SEATTLE — The A’s were unwilling participants in one very special moment for Nelson Cruz on Friday night.
The Mariners slugger sent an eighth-inning laser over the wall in left-center for a three-run homer, No. 300 for his career. That was the pivotal swing of the bat in the A’s 7-2 loss at Safeco Field that snapped their three-game winning streak.
Cruz becomes the 10th active major leaguer to reach 300 homers, and that he did so against Oakland wasn’t too surprising. He’s homered 26 times off the A’s in his 13-year big league career. Only the Los Angeles Angels have served up more to him.
There has been little to cheer for in this disappointing season for the Mariners. For the second year in a row, a busy offseason of roster additions led to heightened expectations that perhaps Seattle could make a breakthrough in the American League West.
That hasn’t happened, as they sit 18 games out of first place at 42-46. The only team below them in the West is the A’s (38-49), who had won five of their previous seven road games before Friday.
They mustered just three hits, one night after their bats were very active in a 7-4 victory in the opener of this four-game series.
Here’s five things to know from Friday:
Late-inning stumble: It was a 3-2 game before the Marierns broke it open off Liam Hendriks in the eighth. The right-hander faced four batters and didn’t record a single out, allowing Cruz’s three-run blast and walking a batter. Hendriks hadn’t been charged with a run over his previous four games, but before that he’d allowed at least one run in seven of his previous 11 outings.
Semien’s shining moment: Marcus Semien drove in the only runs for the A’s, yanking a two-run double down the left-field line in the third that gave Oakland a short-lived 2-1 lead. Those were the first runs driven in for Semien in two games since coming off the disabled list.
Manaea’s night: A’s starter Sean Manaea wasn’t terrible. He went seven innings and gave up three runs on eight hits. The Mariners got to him for a run in the first then two more in the third to take the lead for good, 3-2.
Odd moment for Rajai: Center fielder Rajai Davis had a great chance to nail Robinson CAno at the plate as he tagged up from third on Kyle Seager’s sacrifice fly. But for reasons unknown, Davis held on to the ball as he trotted several steps before unleashing a throw that still made it a close play. That head-scratcher of a sequence broke a 2-2 tie.
On the international front: Last year, the A’s made a splash with a five-player class of international amateur free agents headlined by Cuban outfielder “Lazarito” Armenteros. Armenteros and others from that class are now playing for the A’s rookie league team in Arizona.
This year, with their international spending capabilities greatly restrained, the A’s signed a 17-player class that they feel is solid but not nearly as star-studded. The class represents players from seven countries, including the Bahamas.
The A’s are serving a two-year penalty for exceeding last year’s allotted international bonus pool, meaning they can’t sign any single player for more than $300,000 this year or next.
“We were forced to dig maybe a little deeper into the talent pool, but it’s an extremely diverse group form several nations,” said A’s assistant GM Dan Feinstein, who heads up the A’s international scouting efforts. “It’s a mix of various skills — some athletic middle infielders, some power-hitting outfielders and some athletic catch-and-throw catchers.”