The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners turned back the clock to 1955 Sunday afternoon when the two teams faced off in the first half finale at the Oakland Coliseum.
Fans were treated to a 1955 Oakland Oaks cap and a rendition of the National Anthem by an Elvis impersonator before they watched the A’s and Mariners battle it out on the field in the old Pacific Coast League uniforms of the Oaks and Seattle Raniers, with 1950′s nicknames accompanying their players on the scoreboard (i.e. Yoenis “Yo Yo” Cespedes, Josh “Crash” Reddick and Seth “Skitch” Smith).
All novelties and nostalgia aside, the game had it’s own attraction for true baseball fans, featuring a pitching match up of former Cy Young winners in Bartolo Colon for Oakland and Felix Hernandez for Seattle.
Both Colon and Hernandez showed why they both have won pitching’s top award during their careers, carrying a pitching duel deep into the game as they matched each other nearly identically on the stat sheet, both winding up with no-decisions.
Colon allowed Dustin Ackley to single to leadoff the game but then quickly settled down, retiring the next 17 batters he faced through 5 2/3 innings before Ackley would connect for his second single of the game.
Oakland jumped on Hernandez early, scoring in the first inning. Coco Crisp got things going with a sharp lead off single past third base. Jemile Weeks then followed with an infield bunt for a single, juked Mariners’ first baseman, Justin Smoak, to avoid the tag and move Crisp over to second. Both runners advanced on Josh Reddick’s ground out before Yoenis Cespedes would hit a ground ball into the gap between shortstop and third base. Brendan Ryan made a great diving stop, but Weeks beat the throw to third and Crisp scored on the play making it an early 1-0 A’s lead.
Seattle evened the score following Ackley’s second hit of the game off Colon in the sixth inning. Ichiro Suzuki followed immediately with a single of his own that moved Ackley all the way to third. Michael Saunders then singled to right field to bring Ackley in with the Mariners first run of the game, tying the score at 1-1.
Hernandez lasted 7 2/3 innings, scattering six hits while striking out six and walking three batters. Lucas Luetge came in to relieve Hernandez, inheriting runners on first and second, but retiring Chris Carter on strikes to work out of the jam and save Hernandez from a possible loss.
Colon pitched 8 2/3 innings, scattering seven hits while striking out five and walking none. He left with two outs in the ninth inning and Mariners runners on second and third. Ryan Cook came into the game in relief with the inherited base runners in a non-save opportunity. Cook struck out Miguel Olivo to end the eighth inning and give Colon a no-decision for his day’s work as well.
Both bullpens were solid, continuing the pitching duel well into extra frames.
Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour pitched spectacularly for Oakland, only allowing a single Mariner to reach base in 3 1/3 innings of relief work.
Luetge, Brandon League, Charlie Furbush and Shawn Kelley were equally impressive for their part.
Enter Oliver Perez and Jordan Norberto for the Mariners and A’s…
Perez pitched his way out of the 12th inning but surrendered a line drive single to Weeks in the bottom of the 13th inning and then a RBI, game winning, double to Reddick to be saddled with the loss and allow the A’s to reach .500 headed into the All Star break.
Jordan Norberto pitched one inning of shut-out ball and earned the win, improving to 2-1 on the season.
Earlier in the game, Jonny Gomes took over in the top of the fourth inning for Cespedes after he sprained his left thumb stealing a base in the first inning. He stayed in the game and batted in the bottom of the third, but still appeared to be bothered by his left hand. The A’s won’t play again until Friday night in Minnesota, giving him four off days to rest the hand and hopefully avoid another stint on the disabled list.
The A’s failed to hit a home run, breaking their streak of 17-consecutive games with a home run. They won six out of their last seven games before the break though, pushing them back to .500 despite enduring a nine-game losing streak earlier in the season.
They play next Friday evening in Minnesota.