The Mariners went 5-5 on the homestand and will send two of their best pitchers, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, to the mound in Oakland.
Leading 1-0 heading into the ninth Wednesday, the Mariners seemed poised to complete their first three-game winning streak since August, 2012. But then Houston scored six times for a 6-1 win, collecting its most runs in a game after being held scoreless through the first eight since April 8, 1988, when the Astros tallied eight times in a 16-inning game against the Reds. Only the Mariners could be on the wrong end of a stat like that.
The Mariners and their dwindling fan base need a day off, and they have one Thursday — their first in 20 days — before a three-game series at division leader Oakland Friday night. That will be followed by four against the Angels in Anaheim
After losing three out of four to the Yankees and botching a sweep opportunity against Houston, the Mariners head to the Bay Area with 29-38 record and 11 games behind Oakland in the AL West. Last year after 67 games, the Mariners stood 28-39, an improvement of one game.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
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.
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 year, 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.
MARINERS: RHP Felix Hernandez (7-4, 2.49 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)
The 27-year-old Hernandez, in his ninth major league season, all with Seattle, will make his 15th start and second against the Athletics. Hernandez has won his last two decisions, took a no-decision in his last outing and hasn’t lost since May 25. He beat the A’s on Opening Day 2-0 and has an outstanding record at the Coliseum, 7-2 with a 2.96 ERA in 14 starts.
ATHLETICS: RHP A.J. Griffin (5-5, 3.78 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)
The 25-year-old Griffin, in his second major league season, both with Oakland, will make his 14th start and second against the Mariners (defeated Seattle 8-2 April 4). Although Griffin has five victories, he’s coming off two losses and a no-decision. Griffin had his best outing May 3 when he defeated the Yankees 2-0, allowing six hits over 7 innings. The Athletics selected Griffin in the 13th round of the 2010 amateur draft.
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-1, 1.79 ERA, 0.81 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 15th start and third against the Athletics. Iwakuma, bidding for his first American League All-Star appearance, already defeated the Athletics twice, has won five consecutive decisions, and is the MLB leader in WAR for pitchers (4.0) and WHIP (0.81). He also ranks second in ERA (1.79). Iwakuma is coming off a 3-2 win over the Houston Astros June 10.
ATHLETICS: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-2, .401 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
The 40-year-old Colon, a Dominican native in his 16th major league season and third with Oakland, will make his 14th start and first against the Mariners. A career 179-game winner, Colon missed most of last season due to a drug suspension, but has returned this year with one of the best starts to a season in his career. He has a five-game winning streak during which he has allowed only three earned runs. Colon has 16 wins against the Mariners, three shy of the 19 he has against Texas.