Mariners-Athletics Preview

While trying to harness the excitement of his first playoff drive, Adam Dunn will seek to keep providing some much-needed offense for the Oakland Athletics and help cut their sizable deficit in the AL West.

After homering in his first at-bat with the A’s, Dunn will attempt to give his new club another boost Tuesday night while Sonny Gray looks to stay unbeaten against the Seattle Mariners in a matchup with James Paxton.

Before Dunn’s debut Monday, Oakland (79-58) batted .223 in 29 games since trading Yoenis Cespedes to Boston on July 31 for pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. The A’s had also scored just four runs in four straight losses to division-leading Los Angeles prior to this series.

Oakland stayed within 4 1/2 games of the Angels with a 6-1 victory over Seattle on Monday that featured 11 hits – its most in 16 games. Dunn’s two-run shot sparked the A’s to five runs in the first inning, all coming with two outs.

The A’s acquired the 14-year veteran from the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. They needed Dunn’s bat with leading home run hitter Josh Donaldson having gone deep just three times in the last 29 games.

Brandon Moss, second on the team with 23 homers and three behind Donaldson, hasn’t hit one in 31 games since July 24. Donaldson, though, is 13 for 29 (.448) in an eight-game hit streak.

"I can speak pretty passionately about it, these chances don’t come around very often, especially for some of us,” said the 34-year-old Dunn, who has never played in the postseason. "We’re going to take full advantage."

He’ll next try to provide some support in Gray’s attempt to improve to 5-0 all-time against the Mariners (73-63), who trail Detroit by 1 1/2 games in the wild-card race. The right-hander has a 1.10 ERA in his five all-time matchups and is 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA in three this season.

Gray (13-7, 3.03 ERA) has been solid in his last two overall starts, 1-0 with a 3.52 ERA, after going 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA in his prior three and losing a career-high four consecutive decisions. He gave up three runs in seven innings Thursday against the Angels and did not get a decision in a 4-3 defeat.

Gray might have to be on top of his game to earn a win Tuesday with Paxton (4-1, 1.83) set to start for the Mariners, losers in five of seven. The left-hander improved to 7-1 with a 1.71 ERA in 11 major league starts Tuesday after pitching 6 2-3 innings in a 5-0 win over Texas.

"I feel like I’m getting closer with each start," Paxton said following his seventh start this season and fifth since a stint on the disabled list for a strained lat. "I feel like my stuff is starting to come around."

In the last 70 years, only two other pitchers have won at least seven games and had a lower ERA in their first 11 starts – Hall of Famer Phil Niekro (8-3, 1.20 from 1965-67) and Steve Rogers (7-3, 1.28 in 1973).

Robinson Cano, who had a 21-game hit streak against the A’s snapped Monday, is 3 for 9 this season versus Gray. Austin Jackson, who had an 11-game overall streak ended, is 1 for 3.