Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

InsidethePark.com's Jason A. Churchill sinks his teeth into the Mariners four game series with the division rival oakland Athletics. The M's roll in with a two game winning streak while division leading Oakland holds a four game lead over the M's in the AL West.

The Venue:SAFECO Field

The Matchup: Seattle Mariners (4-8) vs. Oakland (8-4)

Pitching Probables:

Game One: Monday, April 19, 7:05 p.m.
Freddy Garcia (0-0, 3.46 ERA) vs. Mark Redman (1-0, 3.75 ERA)


Mariners vs. Redman:
Current Mariner hitters smack Redman around to the tune of a .290 average, led by Edgar Martinez's 4-14, and two RBI. Scott Spiezio has the lone home run versus Redman, and is 6-11 with three RBI. Ichiro Suzuki is 4-10 with two RBI. John Olerud (3-6), Randy Winn (1-6), Bret Boone (1-10), Rich Aurilia (2-3), Raul Ibanez (1-3), and Dan Wilson (3-12, RBI), round out the lineup. Reserves Jolbert Cabrera, Willie Bloomquist, and Quinton McCracken combine for just four hits in 25 at-bats against the left-handed Redman. Mariner bats will likely attempt to jump on Redman early in the count rather than sitting back and waiting for him to give up walks and give in to hitter's counts. Redman is 0-4 in his career versus the M's with a hefty 6.03 ERA.

Athletics vs. Garcia:
The projected A's lineup hits just .207 versus Garcia, but the big boppers have had their success in the power department. Eric Chavez is just 7-34 but has three home runs with seven RBI in his career versus Garcia. Jermaine Dye (9-32, HR, 5RBI) and Erubiel Durazo (2-8, HR, 6 RBI) make the most of their base-hits against the right-hander. Scott Hatteberg (3-20), Mark Kotsay (2-11), and Damien Miller (0-2) round out the regulars, showing very little production. The A's will look to make Garcia throw strikes early and try to get something out of the bottom half of the batting order. Garcia carries a 5-6 career record against the A's into Monday night's series opener. The win-loss totals aren't bad considering the 6.02 ERA it comes with.


Game Two: Tuesday, April 20, 7:05 p.m.
Ryan Franklin (1-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (0-1, 13.50 ERA)


Mariners vs. Harden
Harden has only faced nine Mariner batters, allowing one run on one hit and walking two. Scott Spiezio is 2-8 with an RBI versus Harden and is the only current Mariner with more than two plate appearances against him.

The M's will surely allow for Harden to beat himself, but the right-hander has kept the ball in the strike zone in his one start this season. The problem was that the 22-year-old couldn't hold the Rangers' offense at bay, allowing 11 hits in four innings of work.
Athletics vs. Franklin
Franklin takes his career 3-1 mark against the A's Tuesday night, despite an ERA that sits at 4.25. 3B Eric Chavez seems to enjoy his at-bats against the right-handed Franklin, clubbing four home runs in 24 plate appearances. Erubiel Durazo (3-17, HR, 3 RBI), Scott Hatteberg (4-14, 4 RBI), Mark Kotsay (3-11, HR) and Bobby Kielty (3-10) have all had mediocre to moderate success facing Franklin. The A's won just one of Franklin's five starts against them in 2003.


Wednesday, April 21, 7:05 p.m.
Gil Meche (0-2, 5.40 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (2-0, 1.27 ERA)


Mariners vs. Hudson
The M's don't have much historical success against the A's right-handed ace as a team. Hudson strolls into SAFECO with a 10-5 record against Seattle, including a complete game 2-1 victory on April 10.

Contrary to the team's lack of success, Edgar Martinez (14-40, HR, 6 RBI), John Olerud (13-43, 3HR, 10 RBI), Scott Spiezio, (12-38, 2 RBI) and Bret Boone (13-41, 3 RBI), give the Mariner lineup a fighting chance. Hudson seems to own the at-bat versus Dan Wilson (3-17), Ichiro Suzuki (10-50, HR), Ben Davis (6-25) and Randy Winn (6-34, 11 K). Rich Aurilia (4-15) and Raul Ibanez (7-26, HR) fall into the middle of the aforementioned groups, but will be counted on to produce in what will surely be a tough game to match up.

