Mariners Beat Oakland Despite Kikuchi’s Struggles

The Seattle Mariners won against the Athletics despite Yusei Kikuchi’s struggles. The fast 3-0 lead for the Oakland Athletics diminished as Seattle came back to win the game 6-5. The game Thursday afternoon started with another poor performance of Kikuchi. The 2021 All-Star has had his problems in the second half of the season. However, the Mariners as a team were able to overcome the early deficit and get a much-needed win.

Kikuchi’s Struggles Continue

Kikuchi, unfortunately, continued his lackluster second half. His ERA rose once again this outing after giving up an earned three runs on only three hits. Even though three runs are not detrimental, it put the Mariners in a hole early on. Kikuchi has regularly not gone the distance in ballgames. Thursday was the same story, as he only pitched three innings. The stress put on the Mariners bullpen continues late in the season.

For Kikuchi, his struggles are apparent in many areas. Notably, his xBA is in the 26th percentile. xBA is the expected batting average. This measures the likelihood that opponents batted balls will become a hit. This is problematic for Kikuchi that this is poor because a ball that does make contact is more likely to be a hit. Ultimately, this is a factor in potential run production for the opposing team. If hitters are seeing the ball, they can take advantage of his poor xBA.

Kikuchi’s struggles continue in the number of walks he surrenders. In only three innings pitched, he gave up four walks. Not only does this drive up his pitch count, but it presents an opportunity for hitters to take advantage. In his last seven starts, Kikuchi has allowed 15 walks. This has absolutely contributed to his sky-high 7.24 ERA in the same stretch.

For Kikuchi, he seems to be either a hit or miss lately. This is evident in his chase rate being great among other pitchers in the league. However, this effectiveness is erased when hitters at the plate have a high xBA as well as the opportunity to receive a walk. Kikuchi would most likely love to forget the last half of the 2021 season. Even though it was memorable personally for him, he did have issues after the All-Star break. Hopefully, Kikuchi can have a good last few outings before the offseason.

Mariners’ Clutch Home Runs Lead to Win

Despite being down early, the Mariners picked up their pitcher by a few clutch home runs. The rookie Cal Raleigh, Mitch Haniger, and pinch-hitter Luis Torrens all contributed. These are not the usual home run hitters for the Mariners, but it was excellent to see strong contact from up and down the lineup. Raleigh especially has had fans on the edge waiting for his breakout. With only his second home run on the season, he started the home run-filled afternoon. The home runs were the bulk of the offensive production was all the Mariners needed. The Mariners were able to win against Oakland despite Kikuchi’s struggles. 

What’s Up Next

With the series against Oakland wrapping up, Seattle will play the Los Angeles Angels next. Another divisional matchup will see the Mariners the better team of the two, hoping for more wins against an already eliminated Angels team. Logan Gilbert will take the mound against José Suarez. Later on in the series, the Mariners will see Angels’ superstar Shohei Ohtani on the mound. The series kicks off at 6:38 PDT on Friday.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players Mentioned:

Yusei Kikuchi, Cal Raleigh, Mitch Haniger, Luis Torrens, Logan GilbertShohei Ohtani

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