The Mariners are back home, and of the things that a fanbase hopes for to get their team back on track, few rank above the Oakland Athletics. Two games under .500, this is exactly what the Mariners are looking forward to as they are set to start a four-game series against the A's.
I don't know that this is being mean or saying anything outlandish. Take a look at Oakland. They are sitting at 10-38, on pace for a record of 34-128. That would be the worst record of the modern ERA (1901-on) and the fourth-worst winning percentage of all time. Only the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (.130), 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys (.169), and 1889 Louisville Colonels (.196) are worse.
Add that in with their awful run differential (-168), and they are on pace for beating that as well. The modern record is -349 by the Red Sox in 1932. If the Athletics continue on, they will have a run differential of -567. That's hard to fathom.
If the Mariners don't win this series against the Athletics, the panic meter rises fast.
After a decent start at the plate, Oakland can't hit. They have a slash line of .227/.307/.374 (27th/24th/27th). Their pitching is so much worse though. Their starters have a 7.26 ERA with a WHIP of 1.65 and a BAA of .292. They've given up a league-leading 52 HR, 115 BB, and 20 HBP. The relievers aren't any better with a 6.49 ERA and 1.70 WHIP. If you don't have 6 runs a game and 15 baserunners, you've failed.
A bit of a different into to series preview than I normally write, but I had to get across just how bad their team has been this season, and why the Mariners need to win this series. Let's check the pitching matchups.
Mariners vs Athletics: Pitching Matchups
Monday, May 22nd @ 6:40 PM - Luis Castillo (3.31 ERA) vs Kyle Muller (7.71 ERA)
Tuesday, May 23rd @ 6:40 PM - Marco Gonzales (6.10 ERA) vs Luis Medina (6.88 ERA)
Wednesday, May 24th @ 6:40 PM - Bryce Miller (1.42 ERA) vs Ken Waldichuk (6.85 ERA)
Thursday, May 25th @ 6:40 PM - Logan Gilbert (3.81 ERA) vs JP Sears (4.99 ERA)
Do you see what I mean about their ERA's? I'm going full homer mode here. The Mariners are sweeping the Athletics, giving up just 7 runs total while scoring 31. One of those games is gonna be big, too. I'm talking one of those 13-1 games where everyone gets on base. I can feel it. It's gonna happen.
Remember, Bryce Miller had his debut and best start against the Athletics, going 6 and striking out 10. Could he repeat that? He hasn't struck out more than 5 since, but the opportunity may present itself again Wednesday if the Fastball is on again.
Meanwhile, Marco looks to rebound after an absolute drubbing in his last outing. Boston lit him up like Clark Griswold's house. He's been good against them in his career, with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.176 WHIP across 109.2 IP. A 5 inning outing with just 2 runs given up would be right in line with what he's done against them so far.
Mariners vs Athletics: Seattle's offense has to show up
I mentioned the clinic that I think the offense is going to put on, but they will need to step it up in order to do so. I think the fan's reaction to the earlier season sweep of Oakland was one of the saddest I'd ever seen. The Mariners were held scoreless through 13 innings against the first two starters in the series, before finally getting to Drew Rucinski in the final game, which you should expect against a guy with a 9.00 ERA.
The Mariners have been hitting awfully over the last month, and you can't argue against it. At home with a four-game set against literally one of the worst teams of the last 123 years is the perfect spot to turn it around. On paper, it all makes sense. Let's see if they can do it on the field.