Athletics vs. Meche
Meche put the A's in their place on April 10, only to lose out to counterpart Tim Hudson in a 2-1 decision. The right-hander's career numbers against Oakland are a bit skewed due to the years missed to injury. Meche has yet to beat the A's and looks to break the streak Wednesday night at the SAFE.

Jermaine Dye (4-13, 2 RBI), Scott Hatteberg (3-11), Erubiel Durazo (4-12) and Eric Chavez (3-14, HR) present the biggest challenge for Meche. Oakland can be a patient hitting team, but are notorious for jumping all over fastballs early in counts. Meche's curve and change are crucial pitches in the first half of the ball game.


Thursday, April 22, 1:05 p.m.
Jamie Moyer (1-1, 5.30 ERA) vs. Mark Mulder (1-1, 2.14 ERA)


Mariners vs Mulder
Mulder is the one of the three Oakland aces that the M's seem to get to on a consistent basis. Mulder does have a career 3.66 ERA against Seattle but compared to the successes of Hudson and fellow left-hander Barry Zito, the Mariner hitters would much prefer Mulder. At least that is what the case history says.

The Mariners lineup has spread the success against Mulder throughout the lineup, and for the most part the hits are spread as thick as the outfield grass at SAFECO Field. Edgar Martinez (7-20, HR, 7 RBI), Bret Boone (11-29, HR, 6 RBI), Ichiro Suzuki (14-31, 2 RBI) and Randy Winn (10-32) lead the way for Seattle. Mulder has shut down Rich Aurilia and John Olerud with just four hits allowed in 30 at-bats between the two. Dan Wilson (4-23) struggles versus the southpaw, hitless in his last 11 at-bats.

Seattle's approach will likely go unchanged from the last time they met in Oakland. Mulder is the classic "establish the fastball early" style pitcher and the M's will again be aggressive to start the game.

Athletics vs. Moyer
Jamie Moyer's 16 career wins versus Oakland are more than any other team he has faced. Chavez, the "Mariner Killer," is 11-20 with five home runs against Moyer, and presents the only big-time problem. Erubiel Durazo's four hits in seven at-bats and Scott Hatteberg's six hits and a home run fall a distant second to Chavez's nightmarish performances against the M's crafty southpaw. Jermaine Dye is just 5-34 against Moyer without an extra-base hit.

Teams have been trying to get Moyer to throw a lot of pitches early to raise his pitch-count. Oakland will fiddle with that philosophy but stay with their everyday gameplan of wailing away at any fastball they see.


What to Watch For:
The M's are coming off of their first win-streak of the year after winning the last two games against the Texas Rangers. Oakland leads the division with eight wins, completing a series win against the Anaheim Angels on Sunday night... Seattle is looking for its first series win versus the A's since early last season, losing each of the last three... Mariner bats woke up in the power department in game three of the Rangers series, smacking three homers in Sunday's win... The M's still rank last in the AL in long balls, however. I'll go out on a limb and say the M's manage a split in the four-game series.

Notes:
Oakland's three aces have combined for more innings pitched and more wins than any other team's trio since the start of the 2000 season. The Mariners trio of Joel Pineiro, Freddy Garcia and Jamie Moyer rank second in the same time span.

The Unexplainable Stat:
The Mariners have been outscored 19-1 in the second inning this season, including 7-0 when right-hander Joel Pineiro starts. In all other innings the M's have outscored their opponents 52-43 in the 12 games.


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 three. Jason enjoys the failures of the New York Yankees and despises the slider speed bat. Feedback is always welcome at JasonAChurchill@InsidethePark.com.

Seattle Clubhouse Top Stories