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Series #18: Athletics vs Mariners - Once More, With Feeling

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s have played just four games against the Mariners this year, and have managed to lose all four. Each of those losses has been frustrating in their own little ways, as the A’s have only been outscored by five runs in those four games, and each game felt winnable, save for some bad defense in a bad moment or a bullpen meltdown that has become surprisingly common. While the A’s were the home team in two of the four games between them, but so far none of the games have been played at the coliseum, where the team has performed remarkably better than on the road.

It has been a little more than a week since the A’s played the Mariners, and since the short two game sweep in Seattle, the A’s have done nothing but win, taking six and a half straight ball games against the Tigers and the Indians. The power that had been seriously lacking from the lineup came roaring back to the forefront of the offense, the starting pitching has calmed down, with guys like Frankie Montas and Chris Bassitt looking like genuine aces, the defense has been strong as usual, and the bullpen, apart from Fernando Rodney, has become a rock once again.

During that same timespan, the Mariners have done almost nothing but lose, dropping three of four at home versus a strong Twins team before getting swept on the road against an over performing Rangers team. In the first three games against the Twins, the Mariners were outscored eleven to thirty six. Against the Rangers the Mariners had life late in games, but the pitching staff caused the team to fall too far behind too early, and whatever life the team had at the end of the game was never enough.

The Mariners’ short sweep of the A’s is the exception, not the rule that Seattle has been operating on of late. Following a historically good start, the Mariners have been the worst team in baseball. The sweep accounts for 40% of all wins for the Mariners in the month of May. On the days when the offense shows up, the starting pitching puts the game out of reach early or the bullpen, so reliable last season, blows it up late. On days where Seattle’s pitchers perform, the offense goes AWOL.

With 309 runs allowed, no team has been scored against more than the Mariners this season. On the starter’s side, the main culprits have been Erik Swanson and Felix Hernandez. The former is a rookie getting his first taste of big league action after spending most of his career in the Yankees’ minor league system, and the latter has been the A’s nemesis for well over a decade. Both have ERAs over 6.50 on the year. The bullpen has been a mix of haves and have nots, with some heavily used relievers getting good results, but others, such as Anthony Swarzak and Mike Wright tend to have rather adventurous appearances.

The offense is still unquestionably formidable, with home run power littered from top to bottom of the typical Mariners’ lineup. However, with the Mariners marred in this awful stretch of baseball, they are no longer number one in hitting home runs. That honor belongs to the Twins, who took the title from Seattle with an eight home run game against the Angels yesterday. The big thumpers, Edwin Encarnacion and Dan Vogelbach are still thumping and doing their best to drive the offense, but most other regulars have been struggling big time in the intermittent period between now and the last time the Mariners and A’s played.

The A’s have yet to beat the Mariners this year, but with the A’s on the rise and the Mariners on the decline, this series may see a change of fortune. Playing in the comfy confines of Rickey Henderson Field shouldn’t hurt, either. Perhaps by the end of the weekend, the A’s could grasp hold of a Wild Card spot.

Potential Lineup

Mitch Haniger - RF

Dan Vogelbach - DH

Edwin Encarnacion - 1B

Omar Narvaez - C

Domingo Santana - LF

J.P. Crawford - SS

Tim Beckham - 3B

Shed Long - 2B

Mallex Smith - CF

Pitching Matchups

Daniel Mengden vs Wade LeBlanc

Mike Fiers vs Yusei Kikuchi

Brett Anderson vs Mike Leake

Game Information

Game #51: Friday, May 24th at 7:07

Game #52: Saturday, May 25th at 1:07

Game #53: Sunday, May 26th at 1:07

All games will be broadcast on NBCSCA.