OAKLAND (CBS / AP) — So far in 2013, the Oakland Athletics are missing the late-game swagger that defined their improbable run to the AL West crown last fall.
Instead of walk-off wins and whipped cream pie, it has been swings and misses by the hitters and balls out of the strike zone by the pitchers.
Seattle is feeling it. Oakland is 0-2.
Michael Morse hit a three-run homer and a solo shot, Hisashi Iwakuma followed up Felix Hernandez’s gem with an impressive outing of his own, and the Mariners beat the A’s 7-1 on Tuesday night.
One day after being shut out by King Felix and crew, Oakland managed just three hits against Iwakuma and two relievers.
“We almost had a passiveness to us, where we knew we weren’t getting anything going,” first baseman Brandon Moss said. “We were trying to make something happen instead of just playing loose. You feel things aren’t there, and as a team you’re not clicking and you’re trying to make things happen, trying to force it.”
Yoenis Cespedes hit a leadoff home run to the deepest part of center field in the second inning before Iwakuma quickly regrouped to retire 15 of his final 16 hitters.
Iwakuma (1-0) struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter as the Mariners won their second consecutive game against Oakland to begin the season.
“I don’t think they were pressing because of what happened last year,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We just got off to a bad start offensively, and then you try to do a little bit too much. Now you’re swinging at first pitches and doing some things a little out of character. It’s just the fact that Felix pitched a good game last night and our at-bats weren’t as good as they should be today.”
Kyle Seager doubled twice among his three hits, drove in a run, scored a pair and reached base five times. Kendrys Morales added an RBI single for Seattle, which is 2-0 for the eighth time in club history.
Iwakuma certainly did his part against the reigning AL West champions. So did the hitters.
Morse, a former Mariners farmhand who returned to the franchise this season, had his sixth career two-homer game and first since Sept. 27 last year with Washington at Philadelphia.
Seattle tagged Jarrod Parker (0-1) for four runs and five hits in five innings, working the count to raise his pitch total in a hurry. The right-hander, a 13-game winner last season as a rookie, walked three and struck out one. He led the A’s pitching staff with 63 free passes last season.
Parker allowed consecutive singles to Michael Saunders and Seager to start the game but retired Morales on a popup and induced Morse’s inning-ending double play. The pitcher also worked through the second unscathed before allowing back-to-back walks to Saunders and Seager in the third. Morales reached on a fielder’s choice and Morse then sent a 2-2 pitch the other way to right. Josh Reddick slammed face-first into the fence trying to make a play.
Justin Smoak drew a bases-loaded walk as Seattle added a run in the seventh against Ryan Cook, who had a pair of four-pitch walks and a five-pitch free pass to go with a hit batter in a rough seventh. Oakland walked eight in all.
After almost daily lineup changes a year ago, Melvin stuck with the same hitters in order for Game 2.
“Well, what’d we get, three hits today? That’s not going to win you many games,” he said. “Then we walked seven or eight or whatever it was, so that’s not a great recipe to win the game. It was a bad game for us today.”
Iwakuma got through a 1-2-3 first inning on 10 pitches and was unfazed after Cespedes connected. The pitcher, who posted a club rookie record 2.65 ERA in 16 starts last year, allowed two hits in six innings.
“After that home run, I said, `I need to stay calm and be patient,”‘ Iwakuma said through a translator. “That got me in a groove.”
A’s reliever Pat Neshek received warm applause when he relieved in the sixth. Oakland’s players and fans rallied around Neshek after his newborn son, Gehrig, died 23 hours after his birth just before the playoffs began last fall.
NOTES: Oakland RHP Bartolo Colon will make his first start Saturday at Houston since receiving a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test last Aug. 22. That means Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin each will get two extra days of rest and No. 1 starter Brett Anderson one additional day with the team off on Monday. … Injured A’s SS Hiroyuki Nakajima, who began the season on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, had a short workout on the field. … By losing Monday night, Oakland’s skid on opening day reached nine games — setting an AL record and matching the major league mark shared with the New York Giants (1893-1901). … LHP Joe Saunders makes his season debut for Seattle on Wednesday night against Milone.
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