Athletics-Mariners Preview

Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez delivered

another brilliant outing for the Seattle Mariners his last time

out, but rookie Michael Pineda has been the club’s most consistent

starter this season.

Pineda will try to win his third consecutive outing Friday night

when the Mariners continue their set against the visiting Oakland

Athletics.

Hernandez, the league leader in ERA (2.27), innings (249 2-3)

and opponents’ batting average (.212) last season, improved to 2-2

with a 3.38 ERA after throwing 7 2-3 innings of four-hit ball in

Thursday’s 1-0 series-opening win.

Seattle (7-13) had dropped six of eight overall and five in a

row at home in this matchup.

“His stuff is as good as anyone in the game,” manager Eric Wedge

said of Hernandez.

Pineda (2-1, 2.33 ERA), though, has been even better. In his

third career start, the right-hander surrendered one run in six

innings of Sunday’s 3-2 victory at Kansas City. Opponents are

batting .197 against Pineda, who has struck out 16 and allowed just

13 hits – with no home runs – in 19 1-3 innings.

“I can’t say enough about this guy,” said shortstop Brendan

Ryan. “From the end of spring training, I’ve said this guy has a

legit shot to be the rookie of the year. You see his stuff. You

make guys look the way they do on all three pitches, he’s

outstanding and he’s only going to get better. … He’s got a great

chance to be something special.”

Tyson Ross (1-1, 3.60) also might have that potential, but for

now, the right-hander is just happy to be back in Oakland’s

rotation. After losing the battle for the fifth starter’s spot in

the spring, Ross replaces Dallas Braden after the left-hander was

placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a stiff

shoulder.

Ross, who turns 24 on Friday, is 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA in two

career starts, with the last coming May 20 against Detroit.

“I’m excited,” he told the A’s official website. “I’m looking

forward to the opportunity to start again.”

In his lone appearance against Seattle, Ross had two strikeouts

and threw 2 1-3 scoreless innings in a 6-5 home win April 7,

2010.

While Oakland (9-10) leads the majors with a 2.52 ERA, Ross

probably shouldn’t expect too much run support. The A’s had just

five hits Thursday – all singles – and the club is batting .237

with the second-fewest runs (66) in the AL.

The Mariners have been getting great production from utility

infielder Adam Kennedy, who could get his third consecutive start

at first base Friday with Justin Smoak on the bereavement list.

Kennedy, playing for his fourth team in four seasons – including

the A’s in 2009 – homered for the second straight game Thursday and

is batting a team-best .316.

The Mariners could also have Milton Bradley in the lineup after

he missed the series opener with an illness.

Daric Barton, a career. 322 hitter in Seattle, might be back at

first base for Oakland after an illness prevented him from starting

Thursday. He struck out in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter,

dropping his batting average to .071 (1 for 14) over the past five

games.

Seattle has won three of four against Oakland this season after

losing the last five meetings in 2010.