This season has been a bit maddening when trying to figure out just how good this Oakland team is. Clearly, the talent on offense is there, as the A’s have one of the better home run hitting attacks in the game. Apart from some players going through cold spells here and there, the A’s lineup is pretty dangerous from top to bottom. The bullpen has a lot of talent, but whether it is small sample size theater or something more sinister, it hasn’t performed the way it was billed to perform, and how the relievers will perform in the latter half of the year feels like a total mystery. The starting pitching has rapidly shifted back and forth between strong to a disaster to cromulent without much warning, but there are a lot of talented arms on their way back unto the roster from rehab, and more than likely will be a strength after the All Star Break. But for all the talent that exists on the roster, the team has remained stubbornly at the .500 mark all year long.
The Mariners, on the flip side, are pretty clearly not very good. Long gone is the stupendous 13-2 start to the season, as the team is now the proud owners of the third worst run differential in the American League and nine games out of a playoff spot. Their 15-35 record against teams with more wins than losses is the worst in the American League. The team has some serious thump, the lineup is deceptively deep, but far more often than not, the Mariners are behind after the final out is recorded in the ninth inning.
News reports have come out saying that, more or less, the Mariners are trying to trade “everyone.” It appears as though things will get worse for Seattle before things get better. The fanbase is used to that, however, as there may not be another MLB franchise with a history so steeped in misery. It makes them stronger than just about any other. They’ll get their due eventually. Probably. Maybe. But it won’t be in 2019.
There can be lots of finger pointing and blame to go around regarding the Mariners’ situation, but none of that blame can be directed at the offense, which has hit the second most home runs and scored the third most runs in the entire sport. Leading the way on offense has been Dan Vogelbach and Edwin Encarnacion, the latter having recently blasted the 400th home run of his under-appreciated career. Shed Long is starting to make progress as a hitter after a slow start at the plate, and J.P. Crawford is proving why he was a top draft pick as well. Two night games at the coliseum will do their part in neutralizing the potent offense, but the A’s will need strong pitching performances to keep the Mariners at bay.
The pitching staff for Seattle is another story, a true Shakespearian tragedy. Over the last month, the only starting pitcher (not opener) who has an ERA below 4.67 is *checks notes* Tommy Milone. THE Tommy Milone. Miguel Gonzales is at 8.20 over his last five starts, with 28 runs allowed (24 earned) over his last 26 innings pitched. Yusei Kikuchi is at 7.71 over his last five starts, with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. The relief pitching hasn’t been providing any relief either, the relievers low on strikeouts and high on walks, perfectly capable of bungling away any potential victory in the late innings.
The Mariners are a professional baseball team, so clearly they aren’t going to lie down and rot over the rest of the reason, but especially on the heels of an unexpectedly strong road trip, the A’s must capitalize and continue to win in this series. The second Wild Card spot is so close, and so attainable. Playoff teams make the playoffs in part by beating the best of the best, but primarily by beating up on the soft and squishy teams that need to be beaten. Now is the chance for the A’s to go out and do just that.
Mallex Smith - CF
Kyle Seager - 3B
Domingo Santana - RF
Daniel Vogelbach - 1B
Omar Narvaez - C
Tim Beckham - DH
J.P. Crawford - SS
Dee Gordon - 2B
Mac Williamson - LF
Chris Bassitt vs Marco Gonzales
Frankie Montas vs Wade LeBlanc
Tanner Anderson (potentially) vs Mike Leake
Game #71: Friday, June 14th at 6:37
Game #72: Saturday, June 15th at 6:07
Game #73: Sunday, June 16th at 1:07
All games will be broadcast on NBCSCA.