GAME: Athletics (18-19, 2nd, AL West, -5.0 GB) at Mariners (17-19, 3rd, AL West, -5.5 GB). GAME #: 37. SERIES: 2nd of 3 games. MEETING: 6th (Mariners lead 3-2). WHEN: Saturday, 6:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 2; Athletics L 5. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Thanks mainly to Hisashi Iwakuma’s splendid pitching Friday night in Seattle’s 6-3 victory over Oakland at Safeco Field, the Mariners have an opportunity Saturday to supplant the Athletics in second place in the AL West. Friday’s victory brought the Mariners (17-19) to within a half a game of the A’s (18-19). This is a big deal for a franchise that usually settles into last place by early May and stays there.
The last time a Seattle club stood higher than third in the division standings on May 11 was 2003, when Bob Melvin, who now occupies the Oakland dugout, was in his first year of managing the Mariners. In all but two years since, the Mariners have been in last place by May 11, most of those years doomed to remain there.
Given the manner in which Iwakuma has pitched — he has the best ERA in the American League since the 2012 All-Star break at 2.22 — the Mariners are going to have a hard time achieving a nadir point again. If they decent consistency out of the back end of their rotation, they have a shot at respectability.
Brandon Maurer (2-4) will be tasked Saturday with moving the Mariners past Oakland, losers of five in a row and 15 of their past 21. Maurer couldn’t get the job done the last time he saw the A’s, losing 8-2 April 4, but Saturday he draws the luckless Jarrod Parker (1-5, 7.34 ERA), who has pitched into the seventh inning in just one of his starts.
MARINERS: RHP Brandon Maurer (2-4, 6.07 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)
The 24-year-old Maurer, a Newport Beach, CA., native in his first major league season, will make his seventh start and second against the Athletics. Since getting blown out in his first two MLB appearances, Maurer has alternated wins and losses and is coming off a 7-2 setback administered by the Baltimore Orioles. Maurer had his best outing April 25, when he did not allow an earned run in 6.1 innings in a 6-0 win over the Angels.
- LAST START: April 30 vs. Baltimore, lost 7-2; 4 earned runs on six hits in 4.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 79 pitches, 45 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ATHLETICS: April 4 at Oakland, lost 8-2; 6 earned runs on 8 hits in 6.0 innings; 1 strikeout, 0 walks, 2 home runs, 74 pitches, 52 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. ATHLETICS: 0-1, 9.00 ERA in 1 start covering 6.0 innings; 1 strikeout, 0 walks, 2 home runs, 1.33 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 2-2, 6.35 ERA in 4 starts covering 17.0 innings; 15 strikeouts, 5 walks, 1 home run, 1.76 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Josh Donaldson (0-for-2, .000), Eric Sogard (0-for-2, .000).
- HATES TO FACE: Josh Reddick (2-for-3, .667), Yoenis Cespedes (1-for-3, .333), Coco Crisp (1-for-3, .333).
- CURRENT ATHLETICS VS. MAURER: 8-for-23, .348 BA, 1 strikeout, 0 walks, 2 home runs, .375 on-base percentage.
ATHLETICS: RHP Jarrod Parker (1-5, 7.34 ERA, 1.98 WHIP)
The 24-year-old Parker, a Fort Wayne, IN., native in his third major league season, and second with the Athletics, will make his eighth start and second against the Mariners. Parker has allowed four or more earned runs three times. His only win came April 30 when he beat the Angels 10-6.
- LAST START: May 6 at Cleveland, lost 7-3; 4 earned runs on 7 hits in 5.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 2 walks, 4 home runs, 93 pitches, 56 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: April 2, lost 7-; 1 strikeout, 3 walks, 1 home run over 5.0 innings; 95 pitches, 57 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 1-2, 5.94 ERA in 3 starts covering 16.2 innings; 16 strikeouts, 9 walks, 3 home runs, 1.38 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 1-0, 1.29 ERA in 1 start covering 7.0 innings; 9 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1 home run, 1.00 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Dustin Ackley (0-for-7, .000), Jesus Montero (0-for-5, .000), Justin Smoak (1-for-6, .167).
- HATES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (6-for-15, .400), Kyle Seager (2-for-6, .333), Michael Morse (1-for-3, .333).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. PARKER: 13-for-73, .178 BA, 17 strikeouts, 8 walks, 1 home run, .259 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Oakland (Friday-Sunday). After an off-day Monday, the Mariners will take off on a nine game road trip to face the Yankees (May 14-16), Indians (May 17-20) and Angels (May 21-22).
- The weekend trio against the Oakland Athletics will be the club’s only games in Seattle between May 1-24.
- Hisashi Iwakuma, who allowed two runs on four hits Friday, has struck out 33 batters in his past four starts, the most in his career over any four-game span.
- Felix Hernandez (1.53) and Iwakuma (1.74) rank second and sixth, respectively, in major league ERA. Iwakuma leads the American League in WHIP (0.76).
- Kyle Seager has collected a hit in 23 of his past 26 games, batting .337 over that span.
- Raul Ibanez, who banged a three-run long ball Saturday, has hit all three of his home runs at home.
- Justin Smoak has hit in 10 of his past 13 games, batting .318 over that span.
- Tom Wilhelmsen has 10 saves in 10 chances after closing the door on the Athletics Friday night.
- Joe Saunders ranks eighth in MLB in earned runs allowed with 28.
- In the Mariners’ 17 victories, they are batting .296 (40-for-135) with runners in scoring position. In 19 losses, the Mariners are batting .121 (15-for-123) with RISP. The Mariners have no hits with RISP 10 times in 36 games.
|5/11||Sat||vs. Oak||RHP Brandon Maurer (2-4) vs. RHP Jarrod Parker (1-5)|
|5/12||Sun||vs. Oak||LHP Joe Saunders (2-4) vs. LHP Tommy Milone (3-4)|
|5/14||Tue||at NYY||RHP Felix Hernandez (5-2) vs. TBA|
|5/15||Wed||at NYY||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (3-1) vs. TBA|
|5/16||Thr||at NYY||RHP Aaron Harang (1-4) vs. TBA|