Kazmir leads A's two-hit shutout vs. Mariners
OAKLAND -- Scott Kazmir held the Mariners to two hits over eight innings, leading the A's to a 4-0 victory in Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at the Coliseum. It was Oakland's American League-leading 10th shutout of the season.
"That's probably the best we've seen him here," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "More cutters and sliders today, especially to right-handers. He had been basically fastball-changeup to them, where he worked everything to both righties and lefties today. Was on it from the very beginning, his velocity grew as the game went along."
Josh Phegley's two-out, two-run double off Mariners starter Roenis Elias in the first inning put the A's on the scoreboard, and Marcus Semien hit a solo shot to left field off the lefty in the fifth, his seventh homer of the season. Elias lasted six innings, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.
The A's got their fourth run in the seventh, against right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, with Mark Canha picking up an RBI on his first career triple. Both of Seattle's hits came from Franklin Gutierrez.
"This guy traditionally has been tough on us, and tonight he was on his game," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Kazmir. "He had all his pitches working. He used both sides of the plate. That's tough."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
KKKKKKKazmir: Kazmir was dominant, fanning seven batters in his eight innings -- including five of six at one point -- and not allowing his first fly ball until the seventh inning. The lefty didn't give up a hit until Gutierrez's one out double in the fifth, and he improved to 5-0 with a 0.91 ERA in seven starts against AL West opponents this season.
"I felt like I was in control. I did, with every pitch," Kazmir said. "I was throwing the curveball for a strike. I was able to throw a curveball into the dirt when I needed to. That's something I haven't had the past couple of starts. Just having that changeup, being able to throw that off a couple fastballs in the same spot, that was huge for me." More >
The one guy with his number: Kazmir confused everyone in the Mariners' lineup except Gutierrez, who followed his perfecto-spoiling double with an eighth-inning single. Gutierrez, who sat out all of 2014 dealing with a nerve issue and rejoined the Mariners last week after spending the first 10 weeks of this season at Triple-A Tacoma, has hit .429 (9-for-21) with three home runs and five RBIs off Kazmir in his career.
"He's a little bit different than what I remember," Gutierrez said. "He's throwing more cutters, and his changeup was working. He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes. He was pretty tough today. He was pitching good. We couldn't hit today."
Southpaw supremacy: The A's entered play with a 4-14 record when opposed by a left-handed starting pitcher but jumped on Elias with two outs in the first inning, providing Kazmir all the support he needed. After Ben Zobrist drew a two-out walk, the hot-hitting Billy Butler drove a double down the left-field line, setting the stage for Phegley's double. Phegley is hitting .346 against southpaws this season. More >
Getting into a groove: After the rough first inning, during which Elias threw 32 pitches, the young Cuban settled in and retired 12 straight batters before Semien jumped on a 2-0 fastball for a homer in the fifth. Elias has struggled of late -- 1-2 with a 10.29 ERA in his previous three starts -- but he wound up getting through six innings with just the three hits while striking out seven to put him at 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA on the season.
"I think he gave us about what he could, considering the 32 in the first inning," McClendon said. "The tough part of that first inning was he had two outs, two strikes and nobody on. And he ended up giving up two runs that pretty much cost him the ballgame." More >
"I don't think his timing was ever off. He had plenty of at-bats in the Minor Leagues. He's a professional hitter. He knows what he's doing. He's not overwhelmed up here. His at-bats today were pretty darn good." -- McClendon, on Gutierrez's first two-hit game since Sept. 18, 2013
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Seattle's starters had not allowed a run in 21 straight innings -- between Felix Hernandez, Mike Montgomery and Taijuan Walker -- until the A's jumped on Elias for two runs in the first. That was the Mariners' longest such streak since a 25-inning run in 2011, but well short of the club record 38 2/3 innings, set in 2001. .
Mariners: J.A. Happ (3-5, 3.89 ERA) gets the start as the series continues Friday at 6:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum. The lefty will be seeking his first win since May 9, when he beat the A's in Seattle. Since then, he's 0-4 with five no-decisions and a 4.38 ERA, with the Mariners totaling just 22 runs in those nine games. The veteran is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four career outings against Oakland.
A's: Right-hander Jesse Chavez, who has a 4.85 ERA over his last five starts after posting a 2.38 ERA in his first eight, will square off with Happ. Chavez is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two games (one start) against the Mariners this season.
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