John McLaren took over a streaking Seattle Mariners club, then lost his first two games at the helm. After finally recording his first managerial win, McLaren looks to even his record as the Mariners open a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
Seattle (46-35) had won eight straight games when manager Mike Hargrove surprisingly stepped down and McLaren—the team’s bench coach—took over. The Mariners, though, couldn’t keep the streak alive against a team with one of the worst records in the AL, falling to Kansas City 3-2 in 11 innings in McLaren’s debut on Monday.
After losing 17-3 on Tuesday, McLaren notched his first win with the Mariners’ 4-0 victory in the series finale on Wednesday.
“It was special for me,” McLaren said. “The first one’s always the toughest I guess.
“It’s emotional for me because we needed a win. We went through a shock as a team, myself included, when Grover stepped down. We needed a pick-me-up.”
The Mariners scored all of their runs in the first inning, using a two-run single from Jose Guillen and a two-run double from Adrian Beltre to increase their lead over Oakland to 4 1/2 games. The Mariners trail the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels by 3 1/2 games.
Guillen has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, and is batting .433 (13-for-30) with a home run and nine RBIs in that stretch. However, he is just a .188 hitter in 35 career games against the Athletics.
Seattle looks to take advantage of an Oakland team that has lost six of its last 10 home games. The Athletics (43-41) managed only seven hits—their lowest total in their last 10 games—in a 10-3 loss to Toronto on Wednesday.
Nick Swisher went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, and is batting .140 (7-for-50) in his last 14 games. Oakland is 4-10 in those games.
“It wasn’t our day,” Swisher told the A’s official Web site. “Sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have bad days. This was one of our bad days.”
The Athletics have had plenty of good days with Chad Gaudin (7-3, 2.92 ERA) on the mound. The right-hander looks to follow up the best outing of his career with another strong performance on Thursday.
It was the Athletics’ first one-hitter since April 8, 2006, when they accomplished the feat against the Mariners.
“Everything was working good. I had a good rhythm, a good tempo,” Gaudin said.
Gaudin has posted a 5.89 ERA in nine career games against the Mariners, but is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two career starts against them.
Miguel Batista (8-6, 4.63) will start for the Mariners, who have won seven of the right-hander’s last nine starts. Batista got the win Saturday against Toronto, holding the Blue Jays to one run and five hits in 6 1-3 innings.
Batista is 3-3 with a 6.31 ERA in 15 career games—eight starts—against the Athletics. He has faced them twice this season, splitting the decisions while posting a 9.00 ERA, thanks mostly to his April 4 loss in which he gave up eight runs in 4 2-3 innings.
That was the Mariners’ lone loss in five games this season to the A’s, who went 17-2 against Seattle in 2006.