The Arizona Diamondbacks are stuck in a bit of a tailspin, but
their next starting pitcher has the history to start pulling them
out of it.
Joe Saunders will look to continue his dominance over Oakland as
the Diamondbacks continue their weekend interleague series with the
Athletics on Saturday night.
With a 5-4 defeat Friday, Arizona (44-39) has dropped five of
six and trails NL West-leading San Francisco by 2 1/2 games. The
Diamondbacks are hitting just .217, and their starting pitchers
have given up at least four runs four times on the way to a 5.12
ERA in the last six contests.
Rookie Josh Collmenter was the latest to fare poorly. He was lit
up for five runs and seven hits in just 4 2-3 innings, and has a
7.54 ERA while losing his last four outings.
“We came out kind of flat again, and there’s really no excuse
for that,” manager Kirk Gibson said. ”We have to do a better job.
We’ve struggled lately.”
Gibson will now look to Saunders (4-7, 4.14 ERA) to stop the
Saunders pitched five-plus seasons with the Los Angeles Angels
before Arizona acquired him in a trade involving Dan Haren last
July 25. Saunders’ 11 wins over Oakland are his most against any
opponent, and his two most recent outings against the A’s in 2010
were complete games. The left-hander yielded a total of one run and
11 hits while leading the Angels to a pair of wins.
Saunders, who is 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in six games at Oakland
(37-46), surrendered one run and four hits while tying a season
high with eight strikeouts Sunday. However, he didn’t get a
decision in the Diamondbacks’ 8-3 loss at Detroit.
Kelly Johnson hit his 14th homer and Wily Mo Pena launched his
fourth on Friday for Arizona. Out of the majors since 2008, Pena
has six RBIs in 10 games since his recall from Triple-A Reno.
Looking to stay unbeaten at O.co Coliseum will be Oakland’s Josh
Outman (3-2, 3.10). After recovering from elbow surgery, the
left-hander has been reached for just two runs and 10 hits in 13
innings en route to wins over Baltimore and Kansas City.
Outman is coming off a loss after yielding three runs and a
season-high eight hits in six innings of a 3-1 defeat to
Philadelphia on Sunday.
“He started a little slow but from the third inning on, he
pitched a lot better,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of the former
Phillies draft pick.
Outman beat the Diamondbacks in his only previous appearance
against them. He gave up two runs and four hits in 7 2-3 innings of
Oakland’s 6-2 win on May 24, 2009.
Rich Harden pitched six solid innings in his season debut and
Hideki Matsui’s two-run single capped a four-run fifth inning
Friday for Oakland. The A’s improved to 10-10 since Melvin took
over for the fired Bob Geren last month, but are still last in the
AL West and 3 1/2 games behind third-place Seattle.
Stuck in a 2 for 17 slump, Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki is 2 for
28 (.071) with a solo homer all-time against Saunders.