Mariners-Athletics Preview

A walk-off homer may have dealt the Seattle Mariners their first defeat of 2014, but their rotation has been a major surprise.

A strong performance from injury-plagued Chris Young would be another.

Young is expected to take the mound for the first time since 2012 as he looks to give the Mariners another strong performance in their bid to bounce back from their first defeat Friday night against the Oakland Athletics.

The only thing that kept Seattle (3-1) from a fourth straight last-place finish in the AL West last year was Houston, which moved from the NL Central.

Superb pitching may prevent that from happening again.

Thought it’s very early, the Mariners have a 2.13 staff ERA, and starters Felix Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton and Roenis Elias have combined for a sterling 1.80 ERA while holding opponents to a .161 batting average.

The Mariners’ 4.31 ERA last year ranked 13th in the AL.

Elias turned in the latest impressive outing to open of this four-game set Thursday, yielding one run and two hits in five innings in his major league debut before Hector Noesi gave up a walkoff homer to Coco Crisp in a 3-2 loss in 12 to the A’s (2-2).

An impressive outing from Young would surely be a surprise since he hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2012, with the New York Mets.

Shoulder trouble limited the 6-foot-10 right-hander to four starts with San Diego in 2010, and he made four more with the Mets the following year before undergoing major surgery.

Young spent all of last year in the Washington’s system before being released last week.

The Mariners signed him to a one-year contract on March 27 after Randy Wolf opted out of his contract following a salary dispute. That leaves Young, an All-Star for San Diego in 2007, searching for his first win since beating Miami on Sept. 2, 2012.

He tossed 4 2-3 scoreless innings against Colorado on Saturday in his only spring training appearance with the Mariners.

"He’s a veteran guy that knows how to pitch," manager Lloyd McClendon told the team’s official website. "One thing about Young, he creates angles. He’s so tall and if he creates those proper angles. He’s a fly ball pitcher and he knows what he’s doing and knows the league."

Young is 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in four career starts versus the A’s, whom he has not faced since 2006.

The A’s have alternated wins and losses, and having both Crisp and Sam Fuld in the lineup could break that trend. Comfortable in the leadoff spot, Crisp has hit safely in all three games he’s played while also drawing four walks and stealing two bases, and Fuld has two triples among his three hits in two games, adding RBIs in each.

Dan Straily is expected to take the mound for the first time in what’s expected to be his first full season in the majors. The right-hander went 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts last year, but was shuttled between Oakland and Triple-A Sacramento four times before being called up for good in July.

He solidified a spot in the postseason rotation after going 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA over his last six outings in the regular season.

Straily allowed three runs with eight strikeouts in six innings while not getting a decision in an 8-6 loss at Detroit in Game 4 of the AL division series, which the A’s eventually lost in five games.