Mariners-Athletics Preview


In the midst of a wild-card race, the Oakland Athletics are only concerned about winning games.

That might not be a problem with the Seattle Mariners in town.

Owners of the AL's second wild-card spot, the A's try for a sixth consecutive win over the Mariners on Saturday.

Coco Crisp had three hits, including a leadoff homer, as Oakland (89-68) opened its final regular-season homestand with an 8-2 win over Seattle on Friday. While the A's are three games behind West-leading Texas, they own a two-game lead over Los Angeles for the AL's final wild-card spot.

Oakland's magic number to clinch its first postseason berth since 2006 is down to four.

Though the A's still have a division title in their sights and know the Angels and Tampa Bay are chasing them in the wild-card race, manager Bob Melvin tries not to do too much scoreboard watching.

"I don't want the emotions (of another team's game), it's difficult enough to go through the emotions of our game," Melvin told the Athletics' official website.

Outfielder Jonny Gomes agrees with his skipper's stance.

"It's tunnel vision, if you will,'' Gomes said. "I 100 percent buy it.''

Back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 18 because of an eye problem, Crisp was the catalyst as the A's scored at least seven runs for a third consecutive game. Oakland holds a 26-7 scoring advantage during its five-game winning streak against the Mariners (73-84).

Oakland's leadoff hitter is 11 for 27 (.407) in his last six games versus Seattle.

"It's been a while since I've been out there," Crisp said. "It's always nice to put a bat on the ball."

Though Crisp is 10 for 30 with a home run off Mariners starter Jason Vargas (14-11, 3.94 ERA), the left-hander is 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in five starts against the A's this season.

Vargas, who allowed only a three-run homer to Gomes in seven innings of a 4-2 home loss to Oakland on Sept. 9, is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in two starts at the Coliseum in 2012. In his most recent outing there on July 7, he gave up a homer to Josh Reddick in a complete-game 7-1 victory.

However, Vargas is 1-3 with a 6.03 ERA in his last six starts overall. He allowed three runs on two homers in six innings of a 3-2 loss to Texas on Sunday.

The 35 home runs he's allowed this season are the second-most in the majors.

Michael Saunders and Trayvon Robinson each homered Friday for the Mariners, who have dropped six of eight on the road. Saunders is batting .333 (7 for 21) with two doubles, a triple and a home run in his last five games versus Oakland.

The Mariners will get their first look at Daniel Straily (2-1, 3.60) on Saturday. The rookie right-hander gave up four runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-5 home loss to Baltimore on Sept. 16, but yielded two runs and struck out eight in 6 2-3 while not factoring in the decision of a 5-4 defeat at Texas on Monday.