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Oakland A's vs. Seattle Mariners series preview: Seth Smith silently sensational

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The Seattle Mariners (13-11) visit the Oakland Athletics (13-13) for three games. The A's can pass the Mariners in the AL West standings with a sweep, and join them at one game above .500 by taking two out of three.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

When we first checked in on the Mariners after their first three games, the Mariners had already hit nine home runs, including four by second baseman Robinson Cano. Twenty-one games later, the Mariners have hit 23 more, with Cano adding four more to his total. For the year, the Mariners entered the series 9th in baseball in wRC+ (103), batting a collective .227/.313/.389.

While Cano has been the headliner with his 24 runs batted in and general improvement over last year's illness-afflicted season, Seth Smith has quietly been Seattle's best hitter in the platoon role against right-handers. In 75 plate appearances, he's hitting .317/.440/.550 with four home runs, a 188 wRC+. We'll see Smith start the first two games, though he'll probably be held out against left-hander Sean Manaea on Wednesday.

Oakland swept the Mariners in the first set of three games at Safeco Field, which included a Felix Hernandez start. The A's will have to beat Felix Hernandez again on Wednesday at the Coliseum if they want to continue this run.

Pitching matchups and broadcast schedule

Wednesday is another MLB Network day on television, with the folks at ROOT Sports Northwest bringing us the game action. I understand the game will be available on MLB Network nationwide (besides the Mariners markets) instead of just in the A's market.

Time (PT) TV Seattle Oakland
Mon. 7:05 PM CSNCA RHP Nathan Karns (2-1, 3.63) RHP Kendall Graveman (1-2, 4.03)
Tue. 7:05 PM CSNCA RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (0-3, 4.65) RHP Sonny Gray (3-2, 3.81)
Wed. 12:35 PM MLBN RHP Felix Hernandez (2-2, 1.38) LHP Sean Manaea (0-0, 7.20)

The Mariners rotation has been solid so far, owning the third best ERA (3.28) and FIP (3.67) in the AL.

Monday vs. Nathan Karns

The A's tagged Nate Karns for four runs in five innings in their first outing, including this home run by Josh Reddick to break the game open:

Karns did throw his first quality start of the year in his last time out. He struck out six and walked three while allowing just two hits over seven shutout innings against the Houston Astros on the way to Seattle's 11-1 win.

Tuesday vs. Hisashi Iwakuma

The A's missed Hisashi Iwakuma last time, and he's been tossing a lot of "innings eating" sort of starts, giving up two or four runs over five to eight innings for the most part. He has not won a decision yet, though the Mariners are 2-3 in Iwakuma's starts. Last time out against the Astros, he gave up five runs in five innings.

Wednesday vs. Felix Hernandez

Finally, Felix Hernandez is still Felix Hernandez, though this year he is suffering from an unbelievable lack of run support. The Mariners have scored 2, 1, 3, 2, and 1 run in his starts, winning that last start on a one-hitter because the one hit was a home run. Seattle is 2-3 when Hernandez starts.

Bullpen

Seattle's bullpen has acquitted itself well, though it has had the benefit of significantly less work thanks to deep starts from the Mariners rotation. Seattle has thrown the third fewest bullpen innings in the AL (68.0) and can boast the fifth best bullpen ERA in the AL (2.51).

They are without Joaquin Benoit, who is on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Mayckol Guiape has taken his place and has already given up a run in two-thirds of an inning.

Mariners bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 1-May 30-Apr 29-Apr 28-Apr 27-Apr 26-Apr
Steve Cishek R 11.0 0.82 2.80
O
F
F

D
A
Y
Joel Peralta R 10.0 2.70 3.87 16
Nick Vincent R 9.2 1.86 3.27 5 14
Tony Zych R 12.0 3.00 2.15 15 25
Vidal Nuno L 8.0 2.25 2.19 20 19
Mayckol Guaipe R 0.2 13.50 7.57 20
Mike Montgomery L 11.2 3.09 2.47 14 12 15
A's bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 1-May 30-Apr 29-Apr 28-Apr 27-Apr 26-Apr
Ryan Madson R 12.2 1.42 2.20 28 12 11
Sean Doolittle L 10.2 3.38 5.97 25 14 16
John Axford R 12.1 0.73 2.09 13 28
Ryan Dull R 14.0 1.93 2.64 19 43
Fernando Rodriguez R 16.1 1.10 2.33 28 37
Marc Rzepczynski L 10.2 0.84 2.32 15 14 26
Liam Hendriks R 10.2 8.53 3.23 14 43

Dual event parking advisory

Tuesday's Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers tips at 7:30 PM, which is 25 minutes after first pitch for Tuesday's A's-Mariners contest. Local officials strongly urge patrons of either game to take BART.

Parking for patrons will be $40 and may sell out before game time.