The Seattle Mariners won’t be heading to the playoffs without something just short of a miracle, but they’re sure making it difficult for the Oakland Athletics to improve their chances of repeating as AL West champions.
Visiting Seattle seeks a seventh victory in the last 10 meetings with Oakland in the finale of a three-game series Wednesday afternoon.
The Mariners (58-67) are trending toward their fourth straight losing season as they sit 14 1/2 games behind first-place Texas in the AL West. They’ve more than held their own against Oakland, though, going 9-6 and winning each of the last three series.
After dropping Monday’s opener on Brandon Moss’ ninth-inning homer, Seattle bounced back with a 7-4 victory Tuesday behind a homer and three RBIs from Nick Franklin.
It marked just the third victory in the last 53 times the Mariners had trailed after seven innings, putting together a five-run eighth. Franklin was safe on a close play at the plate in that inning, but he suffered a laceration on his left knee that required stitches.
The injury could keep him out for up to one week.
“I want to say it was five stitches,” acting manager Robby Thompson said. “He had a nice little deep gash in his left knee. He wanted to stay in, just wanted new pants. It was necessary to take care of that right away.”
Oakland (71-54), which closes the season with a three-game series at Seattle, fell 1 1/2 games behind the Rangers for the division lead, but it still holds the league’s second wild-card spot.
Josh Donaldson and Nate Freiman each hit first-inning homers Tuesday, but the A’s were held scoreless for the final eight frames.
Catcher Derek Norris suffered a fractured left toe on the play that also injured Franklin. Backup Stephen Vogt could get the start as the A’s face Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma, who is coming off another impressive outing.
Iwakuma (11-6, 2.95 ERA) allowed one run and struck out eight in seven innings of Friday’s 3-1 win over Texas, and he’s given up fewer than three runs in four of his last five starts.
The right-hander pitched well in his first two starts against the A’s this season, winning both while allowing three runs over 13 innings. Iwakuma, though, gave up four runs in five innings of a 10-2 loss on June 16 before allowing four runs on three homers over seven frames in a 6-3 defeat five days later.
Yoenis Cespedes homered off him April 2 and again June 21, and the A’s slugger is 6 for 15 with three homers and two doubles lifetime against Iwakuma.
Oakland counters with A.J. Griffin, who has struggled with his control lately.
Griffin (10-8, 3.76) walked a career-worst six in Oakland’s 6-4 win over Toronto on Aug. 11 before issuing five free passes while giving up one unearned run in five innings of the A’s 3-2 victory over Cleveland on Friday.
The right-hander, who threw 104 pitches in his last outing, had walked 10 over his previous nine starts combined.
“The ball was up in the zone at times, which you don’t normally see out of him, either,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He battled himself. He was a little frustrated the whole game with his command.”
Griffin had won each of his three career starts versus Seattle while posting a 2.12 ERA before giving up four runs in six innings of a 4-0 loss June 15.