Joey Estes

Estes flirts with perfection in A's bounce-back win over Mariners

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Athletics pitcher Joey Estes was perfect through six innings Wednesday night at the Oakland Coliseum, but his first pitch of the seventh spoiled his chance at making MLB history.

Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford broke up Estes' perfect game with a leadoff double, ending the 22-year-old pitcher's night and certainly the best start of his young career.

After Mason Miller surrendered a ninth-inning home run to Seattle slugger Julio Rodriguez, the star closer and the A's held on for a 2-1 win behind Zack Gelof's fifth home run of the 2024 MLB season, which extended the second baseman's hitting streak to six games.

And despite whispers on social media and certainly throughout the ballpark as Estes flirted with perfection, the right-hander wasn't thinking about whether or not he actually would end up retiring 27 batters in order on the night.

"It's just kind of one of those things [where] you kind of know what's happening, but nothing changes," Estes told reporters after the game. "I'm still out there pounding the strike zone, and it's the same game. Nothing changes, but yeah, I guess you kind of see it, but it's not eating me up in my mind or anything ...

"I was just going out there and doing my job. I noticed once [the Mariners] got the hit, I guess."

Estes' gem against the Mariners coincidentally came less than a month after he earned his first MLB win in Seattle on May 11. While there have been ups and downs for Estes since, his near-perfect outing Wednesday lowered his ERA from 6.10 to 4.67 across five starts this season.

After surrendering his lone hit of the night to Crawford, Estes got Josh Rojas to fly out before A's manager Mark Kotsay pulled him from the game at 78 pitches -- 58 of which were strikes. Oakland reliever T. J. McFarland then escaped a bases-loaded jam to preserve the lead, as well as Estes' sanity.

"I mean, I don't know if the camera was on me, [but] I was going crazy [in the dugout]. It's a really good feeling as a pitcher when you come out of an inning and your guys come out of the bullpen and they shut it down," Estes said, before noting he didn't have a problem with Kotsay's decision to remove him.

"Of course [I wanted to stay in], but I trust my skip. Manager has his plans, and he knows what to do."

Kotsay explained after the game that he didn't want Estes potentially on the hook for a loss or no decision if Rodriguez, who was due up next, was able to make loud contact off the starter again, as he did in the fourth inning when he flew out sharply to center field.

"[Estes] had really good stuff tonight," Kotsay told reporters. "He's such a competitor. In that situation, it's tough to go get the ball from him, but Julio had squared a ball up to center earlier in the second at-bat, so there's no sense in leaving him in and having him have a chance to not get a win there."

Kotsay's decision ultimately paid off, and Estes' outing didn't go to waste as the A's tied their three-game set with the AL West-leading Mariners at one win apiece.

And while Estes wasn't able to secure the 25th perfect game in MLB history, Wednesday night certainly was one the young pitcher won't soon forget -- and one that has Oakland excited for his future.

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