Seattle Mariners-Oakland A’s preview

ON DECK:  After a successful visit to Anaheim, the Seattle Mariners head to Oakland for a four game series vs. the A.L. West preseason favorite, the A’s.  The Mariners will go to the back end of the rotation, Roenis Elias and Chris Young, before going back to Opening Day starter Felix Hernandez and Erasmo Ramirez.  The A’s have already juggled their rotation due to some early season injuries to Scott Kazmir and A.J. Griffin.  The Mariners will see Jesse Chavez, Dan Straily, Tommy Milone, and Sonny Gray.  Sonny Gray is the only A’s pitcher who was made a start this season, receiving a no-decision in the season opener.  Oakland, who played a double header yesterday to make up Tuesday’s cancellation, lost two of three to the Cleveland Indians in their opening series.

Justin Smoak started the season on fire from the plate for the Seattle Mariners knocking in seven runs in a three-game sweep over the Angels.

Justin Smoak started the season on fire from the plate for the Seattle Mariners knocking in seven runs in a three-game sweep over the Angels.

MARINERS BATS EXPLODE:  I was worried going into the Angel series about the middle of the order and the Mariners’ possible run production.  Seattle’s offense so far this season has been nothing short of spectacular.  The Mariners put up twenty-six runs in three games in sweeping the Angels.  Seattle hit six home runs, with two each by Brad Miller and Justin Smoak.  Smoak has been red-hot going 6-for-13 with seven RBIs to go along with the two home runs.  Seattle has six players who have over nine at-bats that are hitting .333 or over.  How has Robinson Cano responded to becoming The Man in Seattle?  Cano only had one RBI in the series, but he went 5-for-11 and has an OBP of .600.  With the offense coming through in such massive fashion, Seattle was able to take all three games from the Angels.

PITCHING NOT TOO SHABBY, EITHER:  I’d hate to leave out the job that the three starters did in Anaheim.  Felix Hernandez left with the highest ERA of a starter at 3.00.  Mariners pitching held the Angels to eight runs the entire series, while the offense put up twenty-six.  Hernandez led the staff with eleven strike outs while James Paxton added nine and Erasmo Ramirez added six.  Paxton picked up where he left off from his call-up last season shutting out the Angels over seven innings while allowing only two hits.  Ramirez showed that he can handle the weight of the No.2 spot while Iwakuma is on the DL.  He held the Angels to two runs and six hits over seven innings in Tuesday’s 8-3 win.  The Mariners’ bullpen didn’t give up an earned run in the series until last night, but the Mariners were already up 8-0 and had the game in hand.

PREDICTION:  The Mariners may not get the A’s in a better spot all season.  Because of early injuries, three A’s will be making their first start in the series, and two of them (Chavez and Milone) weren’t projected for the Opening Day rotation.  Seattle will be rolling the dice in their first two games with two Mariners making their Seattle debut, Roenis Elias and Chris Young.  Elias has never pitched above Double-A, but the Mariners are hoping the twenty-five year old can give a spark like Michael Pineda did three seasons ago.  Young didn’t pitch in 2013, but he pitched well enough for the Nationals in Spring Training that the Mariners signed him after his release.  There will be a lot of mystery in the first couple of games in this series, but the offense has been giving their pitchers plenty of run support.  I like Seattle to stay red hot, and for the Mariners to take three of four games in this series.