Oakland starter Esteban Loaiza has finally shown the form that made the Athletics take a chance on him in the offseason.
Loaiza looks to help the Athletics wrap up a three-game series sweep and extend their longest winning streak of the season when they face the Seattle Mariners Thursday at McAfee Coliseum.
Loaiza (1-3, 6.39 ERA) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings of last Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Cleveland Indians. The start was his first since April 23 following a stint on the disabled list with a strained shoulder muscle, and the victory was his first since signing a three-year, $21 million contract with Oakland in the offseason.
“I think that’s why we got him here,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “To pitch like that.”
Loaiza had been 0-3 with an 8.35 ERA in his first three starts of the season.
“Throwing first-pitch strikes, that’s my goal,” Loaiza said. “Throw first-pitch strikes and throw strikes. I threw a lot of strikes, got the ball on the ground.”
Loaiza is 2-5 with a 7.49 ERA in 10 career starts against the Mariners—his worst ERA against any team.
Oakland (34-31) won its sixth straight game on Wednesday, beating the Mariners 7-2. Jason Kendall and Bobby Kielty each drove in two runs as the A’s also extended their winning streak against Seattle to eight.
Frank Thomas, who is batting .239 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs, left the game in the third inning because of a strained right quadriceps muscle. His status for Thursday’s contest is uncertain.
“It’s not bothering me when I swing the bat,” Thomas said. “But I can’t get out of the box. It’s nagging.”
The Mariners (31-36) have scored just two total runs in the first two games of this series after amassing 22 runs to sweep the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game set last weekend.
Seattle is 1-22 when scoring three or fewer runs.
Ichiro Suzuki had two hits Wednesday, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. He is batting .524 (33-for-63) over that span.
Left-hander Jarrod Washburn (4-7, 4.28) will look to help Seattle avoid the sweep. He allowed one run and six hits in six innings of Friday’s 4-1 win over the Angels, his former club.
Washburn, who signed with Seattle as a free agent after eight seasons with the Angels, bounced back nicely after giving up a season-high seven runs in his previous start, a 9-4 loss to Kansas City on June 4.
“We felt like Jarrod was one of the prize free agents last year and we felt very fortunate to be able to land him,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “And he hasn’t been a disappointment.
“His record is not what he or we would hope, but he’s pitched every game awfully well except his last start, when he scuffled. We should have and could have won a lot more of the games he pitched in.”
Washburn is 7-10 with a 3.79 ERA in 25 career appearances, including 24 starts, against the A’s.