Seattle 3, Oakland 0 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's current record: 6-3
I'll start by taking issue with a little of what Zack wrote in the last game recap, which is that if the A's keep pitching well then it doesn't matter how bad their offense is --- this game would be Counter-Example A to that assertion. The A's got a beautifully pitched game from starter Brett Anderson (6 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) who has now started the season with 12 scoreless innings. Granted, the Mariners' offense is weak to quite weak, but Anderson was in command before tiring in the 6th (2 BBs and a HBP with a DP sandwiched between that kept it scoreless). His bread and butter pitch -- the slider down and in to righties -- was working all game, getting a number of his strikeouts and swinging strikes.
On the other side of the ball, Doug Fister, a command and control righty who tops out in the high-80s, absolutely throttled the A's, throwing 8 innings of 3-hit ball with 0 walks and 4 strikeouts. Now, this is EXACTLY the type of pitcher the A's will have problems with all year --- it really says something when they get dominated by a fringy 5th starter yet draw 6 walks off King Felix and make a generally solid Ryan Rowland-Smith look erratic. The A's are a weak offensive team -- this, we know -- but their style of offense makes them particularly susceptible to guys like Fister who pound the strike zone. They have good patience, hit singles and have little power, meaning that Fister can throw strikes without having to worry about giving up too many extra-base hits, and the A's are going to have a tough time stringing together 3 hits to score a run. It's not like he was getting a lot of groundballs (12 to 10 flyballs) or weak contact, just a lot of routine outs. It's no coincidence that they got 2 walks off David Aardsma in the ninth after not drawing one all game against Fister.
Which brings us to the game-losing decision that Bob Geren made in leaving in Brad Ziegler to face Milton Bradley. With Chad Gaudin ready to go, there was absolutely no reason to leave Ziggy in to face the switch-hitting Bradley. It should be very, very clear by now that he should not face left-handed batters (career FIP against LHP: 4.99, career FIP against RHP: 2.57, career K:BB against LHP: 26:33, RHP: 62:21) and though he doesn't give up many homers either way, you had to expect Bradley would do something good against him there. That Gaudin struck out both batters he faced made Geren's decision look even worse. Why wait to take him out? It's always worse to wait one batter too long than take a guy out one batter too early.
In the end, it's always a shame to waste a shutout performance from your starter, but this is a game that we'll see again all year -- good pitching combined with weak hitting off a guy who shouldn't have these types of outings against major league teams.