Last weekend’s visit from the Seattle Mariners proved to be the beginning of the Oakland Athletics’ current rough stretch. The A’s only victory during that set came when Bartolo Colon outpitched Hisashi Iwakuma in the finale.
The 40-year-old Colon looks to win seven straight starts for the first time in his 16-year career Friday night against Iwakuma and the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Oakland (43-32) has dropped five of seven and after losing three of four at Texas, holds a one-game lead over the Rangers in the AL West.
Seattle (32-42) outscored the A’s 7-2 to win the first two at the Coliseum before Colon (9-2, 2.89 ERA) allowed two runs over seven innings of a 10-2 victory Sunday.
Despite that win, Oakland has lost six of 10 to Seattle in 2013.
“(The Mariners are) a good team,” manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics’ official website. “We seem to get Felix (Hernandez) quite often. Iwakuma’s pitching well. We’ve seen him a few times too. That may have something to do with it. But they’ve also been opportunistic offensively against us.”
Colon, however, is 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA in his last three starts versus Seattle, and has yielded two runs or fewer in five of his last six matchups. The right-hander has also yielded five runs over 43 innings while winning six consecutive starts for the first time since July 9-Aug. 7, 2004.
“I’ve run out of superlatives for him,” Melvin said. “I think, as consistent as he’s been for us, we feel great every time he takes the mound.”
Iwakuma (7-2, 2.06) had a string of 31 2-3 innings without allowing an earned run come to an end Sunday when he gave up four in five frames to also snap a five-game winning streak.
“He’s not going to be perfect every time,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of the right-hander, who dropped to 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA against the A’s this season. “This was a tough outing for him.
Iwakuma also understands he can’t get too careless when opposing a pitcher like Colon.
“You have to be patient as a starter,” Iwakuma said. “You know runs will be tough against a pitcher like Bartolo Colon, but I was not able to come through in tough situations.”
Yoenis Cespedes is batting .417 (5 for 12) with two homers and two doubles against Iwakuma, but is 3 for 26 with 13 strikeouts in Oakland’s last seven road games.
Josh Donaldson had three hits for Oakland on Thursday, but was thrown out at the plate for the final out of a 4-3 loss to the Rangers. The A’s held one-run leads in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings but lost for the fifth time in six road contests.
“That was as frustrating as any loss we’ve had,” Melvin said. “They played hard on every single pitch and every single out, but it seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong.”
Donaldson is 2 for 10 versus Iwakuma, but has batted .368 (7 for 19) in the last five games.
Seattle’s Kyle Seager is 2 for 16 in the last five games versus Oakland and 3 for 15 against Colon, but had four hits, including a two-run homer in Thursday’s 10-9 loss at Los Angeles. The Mariners blew a pair of seven-run leads to lose for the fourth time in five games since the back-to-back wins at Oakland.
“It’s a tough game from an emotional standpoint,” Wedge said.