Yahoo! Sports: AL’s scariest playoff team
The Oakland Athletics are stumbling to the finish line as they try to secure their first AL West title in three years.
They’ll try again Tuesday to clinch a tie for the division title when they continue a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Oakland (90-66) missed chances Saturday and Sunday to clinch the division with losses to the second-place Los Angeles Angels. Its magic number remained at two for the third straight day after closer Huston Street blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning of a 10-9, 10-inning loss on Monday.
“I’m sure they know that,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “I don’t have to have meetings with them to tell them. We’ve just got to go out and play.”
The Athletics lead the Angels by five games with six remaining for both teams. Oakland begins a four-game series in Anaheim on Thursday.
After scoring three runs off Street in the ninth inning, the Mariners (76-81) finally ended their 15-game losing streak against the A’s when Willie Bloomquist singled in Ichiro Suzuki with the winning run in the 10th.
“It would be sweet to not let them clinch in our house,” Bloomquist said.
Oakland designated hitter Frank Thomas had an RBI single in four at-bats. Thomas is just 3-for-29 with no homers and three RBIs over his last eight games.
Rich Harden (3-0, 3.79 ERA) makes his second start for Oakland since missing more than three months due to a strained ligament in his right elbow. Harden returned to the mound for the first time since June 4 on Thursday, and gave up one run and two hits over three innings of a 7-4 victory over Cleveland.
The right-hander threw 55 pitches last Thursday and will be limited to around 75 on Tuesday.
“It’s a big game for me,” Harden said. “I still have to make it through this one. I still have to get prepared for that, before I start thinking about what happens later this year, playoff this, playoffs that.”
Oakland is 7-0 in Harden’s starts this year. He’s 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his last three outings against the Mariners—all on the road.
Suzuki went 5-for-6 and scored three runs Monday to increase his major league-leading hit total to 217. However, he’s just 2-for-16 in his career against Harden.
Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre is batting .354 (23-for-65) with 16 RBIs during a 15-game hitting streak. Beltre went 1-for-6 in Monday’s win and is just 10-for-55 (.182) against Oakland this year.
Jake Woods (6-3, 3.88) makes his seventh start of the season for Seattle. He’s made a push to be a part of the rotation next year, going 2-2 with a 3.66 ERA in his first six starts.
Woods yielded five hits over seven stellar innings in a 9-0 victory at the Chicago White Sox last Thursday.
The left-hander is starting against the A’s for the first time. Woods has a 1.53 ERA in seven relief appearances against Oakland this season.