Friday, June 2, 2023

MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners (14-16) at Oakland Athletics (6-25)


TODAY’S TILT…the Mariners conclude an 11-day, 9-game road trip (4-4) with the finale of 3 games against the Oakland Athletics (2-0)…Seattle has already taken on the Philadelphia Phillies (1-2) and Toronto Blue Jays (1-2) in a pair of 3-game series on the trip…following today’s game, Seattle will return to T-Mobile Park for a 6-game homestand, hosting Houston (May 5-7) and Texas (May 8-10) for 3-game sets…today’s game will be televised live on ROOT SPORTS with Dave Sims and Mariners Hall of Famer Dan Wilson on the call and broadcast live on Seattle Sports (710 AM) and with Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith.

ODDS AND ENDS…the Mariners defeated the Athletics by a 7-2 score in last night’s game to secure the series win…Seattle has won 3 consecutive games, all in come-from-behind fashion…6 of Seattle’s last 7 games (4/25-c) have been decided by 2-or-fewer runs, including 5 one-run games during that stretch… Seattle is 7-9 at T-Mobile Park and 7-7 on the road this season.

• Pollock Power – AJ Pollock has delivered a game-tying home run in the 8th inning in each of the last 2 games…in last night’s game, he homered in an 11 pitch at bat to become the first Mariners player to hit a game-tying/go-ahead HR on a 10+ pitch at-bat in the 9th inning or later since Mike Cameron hit a walk-off HR (12 pitch AB) in the 19th inning on Aug. 1, 2000.

• Tight Road Trip – The Mariners have played 3 extra-inning games on the current road trip and 5 games decided by 1 run…the road trip opener – a 5-3 win at Philadelphia – is the only game on the current trip that did not end as either a 1-run game or as an extra-innings contest.

• Brooms – The Mariners are looking for their 2nd series sweep of the season today…Seattle swept Colorado in a 3-game series from April 14-16.

• 3-Hit Cabby – Jose Caballero picked up the first multi-hit game of his career last night with 3 singles in the contest, including an RBI in the 7th inning to provide Seattle’s first run of the game.

• Extra-Extra – The Mariners have won their last 2 extra-innings games after beginning the season 0-5 in extra-innings.

GENO KNOWS…Eugenio Suárez came up clutch in the 10th inning last night, belting a 3-run home run with 2 outs to give the Mariners a 5-2 lead in extra-innings…entering last night’s game, Geno had not hit a home run in 14 consecutive games, with only 1 extra-base hit in that span (April 16 – May 2)…the 14-game homerless stretch was tied for 2nd-longest in his Mariners career, trailing only a 16-game stretch from July 13 (G 2) – Aug. 2, 2022…with only 1 extra-base hit during the 14-game stretch, it was Geno’s first time with 1 XBH or less in a 14-game span since June 6-21, 2019 with Cincinnati…Geno went on to hit a career-high 49 home runs in 2019 season.

KING KIRBY…George Kirby was excellent in his last start on April 27 at Philadelphia, tossing a career-high 8.0 innings while allowing just one run on 4 hits with one walk and 7 strikeouts…Kirby also notched his first career complete game in the 1-0 loss, becoming the first Seattle pitcher stuck with a CG loss since Taijuan Walker on Sept. 24, 2014 in a 1-0 loss at Toronto…through 30 Major League starts, Kirby
carries the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.54) through a pitcher’s first 30 career starts in Major League history…Kirby has 24 walks and 157 strikeouts, surpassing Masahiro Tanaka’s strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.12) through his first 30 career MLB starts from 2014-15.

GEM-TWIRLING GENTS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST…the Mariners have the best pitching staff in the Majors by FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (6.0), ranking ahead of Minnesota (5.0) and Atlanta (4.6)…in 30 games this season, the Mariners pitching staff has posted a 3.52 ERA (105 ER, 273.2 IP) with 91 walks and 276 strikeouts, and a 1.19 WHIP while holding opponents to a .228 batting average… the Mariners starting rotation ranks 2nd in fWAR (3.9), trailing only Minnesota (4.1)…the Mariners bullpen ranks tied for 1st in fWAR (2.1) with Baltimore (2.1)…the Mariners have the lowest FIP (3.42) in the Majors, ranking ahead of Minnesota (3.53)…Seattle’s pitching staff has done the best job in the Majors at limiting hard contact, allowing a league-low 39 barrels and a 5.1% barrel rate.

