This is it. The season rests on this series with the A's. The Mariners' post-July 4th stumbles and blunders have unfortunately coincided with a monster surge from the Athletics, and if Seattle is going to have any chance of finishing ahead of either Oakland or Houston, they have to play well this weekend and take this series from the A's.
Coming off an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the lowly Padres, the M's are hurting, physically and ephemerally, with Jean Segura banged up thanks to a foul-ball-created shin bruise, Marco Gonzales on the disabled list, and the usual variety of late-season aches and pains. Oakland, on the other hand, has been playing like they haven't a care in the world.
Matt Chapman continues to be the star of the East Bay, leading the A's in batting average and OBP while playing generally great defense at the hot corner. He and DH Kris Davis are the ones to look out for in the Oakland lineup, while the rest of the offense just kind of gets by. Even All-Star Jed Lowrie has pedestrian numbers at home, batting just .248/.330/.376 at the Oakland Coliseum. On the mound, Oakland's strength is its bullpen—closer Blake Treinan's ERA hasn't been above 1.20 since May and currently sits comfortably under 1.00, newcomers Jeuys Familia and Fernando Rodney have delivered shutdown innings, and setup man Lou Trivino is better than you think he is, and you probably think he's pretty good. So best to get to the A's early on against the starters, and Oakland has scheduled Frankie Montas, Mike Fiers, Daniel Mengden, and Edwin Jackson. Several Mariners have hit both Fiers and Jackson well over time, while Montas and Mengden have limited experience vs. Seattle batters.
|FRANKIE MONTAS VS. MARINERS (CAREER)
|rest of team||7||.000||.000||.000||0||0|
|Mike Fiers Vs. Mariners (Career)
|rest of team||12||.444||.500||.778||1||1|
|Daniel Mengden vs. Mariners (CAREER)
|rest of team||13||.000||.000||.000||0||0|
|Edwin Jackson vs. Mariners (Career)
Players to Watch
Matt Chapman: Oakland's best all-around hitter, Chapman has been something of a barometer for the A's—when he hits, they win; when he doesn't, they lose. In A's victories, Chapman has a line of .314/.397/.598; in losses, just .236/.320/.421. So if you can keep this guy off the bases, you should be in good shape. So far in his brief career, he's not done particularly well against the Mariners, posting an anemic .163/.232/.291 line that hopefully will continue—and correlate with more losses.
Jonathan Lucroy: The veteran backstop is having the worst season of his career in terms of batting numbers, and is particularly challenged at the Oakland Coliseum. For 2018, Lucroy is batting .224 at home, which is actually better than his career average of just .215 in Oakland (185 at-bats). Fortunately for him, he's well-regarded behind the plate and this year's crop of catchers as a whole haven't put up very good batting numbers, so the free-agent-to-be shouldn't have any trouble staying employed.
Khris Davis: Now relegated to DH, the defensively-challenged Davis can focus completely on his hitting. The free-swinger has gone yard 85 times in his first two seasons in Oakland, while also striking out 361 times. He's the only Athletic besides Hall-of-Famer Jimmie Foxx to post back-to-back 40+ homer seasons and with 34 bombs going into this series he's well on his way to a third consecutive year.
Bob Melvin: Now entering his seventh full season as manager of the A's, Melvin has proven to be well-suited to the Oakland environs. His quieter, more laid-back approach wasn't appreciated in Seattle after we all had gotten used to the energetic antics of Lou Piniella, and despite success with the Diamondbacks, he was canned out of frustration in Phoenix, where it was suggested he was scapegoated by then-GM Josh Byrnes because of poor results by Byrnes' player acquisitions. Oakland, though, appreciates what it's got, having given the two-time Manager of the Year a contract extension through 2019 and denied the Yankees permission to interview Melvin when they were looking to hire a new manager last winter.
Fernando Rodney: Ah, yes, how well we remember the Fernando Rodney Experience. In 12⁄3 seasons with the M's, 2014-15, Rodney saved 64 games, but he did it in adventurous fashion, particularly in 2015. Somehow he only blew six saves that year before he was traded to the Cubs; his 5.68 ERA suggested he was nothing but kerosene on a fire in the ninth inning. Now 41, Rodney began the season in Minnesota and did pretty well, posting an ERA just a hair over 3.00 and notching 25 saves over 46 appearances. He's been lights-out with the A's thus far, not allowing a run in ten appearances.
|Oakland Athletics||(1968 - present)|
|World Champions:||1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1989|
|League Champions:||1905, 1914, 1931, 1990|
|Division Titles:||1971, 1975, 1981, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013|