Athletics

Luzardo was ‘gasping for air’ on mound in smoky Seattle

Athletics

The A's and Seattle Mariners played both games of their doubleheader Monday at T-Mobile Park in Seattle despite the Air Quality Index (AQI) measuring the local conditions as very unhealthy and approaching hazardous levels at times. Oakland starting pitcher Jesús Luzardo told reporters after the first game he was "gasping for air."

Luzardo said he saw the AQI reached 284, 16 points shy of hazardous levels, just before he took the mound Monday afternoon with Seattle enveloped in smoke as over a dozen fires burned throughout Washington. The Mariners' 6-5 comeback win in Monday's first game concluded with an AQI of 239 according to AirNow, a collaboration between federal and local agencies.

"I'm a healthy 22-year-old, I shouldn't be gasping for air, or missing oxygen when I'm getting to the line," Luzardo said in a postgame video conference (h/t Bay Area News Group's Shayna Rubin). "I'll leave it at that."

An air quality alert, extending to Thursday, was issued by the National Weather Service earlier Monday. The city closed its coronavirus testing sites Monday, and the Parks and Recreation department's closures extended from the weekend into Monday due to the air quality.

Nonetheless, the A's and Mariners played the full seven-inning game amid a smoky haze and Oakland manager Bob Melvin told reporters (via the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser) afterward that he hadn't heard anything to indicate the second game would be postponed.

 

Center fielder Ramón Laureano even made a diving catch wearing an N95 mask.

The Mariners closed the retractable roof at T-Mobile Park on Monday, which wasn't designed to fully enclose the stadium and thus can't prevent the flow of outside air, allowing for the smoky conditions. 

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Health officials recommend staying indoors when the AQI reaches very unhealthy levels, with AirNow advising against "strenuous" outdoor activity and keeping it short, as well as considering moving outdoor exercise indoors or rescheduling. Monday's doubleheader was, itself, the result of rescheduling during MLB's shortened season, as the entirety of this month's previously scheduled three-game A's-Mariners series was postponed after Oakland pitcher Daniel Mengden tested positive for COVID-19.

The A's and Mariners will make up the third game of the rescheduled series on Sept. 26 during the last weekend of the regular season. They made up the second in the back half of Monday's doubleheader as scheduled. Oakland won the game 9-0, with the AQI reaching 242 at the time of its conclusion.