Seattle’s offense has been one of baseball’s worst for much of the season, but the Mariners look like an entirely different club in the batter’s box lately.
They’ll look to continue their surge and clinch the season series against the Oakland Athletics as they visit them on Friday night.
The Mariners (63-71) have won with offense lately, averaging 5.5 runs while hitting .293 with 19 homers to overcome a 4.74 ERA in winning seven of their last 11. Previously, Seattle ranked 27th with a .242 batting average and 26th with 3.8 runs per game.
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Robinson Cano has caught fire, batting .381 in the last 11 games, while Franklin Gutierrez, Kyle Seager and Mark Trumbo all have four home runs apiece while combining for 24 RBIs. Seager has a .462 average during a six-game hitting streak, but his .210 career average against Oakland is his lowest against an AL West opponent.
Much of the recent production has come without contributions by major league home run leader Nelson Cruz, who is day to day after leaving Wednesday’s 8-3 win at Houston with a strained quadriceps. Cruz is 4 for 29 with 12 strikeouts during a seven-game homerless drought, his longest since a 13-game slump July 4-20. He has hit five home runs with 11 RBIs in his last 12 meetings with Oakland, though, going deep in each of the last two meetings.
Oakland (58-76) could be vulnerable against a hot lineup, having lost 14 of 21 after allowing 20 runs and 33 hits in dropping two of three to the Los Angeles Angels. Even staff ace Sonny Gray wasn’t immune Wednesday, surrendering six runs over five innings.
The A’s, who are 26-29 against AL West foes, haven’t finished under .500 in the division since a 26-31 record in 2011, going 115-94 from 2012-14.
Seattle leads the season series, 9-4, and the teams cap also play a three-game series at Safeco Field Oct. 2-4.
Inexperienced pitchers will be on the mound for both teams, with Edgar Olmos (1-0, 2.13 ERA) making his second career start for the Mariners. He yielded three runs over five innings in Seattle’s 6-5, 11-inning loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. Olmos struggled with his command, walking five batters after issuing two over 7 2-3 innings of relief previously.
Hisashi Iwakuma was originally slated for this outing, but manager Lloyd McClendon flipped the two to give Iwakuma extra rest.
"Just giving him a couple extra days, that’s all," McClendon told MLB’s official website.
Aaron Brooks (1-1, 5.47) has sandwiched three starts of at least six innings while allowing two runs or fewer around a dreadful, eight-run, 1 2-3 inning outing against Toronto. This is his second start since being recalled to fill in for the injured Felix Doubront.
He gave up two runs over six innings in the club’s 3-2 win at Arizona on Saturday, drawing praise from catcher Stephen Vogt.
"That top of the order is hard to get through over there," Vogt said. "It doesn’t matter if they’re hot, they’re not, that’s a tough part of the lineup."
Brooks has been solid in two starts in Oakland, limiting opponents to two runs over 14 1-3 innings.
Oakland’s 31-38 home record is better than only Seattle (29-36) in the AL.