OAKLAND, Calif. — After getting off to an 0-for-10 start with his new bushy beard, Josh Reddick was happy to silence those critics calling on him to shave.
Reddick homered in his first at-bat and drove in four runs to lead the Oakland Athletics to an 8-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.
“I think everybody’s getting a little too superstitious too early,” Reddick said. “We’re four games in. Let it go. It’s not like I’m going to go oh-fer for the whole year. That’s just fans being fans on Twitter. So I just got to let it go in one ear and out the other. My face. I’ll do what I want with it.”
Yoenis Cespedes also homered as Oakland gave Brandon Maurer a rude welcome to the big leagues. 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. But that wasn’t enough as Maurer (0-1) struggled in his major league debut.
“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.”
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.
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,” manager Eric 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.
Griffin allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings to improve to 3-0 in his brief career against Seattle.
NOTES: Lowrie doubled twice and has five extra-base hits the past two games. ... Oakland 1B Brandon Moss left the game early when his wife went into labor and will not travel with the team to Houston. ... 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.