LeBlanc sets tone in Mariners 7-1 win over Athletics
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Having finished his warmups just before first pitch, Seattle lefty Wade LeBlanc wasn’t worried about stiffening up while watching the Mariners score five runs in the first inning.
If anything, LeBlanc was more energized from the extra rest.
LeBlanc pitched seven scoreless innings, Mitch Haniger hit his 23rd home run and Seattle jumped on the Oakland Athletics early and held on for a 7-1 victory on Thursday night.
“I’m enjoying that,” LeBlanc said of the Mariners’ big inning. “You don’t ever want to go out to the mound when guys are rolling like that.”
Robinson Cano had two hits and an RBI after being dropped down a spot in the batting order after second baseman Jean Segura was scratched. Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy added two hits apiece.
Seattle had lost three straight and five of seven before taking the opener of this four-game series. The Mariners pulled within 4 1/2 games of the A’s for the second AL wild card. Oakland remains 2 1/2 back of Houston for first place in the AL West.
“We struggled a little bit the last few days and the only way to get that behind you is to go out and play a good ballgame,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Tonight that’s what we did.”
Jed Lowrie had an RBI single for the A’s.
LeBlanc (8-3) allowed three hits and three walks with four strikeouts. He retired 12 of his final 13 batters to win for the second time in his last seven starts.
Adam Warren and Nick Vincent retired three batters each to complete the four-hitter.
“Wasn’t as sharp as the last start,” LeBlanc said. “Wasn’t as crisp stuff-wise but when you have a guy like (catcher Mike Zunino) back there and you have an offense putting up runs like that, it makes it kind of easy to go out there, be aggressive and miss over the plate as opposed to being overly careful.”
Haniger homered off Frankie Montas (5-4) with one out in the fourth. He also singled leading off the game, extending his season-high hitting streak to 11 games. Haniger went into the day leading the AL with 38 hits this month.
The Mariners scored five runs with two outs and took advantage of a throwing error by third baseman Matt Chapman in the first inning.
“It wasn’t just him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We had an off-game all the way around.”
Cano doubled and scored on Healy’s single before Ben Gamel drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0. Two more runs scored on Chapman’s error. Gordon added an infield single to drive in Gamel.
After Denard Span tripled to open the second, Cano singled to push the lead to 6-0.
It was a disappointing start to Oakland’s 10-game homestand following a troubling start to the week when the A’s dropped two of three to Houston and placed two starting pitchers on the disabled list — Sean Manaea and Brett Anderson.
ADJUSTING ON THE FLY
Healy’s playing time has been reduced in the two weeks since Cano was reinstated after serving an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. He wasn’t in the original lineup Thursday but found out before batting practice he would play, giving him time to get in some pregame work.
“I’m still trying to figure that out,” Healy said. “Trying to get a comfortable routine with the situation at hand.”
In addition to Montas, the A’s also called up RHP J.B. Wendelken. RHP Ryan Dull and OF Nick Martini were optioned to Nashville.
Mariners: Segura was a late scratch, one day after being forced out of the game in San Diego when he fouled a ball off his shin.
Athletics: Anderson has been diagnosed with ulnar nerve irritation in his left arm.
Oakland RHP Mike Fiers (10-6, 3.15 ERA) is 3-0 in four starts since being acquired from Detroit on Aug. 6. Fiers needs one more win to match his career high set with Houston in 2016. Seattle RHP Mike Leake (8-8, 4.03) is winless in four career start at the Coliseum.