PAUL ME MAYBE…Paul Sewald is 8-for-8 in save opportunities this season, going 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA (5 ER, 16.0 IP) with 4 walks and 21 strikeouts across 16 appearances…the righty has posted a 0.813 WHIP while holding opponents to a .161 batting average (9×56) this season…in 143 appearances with the Mariners (2021-c), Sewald owns the best WHIP (0.885) and lowest opponent batting average (.161/83×514) in franchise history among pitchers with at least 100.0 innings pitched.

MATTY B…Matt Brash tossed 1.2 scoreless innings in last night’s game, earning his 3rd win of the season…overall, the right-hander is 4-2 with 1 save and a 4.30 ERA (7 ER, 14.2 IP) with 5 walks and 28 strikeouts across 17 appearances this season…Brash ended the month of April as the Major League leader in both appearances (16) and strikeouts (26) out of the bullpen, also posting the highest strikeoutsper-9 innings rate (18.0) among relievers with at least 10.0 innings pitched…Brash ended the month with 0.7 fWAR, leading American League relievers.

LA PIEDRA’S ‘ROCK’ SOLID APRIL…Luis Castillo went 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA (7 ER, 34.2 IP) with 8 walks and 38 strikeouts in 6 March/April starts…the right-hander became the first pitcher in MLB history with 3 outings of 5.0+ scoreless IP and 2-or-fewer hits allowed within his team’s first 16 games of a season… he also became just the third pitcher in MLB history with a sub-1.00 ERA, 11-or-fewer hits allowed, 4-orfewer walks and 25+ strikeouts through his first 4 starts, joining Cliff Lee-CLE (2008) and Corbin Burnes-MIL (2021)…Lee and Burnes both won the Cy Young Award those seasons.

AS YOU KNOW…AJ Pollock went 2-for-4 with 2 runs, 1 double, 1 home run, 1 RBI and 1 walk in last night’s game, belting a game-tying home run in the 8th inning or later for the 2nd consecutive game, but…DID YOU KNOW?…over his last 24 PA dating back to April 23, Pollock leads the Mariners and ranks 13th in the Majors with a 52.9% hard-hit rate (min. 20 PA)?…Pollock ranks ahead of Teoscar Hernandez (50.0%), Julio Rodríguez (46.2%) and Eugenio Suárez (40.0%) for the team lead during that stretch.

• 25-year-old right-hander is making his 6th start of the season, 1st against Oakland…he is also making his 31st career start, and 5th career start against the Athletics.

• Selected by the Mariners in the first round (20th overall) of the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft; signed by Mariners scout Ty Holub.

• Played 3 seasons (2017-2019) at Elon University (NC), going 19-8 with a 3.30 ERA (88 ER, 240.0 IP) in 45 games (34 GS) with the Phoenix.

• Became the first rookie in MLB history to record a save in the postseason in his first career relief appearance.

• Graduated from Rye HS (Rye, NY) where he was named to the all-metro, all-state, all-section and all-league baseball teams 3 times.

LAST TIME OUT…L#2 on 4/27 against Philadelphia after turning in a quality start where he allowed 1 runs on 4 hits and 1 walk with 7 strikeouts over 8.0 innings of work.

KIRBY’S COMPLETE…pitched his first career complete game in his last start against Philadelphia…he became the first Mariners pitcher to lose a complete game since Taijuan Walker on Sept. 24, 2014 in a 1-0 loss at Toronto.

THESE BOOTS WERE NOT MADE FOR WALKING…in 5 starts this season Kirby has only allowed 2 walks while striking out 24…his 12.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio leads the Major Leagues among pitchers with at least 5 starts so far this season…he ranks ahead of Zac Gallen-ARI (11.40).

QUALITY KIRBY…has pitched 4 consecutive quality starts his longest quality start streak in his career…his previous high in consecutive quality starts was 2 (last: 9/10-9/17/22)…Kirby threw 11 quality starts in 2022 which was 4th most on the team.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN…is set to make his 3rd road start of the season and his 15th career road start…Kirby is 5-3 with a 3.10 ERA (72.2 IP, 25 ER) when pitching on the road…his 3.10 ERA ranks 1st in franchise history among pitchers with at least 14 road starts…he ranks ahead of Hisashi Iwakuma (3.36) and Erik Bedard (3.42).

MISSION CRITICAL…the Mariners own a 10-5 record in games that Kirby tosses at least 6.0 innings…in games Kirby goes 5.2 innings or less, the Mariners are just 8-7.

