The Seattle Mariners are likely out of the playoff picture, but they’re not going down without a fight as they try for their first three-game road sweep of the Oakland Athletics in more than six years on Wednesday.
Seattle (80-70) has won five of its last seven games, but is 6 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees for the AL wild-card lead with 11 games remaining. Before their seven-game run, the Mariners lost 15 of 17 games to fall out of contention.
Now, however, the Mariners are trying for their first three-game road sweep of the Athletics (74-79) since April 10-12, 2001. They have won a franchise-record seven of eight games in Oakland this season after going 0-9 there in 2006.
Suzuki is batting .352, just four points fewer than Detroit’s Magglio Ordonez, who leads the majors.
Dan Johnson hit his 18th home run for Oakland, which lost its third straight.
The A’s could have a tough time ending their losing streak in the finale. Felix Hernandez (12-7, 4.03 ERA), who starts for the Mariners, has won all three of his starts against the A’s this season, allowing just one run in 23 innings for a 0.39 ERA.
The 21-year-old right-hander is 4-2 with a 1.96 ERA in seven career starts against Oakland for his lowest ERA against any AL team he has faced.
“Against us, he’s been close to unhittable,” A’s manager Bob Geren said after Hernandez’s most recent start against his team, a 7-1 win in Seattle on July 27.
Hernandez, who is 6-1 with a 4.05 ERA over his last 10 starts, will be trying to win his career-best 13th game. He turned in one of his stronger outings of the season on Friday, allowing just one eighth-inning run and striking out eight in 7 2-3 innings of Seattle’s 2-1 win over Tampa Bay, but didn’t get a decision.
The A’s will be without one of their biggest offensive threats as they try to figure out Hernandez. Outfielder Nick Swisher, who is batting .264 with 22 homers, was suspended for three games on Tuesday and began serving the penalty that night.
Swisher was suspended for charging the mound Sunday after Texas pitcher Vicente Padilla hit him with a pitch. Padilla was suspended seven games for the intentional beaning.
Swisher was on crutches Tuesday after fouling a ball off his right foot Monday night, though he stayed in the game. Geren said it didn’t make sense for Swisher to appeal the suspension, because the lengthy process could force him to miss time at the start of next season.
“It sounds pretty fair to me, pretty normal,” Geren said. “Obviously I wish the whole thing never happened.”
The A’s skipper will be handing the ball to Dan Meyer (0-1, 8.18), who is making his third start and fifth appearance of the season. The rookie left-hander has allowed 12 runs—nine earned—in 6 2-3 innings in his two starts and was pounded for six runs in 2 2-3 innings on Friday in a 11-9 win over Texas.
“I wasn’t too nervous out there, I felt like my pitches were pretty good,” Meyer told Oakland’s Web site. “I just need to be more consistent.”
Wednesday’s start, Meyer’s first appearance against the Mariners, will likely be his last of the season, as Rich Harden is scheduled to return from the disabled list and enter the rotation.