OAKLAND, Calif. — Brandon Maurer had a rough start and a poor finish to his major league debut. The middle four innings gave the Seattle Mariners hope for a brighter future.
Josh Reddick hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Yoenis Cespedes added a two-run shot in the sixth to lead the Oakland Athletics to an 8-2 victory over the Mariners on Thursday.
“I just think he needed to get settled in early on,” manager Eric Wedge said. “That was nothing more than that, being his first time out there. He really settled in nicely and was throwing the ball very well there for a while. Then in that sixth inning it just looked like the ball leaked back over the plate a little bit on him. He kind of got in the middle and that’s when they got to him.”
A.J. Griffin (1-0) allowed two runs in six innings and John Jaso drove in a run against his former team as the Athletics won back-to-back games to earn a split of the season-opening series.
After being held to one run and six hits in the first two games, Oakland broke out with 14 runs, 21 hits and 13 extra-base hits the past two games.
“I feel like we weren’t the team we know we can be,” Reddick said. “We kind of really woke up yesterday and today. To split the series is good for us, and just have a happy flight going to Houston with a little bit of confidence on our side.”
Michael Morse homered for the third straight day and joined Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997 as the only Mariners to homer four times in the first four games.
“I’m just getting some good pitches to hit and trying to put the barrel on the ball and just let things happen,” Morse said.
But that wasn’t enough as Maurer (0-1) struggled in his major league debut.
Maurer made the jump from Double-A to the majors based on a strong spring training, becoming the first Mariners pitcher to make the opening-day rotation without pitching in Triple-A in 20 years.
Maurer was Seattle’s minor league pitcher of the year last season and is being counted on to perform in the majors this season. He got off to a rough start in his debut when Coco Crisp led off with a single and Reddick hit a one-out drive into the seats in right-center to make it 2-0.
“I know what I need to learn now,” Maurer said. “I know some things I need to work on, so I’ll take that. I think I’ll be a little more comfortable the next time.”
Reddick had been hitless in his first 10 at-bats this season after hitting 32 homers last season when he was a major part of Oakland’s surprising success. He finished this game with a homer, double and four RBIs.
“The longer it goes, the more you press a little bit,” manager Bob Melvin said. “To hit a home run like that and be the big blow of the game at that time and then have good at-bats after that makes you relax. Hopefully we’re past all of that.”
Maurer didn’t give up another hit until the fifth when Chris Young doubled and scored on Jaso’s single.
Maurer ran into more trouble in the sixth when Jed Lowrie and Reddick opened the inning with doubles and Cespedes followed with his second homer of the season to make it 6-2. Maurer allowed six runs and eight hits in six innings with no walks and one strikeout.
“I’m sure he learned a lot today, and he’ll continue to learn,” Wedge said. “That’s just part of it. But he threw the ball well overall. Once he got settled in there, he got into a little bit of a groove. Got Coco out there, first hitter in the sixth, then they got to him quickly and I had to get him out of there. I wanted him to finish that inning after they had the swings. I wanted him to walk off the field, and he did.”
Griffin retired the first seven batters in his first start of the season and didn’t allow a run until the fifth when Dustin Ackley started a rally with an infield hit. After a hit by Kelly Shoppach and a sacrifice bunt by Robert Andino, Michael Saunders drove in Seattle’s first run with a sacrifice fly.
Griffin stranded two runners in the fifth when he got Raul Ibanez to pop out. The Mariners added another run in the sixth on Morse’s homer and had two on with two outs when Griffin escaped by striking out Robert Andino.
NOTES: Griffin allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings to improve to 3-0 in his brief career against Seattle. ... The A’s head to Houston to play their first AL series ever against the Astros when Dan Straily takes on Brad Peacock, who was sent to Houston by Oakland this offseason in the deal for Lowrie. ... The Mariners open a three-game series in Chicago on Friday with Blake Beavan taking on Jose Quintana.