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Series #16: Athletics vs Mariners - Smooth Sailing

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Mariners’ Current Record:

27-19, two games out of first place in the American League West. The Mariners have won three straight versus the rebuilding Tigers and are in current possession of the second wild card spot for the playoffs.

Possible Lineup:

SS - Jean Segura

CF - Guillermo Heredia

RF - Mitch Haniger

DH - Nelson Cruz

3B - Kyle Seager

1B - Ryon Healy

C - Mike Zunino

LF - Ben Gamel

2B - Gordon Beckham

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Mike Leake

Marco Gonzales

Felix Hernandez

Recent Bullpen Usage:

The Mariners’ bullpen is fully rested after a day off on Monday and every reliever should be fully good to go for the upcoming series.

Hottest Hitter(s):

Since returning to the lineup after some early season injuries, Ryon Healy has been one of the top performers in Seattle’s lineup. Over the last month, he has slugged over .600 with eight home runs in just over twenty games played. Mitch Haniger continues to surprisingly be the best hitter in the Mariners’ already stacked lineup, as the outfielder leads the team in OPS and home runs hit.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Robinson Cano was busted taking an illegal substance and will miss most of the rest of the season, as well as the playoffs, assuming the Mariners steal the A’s hard-earned spot for the Wild Card game. Replacing Cano in the lineup has been Gordon Beckham, whose managed to hit for a .580 OPS in four games as Cano’s primary replacement at second base. Dan Vogelbach and Ben Gamel continue to be the regulars who are struggling the most, though Gamel in particular has been in a hot streak of late.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

The lefty James Paxton almost immediately stole Sean Manaea’s no hitter thunder, and has been striking out batters at an astronomical rate this season. Paxton has been the lone bright spot in an otherwise frustrating starting rotation for Seattle fans. Edwin Diaz continues to be the brightest star in a bullpen full of stars.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Felix Hernandez has an ERA over 5.50 and has given up ten home runs in just over fifty innings, and he has been one of the better non-Paxton starters in Seattle’s rotation. Juan Nicasio has been one of Seattle’s go-to guys out of the bullpen, but maybe he shouldn’t be, as his ERA is encroaching upon six and has been homer prone all season long.

Key Injuries:

May hasn’t been kind to Seattle, health-wise. In addition to Cano getting stuck with his suspension, Nelson Cruz and Dee Gordon have each been banged up with day-to-day injuries that are keeping them out of the regular starting lineup, which is suddenly looking much thinner than it did in April. Gordon went on the DL earlier today with a fractured toe, so he’s out for the series. Erasmo Ramirez injured his lat, but his presence in the rotation likely isn’t all too missed, given his lackluster performance on the year.

* * *

The A’s have emerged from their hellish roadtrip winning seven of ten games and thoroughly silencing all of their doubters. However, this series is more important than any of the three preceding it. Oakland has struggled while playing against division rivals all season long, The A’s stand at just 9-17 when playing against other AL West teams, and have no shot at the postseason if those numbers don’t improve dramatically. This series gives the A’s their first chance to repair those ugly numbers, and fortunately the A’s are playing some of their best baseball right now.

With the Angels fading due to struggles to win at home, the Mariners currently find themselves in second place and a hot streak away from snatching the division lead from the Astros. The team has been playing well of late as well, but it has primarily been bad news for Seattle during the last couple of weeks. Robinson Cano has been suspended due to taking PEDs, and offensive threats Dee Gordon and Nelson Cruz have each been hampered by injuries. For a team that has been strong on the road, this may be the best time to face Seattle all year.

Game #48: Tuesday, May 22nd, 7:05 - NBCSCA, ROOT NW, MLB.tv

Trevor Cahill vs Mike Leake

Cahill is making his first start since returning from injury, though in his brief MLB stint this year he has already established himself as a primary starter for the team. The last time Cahill pitched at home, he threw six shutout innings against the Orioles. Mike Leake has been ineffective thus far for Seattle, but has been buoyed by strong run support through the first two months of the year.

Game #49: Wednesday, May 23rd, 7:05 - NBCSCA, ROOT NW, MLB.tv

Kendall Graveman (probably) vs Marco Gonzales

Injuries to Oakland’s starting rotation have muddled up the future a bit, but signs are pointing towards a Graveman start on Wednesday for the A’s. Graveman has unsightly numbers to start the year, but has generally pitched better than his numbers have indicated, and the opening day starter still has time to improve his awful 2018.

Game #50: Thursday, May 24th, 12:35 - NBCSCA, ROOT NW, MLBN, MLB.tv

Sean Manaea (probably) vs Felix Hernandez

The final game of the three game set will be a battle between aces for the A’s and Mariners. Manaea hasn’t been quite as sharp as he could be since his no hitter, but is still plenty capable as he seeks to improve upon his poor May. Hernandez has long been an obstacle to the A’s success, but with his diminished velocity and slow start to the year, the A’s have a chance to beat him for a second time.