The Oakland Athletics will hit the road for the first time, while the Seattle Mariners make their home debut, when the teams meet Friday night in the opener of a four-game series between the American League West rivals.
While the A’s (3-3) join Houston as the only teams in the division without losing records, the rebuilding Mariners (3-4) are coming off taking two of three from the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
The Mariners won the final two games against the Angels, 10-7 and 8-5. Rookie outfielder Kyle Lewis extended his hitting streak to seven games in the win Thursday. Lewis is hitting .458 for the season.
“This was an awesome series and you’ve seen the confidence (of the players) just shoot through the roof,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said after Thursday’s victory
Servais praised his players for their response to the pandemic-delayed season.
“There was certainly a lot of anxiety heading into this trip based on protocols and being in Houston and L.A.,” Servais said. “But everything has been very tightly run, and we did (COVID-19) testing again today with no issues there.
“This is a season of change, the new norm. We had no idea what to expect on the road and the guys handled themselves well. They’re looking forward to getting home, pumped up about it.”
Right-hander Taijuan Walker (0-1, 13.50 ERA), who returned to the Mariners as a free agent in the offseason, is scheduled to start the home opener. He’s 1-2 with a 4.54 ERA in seven career appearances against the A’s, including five starts.
Left-hander Sean Manaea (0-1, 7.71 ERA) will try to help the A’s, who had Thursday off, snap a two-game losing streak. Manaea is 6-4 with a 3.69 ERA in 11 career starts against Seattle.
With MLB suspending games of multiple teams following an outbreak among Miami Marlins players and staff, the A’s plan to confine themselves to the team hotel and T-Mobile Park during the three-game road trip.
“Everybody knows that the next step is what happens with travel and the world on the road,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters.
A’s third baseman Matt Chapman admitted to some concern about what happens once the team leaves the Bay Area, where they’ve spent the past month.
“We’re taking this super serious,” Chapman said earlier this week. “We’re wearing our masks. We’re being smart off the field. But we haven’t done a road trip yet.
“It’s not something to take lightly, and I think if we just pretend like everybody we’re around has it. I know that’s a kind of weird thing to say, but if you pretend that everyone has it and you keep your distance, and take your precautions, at least you’ll know you did everything you could.”
Melvin said he wants to get starts in the series for second baseman Franklin Barreto and first baseman/outfielder Seth Brown, who both have just one at-bat so far.
“I do have a game in mind (for Brown),” Melvin said. “He and Barreto are in a tough spot. It’s only (six) games in the course of 60. Hopefully, I can get them in one of the games in Seattle.”
–Field Level Media