M’s get a big win in Chicago, make surprise pitching change

Jul 5, 2014, 7:46 PM | Updated: Jul 14, 2014, 10:21 am

With extra radio and TV duties earlier today there was no time for a pre-game blog, so you have guilted me into a post-game blog, which actually works much better today as there is a lot going on.

First thing is first, big win for the Mariners. At least that is what they were saying after the 14-inning, 3-2 win over the White Sox.

“Whatever it takes to get the ‘W,'” said Michael Saunders in his on-field interview. “Felix (Hernandez) kept us in the game for all nine, and then for them to get ahead and us to come right back and grab two in the ninth, that was huge for us. In extra innings it always gets tough but it really showed the character and the toughness of this ball club for us to string together at-bats, and our bullpen did an incredible job again. That’s the definition of a team win.”

Felix concurred.

“They always fight, they always fight as a team. I believe in these guys, they are going to score in any game,” he said.

Why was this one big? Well, as Saunders said, it is never easy to win an extra-inning game, let alone one that is on the road. Also, Friday’s 7-1 loss to Chris Sale had the looks of a game that could be a crusher, but no, they bounced back. Friday’s game did not turn into the start of a losing streak. Finally, no doubt the players were aware of the move the A’s made to acquire pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. They answered the A’s blockbuster trade with a win, and a win with the players they started this year with too.

“We are as close as a bunch of guys that I have ever been around,” Saunders said. “Our clubhouse is incredible. We all have one goal in mind and that is to win ball games. Each and every one of us is kind of taking on a role and we know what we are supposed to be doing. We are winning a lot of games, we’re having fun and more importantly we are winning them as a team.”

They are not putting down the BB guns.

The bottom line is little changes with the move that the A’s made Friday night. The Mariners needs are still the same. They still need hitting, and perhaps you now better understand Jack Zduriencik’s desire to add another starter. If the team with the best starting pitching ERA in baseball feels the need to add to their rotation with a NL ace in Samardzija and another very good arm in Hammel, Zduriencik is hardly getting greedy wanting to add to a rotation that is very good but somewhat fragile. The search will continue.

Speaking of Samardzija, if things play out the way they should it looks like we will have a marquee pitching matchup Friday night at Safeco Field. The A’s have announced that Samardzija will make his first start for them Sunday in Toronto, which would put him on schedule to pitch Friday against the Mariners. After the game against the White Sox we were told that Felix’s next start, which should have been Thursday against Minnesota, would be pushed to Friday. Thursday’s starter is TBD and we should learn more about that Sunday morning so I am not going to speculate too much about that tonight. I don’t think it has anything to do with All Star Game as some have suggested and I also don’t believe there is a move in the works. It could be simply to get their best pitcher into a division series that is getting bigger and bigger.

I don’t know who will pitch Thursday. I don’t like the idea of a Johnny All Staff game with the bullpen heading into the Oakland series. That doesn’t make a ton of sense to me although I suppose that if they did that they would be banking on the thought that they wouldn’t need much pen the next day with Felix starting but you could have said that today and you ended up needing six innings (of one-hit ball!) from the pen. We will just have to wait and see.

Plenty of news should be coming Sunday. In addition to the pitching news, the All Star selections will be announced. Felix and Robinson Cano should be locks and Fernando Rodney and Kyle Seager are deserving. Seager actually had a very nice audition in front of Boston manager John Farrell, who will be managing the American League team. Against the Red Sox in the three-game series at Safeco Field last week, Seager went 8×13 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 7 RBI and a line of .615/.615/.1.231/1.846. Small sample yes, but good numbers. He must have made a great impression. Unfortunately with the player vote, fan vote of the last player and requirement that all teams be represented the manager has less and less room to maneuver his roster. I think Seager is a long shot this year. He could own the position for years to come in the very near future.

That’s it for now. For the most immediate news on the pitching moves follow me on Twitter @shannondrayer.

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