Oakland A’s catcher Sean Murphy hits a bottom of the sixth inning home run in front of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez at the Oakland Coliseum on Sun Jun 19, 2022. Murphy and the A’s host the Seattle Mariners Tue Jun 21, 2022 in Oakland. (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
OAKLAND–The Oakland A’s have an off day on Monday. The players can savor the win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. Jared Koenig earned his Major League victory as he and the bullpen pitched a 4-0 shutout.
The A’s return to the field Tuesday night as they meet the Seattle Mariners for the second time this season. The Mariners dominated Oakland last season, winning 15 out of 19. When the A’s visited Seattle from May 23rd to 25th for three games, they stunned the M’s by winning the series two games to one.
Both teams are not playing well in 2022. The Mariners find themselves ten games under .500 at 29-39. The M’s bolstered their starting rotation when they signed lefty Robbie Ray as a free agent. Ray in 2021 Cy Young Award-winning pitcher. Ray is slated to pitch Thursday afternoon. His record is 6-6, with a 4.25 ERA.
The A’s have lost 17 of the last 22 games played. They have won only three games in June. The A’s are in fifth place in the AL West, and they trail the first-place Houston Astros by 19 games. A’s manager Mark Kotsay has not allowed his players to quit. He gets maximum effort from every player on the squad. They may not be winning, but it’s not for lack of effort.
The pitchers for the three-game series will feature on Tuesday night the A’s James Kaprielian on the hill. Kaprielian is still looking for his first win. He is 0-4, with an ERA of 6.31. Lefty Marco Gonzalez will pitch for Seattle. Gonzalez is 3-7, and his ERA is 3.41.
Wednesday night’s game will see the A’s best pitcher, Paul Blackburn, going for his seventh win. Blackburn went eight innings in his last outing. The A’s are thrilled with his improvement. Settle will counter with George Kirby. Kirby is 1-2, 3.56 ERA.
As mentioned above, Robbie Ray goes for Seattle on Thursday afternoon. Frankie Montas (3-7, 3.53) will pitch for Oakland.
The key players on the Seattle roster are shortstop J.P.Crawford, first baseman Ty France, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, centerfielder Julio Rodriguez, and outfielders Jesse Winker and Justin Upton. Suarez and Winker are in the first season with the M’s.
The M’s made a trade with Cincinnati to bring them to Seattle. Justin Upton has played in only four games since signing as a free agent after the LA Angels designated him for assignment.
Upton is a lifetime .262 hitter and has recorded 324 homers and 1000 RBIs in his 16 years in the big leagues. Rookie Julio Rodriguez, who hails from the Dominican Republic, is hitting a solid. 265 with eight homers and 24 RBIs’
The M’s bullpen has used two pitchers to close out games. Paul Sewald and Diego Castillo each have four saves. Other bullpen stalwarts are the 39-year-old Sergio Romo, Eric Swanson, Andres Munoz, Penn Murfee, and former A’s pitcher, lefty Tommy Milone.
The A’s would love nothing better than to sweep the M’s. It’s possible, but the hitting has to improve. The A’s as a team are hitting .210.
The team on-base=percentage is .274, and the on-base plus slugging OPS is .608. The A’s have a woeful record of 8-24 at the Coliseum. The M’s are 14-21 on the road. As a team, they are hitting .232. Their OBP is .315, and their OPS is 6.89.
The stats indicate the M’s should win the series. The problem in baseball is that one never knows what will happen on any given night. The A’s have unveiled a new third baseman, Jonah Bride. Bride has shown that he can handle Major League pitchers.
He is playing third base, and it has been easy for him handling the rocket shots coming his way. The A’s are confident he will improve as he gets more playing time. Christian Bethancourt plays both first base and can handle the catching and has wielded a hot bat lately.
Sean Murphy hit a big three-run blast on Sunday to help the A’s get the 4-0 win over Kansas City. If they are to improve, the A’s need the hitters to put the bat on the ball.
Each team will be looking for silver linings in this series. The A’s want to get good hitting and good pitching. The same goes for Seattle. Several scouts will be at the game as the teams are getting close to the August 2nd trade deadline. It should be interesting.