It's the A's and the M's tonight at Safeco Field, and it's a battle of mid-May under and overachievers. Seattle, picked by many to finish fourth in the AL West, ahead of only Houston, are playing some pretty solid ball. They're 17-9, but have won eight of their last 11 games and haven't dropped a series since visiting Houston on April 22-24.
Oakland, on the other hand, seems to be in a bit of a free fall, sporting a sub-.500 record for the first time since April 3. The A's have lost five straight — that is, if you ignore the giant "what if Angel Hernandez was even a slightly competent Major League Umpire?" question, because who knows what Wednesday's results would have been in that ever-so-unrealistic universe.
Bob Melvin has Jarrod Parker starting tonight, who apparently has shaken off a strained neck to be able to try for only his second win of the year. Jarrod is an unfortunate 1-5 with a 7.34 ERA, and has yet to show much of his rookie brilliance from 2012. He also gave up four — count 'em, four — home runs last week against Cleveland. It would be great to see him get back on track tonight.
For the Mariners, it's Brandon Maurer, who's been good and also very bad at different points this season. He's 2-4 with a 6.07 ERA. This is the kind of game where both starters could be bounced midway through the 4th inning, or they could both allow a run on three hits in eight innings. I guess that's every game, but this one especially.
The A's continue to deal with a myriad of injuries. Almost immediately after the return of slugger Yoenis Cespedes, outfielders Chris Young, Josh Reddick, and Coco Crisp have fallen victim to injuries. That's a very good outfield on the DL right there. Reddick was scuffling as it is, and hopefully his DL stint can help him both get rid of a nagging wrist injury and get him back on track in the batters box.
Without that trio, Melvin turns to catcher John Jaso in the leadoff spot, as the DH, and has Brandon Moss playing right field, giving AN's favorite son Daric Barton another start at first base. Eric Sogard's at second tonight, but I have a feeling that we'll see at least one and probably even two of Hiroyuki Nakajima, Grant Green, and Jemile Week's there at some point this year.
There's no doubt that the lineup lacks a spark without Crisp, but we'll see tonight how the A's offense continues to adapt.