The A’s all but dashed any hope the Rangers may have had of reaching the postseason. Texas probably won’t mind, seeing as they were sellers at the deadline. For a team mired in a losing season, seeing the future stars of the team play well against playoff-caliber opponents, and ruining the fun of team’s still in the chase, is really all one can ask for. The A’s have now won seven consecutive ballgames, and can conceivably catch and overtake the Mariners for not-last place in the division before the end of the week.
- Houston: 95-60
- Anaheim: 77-78
- Texas: 76-79
- Seattle: 75-81
- Oakland: 72-83
It is the final time this year that the A’s will have to take on the Seattle Mariners, who, like Texas, have their hopes of the postseason all but dashed. Seattle’s playoff drought is now old enough to drive, as the Mariners have repeatedly come up just short of the playoffs, despite their best efforts. They had one of the best, deepest pitching staffs in the game, but none of the offense to back them up. The team then went big and signed some of the best free agents available to bolster the offense, only to get brought down by injuries and ineffectiveness on the pitching side. Jerry Dipoto was brought along, and with him came a bevy of trades, both big and small, to change the makeup of the team and to make the Mariners more athletic, but it just wasn’t enough. One more loss guarantees a losing season for the Mariners, and a sweep this week forces them into last place in the AL West.
Seattle is decidedly average at both run scoring and run prevention. The bulk of the offense comes from Nelson Cruz, but, especially recently, the Mariners’ catching duo of Carlos Ruiz and Mike Zunino have provided the rest of the thump. Former A’s Danny Valencia and Yonder Alonso have both struggled in their role as platoon first baseman, both of whom are OPS-ing below .600 over the last month or so. While no one would ever want to see a resolute, hard-working, and good-hearted athlete like Alonso struggle, perhaps except when he is facing an A’s pitcher, it is hard not to feel at least the slightest bit of schadenfreude as Matt Olson has transformed into an absolute monster at the plate since taking Alonso’s place on the roster.
Monday, September 25th at 7:05 - Daniel Gossett vs Felix Hernandez
Tuesday, September 26th at 7:05 - Daniel Mengden vs James Paxton
Wednesday, September 27th at 12:35 - Kendall Graveman vs Erasmo Ramirez
How the A’s Win the Series
The Mariners are scuffling while the A’s have been playing their best ball of the year. The Mariners have been below average on the road all season long while the A’s are currently tied for the fourth most wins at home in all of the MLB.
Daniel Gossett is still having his own run prevention problems, but it is clear that his pitching ability is improving, as his strikeout and missed bat numbers are getting progressively better. He is going up against a recently-returned-from-injury former ace in Felix Hernandez, who has yet to fully build up his endurance and will be on a closely-monitored pitch count. While Hernandez traditional pitches very well against the A’s, this may well be Oakland’s best opportunity to do some damage against him.
Daniel Mengden made some deal with the devil and has suddenly become unhittable in his last two outings. The control issues that plagued Mengden’s entire career have evaporated, as he has no walks compared to eleven strikeouts during his last couple of starts. He is going up against a recently-returned-from-injury budding ace in James Paxton. Paxton, too, is unlikely to make it too deep into the game, and he hasn’t been all too sharp in his return.
Kendall Graveman has been the A’s steady hand in the rotation all season, when he wasn’t injured himself. He is also incredibly dominant when pitching at home, and so he is the A’s pitcher best equipped to oppose Erasmo Ramirez, who has been the most consistent pitcher in the Mariners injury-laden rotation, save for Mike Leake.
This is the A’s final home series, and it would be great for the morale of the team and fans if the A’s can go out with a bang that leads them out of the AL West cellar. With the A’s looking better now than they have all year long, it is safe to say that next year, the cellar won’t be nearly as familiar.