PLAYOFF KIRB…made two appearances in the postseason…earned the save in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series at Toronto, his first professional save…also started in Game 3 of the AL Division Series vs. Houston, tossing 7.0 scoreless innings with 5 strikeouts…became just the 2nd player in franchise history to throw at least 7.0 shutout innings in the postseason, joining Luis Castillo (10/7 at TOR, G1 ALWCS).

AUGUST ROOKIE OF THE MONTH…was named Rookie of the Month for August 2022, after going 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA (7 ER, 29.1 IP) with 34 strikeouts and 3 walks in 5 August starts…he led AL rookies in fWAR (1.4), ERA, wins, WHIP (1.13) and SO/BB ratio (11.33)…becomes just the 3rd Mariners pitcher to win Rookie of the Month joining Michael Pineda (April 2011) and Rafael Soriano (Aug. 2003), and the 2nd Mariner to win the award in 2022 (also: Julio Rodríguez, May and June).

GOING ON STRIKE…began his outing on 8/24/22 vs. Washington by throwing 24-consecutive strikes, the most to start a game since the pitch tracking era (1988-current), passing the 21 thrown by Joe Musgrove on 8/30/18 vs. STL with PIT.

WALK LESS, LISTEN MORE…did not allow more than 1 walk in each of his first 22 career starts, the longest streak to begin a career in MLB history…it was the 2nd-longest streak to begin a season in MLB history trailing the 27 done by Carlos Silva-MIN in 2005.

NO DINGERS HERE…did not allowed a home run in 14-consecutive starts from 7/2-9/28/22, which was the longest streak in the Majors in 2022…the 14-start streak without allowing a home run was a franchise record passing Erik Hanson (12, 9/20/89-5/23/90)…he went 75.0 innings without allowing a long ball.

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING…was the fourth-most valuable pitcher in the AL from 7/2/22-the end of the regular season
according to Fangraphs WAR, amassing 3.1 fWAR…in 12 starts after allowing a career-high 7 runs to the Orioles on 6/27/22, Kirby went 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA (15 ER, 64.2 IP) with 74 strikeouts and 8 walks from 7/2-9/17/22…the Mariners went 9-3 in those games.

A HISTORIC SEASON…his 6.05 strikeout to walk ratio is the highest in a rookie season in MLB history since the start of the Modern Era (1900-c.), ranking ahead of Chris Paddack-SD (4.94) in 2014 (min. 25 GS).

MARINERS ROOKIES…among Mariners rookie pitchers who have made at least 15 starts as a rookie, he ranks among the leaders in ERA (5th, 3.39),
SO/9 (2nd, 9.2), SO (5th, 133), WHIP (4th, 1.208) and SO/BB (1st, 6.05).

BY GEORGE!…his 7.79 SO/BB ratio through his first 20 starts is the highest mark in MLB history, ranking ahead of Roy Oswalt-HOU (7.65 in 2001) (excludes openers).

CAN WHIFF WITH THE BEST OF ‘EM…struck out 123 batters over his first 22 career starts, which is the 3rd-most through a players first 22 career starts in Mariners history, trailing only Michael Pineda (137) and Felix Hernandez (136)…Kirby is also tied for the 3rd fastest Mariners pitcher (18 starts) to 100 career strikeouts, trailing Hernandez and Pineda, who both reached the milestone in 17 starts.

K STANDS FOR KIRBY…career-high-tying 9 strikeouts on 8/24/22…reached the mark 3 times in 2022…he was one of 4 Mariners pitchers with 9+
strikeouts in 2022, joining Robbie Ray (season-high 12 SO), Luis Castillo (season-high 10 SO) and Logan Gilbert (season-high 11 SO).


ABOUT THE A’S: The A’s have lost the first two games of this three-game series and have now lost each of the first 10 series of the season for the first time in Athletics history (previous: 5 in 1935, 1946 and 1951)…the streak of 10 consecutive series losses matches the second longest such streak at any point of the season in Oakland history…the longest is an 11 series streak from July 11-August 20, 2008…have now lost seven of the last eight games, nine of the last 11, 16 of the last 19 and 22 of the last 26…are 6-25 (.194) overall, which is the lowest winning percentage in the majors (Royals, 8-23/.258)…it is the worst record in Athletics history after 31 games and is tied for the sixth worst record by an AL, NL or FL team since 1901…it is the worst since the 2003 Tigers also started the year 6-25…have not won back-to-back games this year.

