Mariners-Athletics Preview

The Seattle Mariners won’t be heading to the playoffs without

something just short of a miracle, but they’re sure making it

difficult for the Oakland Athletics to improve their chances of

repeating as AL West champions.

Visiting Seattle seeks a seventh victory in the last 10 meetings

with Oakland in the finale of a three-game series Wednesday

afternoon.

The Mariners (58-67) are trending toward their fourth straight

losing season as they sit 14 1/2 games behind first-place Texas in

the AL West. They’ve more than held their own against Oakland,

though, going 9-6 and winning each of the last three series.

After dropping Monday’s opener on Brandon Moss’ ninth-inning

homer, Seattle bounced back with a 7-4 victory Tuesday behind a

homer and three RBIs from Nick Franklin.

It marked just the third victory in the last 53 times the

Mariners had trailed after seven innings, putting together a

five-run eighth. Franklin was safe on a close play at the plate in

that inning, but he suffered a laceration on his left knee that

required stitches.

The injury could keep him out for up to one week.

“I want to say it was five stitches,” acting manager Robby

Thompson said. “He had a nice little deep gash in his left knee. He

wanted to stay in, just wanted new pants. It was necessary to take

care of that right away.”

Oakland (71-54), which closes the season with a three-game

series at Seattle, fell 1 1/2 games behind the Rangers for the

division lead, but it still holds the league’s second wild-card

spot.

Josh Donaldson and Nate Freiman each hit first-inning homers

Tuesday, but the A’s were held scoreless for the final eight

frames.

Catcher Derek Norris suffered a fractured left toe on the play

that also injured Franklin. Backup Stephen Vogt could get the start

as the A’s face Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma, who is coming off

another impressive outing.

Iwakuma (11-6, 2.95 ERA) allowed one run and struck out eight in

seven innings of Friday’s 3-1 win over Texas, and he’s given up

fewer than three runs in four of his last five starts.

The right-hander pitched well in his first two starts against

the A’s this season, winning both while allowing three runs over 13

innings. Iwakuma, though, gave up four runs in five innings of a

10-2 loss on June 16 before allowing four runs on three homers over

seven frames in a 6-3 defeat five days later.

Yoenis Cespedes homered off him April 2 and again June 21, and

the A’s slugger is 6 for 15 with three homers and two doubles

lifetime against Iwakuma.

Oakland counters with A.J. Griffin, who has struggled with his

control lately.

Griffin (10-8, 3.76) walked a career-worst six in Oakland’s 6-4

win over Toronto on Aug. 11 before issuing five free passes while

giving up one unearned run in five innings of the A’s 3-2 victory

over Cleveland on Friday.

The right-hander, who threw 104 pitches in his last outing, had

walked 10 over his previous nine starts combined.

“The ball was up in the zone at times, which you don’t normally

see out of him, either,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He battled

himself. He was a little frustrated the whole game with his

command.”

Griffin had won each of his three career starts versus Seattle

while posting a 2.12 ERA before giving up four runs in six innings

of a 4-0 loss June 15.