Getting swept is no fun. Getting swept after the team was in a good position to win the last two games in the final innings only to see the bullpen hemorrhage the victory away is frustrating. The sweep in Texas proved to be yet another example of what has proven to be a season-long issue to date for the A’s- the team cannot find its footing and play consistent, good baseball on the road. The A’s are a respectable 11-8 at home on the year, but are an MLB worst 5-13 outside the comfy confines of home. While most every team plays better at home than on the road, the A’s are practically automatic wins for the opposition when not at Rickey Henderson Field. The team’s OPS falls roughly seventy points on the road compared to at home, and perhaps more tellingly, the team’s ERA jumps a full run per game and is nail-bitingly close to being over five. The bullpen has blown four of seven save opportunities on the road.
As it is, the A’s find themselves in last place and tied for the worst record in the American League. Their record is better than San Francisco’s, at the very least.
· Houston: 26-12
· Texas: 19-20
· Anaheim: 19-21
· Seattle: 17-21
· Oakland: 16-21
Getting swept in three games on the road is no fun, but getting swept in four games on the road is worse. And after back to back nights where the bullpen blew the game in the final frames against the surging Blue Jays, the Mariners and A’s find themselves dealing with the same struggles and just so happen to be separated by just half a game at the bottom of the division. In addition to the aforementioned bullpen drama that cost the Mariners’ a series split on the road, and singlehandedly got the hopes and dreams of Toronto baseball fans unleashed after a miserable start to the season, the potent Mariners’ lineup has been subdued and has been pressing to score runs for a week (when not facing the Phillies). This will be the second series the A’s and Mariners will play against each other, the first being a four game set in Oakland, in which the A’s won three of four games on the backs of some superb starting pitching. However, for the next three games, the A’s will have to repeat their previous success on the road.
The Mariner’s lineup has finally been hitting the way it was envisioned to during the offseason, the big boppers like Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano (currently day-to-day with a lame quad) getting complimented by targeted key role players like Danny Valencia and Jarrod Dyson. However, it has been the significant contingent of rookies that have really elevated the lineup to its current state. Early in the season it was Taylor Motter, previously with Tampa Bay and capable of playing all over the diamond as Seattle’s very own Chad-Pinder type, who was swatting home runs left and right while pitcher’s mistakenly tried to challenge him, but as the calendar turned to May rookie outfielder Ben Gamel has stolen the show. He’s only played in seventeen games this year, as he began the season in Tacoma, but since Mitch Haniger went down with injury he has carried the torch admirably, hitting to the tune of a .923 OPS and a similar new-batted ball profile to Yonder Alonso. Gamel has been selling out for power, but his excellent plate discipline and batter’s eye have kept his strikeouts in check even as he is hitting the ball with more authority than ever.
The Mariners’ starting rotation isn’t doing all too well. All of Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Drew Smyly, and Ryan Weber are on the Disabled List, leaving the Mariners to have to consider options like Dillon Overton for the starting rotation that has five starters riding the bench. Most of those pitchers likely won’t make it back into the rotation before summer.
Monday, 5/15 @ 7:10: Manaea (1-2) vs Gallardo (1-3)
Tuesday, 5/16 @ 7:10: Triggs (5-2) vs De Jong (0-3)
Wednesday, 5/17 @ 7:10: Hahn (1-2) vs Bergman (0-1)
All games on NBCSCA
How the A’s Win the Series
The Mariners season has mimicked the A’s season in quite a few ways this year, and vast disparities in performance at home versus on the road have plagued the Mariners’ as well. However, in Seattle, the Mariners are a robust 10-5 and have been able to outslug any shortcomings coming out of the starting rotation, meaning the A’s will be given a significant test. The A’s undoubtedly have to play the best baseball the team is capable of to prevent sliding even further back in the standings. A series win will get the A’s out of last place.
Sean Manaea will be returning to the hill after a short DL stint and will look to keep his strikeout rate high while looking to get his ERA less high. Andrew Triggs has pitched surprisingly wonderfully this year, but he’s rapidly approaching his previous season high in innings for his career and got shelled in Oakland when he faced the Mariners’ early this year. Jesse Hahn has pitched better than his record would indicate, and appears to be getting stronger and more confident with each successful start. On paper, the A’s look to have the pitching advantage in each game, but due to the A’s top-down struggles on the road, the A’s will need more than just an edge in starting pitching to leave Seattle with two or three wins.
Link to Lookout Landing