Athletics Observations

What we learned as Sears shines, bats go quiet in A's loss to Mariners

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OAKLAND, Calif. – JP Sears struck out eight in his 13th start of the 2024 MLB season, but the Athletics’ bats went quiet in a shutout 3-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday at the Oakland Coliseum.

Sears’ up-and-down start to the season continued with a solid outing Thursday, allowing just three hits and two earned runs through six innings while receiving zero run support from Oakland’s offense.

On the other side, Mariners starter Bryan Woo, a Bay Area native, pitched a masterclass (W, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) against his hometown team.

Neither team was super active offensively, but some timely hitting by the Mariners – and another Woo gem – was enough for Seattle to pull out the win and series victory against Oakland.

Here are three takeaways from the A's loss:

Hometown kid torches A’s

Woo (3-0), who was born in Oakland and grew up in Alameda, took the mound Thursday afternoon less than three miles away from where he shined six years ago as a high school standout.

From Alameda High School to the big leagues with the Mariners, the Bay Area native put on a show in front of his friends and family in the series finale.

The righty made his sixth start with Seattle this season, four of which have been scoreless.

Woo now has 24 strikeouts on the season.

The 24-year-old's already-spectacular 1.30 ERA improved to 1.07 -- the lowest ERA over the first six starts of a season in Mariners history, surpassing Randy Johnson (1.21, 1995), Erik Hanson (1.29, 1993), Logan Gilbert (1.36, 2022) and James Paxton (1.43, 2017).

Woo's return to the Bay went as well as he could have imagined, but for the A's, his masterclass came wearing the wrong colors.

Steady, not stressed 

Sears’ previous 12 starts this season quite literally were split by good and … not so good.

The 28-year-old lefty added another quality start to his résumé with Thursday’s strong outing, and he escaped some increasingly tense situations against the AL West’s top dogs.

Including the top of the third inning when the Mariners loaded the bases with no outs before Sears escaped and limited the damage to a Dylan Moore sac fly.

The Mariners tacked on one more on Mitch Garver's RBI single in the top of the fourth inning, but overall, in situations where stress could have gotten the best of him, Sears was steady and focused.

Two innings later, Sears walked off the mound to a warm reception from the crowd and manager Mark Kotsay after throwing 101 pitches.

Bats go quiet

On a day when Mariners slugger Julio Rodriguez -- who homered less than 24 hours ago in the same ballpark -- went 0-for-4 at the plate, the A's weren't able to take advantage when the opportunities presented themselves.

Oakland opened each of the first two innings with leadoff doubles, advancing the runner to third before eventually failing to score.

The A's top three in the lineup -- Abraham Toro, Miguel Andujar and JJ Bleday -- combined to go 1-for-12 on the day.

Zack Gelof's six-game hit streak ended, going 0-for-3 at the dish Thursday.

Woo's dominance surely didn't make things easy for Oakland, but the A's and their offensive woes don't have long to flip the page as they brace for a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

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