SEATTLE — With the American League wild-card standings bunched up as the season started its final stretch, Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais knows there is a tough fight ahead to reach the playoffs.
With six teams within 4 1/2 games of the final playoff berth — not counting the Minnesota Twins, who currently hold it — that’s some battle royale.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Servais mused. “All these teams fighting for these last couple of spots. It will literally going to go down to the last couple of games.”
Article continues below ...
The Mariners will try to make up ground when they face the Oakland Athletics in the final game of their three-game series. They enter Sunday’s game 3 1/2 games behind the Twins for the final AL wild card.
Seattle will be looking for the sweep — its last series sweep came in a two-game series at Oakland on Aug. 8-9.
Andrew Albers (2-1) will get the start for Seattle, who purchased the 31-year-old lefty from the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 12.
The veteran has been something of a revelation for the Mariners — his two wins with the team so far have been his first since 2013.
Albers has posted a 4.20 ERA over 15 innings since making his Mariners debut. His only previous career start against the Athletics came in 2013 as a member of the Minnesota Twins, going 4 2/3 innings and allowing eight runs and the loss in a 11-0 defeat.
Catcher Mike Zunino has had a huge series so far against Oakland, going 4-for-6 with two home runs.
Rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (3-7) will get the start for Oakland. He has a 5.21 ERA in 65 2/3 innings in 12 starts. He has struck out 50 and walked 16.
Since returning from an assignment to Triple-A Nashville in August, Gossett has gone 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 2/3 innings. But Melvin likes what he’s seen.
“He’s pitched better for us,” Melvin said. “It seems like he’s been more comfortable at the big-league level now. He had a couple of nice starts to get some momentum, some traction.”
Gossett’s only outing against Seattle came in a 4-0 loss to the Mariners on July 9. Gossett pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out three.
In the limited sample, the Seattle players who had success against Gossett include the expected Nelson Cruz (the only Mariner to homer off Gossett) and unexpected Carlos Ruiz (the backup catcher went 2-for-2 against him).
Matt Joyce as enjoyed a nice series so far, going 3-for-4 on Friday and powering a three-run homer on Saturday.
Melvin indicated top prospect Franklin Barreto would get a start at second base on Sunday, giving Jed Lowrie a rest.
Barreto hit .190 in an 11-game call-up to Oakland earlier this season. He was promoted on Friday when the rosters expanded. He hit .290 with 15 homers, 54 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 111 games at Triple-A Nashville.
“Obviously, being our No. 1-rated prospect, it’s a guy you don’t want to sit around a long time,” Melvin told MLB.com.