ONE-RUN GAMES AND OTHERWISE: The A’s led 2-1 after seven innings last night but lost 7-2 in 10 innings…are now 0-4 when leading after seven innings…the four losses are the most in the majors and no other team has fewer than five wins…five of the A’s six wins have been by one run (the other was an 8-4 win) and Oakland is 5-7 (.417) in one-run games…are tied for fourth in the majors in one-run games (12) and losses and tied for ninth in wins…have scored the winning run in their final at bat five times…have lost six games by 10 or more runs, which matches the A’s combined total from the previous four seasons and is the most since 2008 when they had eight such losses…have a run differential of -123, which is the lowest by an AL, NL or FL team over the first 31 games of the season since 1901 (previous: -95 by the 1948 White Sox)…the last time the A’s had a run differential of -123 or worse over any 31-game stretch was from June 24-July 25, 1936 when they had a mark of -126.

OFFENSE: The A’s have the second lowest batting average in the majors (.224), the fifth lowest OPS (.670) and the sixth lowest on-base percentage (..305) and slugging percentage (.365)…have struck out at least 10 times in each of the last four games (54 total), which is tied for the second longest such streak in Athletics history…the longest is a six-game streak from Sept. 13-18, 2022…have 298 strikeouts for the season, which is tied for third most in the majors…are tied for the second fewest doubles (40) and tied for the fifth fewest runs (116) and extra base hits (76)…have been hit by a pitch 21 times, which is tied with the Angels for the most in the majors.

IN THE PINCH: A’s pinch hitters are 6-for-14 (.429) with a double, home run, three RBI and six walks over the last 12 games…for the season, are tied for the most pinch walks (6) in the majors and rank third in pinch hits (8).

PITCHING: The A’s have allowed 239 runs, which are the most in the majors (White Sox, 189) and third most by any AL, NL or FL team over its first 31 games since 1901 (256 by 1923 Phillies, 242 by 1936 Browns)…they are the most by an A’s team over any 31-game stretch since the Philadelphia A’s allowed 241 from Sept. 28, 1940-May 16, 1941…have the highest ERA (7.45), opponents OPS (.894), batting average (.292), on-base percentage (.388) and slugging percentage (.505) in the majors…lead the majors in most walks (156), home runs (53) and wild pitches (19), have the second most hit batters (24) and the fifth fewest strikeouts (233).

STARTING PITCHING: JP Sears tossed 6.0 scoreless innings last night after Mason Miller blanked the Mariners over 7.0 innings on Tuesday…it is the first time this year A’s starters have back-to-back scoreless outings…both pitchers ended up with no decisions, which marks the first time A’s starters had two straight games of six scoreless innings or more without getting a win in either game since April 14-15, 2011 (Gonzalez and McCarthy)…starters are now 0-15 with a 7.77 ERA over the first 31 games…according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the longest season-opening streak of consecutive games without a win by a starting pitcher in Major League history (previous: Pirates, 27 in 2022)…it is the longest at any point in a season in Athletics history…A’s starters have the highest ERA in the majors by more than 1½ earned runs (Red Sox, 6.07) and no other team has fewer than five wins from its starters…have the third fewest innings pitched (148.1)

THE BULLPEN: The A’s bullpen has been charged with the blown save in each of the last four games…it marks the first time the A’s have blown the save in four straight games since blown save data was first tracked beginning in 2004…the pen is now 3-for-12 (25.0%) in save opportunities for the season… has the lowest save percentage and the most blown saves (8) in the majors and is tied with the Cubs for the fewest saves…has a 7.07 ERA, which is the highest in the majors (White Sox, 6.44)…has allowed 28-of-60 (46.7%) inherited runners to score, which is the third highest percentage…has 124.2 innings pitched, which is second most (Rays, 135.2).

ON THE BASES: The A’s stole three bases last night and now have 11 steals in the last seven games…are 33-for-39 (84.6%) for the season…rank third in the majors in stolen bases and attempts and sixth in stolen base percentage… the 33 steals are the most by an A’s team over the first 31 games since 1990 (39)…have thrown out 10 attempted base stealers over the last 15 games and have 12 caught stealings for the season, which is the most in the majors (Rockies, 11)…however, opponents have 29 stolen bases, which is tied for fourth most.

