Hill strikes out 10, Reddick homers and A's beat Mariners
SEATTLE (AP) Oakland's Rich Hill kept flipping sliders and curveballs that had Robinson Cano and the rest of the Seattle Mariners flailing and guessing at what was coming next.
Unlike his first start this season, those breaking balls were effective because Hill's fastball was just as good.
''Basically everything stemmed off of fastball command,'' Hill said.
The veteran left-hander struck out 10 batters over six innings and gave Oakland's overworked bullpen a needed break in the A's 6-1 victory over the Mariners on Saturday night.
Oakland won the first two games of the weekend series between the AL West foes thanks largely to a stellar performance from Hill (1-1). He was shaky on opening day while filling in for ill Sonny Gray but rebounded by allowing just one run on five hits and a walk Saturday. His only mistake was a solo homer from Chris Iannetta in the second inning.
''It's one of the most underrated things in baseball is getting to call a game for a guy like that where he has everything working. It's a lot of fun,'' Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said.
Hill has never struck out more than 11 in his career, but he has now struck out 10 in four of his past six starts dating back to last September when he was a late call-up with Boston. Hill's best inning was his last - he shut down the middle of Seattle's order by striking out Cano, Kyle Seager and Iannetta around a hit batter and a single from Nelson Cruz.
''When he's on, he's unpredictable,'' Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. ''He can throw his breaking ball in any count, but it was the command of the fastball that was much better than we've seen. This was a big game for him and for us with the rotation. We really needed someone to get deep into the game for us.''
While Hill was strong on the mound, Josh Reddick homered for the second straight game. Reddick's two-run homer came with two outs in the fifth inning - he jumped on a 3-2 changeup from Seattle starter Nathan Karns (0-1) for a 4-1 lead.
''The pitch to Reddick we'd all like to have back in that situation,'' Seattle manager Scott Servais said. ''He's got to learn he has to execute a little bit better there.''
Karns made his Mariners debut after being acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay. Karns beat out James Paxton for the final spot in the Mariners rotation but nearly didn't make it out of the first inning on Saturday, needing 35 pitches and giving up two runs to open the game on singles by Danny Valencia and Jed Lowrie. Karns avoided trouble again until the fifth, when he gave up a single to Coco Crisp and missed on a 3-2 pitch to Reddick.
Reddick said most of the first week has been a struggle to feel comfortable at the plate. He had that comfort briefly on Friday when he hit his first home run of the season, but felt more at ease hitting on Saturday.
''I was sitting off-speed. I was thinking curveball. ... Just saw a changeup up and put a good swing on it,'' Reddick said.
Saturday was one of Oakland's better defensive performances, including shortstop Marcus Semien diving to stop Franklin Gutierrez's grounder and start an inning-ending double play in the fourth. Reliever Marc Rzepczynski added another highlight in the ninth by covering first base and doing the splits to catch Lowrie's throw.
''It's a great feeling when you play good defense,'' Melvin said.
Crisp picked up the 300th and 301st stolen bases of his career. Crisp became the ninth active player to reach 300 career steals by stealing second in the first inning and later came around the score.
Cano extended his hitting streak to 21 games dating to last season with a ground-rule double in the third inning.
Athletics: Chris Bassitt (0-0) makes his second start of the season. Bassitt had a no decision his first time out against the White Sox giving up four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (0-1) makes his first home start of the season. Hernandez lost on opening day despite allowing just one hit in six innings to Texas. He was hampered by five walks.