Athletics-Mariners Preview

After reaching the postseason in three straight years, the Oakland Athletics hit rock bottom with their first last-place finish in six years.

The Seattle Mariners will go into the offseason as owners of baseball’s longest postseason drought.

These AL West clubs are among baseball’s biggest disappointments and finish 2015 on Sunday at Safeco Field.

Oakland (68-93) won consecutive AL West crowns and then earned a wild-card berth last year before plummeting to the league’s worst record in 2015. The Athletics are 19-34 in one-run games for baseball’s second-worst mark and their 52 losses by one or two runs are the franchise’s most since the 1945 Philadelphia Athletics dropped a club-record 55.

The team will finish with its most defeats since going 65-97 in 1997.

The Athletics’ misery has company in Seattle (75-86), which has not reached the playoffs since 2001 and now owns the majors’ longest such drought since Toronto captured the AL East to end its dry spell of 22 years. The Mariners can expect changes after Jerry Dipoto was hired as general manager Monday.

Oakland can complete its first three-game sweep in Seattle since Sept. 7-9, 2012.

There is a chance that Sunday could mark the final appearance in the career of Barry Zito, who worked four innings on three days’ rest as a starter Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels. Manager Bob Melvin said the left-hander may pitch in relief this weekend, with the finale representing the last chance.

"I would not say it’s out of the question that I would use him again," Melvin told MLB’s official website. "We’ll see how it all plays out."

Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano is batting .361 in a season-high 15-game hitting streak after going 2 for 5 with a three-run homer in Saturday’s 7-5, 13-inning defeat. Cano, whose .331 average since the start of July is the AL’s third-best mark, is set to undergo sports hernia surgery Oct. 13.

Oakland’s Danny Valencia is 4 for 10 in this series with a two-run homer in Friday’s 4-2 victory and a three-run shot the next night. Marcus Semien’s two-run homer in the 13th was the difference Saturday.

Valencia’s home run was his 18th of the season, and his 11th in 46 games with Oakland. He has the most homers (tied with Rico Carty in 1978) and RBIs (37) of any Athletics player who played fewer than 50 games in a season.

The Athletics have lost seven of eight road games started by Chris Bassitt (1-8, 3.60 ERA), who is 0-3 with a 5.51 ERA in those contests. The right-hander has posted a 7.13 ERA in losing his last four outings overall.

Bassitt is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in two 2015 starts against Seattle.

He’ll be opposed by left-hander Vidal Nuno (1-4, 4.19), who has a 5.36 ERA as a starter this year compared to 1.91 as a reliever. Nuno has pitched 1 1-3 innings in three relief appearances against the A’s this year after going 0-1 with a 11.74 ERA in two starts versus them last year with the New York Yankees.

Seattle’s Nelson Cruz has a career-high 44 home runs, one behind Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the major league lead, but is unlikely to play the finale after he was removed for a pinch-hitter in the 12th inning Saturday with a tight groin.