All nine A’s batters came up in the first inning and two of them, Josh Donaldson and Nate Freiman, hit home runs off Saunders. The Seattle starter threw 102 pitches in just six innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits.
Saunders has struggled to give the Mariners quality innings lately. The veteran hasn’t pitched more than six innings in a single game since July 12.
The Mariners responded with their own big inning in the top half of the eighth, when 11 batters came to the plate. Seattle rookie Nick Franklin, who smacked a two-run homer in the third inning, notched an RBI single in the top of the eighth. Fellow rookie Brad Miller also came up with an RBI single, while two wild pitches and a fielder’s choice scored Miller, Franklin, and Kyle Seager.
In a bad twist for both teams, A’s catcher Derek Norris and Mariners second baseman Franklin were injured and had to leave the game when Franklin slid into home and scored on a fielder’s choice.
Franklin suffered a laceration on his knee that required stitches and will likely sideline him for at least a few games. The Mariners are obviously concerned with Franklin, who has become one of their young stars. Only a month ago, rookie catcher Mike Zunino broke a bone in his hand and isn’t expected to return until at least the end of August.
The Mariners will try to take the series in the finale with Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound.