OAKLAND, Calif. – Maybe the outcome might have been different.
Maybe if the air was just a little cooler Monday, or if the game at a sold-out O.Co Coliseum was played at night instead in the bright, hitter-friendly afternoon warmth, the ball carries just six inches less and Austin Jackson makes the catch.
Maybe that key second out allows Chris Young to pitch out of the first inning, settle in for a quality start instead of giving up five runs and the game being done almost as quickly as it started in a 6-1 Oakland Athletics win.
With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Josh Reddick ripped a ball to center field. Jackson hesitated and then desperately tried to track down the ball, but couldn’t – missing it by inches. It went for a double.
“I kind of froze for a second,” Jackson said. “I didn’t get the best break off it. The balls hit right at you are kind of tough to pick up.”
The next batter – Josh Donaldson – flew out to Jackson. It could have been the third out of an otherwise harmless inning.
Instead, Young was still on the mound needing to get the third out. And 20 minutes later, when he walked off the mound, he still hadn’t recorded that final out and the Mariners were down 4-0.
The game was effectively over.
“They returned the opening kickoff back (for a touchdown) and the day was over,” M’s manager Lloyd McClendon said.
It wasn’t if Seattle would lose, but by how much. Young was charged with another run in the inning. But thanks to a solid effort from Taijuan Walker in long relief, the outcome didn’t go from decisive to blowout.
“Chris didn’t make a lot of quality pitches,” McClendon said.
Young’s line of two-thirds innings, five earned runs, four hits, two walks and no strikeouts was easily the worst of this season and of his 10-year big-league career.
Walker provided serviceable long relief, pitching six innings and allowing one run on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts.