The struggling Seattle Mariners go from division head to division as they open a three-game road series against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
Left-handed Yusei Kikuchi (1-3, 4.32 ERA), who was without a win despite 26 eliminations in 19 1/3 innings in three starts in May, will aim for his first win against the A’s when he beats right-handed Frankie Montas from Oakland (5-3, 4.79).
Kikuchi made two previous career starts in Oakland in his third season and won 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA. He’s 0-2 in six starts overall against the A despite a 2.73 ERA.
The 29-year-old Kikuchi has allowed multiple homers in three of his eight season starts and faces an Oakland squad that leads the American League with 68 home runs. The A’s have beaten 12 homers in their last four games, including nine, while winning two of three games against hosts Los Angeles Angels.
Matt Olson and Seth Brown continued Oakland’s Homer attack in their 6-5 loss on Sunday, with Olson finishing 12th as team leader and Brown finishing eighth.
Brown has played a home game in each of his last three games, continuing a surprising run of 35 games for a man who hadn’t played a home race in his first 33 major league games in two seasons.
The A’s saw the possibility of a three-game sweep on Sunday as the Angels scored five runs in three innings against the Oakland Bullpen, who rested his most trusted arm, Jake Diekman.
“They want to get out of town with three wins,” remarked catcher Sean Murphy afterwards. “But we set goals to win the series and we say, ‘Hey, we won the series.’ But give (the angels) credit. They didn’t just turn around and give us one. “
The A’s and Mariners meet for the first time this season. They’ll get to know each other quickly – they’re also slated for a three-game set in Seattle that begins on Memorial Day.
The Mariners continued a roller coaster ride when they were swept by the Padres in a three-game set in San Diego that ended in a 9-2 slap on Sunday. Seattle was surpassed 31-7 in the series.
The loss was the sixth in a row for the Mariners. In their eight games before skid, they lost five in a row and then bounced back to win three in a row.
Montas has played against the Mariners seven times in his career, including four times as a starter, and with a 2.76 ERA 2-1.
He’s only allowed two career homers for current Mariners, including one for Mitch Haniger, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Haniger has prevailed against the A’s in his career and completed eleven home races in 39 games. Four of these 11 homers have played in 19 games in Oakland.
Montas and the A’s will see the best Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic for the first time. The 21-year-old stayed in the three-game series against the Padres in nine bats without a hit and lowered his average to 0.135 (5: 37).
“He’s used to scoring a lot of hits and they don’t get in his way,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais, who hit Kelenic as a pinch batsman in his lone stroke on Sunday. “He’s in a good place. He’ll be fine.”
– Field level media