SEATTLE (AP) — Oakland pitcher Brett Anderson understands the importance of the Athletics hosting the American League wild-card game.
“It’s like a Raiders game,” Anderson said Saturday night. “You get the Black Hole; you get crazy people.”
Anderson struck out three in five strong innings, Ramon Laureano hit a solo home run in the third inning and the A’s beat the Seattle Mariners 1-0, clinching the right to host the Tampa Bay Rays in a wild-card matchup on Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay lost 4-1 at Toronto earlier Saturday, while Oakland is steamrolling into the playoffs. The A’s have won three of their last four games and are 18-7 in September.
The winningest team in baseball since June 16 with a record of 60-28 the A’s are 33 games over .500 for the first time since 2002.
And now all that winning has given them a huge advantage.
“There’s going to be 50,000 people in Oakland, I have a feeling,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “When we get that big a crowd at home, they have an effect. We’re excited about going home in front of our fans. There’s a great bond between us and the fans. And they can get pretty loud.”
Oakland used Anderson (13-9) and three relievers for the victory. Anderson gave up three hits, extending his career high for wins. Melvin said he was willing to let Anderson pitch the sixth, but after 10 days rest and with temperatures dropping throughout the game, he began to experience tightness in his elbow.
Jesus Luzardo struck out three in the eighth and ninth for his second save, getting out of a jam in the ninth with two runners on base.
The Mariners’ only real threat came in the fifth inning when Mallex Smith attempted a safety squeeze with the bases loaded. But Matt Olson picked up the bunt attempt barehanded and flipped it to catcher Sean Murphy, who easily tagged out Tom Murphy. It was the 12th shutout of the year for the A’s.
“There’s only a handful of guys who can make that play,” Anderson said. “To be able to come in and have the foresight to charge it and then make a perfect throw on the run, that saved the game. Those guys (in the infield) have been doing that all year. For a guy that doesn’t strike many people out, I need those plays.”
Seattle’s Marco Gonzales (16-13) took the loss despite a strong outing in chilly, windy conditions. Gonzales struck out four and walked three, giving up just five hits in the seven-inning outing.
Gonzales’ only mistake was leaving a 3-2 sinker up in the zone for Laureano, who sent it out of the park in left field for his 24th home run in the third inning.
“It comes down to one swing and theirs went over the fence,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Athletics: OFs Chad Pinder and Ramon Laureano were in the lineup Saturday despite taking spills Friday night in an outfield manager Bob Melvin characterized as difficult to play on due to rain and dampness. Pinder twisted his knee on Friday, Melvin said, “and he has a little abductor thing that he has going on in concert with a hamstring thing he’s got going on.” But Pinder hit in the cage and ran around on the field enough to convince Melvin to put him in the lineup with home-field advantage in the AL wild-card race still in play. Also playing hurt are Laureano (shin), OF Mark Canha (groin) and Robbie Grossman (shoulder).
“That’s just the way this group is,” Melvin said. “They want to play, they want to win home field. It doesn’t surprise me.”
Mariners: LHP Tommy will miss his bulk innings assignment Sunday because of an inflamed left shoulder, Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Athletics: RHP Tanner Roark (4-2, 4.50 ERA) will make his 10th start for the A’s since coming over from Cincinnati at the trade deadline.
Mariners: Prospect RHP Justin Dunn (0-0, 3.86 ERA) will serve as an opener and will be followed by multiple relievers.
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