video thumbnail

LAA@OAK: Gray strikes out five over six strong frames

Though their immediate futures following Sunday differ, there is nothing directly on the line for either the A's or Mariners in the regular-season finale at Safeco Field.

With their loss on Saturday, the A's conceded the American League No. 1 seed and home-field advantage for the entire playoffs to the Red Sox. They will host the Tigers in Game 1 of the AL Division Series starting Friday. There is nothing else they can do to improve their chances at reaching the World Series in terms of postseason positioning.

Complacency, however, has served as the demise for many ballclubs, and reliever Ryan Cook said he doesn't expect such thoughts to creep into the A's minds with one game left to play.

"I think our identity as a team is just that, that we're going to play every out of every game as hard as we possibly can, and I think if you asked everybody in this room, there's still something at stake," Cook said. "So unless they tell us there's not, we're going to keep playing like there is."

Closing out the regular season on the mound for the A's will be Sonny Gray (4-3, 2.90). He struggled in his last outing, giving up four runs on seven hits in five innings against the Twins. Still, the 23-year-old hurler became the youngest pitcher to win a clincher for the A's -- a game they could have relaxed in after the division title was earned midway through the game.

"It was special," Gray said. "It was probably one of the most nerve-wracking starts that I've had, just knowing what's at stake. You want to do so much for the team and so much for the fans. You want to win this game."

Seattle, long out of contention for the playoffs, will witness manager Eric Wedge's last game with the team, two days after announcing he won't return for next season.

The Mariners close out their season with Erasmo Ramirez getting the final start on the mound. Rookie James Paxton originally was slated to close things out, but the club opted to shut him down after he reached 169 2/3 innings this season.

Ramirez, 23, missed the first three months of the season while recovering from an elbow problem, but he has gone 5-2 with a 4.56 ERA in 13 appearances. He came out of his last start on Sept. 2 in Anaheim after six-plus innings when he felt some tightness in his right groin muscle, but he said Saturday that everything is good to go for his final start.

Ramirez allowed six hits with two runs (both unearned) before being removed with two on and no outs in the seventh against the Angels.

"Everything is OK now," Ramirez said. "No more pain. I'm just going to be careful and stretch a lot and wrap it. After that, I'll just do the same as last time, just throwing strikes, move the ball to both sides and use all my pitches and let's see what happens. In my mind, I just want to finish strong and look for the win."

Ramirez is 0-1 with a 1.76 ERA over 15 1/3 innings in three games (two starts) against the A's in his career, but this will be his first time facing them in 2013.

Cespedes sits Saturday, listed as day to day
Yoenis Cespedes' return to the A's outfield was a short one, as the Cuban slugger exited Friday's 8-2 victory over the Mariners in the fourth inning with shoulder stiffness. Cespedes didn't play in Saturday's game, and Oakland manager Bob Melvin said that the outfielder is day to day.

"I won't know until we figure out how severe it is, so, I mean, he does have a dramatic swing, there's a lot going on," Melvin said. "He creates a lot of torque, that's just who he is, but there is a concern that he's had a few days off, then we got him back in the field and had to take him out. But hopefully it's something that's manageable here pretty soon."

Without Cespedes, the A's are missing one of their hottest players. Cespedes is batting .314 in September, and he is second in the AL with 19 RBIs in the month and tied for third with six home runs.

Wedge: Departure based primarily on vision
A day after announcing he wouldn't be returning to the Mariners next season, Wedge had one clear message for the media in his pregame chat prior to facing the A's on Saturday afternoon. Initial reports spoke largely to the fact Wedge had not been offered a long-term contract and wasn't willing to take a one-year extension to stay in Seattle, but the third-year skipper said there was far more to it.

The primary issue, Wedge said, was a different vision from team CEO Howard Lincoln, president Chuck Armstrong and general manager Jack Zduriencik.

"Let me be clear here," Wedge said, "the contract is not the reason I'm not coming back here. If they offered me a five-year contract, I'm not coming back here. So let's be clear with that. Where they see the club -- they being Howard, Chuck and Jack -- and where I see the club and my vision of the future is just different. That's as plain as I can make it."

Worth noting
• The Mariners head into the final two games of the season with 188 home runs, which is second in the Majors behind the 211 of the Orioles. The A's are fourth with 184.

• The A's 95 wins this season are their 10th most in Oakland history and one victory more than last year. A 96th win would equal the eighth-most in Oakland annals, matching the 2003 club's total.

• The Mariners' bullpen has made 444 total appearances this season, including five relievers with 50 or more appearances. The five pitchers with 50-plus appearances are tied for the most in club history with the 2007 and '05 squads.

• Josh Donaldson is batting .337 with 20 runs, eight doubles, five home runs, 16 RBIs and 11 multiple hit games in 24 games in September.

MLB.com Comments