A pair of Opening Day starters seeking consistency go head-to-head Thursday afternoon as the visiting Seattle Mariners try for a three-game sweep over the staggering Oakland Athletics.
The Mariners dominated the first two games of the series, using impressive starting pitching from Marco Gonzalesand George Kirby in conjunction with six home runs to breeze to 8-2 and 9-0 victories.
After collecting three doubles and four homers on Tuesday, the Mariners added six doubles and two homers on Wednesday. Five different players have homered for Seattle in the two wins, with Jesse Winker hitting a pair.
The big offense has been accompanied by stellar pitching.
"We finally lined it up," Seattle manager Scott Servais said after the Wednesday win. "We pitched, and we got some big hits. We needed one of those games. We haven't seen that all year, so I was as excited as the guys were."
The series finale will pair Mariners left-hander Robbie Ray (6-6, 4.25 ERA) and A's righty Frankie Montas (3-7, 3.53).
Ray has rebounded from a 4-6 start to go unbeaten in his past three outings.
After shutting out the Boston Red Sox on three hits over seven innings in a no-decision two starts ago, Ray was rewarded with lots of run support in an 8-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels. He struck out 10 in the victory while giving up just one run on three hits and one walk in seven innings.
Ray has fanned a season-best 10 three times this year, once in a 4-2 home loss to the A's on May 25. He allowed three runs in six innings during that outing, all on home runs by Seth Brown, a solo shot, and Elvis Andrus, a two-run blast.
The 30-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three career starts against the A's. He has faced Ramon Laureano three times and never gotten him out, surrendering a single, a double and a home run.
Unlike Ray, Montas has shown no signs of turning things around. He has won just once in his past 11 starts.
He has served up five runs on four occasions this season, including each of his past two starts, the latest of which was a 5-1 home loss to the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
In his career, Montas has gone 2-2 with a 3.04 ERA in 10 games against the Mariners, including seven starts.
The 29-year-old has never faced Seattle rookie star Julio Rodriguez, who is 5-for-8 in the series with a double, homer, three RBIs and four runs.
Rodriguez hasn't been Oakland's only problem, according to A's manager Mark Kotsay.
"They've got some guys hitting the ball really well. Rodriguez is one of them," Kotsay said. "We made some mistakes, and they capitalized."
The A's have lost 10 of their last 11 home games, allowing five or more runs eight times in that span.
--Field Level Media