SEATTLE_Oakland began the evening by going deep, but after a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Friday, two of the A's will be reaching deep into their pockets to pay fines after being ejected following the game's final pitch.
Batter Nick Punto and manager Bob Melvin, both startled by the called third strike that ended the game, were ejected by home plate umpire James Hoye. The 5-foot-9 Punto was called out on a pitch that he found almost shoulder high.
"I thought it was a little high; it was one of those heat of the moment things," Punto said. He used both hands to slam his helmet down on the plate, and that set off Hoye.
And while a player (or manager) can't technically be ejected from a game that's already over, he can be fined as if the game were still being played.
"Just look at it," Melvin said. "That's a tough way to end a game."
Tougher still was that the A's won't have infielder Alberto Callaspo for a while. He pulled his right hamstring running to first base in the second inning, was replaced immediately and spent the rest of the night wearing ice.
"It's not bad," Callaspo said. "I'll miss a couple of games, maybe."
Or maybe more. Even though the A's have the four-day All-Star break after this weekend, Callaspo said the last time he had an injury like this, he needed "seven or eight days" before he could return.
That final strike to Punto was the downside of an emotional seesaw of a game for the A's, who saw Stephen Vogt homer off Felix Hernandez as the second batter of the game. And when Jed Lowrie added an RBI single later in the inning, it seemed the A's might be able to break through against their nemesis.
Hernandez stepped up in the second inning, and that was the end of that. He allowed three hits, two walks and no runs from the second through eighth innings, ratcheting up his fastball or dropping his hammer of a curve as needed to keep the A's off the board.
And when the A's tried to rally in the ninth against closer Fernando Rodney, well, they got as far as third base before Punto was rung up.
"The thing with Felix is he gets tougher when there are guys on base later in the game," Lowrie said. "He never makes it easy on you."
Hernandez is 3-0 in four starts against Oakland this season, and Seattle is 22-7 against Oakland when he's been the starting pitcher since 2007.
The win for Hernandez was his 11th, which is the most for him before the All-Star break ever. It puts him in position to perhaps be the All-Star game starter, to which he said, "It would be an honor."
Right-hander Jeff Samardzija made his second start since the A's picked him up in a trade with the Chicago Cubs a week ago. The A's were happy with the eight-inning, five-hit, three-run effort that Samardzija turned in, more so than Samardzija was.
"You can't give up those runs, especially when your team gives you a 2-0 lead right off the bat," Samardzija said. "You're trying to protect that lead and not give Felix a chance to get back in the game."
_Center fielder Coco Crisp missed a second consecutive start as he continues to battle his on-again, off-again neck pain. Crisp had started five of the previous six games off before sitting out Thursday's game in San Francisco. "He's struggling here with the neck again," Melvin said. "It's a day-to-day proposition."
_Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who had played every inning for Oakland since his last day off July 1, rested too but pinch-hit in the ninth. Melvin said Cespedes's 0-for-5 game Thursday (a double-play grounder and four strikeouts) suggested the left fielder was "ready for a day off."
_The A's, faced with the likelihood of losing Jeff Francis to a waiver claim, traded the left-handed pitcher to the New York Yankees, packaging an undisclosed amount of cash with him, with Oakland due to get a player to be named later in return.
"We're always trying to have that depth," Melvin said. "New York has had some injuries, and it made some sense that they went after him. We wish him the best. He didn't pitch a lot here, but you go back to that game that he saved in Miami, and that was terrific."