Manager Scott Servais elbow bumps Shed Long at summer camp last week at T-Mobile Park. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Oakland A’s, tied for first place in the AL West with the Houston Astros, make their first road trip starting Friday. The A’s travel to Seattle to play four against the Mariners. The A’s are 3-3 so far, and the Mariners own a 2-4 record. In his fifth year as the M’s skipper, Scott Servais has a record of 321-327 during his tenure.
Servis will have his work cut out for him as the team has jettisoned many of the players from the 2019 season. Pitchers Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake, Hunter Strickland, Tommy Milone, Wade LeBlanc, have new homes. Sluggers Ryon Healy, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jay Bruce are in greener pastures. The same goes for catcher Omar Narvaez.
There will be a lot of unfamiliar names in the M’s lineup on Friday. Let’s take a look at their roster. The Mariners have three catchers on the team. Austin Nola will see the bulk of the action, and he will be backed up by rookies Joseph Odom and Joe Hudson.
Nola hit .269 last year with ten homers. Daniel Vogelbach will see time at first base. The big man hit just .208, but he hit 30 round-trippers in 2019. He will also see action as the teams’ designated hitter. Evan White and Jose Marmolejos also will see work at first.
Three players will handle the chores at second base.
In his second year, Shed Long, Jr., the veteran Dee Gordon, in his tenth, and Tim Lopes, who hit .270 in 111 at-bats in 2019.J.P.Crawford and Dylan Moore will be at shortstop. Crawford played more than Moore, but their batting averages are about the same as are their home run totals. The veteran Kyle Seager will be at third base for the tenth year. Seager hit .239 with 23 home runs and 63 RBIs last year.
Rookie Jose Marmolejos will be in left field. Marmolejos can also play first base. Mallex Smith will be in centerfield. Kyle Lewis, who is off to a good start with eleven hits and a batting average of .458 will be in right field. Vogelback, Mamolejos, and Tim Lopes will see time as the designated hitter.
The M’s will use Matt Magill as their closer. Other bullpen pitchers include Dan Altavilla, Bryan Shaw, Nestor Cortes, Taylor Williams, Carl Edwards, Jr, Zac Grotz, Anthony Misiewicz, Yohan Ramirez, and Nick Margevicius.
We will now take a look at the probable pitchers for the four-game series. Sean Manaea will pitch for Oakland on Friday night. Taijuan Walker will oppose him. Manaea lost his first start to the Angels last Saturday.
Manaea pitched early in the game but ran out gas and didn’t make it through the fifth inning. His command was sharp as 40 of his 55 pitches were strikes. Taijuan Walker did not pitch in 2019 as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Walker, back with Seattle after spending two years in Arizona, did not fare well in his first outing. In three and 1/3rd innings of work, he allowed five runs and his ERA stands at 13.50
The A’s have not announced their starting pitcher for Saturday night. Mike Fiers probably will pitch. Yusei Kikuchi will go for Seattle. Kikuchi went three and 2/3rds innings and gave up five hits, five runs, and walked four.
On Sunday, Chris Bassitt will pitch for Oakland. Kendall Graveman, the former Athletic, will face his teammates for the first time since leaving the club. Graveman also had Tommy John surgery and has not pitched in the last two years. He is 0-1 so far.
Graveman pitched four-plus innings and gave up seven runs and six hits. He would love nothing better than beating his old mates. No pitchers have been announced for Monday’s game. There is a possibility that Jesus Luzardo will make his first start for Oakland.
The A’s would like nothing better than sweeping the four-game series. A’s manager Bob Melvin wants his starters to go deeper into the game. Only one pitcher has gone at least five innings. If Melvin has to remove the pitchers too early, it will wear out the bullpen. The relievers have done their job.
The A’s hitters have to get their game going, too. Khris Davis is 0-for-15 to start the season. The team cannot get off to a so-so start. The season is only 60 games, and if they are not playing well in the early going, it won’t be easy to finish in one of the two top spots in the AL West. Let’s hope things fall into place for the Green and Gold this weekend.