Former Mariner manager Bob Melvin has the Athletics in first place in the A.L. West, a game ahead of the Texas Rangers. The A’s and Mariners begin a three-game series Friday night. / Wiki Commons
GAME: Mariners (29-38, 3rd, AL West, -11.5 GB) at Athletics (41-27, 1st, AL West, +1.5 GA). GAME #: 68. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 8th (Mariners lead 4-3). WHEN: Friday, 7:10 p.m., O.com Coliseum. STREAKS: Mariners L 1; Athletics W 3. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
The Mariners, who curiously have a winning record (4-3) against first-place Oakland and a losing record against last-place Houston (4-5), would seem to have an excellent opportunity for success when they begin a three-game series with the Athletics Friday night at O.com Coliseum.
During the series, the Mariners will use their two best pitchers, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, both of whom produced superb results against the Athletics. Hernandez, who defeated Oakland 2-0 Opening Day, is 14-6, 2.70 in his career against the A’s, including 7-2, 2.96 in 14 starts at the Coliseum.
Iwakuma is 2-0, 2.08 with a nicely absurd 0.46 WHIP in two starts against Oakland this season and will take a streak of five consecutive winning decisions into his Sunday start.
The other edge for Seattle: The Athletics played 18 innings against the Yankees Thursday, using six relievers. So their bullpen is likely shot.
The wild card for Seattle in the series is Joe Saunders, who will start Friday. Good at home, terrible on the road, Saunders is 1-1 against the Athletics this year, losing his only start at O.com April 3. On the plus side, Saunders has a winning career record in Oakland, 6-3, 3.14 ERA. Saunders’ opposite number Friday will be Tommy Milone, also 1-1 against Seattle this season. A closer look:
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (4-6, 5.12 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)
The 31-year-old Saunders, a Springfield, VA., native in his ninth major league season and first with Seattle, will make his 14th start and third against the Athletics. Saunders has yet to get anything good going on the road, where he’s 0-4, 9.00 ERA in six starts (vs. 4-2, 2.53 at Safeco Field). In two starts against the Athletics, Saunders is 1-1, 4.35 with nine strikeouts, seven walks and an unflattering 1.83 WHIP.
- LAST START: June 8 vs. New York, lost 3-1; 3 earned runs on 7 hits in 6.1 innings; 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 106 pitches, 66 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ATHLETICS: May 12, won 6-1 at Safeco Field; 1 earned run on 5 hits in 6.1 innings; 6 strikeouts, 3 walks, 0 home runs, 104 pitches, 62 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. ATHLETICS: 14-6, 3.47 ERA in 22 starts covering 132.1 innings; 80 strikeouts, 45 walks, 10 home runs, 1.33 WHIP.
- AT O.COM COLISEUM: 6-3, 3.14 ERA in 9 starts covering 57.1 innings; 33 strikeouts, 22 walks, 4 home runs, 1.41 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Seth Smith (0-for-6, .000), Brandon Moss (0-for-3, .000), Josh Reddick (1-for-7, .143).
- HATES TO FACE: Scott Sizemore (3-for-5, .600), Jemile Weeks (3-for-6, .500), Josh Donaldson (7-for-14, .500).
- CURRENT ATHLETICS VS. SAUNDERS: 38-for-128, .297 BA, 19 strikeouts, 15 walks, 3 home runs, .372 on-base percentage.
ATHLETICS: LHP Tommy Milone (6-5, 3.69 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)
The 26-year-old Milone, a native of Saugus, CA., in his third major league season and second with Oakland, will make his 14th start and third against the Mariners. Milone, who is 1-1 against Seattle this season, has won his past three decisions. He pitched his best game May 7 by throwing 7.0 scoreless innings in a 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Milone began his MLB career with the Washington Nationals, who selected him in the 10th round of the 2008 amateur draft.
- LAST START: June 8 at Chicago, took a no-decision in Oakland’s 4-1 loss; 1 earned run on 4 hits in 7.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 118 pitches, 82 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: May 12 at Seattle, lost 6-1; 5 earned runs on 6 hits in 5.0 innings; 4 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 90 pitches, 55 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 3-2, 3.38 ERA in 7 starts covering 42.2 innings; 40 strikeouts, 7 walks, 5 home runs; 1.19 WHIP.
- AT O.COM COLISEUM: 10-6, 2.66 ERA in 20 starts covering 132.0 innings; 92 strikeouts, 20 walks, 11 home runs; 1.05 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Jason Bay (1-for-9, .111), Kendrys Morales (1-for-9, .111), Brendan Ryan (2-for-14, .143).
- HATES TO FACE: Michael Morse (2-for-5, .400), Michael Saunders (5-for-14, .357), Kyle Seager (4-for-14, .250).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. MILONE: 33-for-130, .254 BA, 35 strikeouts, 7 walks, 5 home runs, .290 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Oakland (Friday-Sunday), four at L.A. Angels (Monday-Thursday). Following the road trip, the Mariners return to Safeco Field for a three-game series with the Athletics June 21-23. Seattle’s next home stand also features visits by the Pittsburgh Pirates (June 25-26) and Chicago Cubs (June 28-30).
- The six runs the Mariners allowed in the ninth inning Wednesday marked the most yielded in that frame by a Seattle club since allowing nine in the top of the ninth to Baltimore April 23, 2006.
- Jeremy Bonderman, who held the Astros scoreless for 8.0 innings, has not allowed a run in his past 13.0 innings.
- Catcher Mike Zunino, just called up from AAA Tacoma, made his major league debut Wednesday and recorded his first hit, a single, in the fourth inning.
- Zunino is the third catcher to make his major league debut with Seattle in the last 20 days, joining Jesus Sucre (disabled list) and Brandon Bantz (designated for assignment, outrighted to Tacoma Thursday).
- Nine pitchers, including Houston’s Jordan Lyles Wednesday, have struck out 10 Mariners in a game this season.
- Nick Franklin hit .333 on the home stand, going 11-for-33 with three runs scored, two RBIs and four walks.
- Endy Chavez, who extended his hitting streak to four games Wednesday, has hit safely in nine of his past 10, batting .324 over the stretch.
- Tom Wilhelmsen has four blown saves in his past nine chances, placing his closer’s role in jeopardy.
||RHP Joe Saunders (4-6) vs. LHP Tommy Milone (6-5)
||RHP Felix Hernandez (7-4) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (5-5)
||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-1) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (7-2)