BY SPNW Staff 06:51AM 08/20/2013

#125: Struggling Saunders Draws Favorite Club

No starter has enjoyed the Mariners’ uptick in home runs more than Joe Saunders, who Tuesday pitches against the A’s, against whom he has done fairly well.

Yoenis Cespedes is batting .293 with 20 home runs. He’s hit four of his home runs against the Mariners. / Wiki Commons

GAME: Mariners (57-67, 3rd, AL West, -14.5 GB) at Athletics (71-53, 2nd, AL West, -0.5 GB). GAME #: 125. SERIES: 2nd of 3 games. MEETING: 15th (Mariners lead 8-6). WHEN: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m., O.Com Coliseum. STREAKS: Mariners L 1; Athletics W 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network

With 147 home runs in 124 games (none in a 2-1 loss to Oakland Monday night), the Mariners rank fourth in the major leagues in long balls and need two more to match the season total from last season (149). The Mariners also lead the majors in percent of runs scored via the home run — 494 runs, 231 as a result of homers, or 46.7 percent.

The Mariners have 29 homers in starts made by Joe Saunders, but Saunders is still sitting on a losing record (10-12) in part due to his unsightly 5.60 ERA in 14 road starts, in part due to the fact that he has a 7.28 ERA over his past six outings while averaging fewer than 5.0 innings per start.

But for Saunders, who will pitch the second game of a three-game series Tuesday night at O.com Coliseum, there’s always Oakland. Saunders has 88 wins in his nine-year major league career, 15 of them against the Athletics. Even Felix Hernandez hasn’t defeated Oakland more times.

Saunders’ 15 victories against the As are nearly twice as many as he has posted against any other team — eight against Seattle — which sustained its 10th walk-off loss of the season Tuesday when Brandon Moss took Carter Capps deep in the ninth inning, giving the Athletics a 2-1 victory.

The Mariners, who fell to 3-4 on the nine-game road trip, face rookie right hander Sonny Gray. Gray will be making his career debut against Seattle.

“He throws the ball outstanding, and he’s a very exciting arm,” catcher Derek Norris told mariners.com. “I’m looking forward to catching him several hundred times.”

TUESDAY’S PROBABLES

MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (10-12, 4.86 ERA, 1.54 WHIP)

The 32-year-old Saunders, a Fairfax, VA., native in his ninth major league season and first with Seattle, will make his 26th start and fourth against the Athletics. Saunders is 1-4 with a 7.77 ERA over his last five starts, failing to get beyond the fifth inning in three of those. But he has beaten the A’s in two of three meetings this year and is 15-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 23 career games against he A’s during his career.

  • LAST START: Aug. 15 at Tampa Bay, lost 7-1; 5 earned runs on 7 hits in 4.1 innings; 0 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 98 pitches, 51 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. ATHLETICS: June 14, won 3-2; 1 earned run on 5 hits in 7.0 innings; 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 98 pitches, 57 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. ATHLETICS: 15-6, 3.36 ERA in 23 starts covering 139.1 innings; 84 strikeouts, 47 walks, 10 home runs, 1.32 WHIP.
  • AT O.COM COLISEUM: 7-3, 2.94 ERA in 10 starts covering 64.1 innings; 34 strikeouts, 24 walks, 4 home runs, 1.36 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Josh Reddick (1-for-9, .111), Yoenis Cespedes (2-for-9, .222), Jed Lowrie (4-for-18, .222).
  • HATES TO FACE: Jemile Weeks (3-for-6, .500), Scott Sizemore (3-for-5, .600), Josh Donaldson (7-for-14, .500).
  • CURRENT ATHLETICS VS. SAUNDERS: 44-for-148, .297 BA, 22 strikeouts, 11 walks, 2 home runs, .348 on-base percentage.

RANGERS: RHP Sonny Gray (1-1, 1.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP)

The 23-year-old Gray, a Nashville native in his first major league season, will make his third start and first against the Mariners. Gray earned his first major league win in his second career start, striking out nine batters in eight innings and yielding a lone walk. The rookie has struck out 20 batters in 18 innings over four appearances.

  • LAST START: Aug. 15 vs. Houston, won 5-0; 0 earned runs on 4 hits in 8.0 innings; 9 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 118 pitches, 75 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. MARINERS: Never pitched.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: No record.
  • AT O.COM COLISEUM: 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 1 start covering 8.0 innings; 9 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 0.62 WHIP.
  • LOVE/HATES TO FACE: Gray has never faced a member of the Mariners roster.

MARINERS STATS / NOTES

  • CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Tampa Bay (Tuesday-Thursday), three at Texas (Friday-Sunday), three at Oakland (Monday-Wednesday). Following a day off Thursday, the Mariners begin a six-game home stand Friday vs. the Angels and Rangers.
  • Aaron Harang, who made his major league debut for Oakland 11 years ago, received a no-decision Monday but threw one of his better games of the season, allowing one earned run on five hits in 7.0 innings.
  • The Mariners went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position Monday and left five men stranded.
  • All five of Seattle’s hits Monday were leadoff hits.
    Outfielder Michael Morse missed his second straight game Monday, nursing a sore wrist.
  • Kyle Seager, who went 0-for-4 Monday, is one home run shy of becoming the first Mariners player to hit 20 or more home runs in back-to-back seasons since Raul Ibanez in 2007-08.
  • The Mariners said that manager Eric Wedge, who suffered a mild stroke July 22, is expected back in uniform Friday.

UPCOMING PROBABLES

Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
8/20 Tue at Oak LHP Joe Saunders (10-12) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (1-1)
8/21 Wed at Oak RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (10-8)
8/23 Fri vs. LAA RHP Felix Hernandez (12-6) vs. TBA
8/24 Sat vs. LAA RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-0) vs. TBA
8/25 Sun vs. LAA RHP Aaron Harang (5-10) vs. TBA

 


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