Know what’s disappointing? Watching the Mariners play at home. God that was frustrating. Corey Hart is really starting to cheese me off. Lack of offense in the last weeks has been disturbing. On the bright side, we’ve got Felix and Kuma pitching this weekend, so maybe they’ll only lose 2-0 instead of 8-0. /rant.
This weekend is the last series before next week’s All-Star festivities, so Felix was pushed back a day to get in an extra start before some extended rest. We’ll also see Kuma again. But the real treat is going to be Jeff Samardzija, fresh acquisition to Oakland. Here’s your Mariners series preview for this weekend’s series against the A’s.
Game one: Jeff Samardzija (3-7, 2.74 ERA) v. Felix Hernandez (10-2, 2.11 ERA)
Samardzija is fresh into Oakland after a deal that saw him move to a contender for a change. He’s only gotten one start in with the A’s so far, but it was a beauty. He went 7 innings giving up only 4 hits and a run to the Blue Jays last week. Samardzija has always been good, so it will be nice to see him get some run support now that he’s away from Chicago. Felix is killing it right now too. He broke the 10 wins barrier last week against the White Sox with an 8 inning gem. (8Ks). If you want to see a pitcher’s duel, tonight is the night to go to the ball park.
MLB is reporting that Chavez might lose his spot in the rotation now that the A’s have Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but it remains to be seen exactly how that will pan out. In the mean time, it just gives Chavez extra incentive to pitch well. Something he’s been doing well; Chavez has a 3-2 record since June and has given up only one homer in those 7 games. He’ll be up for a fight against Kuma, who is in search of his third straight win this weekend. Kuma struck out a season high 10 batters on Monday against the Twins, the Mariners’ only win in a 4 game series.
Gray is yet another Oakland pitcher who is hot right now, currently in search of his 4th straight win. Gray has gone a minimum of 5 innings in each of his 18 starts so far this season, including only 2 earned runs in his last 14 innings of work (10 hits). He’ll be facing off against Mariners rent-an-ace Chris Young, who has lost only twice at home this season. One of those was Tuesday night, where he held the Twins to two runs, but failed to get any run support. This will be the fourth time Young has faced the A’s this season, and is currently (1-0) against the AL West leaders.
- In bad news for the Mariners, Michael Saunders was pulled from last night’s game with some side discomfort while at bat. He’ll definitely be out of the lineup tonight as he is scheduled for an MRI sometime today.
- Now that Masahiro Tanaka is out for a minimum 6 weeks, Felix is moving to the forefront of early Cy Young predictions. It’s premature, but it’s exciting to think about.
- Kyle Seager has been pretty abysmal since being named to the AL All-Star Team. Over the last week, Seager has been batting .192, with only 5 hits.
- Tom Wilhelmsen had his first MLB start last night in an effort that pretty much drained the bullpen for the Mariners. Felix is going to need to go deep today to get some rest for an overworked bullpen over the last week.
Around the AL West
It’s finally happened! The Astros are no longer in the basement! The Rangers are now riding a 5 game losing streak and are dead last in the AL, a full 20.0 games behind Oakland. This will be a critical series for the Mariners and the A’s, as things are heating up in the AL-West dominated Wild Card race.
- Oakland is holding on to its first place position and is in Seattle for the weekend.
- The Angels are headed to Arlington to take on those basement dwelling Rangers, this obviously represents a good chance for the Angels to gain back some ground on Oakland heading into the break.
- Houston is hosting the Red Sox for the weekend. The Astros are still 10 games behind the Mariners, so it’s not like there is any concern (yet) for the M’s, but damn does it feel good to see them finally win a few ball games.