If the Oakland Athletics hope to make a run at winning the AL West, they need to continue taking advantage of the worst team in the division.
The Athletics look to extend their dominance of the Seattle Mariners, who will be playing hours after firing manager Don Wakamatsu, when the teams meet at Safeco Field on Monday night.
Oakland (56-54) pulled within 7 1/2 games of Texas in the West after beating the Rangers 3-2 on Sunday. All-Star Trevor Cahill(notes) earned his 12th victory by yielding two unearned runs over eight innings.
“They’re not going away because they’ve got good pitching and they’ve got a bunch of scrappy guys who play the game hard,” Texas manager Ron Washington told the Athletics’ official website. “They execute. If their pitching keeps them in the game, they’re tough.”
The Athletics have a major league-best 2.88 ERA since the All-Star break, and that’s close to the 2.89 ERA they have posted this year in winning six of nine against the Mariners (42-70). Oakland has done a good job of limiting All-Star Ichiro Suzuki(notes) to eight singles in 35 at-bats and three runs scored.
The right-hander did not get a decision Tuesday in a 3-2 home loss to Kansas City after allowing two runs in six innings.
Seattle second baseman Chone Figgins(notes) is 3 for 4 against Mazzaro and has been hitting well on this homestand. Figgins went 2 for 3 in a 3-2 win over the Royals on Sunday and is 12 for 23 over his last six games at Safeco.
Figgins was one of several high-profile players added in the offseason as the Mariners hopes to compete for the playoffs. The roster, though, proved to be poorly constructed and the club is 22 1/2 games behind first-place Texas in the AL West.
That led to Wakamatsu, who also engaged in spats with Figgins and other players, being dismissed Monday. Daren Brown, the manager of Triple-A Tacoma for the last three-plus seasons, will replace him on an interim basis.
Seattle also relieved bench coach Ty Van Burkleo and pitching coach Rick Adair. Roger Hansen takes over as bench coach, while Carl Willis replaces Adair.
“I have concluded that these changes needed to be made now and that they are in the best interest of the Mariners as we move forward,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “Don, Ty and Rick are all good baseball men and they have done their very best. But we are where we are. I no longer have confidence that Don, Ty and Rick are the right long-term fit for our organization. New leadership is needed and it is needed now.”
The Mariners announced Sunday that shortstop Jack Wilson(notes) suffered a fractured bone in his right hand in an accident at his home. They said Wilson slipped and fell in his bathroom, hitting his hand on the floor.
The injury may be bad news for Oakland, since Wilson is 2 for 23 against the A’s this year.
Seattle’s Doug Fister(notes) (3-8, 3.98) has pitched well against Oakland, going 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in four career starts. He’s given up one run over 15 innings in winning both outings against the Athletics at home.
The right-hander, however, is 0-7 with a 5.65 ERA in his last 11 starts. Fister gave up a season-high seven runs over 4 2-3 innings Wednesday in an 11-6 home loss to Texas.