OAKLAND -– An April series against Seattle hasn’t always registered big on the A’s news-making scale.
However, this weekend’s three-game set at the Coliseum packs some punch simply because of the expectations surrounding the Mariners. After they finished just one game behind the A’s for the A.L.’s second wild card spot in 2014, the Mariners added slugger Nelson Cruz to the middle of their lineup over the winter to supplement what should be an excellent pitching staff.
Some consider Seattle the A.L. West favorite, and they’ve even received mention on a national scale as a World Series contender.
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“They have a deep rotation. They had a deep bullpen last year and all their guys are returning,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Then they add Nelson Cruz to what’s already a formidable lineup that needed a right-handed hitter. They’re a very good team, one of the elite teams in the American League in my opinion.”
It’s the kind of series that the A’s would have liked to generate momentum for. But with Thursday’s 10-1 rout at the hands of Texas, Oakland had to settle for a four-game split with the Rangers. On paper, it certainly seemed like a series the A’s could have won in their home ballpark. But they didn’t hit nearly consistently enough, generating a combined two runs and 11 hits in losses Tuesday and Thursday. They also had some defensive breakdowns in the defeats, including three errors Thursday.
“Obviously we wish we could have taken three (out of four),” A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said. “… We just turn the page from today and get ready for Seattle.”
The A’s send Drew Pomeranz to the mound for his 2015 debut on Friday. He’ll match up against right-hander Taijuan Walker, one of the A.L.’s most highly touted pitching prospects. On Saturday, the A’s send ace Sonny Gray while the Mariners counter with lefty J.A. Happ, acquired in an offseason trade from Toronto. The series finale pits Jesse Hahn against perennial Cy Young contender Felix Hernandez, who went 4-0 in six starts against the A’s last season and has been dominant over his career against them.
“They’re a really good team and we’re facing three tough pitchers,” Vogt said. “But we’re throwing three really good pitchers back at them. It should be a fun series.”