Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Mariners, who head down to Oakland for a three-game set starting Friday. Jason A. Churchill breaks down both teams and provides all the in-depth information you'll need to know on the series.

The Matchup

Seattle Mariners (0-3)
at
Oakland Athletics (2-1)


Pitching Probables:
Friday, April 9th, 7:05 p.m.
Ryan Franklin (11-13, 3.57 ERA) vs. Mark Redman (14-9, 3.59 ERA)

Saturday, April 10th, 1:05 p.m.
Gil Meche (15-11, 4.59 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (0-0, 3.60 ERA)

Sunday, April 11th, 1:05 p.m.
Jamie Moyer (0-1, 9.53 ERA) vs. Mark Mulder (1-0, 1.29 ERA)


What to Watch For:
The M's head south after being swept in a three-game set by the Anaheim Angels at Safeco Field. Game three was a gut-wrenching 5-1 loss after the M's had led 1-0 going into the ninth. The bats have yet to come around early in games to this point, and have forced them to play catch-up too often. Manager Bob Melvin might seek more offense at third base and insert Dave Hansen or Jolbert Cabrera in the starting lineup. Ichiro has yet to get on track and anyway he can get on base in this series will be vital to the M's getting on the board in the first few innings.
The starting pitching has hit early trouble in two of the three games and the bullpen hit the same bump late in the other. Ryan Franklin will take the ball in game one and is 3-1 versus the A's in his career, all decisions being from a year ago. The Mariners need Franklin to go deep into the game to save the bullpen from having to cover more than two or three innings.

The A's took two of three from the Texas Rangers but only scratched across nine runs in the series. Missing the clutch bat of Miguel Tejada, the A's are leaning heavily on 3B Eric Chavez and hoping RF Jermaine Dye returns to form after a severe leg injury in 2002. Even with a limited offensive club, the A's are a formidable opponent due to having the deepest starting staff in baseball. They are led by three aces in Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder. The addition of former Florida Marlin, Mark Redman, who gets the start Friday night, adds a third left-hander to the rotation and gives the A's three quality southpaws. Former Mariner Arthur Rhodes is 2-for-2 in save situations thus far and the A's bats have been able to get leads for the pitching staff to hold onto.


Notes:
M's game one starter Ryan Franklin held A's hitting to a .217 average in five starts that spanned 35 innings last season. Eric Chavez is 6-for-18 career against Franklin with four home runs and a triple. Jermaine Dye and Erubiel Durazo are a combined 4-for-29 off the right-hander while Scott Hatteberg (3-12), Bobby Kielty (1-7), and Mark Kotsay (3-8) have had also had trouble against the Oklahoma native. Game two starter Gil Meche has had no such luck with the A's and is 0-3 in his career versus the division rival. Game three starter Jamie Moyer has 16 career wins versus Oakland, including two wins a year ago. The M's bats have not seen much of Mark Redman, a former Twin and Tiger, but the probable starting lineup is just 12 for 45 career against the lefty with just one extra-base hit. Ichiro is 3-for-7, and injured Scott Speizio is 6-for-11 with a home run, headlining the M's success versus Redman. Mariner hitters don't have much success against game two starter Tim Hudson, either. The right-hander is 9-5 career versus Seattle and has held Seattle batters to a .225 average over four starts in 2003. The Mariners have had a small bit of success against game three starter, Mark Mulder, who allows a career .284 average against Seattle. The M's projected lineup carries a career average of .321 against Mulder coming into 2004. Ichiro's 13-for-28 (.464), Bret Boone's 10-for-26 (.385), and Randy Winn's 9-for-28 (.321) top the list.


The Unexplainable Stat
Oakland A's reserve outfielder Eric Byrnes is a career .257 hitter but has a ton of success against many of the top pitchers he has faced. Byrnes is 33 for 64 versus the following pitchers; Javier Vazquez, Bartolo Colon, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana, Roger Clemens, David Wells, Felix Rodriguez, Mark Buehrle, Kevin Millwood, and Ugueth Urbina. Those eleven pitchers have a combined 3.36 ERA and hold opponents to a .233 average. Byrnes hits a blistering .517 off of them. Good thing for M's fans that they didn't sign Bartolo Colon or Kevin Millwood, and trade for Javier Vazquez, eh?


Jason resides in Tacoma, Wash., where his father is his best friend and his nephew continues to develop the fastball-splitter combo that he hopes to have mastered by age 3. Jason enjoys the failures of the New York Yankees and despises the slider speed bat. Feedback is always welcome at JasonAChurchill@InsidethePark.com

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