HOME AND AWAY: The A’s are 1-4 on this six-game homestand against Cincinnati (1-2) and Seattle (0-2)…are 3-14 (.176) at home, which is the second lowest home winning percentage in the majors (Royals, 2-13/.133)…went 2-5 on the last road trip to Texas (1-2) and Los Angeles-AL (1-3) and are 3-11 (.214) on the road, which is the worst road record in the majors…leave following the game today for a six-game road trip to Kansas City (three games) and New York-AL (three games)…snapped their nine-game home losing streak on Sunday, which tied for the third longest home losing streak in Oakland history…it was the longest since June 4-20, 1982 when they also lost nine straight.

NIGHT AND DAY: The win on Sunday was the A’s first during a day game this year…it snapped a 12-game losing streak in day games, which fell one short of the Oakland record of 13 (July 17-Aug. 21, 1977)…are 5-13 (.278) in night games and 1-12 (.077) during the day…are batting .255 (157-for-616) with 81 runs in 18 night games (4.5 runs per game), .179 (74-for-414) with 35 runs in 13 day games (2.7 runs per game)…have the 11th best night batting average in the majors and the lowest day batting average.

A’S IN APRIL: The A’s went 5-23 (.179) in April and set a Major League record for most losses in April…the 23 losses are second most in any month in Oakland history (24 in June, 1979)…the .179 winning percentage is second lowest in a month with at least five games to June, 1979 (5-24, .172)…it was the 15th 20-loss month in Oakland history, the third in the last two years… compiled a 7.97 ERA, which was the second highest ERA by an American League or National League team in any month of 15 or more games since the earned run became an official stat (1912 in NL, 1913 in AL)…the highest was 8.20 by the Phillies in Sept. 1930…allowed 229 runs, which are the most in any month in Oakland history and the most by any team since the 1950 St. Louis Browns yielded 232 in June…set an Athletics record for hit batters in any month (24) and an Oakland record for home runs allowed in any month (50)…issued 141 walks, which was second most in a month in Oakland history (148 in Aug. 1995)…set an Oakland record for wild pitches in April (18)…A’s hitters struck out 259 times, which is the most in Athletics history in April and fifth most for any month

• The A’s lost the season series last year for the second consecutive year and are 12-28 (.300) against the Mariners over the last three seasons.

• Have lost 12 of the last 16 games in Seattle.

• Have lost eight of the previous 10 season series and are 74-109 (.404) against the Mariners dating back to the start of the 2013 season, which is the A’s worst mark against any American League team over that span.

Year Home Road Totals
2023 0-1 0-0 0-2
2022 4-5 4-6 8-11
Oakland History: 378-333
at the Coliseum: 202-152
at T-Mobile Park: 99-114

Ryan Noda ranks second among Major League rookies in on-base percentage (.385) and walks (19), tied for fifth in runs (17), seventh in OPS (.788) and tied for seventh in home runs (3)…Brent Rooker is tied for fifth in the majors in home runs (9)…Esteury Ruiz leads ML rookies in hit by pitches (9), is tied for the lead in steals (13), ranks third in doubles (7), tied for third in hits (30) and tied for fifth in RBI (13).

TODAY’S STARTING PITCHER: Drew Rucinski (0-1, 4.76 ERA) FOR STARTERS: Is scheduled to make his second start of the season and the third of his Major League career…was reinstated from the 15-day injured list last Friday and made his A’s debut that night…was placed on the IL to start the season with a strained left hamstring…began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas on April 12 and went 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA in three starts… was signed by the A’s as a free agent on Dec. 22, 2022 after pitching four seasons in Korea for the NC Dinos…this is his fifth season in the majors with his fourth team (Angels, 2014-15; Twins, 2017; Marlins, 2018)…enters the season with 40 career relief appearances and one start…this is his 13th season as a professional…in addition to four seasons in the majors and four in Korea, he also pitched in the minors (2011, 13-18) and independent leagues (2011-13).

LAST MAJOR LEAGUE WIN: His last Major League victory came on July 4, 2018 with Miami against Tampa Bay…tossed 2.0 scoreless innings of relief in the Mariners 3-0 win (1 h, 2 so).

LAST START: He was the losing pitcher in the A’s 11-7 loss to Cincinnati last Friday in Oakland…it was his first Major League appearance since Sept. 28, 2018 and his first start since April 14, 2015…allowed a career-high five runs on a career-high 11 hits in a career-high 5.2 innings…tossed a career-high 89 pitches…allowed a two-run double to Barrera in the Reds three-run second inning and a two-run home run to Fraley in the third.

Mikey Balhan Sports

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