Athletics lose, clinching home field advantage for the Red Sox


Despite a valiant effort at a comeback this afternoon, the Athletics lost to the Mariners 7-5. The loss drops them to 95-66 and, with one game remaining, locks up home field advantage throughout the playoffs for the 97-63 Red Sox. The Sox will play the winner of the one-game AL Wild Card playoff, be it the Indians, Rays, or Rangers.

Mariners shortstop Brad Miller provided most of the offense, hitting a solo home run in the third inning and a grand slam in the fifth off of A’s starter Jarrod Parker. Trailing 7-2 in the seventh, the Athletics scored three runs on a two-run home run from Brandon Moss and a solo shot from Albert Callaspo, both against Mariners reliever Chance Ruffin. But the rally stopped there and the Mariners held on.

Had the Athletics been able to win today, the Red Sox would have been relying on Jon Lester to pitch them past the Orioles tonight to that clinch home-field advantage.

The Tigers and Athletics will match up in the ALDS, which starts on Friday.

Ryan Zimmerman’s spring training has been . . . weird

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.

While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.

Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.

I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.

On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.