When Joe Saunders takes the mound for the Mariners Wednesday, the club will be seeking to go 3-0 for the first time since 1995, Seattle’s first playoff season.
GAME: Mariners (2-0, 1st, AL West, +0.5 GA) at Athletics (0-2, 5th, AL West, -20. GB). GAME #: 3. SERIES: 3rd of 4 games. MEETING: 3rd (Mariners lead 2-0). WHEN: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m., Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA. STREAKS: Mariners W 2; Athletics L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Over the past two decades, the Mariners have gotten off to 2-0 starts just five times, including this season, but only once in that span did they launch a campaign 3-0. Lefty Joe Saunders can rekindle memories of 1995 Wednesday when he makes his Seattle debut against the Oakland Athletics in the third of four games between the clubs.
Saunders is coming off a dismal spring, in which he went 1-1 with an 11.57 ERA. But Saunders has a history of sluggish springs and quick April rebounds. Last year, while pitching for Arizona, Saunders went 1-2 with a 7.98 ERA in the spring and then posted a 2-1 mark with a 0.90 ERA in April.
“It’s nice to get out of spring training and get into the real games,” Saunders said. “It’s always nice to get through healthy and ready to go. My arm feels good, so it was definitely a good spring training in that respect.”
Saunders has an impressive track record against Oakland, compiled largely when he pitched for the Angels. His portfolio shows 13 wins, just five losses and a 3.39 ERA in 20 starts. But Saunders doesn’t figure that his experience against the Athletics will amount to much Wednesday night.
“Nowadays teams change so much,” Saunders said. “This (Oakland) is a totally different club. I don’t even know if they have anybody left since I last pitched against them. It’s the same locker room, same clubhouse, same field, but different players. So you have to go with the times and evolve.”
Lefty Tommy Milone, who led the A’s in innings pitched last year, will oppose Saunders. Milone has two wins against Seattle in five career starts and is notable for not walking people, especially Seattle players. In his five starts against the Mariners last year, he issued just three free passes. A closer look at Wednesday’s probables:
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (9-13, 4.07 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
The 31-year-old Saunders, a Springfield, VA., native, split 2012 between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles. He went 3-3 after his Aug. 26 acquisition by Baltimore and was the winning pitcher when the Orioles defeated the Texas Rangers in the inaugural Wild Card Game. The Mariners signed Saunders to a one-year, free agent contract Feb. 12. Saunders nailed down the No. 3 spot in Seattle’s rotation despite going 1-1 with an 11.57 ERA and .377 opponent batting average in spring training.
ATHLETICS: LHP Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Milone, who began his major league career with the Washington Nationals in 2011, was the only starting pitcher in the Oakland rotation to last the entire 2012 season without getting injured. He is notable for the infrequency of his walks, with the rate of issuing two per nine innings. He made five starts against the Mariners last season and went 2-1 with a 2.64 ERA in 30.2 innings. In the five starts, he had 32 strikeouts and issued just three walks.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|4/4||Thr||at Oak||RHP Brandon Maurer (0-0) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (7-1)|
|4/5||Fri||at CWS||RHP Blake Beavan (11-11) vs. RHP Jose Quintana (6-6)|
|4/6||Sat||at CWS||Felix Hernandez (1-0) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (2-2)|
|4/7||Sun||at CWS||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (9-5) vs. LHP Chris Sale (17-8)|