OAKLAND -- Marco Gonzales was hot, but not in a good way after his second half opened with a 9-2 loss to the A’s on Tuesday at the Oakland Coliseum. No, Gonzales -- and the rest of the Mariners -- were steamed about a ball-four call on a fifth-inning, two-out

OAKLAND -- Marco Gonzales was hot, but not in a good way after his second half opened with a 9-2 loss to the A’s on Tuesday at the Oakland Coliseum.

No, Gonzales -- and the rest of the Mariners -- were steamed about a ball-four call on a fifth-inning, two-out walk to Marcus Semien that set up back-to-back homers by Matt Chapman and Matt Olson and turned a 2-1 game into a runaway.

Box score

Gonzales’ 3-2 sinker to Semien appeared to drop perfectly in the bottom corner of the strike zone, but home-plate umpire Brian O’Nora signaled ball four.

In the Mariners’ minds, O’Nora shouldn’t have still been working the game after being clipped in the head by Domingo Santana’s bat on his backswing in a third-inning strikeout.

O’Nora wound up taking himself out of the game after the fifth inning as second-base umpire James Hoye moved behind the plate for the final four frames, but that was too late for Gonzales’ critical situation.

“It’s pretty sickening to have a game in the fifth inning, one-run ballgame, 3-2 count, two outs, it feels like that’s taken away from me,” Gonzales said. “I couldn’t have made a better pitch. Never in my career have I supported showing up umpires. They have a tough job. But that was absolutely awful. I’m sick about it. Changed the entire game. One-run ballgame. It’s going to be a tough one to swallow.”

Gonzales was 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his first three games against Oakland this year, including an eight-inning win in his previous start 10 days earlier. But in his first outing after the All-Star break, the 27-year-old lefty gave up six runs on seven hits over six frames in falling to 10-8 with a 4.48 ERA on the season.

Almost all that damage came from Chapman, who now has 22 homers and 59 RBIs for a surging A’s team. Oakland has gone 4-0 since the All-Star break and 18-5 since June 17, the best record in MLB in that span, to move into second in the American League West.

The Mariners are headed the opposite direction, having lost four straight since the break while falling to 39-59.

“Marco’s stuff was really good tonight,” manager Scott Servais said. “Certainly he threw the ball better than his linescore is going to dictate. A couple mistakes, but in a 2-1 game, fighting through it, he had Semien struck out and we don’t get that call and Chapman hits the home run and Olson the one after that.”

Chapman, the A’s All-Star third baseman, is one Oakland hitter who has Gonzales’ number this year. And that number added up to four RBIs on Tuesday as Chapman laced a two-run single in the third and the two-run homer in the fifth, raising his career average to .478 (11-for-23) against Gonzales.

Chapman added a fifth RBI off reliever Matt Wisler in the seventh to cap his 3-for-4 night. But Gonzales thought Chapman never should have had a chance to hit his two-run homer after the Semien walk.

“I don’t like to stand here and make excuses," Gonzales said. "I’ll be the first one to take accountability if I get beat up, if I get hit, but that’s a game that I feel got taken away from me.”

Mariners catcher Omar Narvaez thought there was no question that Semien should have been the third out of that inning.

“That did change the whole game,” Narvaez said. “We had him for strike three and nothing happened. That call was huge for us. The umpire kept saying he was good, but then he finally realized he needed to step out.”

Narvaez smacks a pair of homers

Narvaez went 3-for-4 and slugged his 15th and 16th homers of the season, but the rest of Seattle’s offense stayed quiet. The Mariners had one of the American League’s more-potent attacks early in the year, but with Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce traded, Mitch Haniger hurt and Daniel Vogelbach slumping, runs have become hard to come by.

Seattle has been outscored 60-25 while winning just one of its last nine games, including a 37-7 margin in the four losses coming out of the break.

“You like to put some rallies together offensively and that hasn’t happened,” Servais said. “We struggled to get anything going there consistently. There’s only one way to battle through it. You have to keep fighting and try to get out of it.

“Omar Narvaez obviously is swinging the bat real well. Dee [Gordon] hit a ball good today. [Kyle] Seager actually has hit some balls okay, he’s had horrible luck lately. We need a few things to turn, but nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We need to keep battling, come back here tomorrow and get after it.”

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.