After losing two straight to the Mariners to start off this 19-23 season, it has been well over a month since the A’s have played against their division rivals. It was an inauspicious start to what has been an inauspicious season to date. With the rest of the baseball world taking off, it felt a lot like the A’s plane was grounded indefinitely.
The Mariners, as it turns out, took off faster than anybody else, winning an absolutely silly thirteen of their first fifteen games. The team was hitting more home runs than anyone and the veteran pitching staff was holding its own against tough competition. Four of their everyday hitters had an OPS above 1.000.
And then things came crashing down, and in a hurry. Since the torrid start, the Mariners have had an objectively awful 7-21 record. The offense has cooled off, the staff is showing its age, and the bullpen has blown many-a late leads. Teams that won thirteen of fifteen games to begin a season have dropped below the .500 mark before in baseball history, but no team ever managed the feat quite as quickly as the Mariners did, all other teams on that forgettable list taking at least until the All Star Break. Entering this series, the Mariners have lost four straight.
There isn’t any one true villain to explain away this current bad stretch, as the team has had poor performances in every facet of the game right now. Only two regulars, Edwin Encarnacion (.813) and Omar Narvaez (1.009) have an OPS above .800 over the past thirty days for the Mariners, and while the team is still hitting for decent power, the team is really struggling to get on base.
The bullpen has been responsible for quite a few recent losses. Cory Gearrin and Zack Rosscup have been strong, and have rightfully been used the most often out of the bullpen, but everyone else has performed mediocre at best. Anthony Swarzak, who won the closer’s role early in the season, has given up six home runs in his last nine innings pitched, blowing three separate leads for the Mariners.
While veterans Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi have been getting strong results on the mound, Felix Hernandez has been showing further signs of age. His ERA for the last month is 7.52, and he has given up seven homes in five starts, pitching just over twenty six innings total in those five starts. Unfortunately for Oakland, the team will miss his turn through the rotation in this short series.
When the A’s last played the Mariners, they were unaware Seattle was in the midst of one of the better season starts in MLB history. They were the home team for two games and lost them both in somewhat frustration fashion, both games feeling very winnable. Now, the A’s are going to play the Mariners in another short series, just two games, with Seattle marred in one of the worst stretches of play in recent memory. Perhaps the A’s can take advantage and kick the Mariners while they’re down. Second place is within reach, and then the race to catch the Astros is on.
Mitch Haniger - CF
J.P. Crawford - SS
Edwin Encarnacion - 1B
Daniel Vogelbach - DH
Domingo Santana - LF
Omar Narvaez - C
Jay Bruce - RF
Ryon Healy - 3B
Shed Long - 2B
Mike Fiers vs Yusei Kikuchi
Brett Anderson vs Mike Leake
Game #43: Monday, May 13th at 7:10
Game #44: Tuesday, May 14th at 7:10
Both games are on NBCSCA. Monday’s game is also on MLB Network for those out of market.