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Preview: Mariners (65-71) at Athletics (58-78)
Venue: O.co Coliseum
Date: September 06, 2015 4:05 PM EDT
While they’re doing just fine offensively without their top slugger, the surging Seattle Mariners could become even more prolific if Nelson Cruz can return.
With Cruz questionable for Sunday’s series finale, the visiting Mariners go after their longest winning streak in a year when Hisashi Iwakuma seeks vengeance against the Oakland Athletics.
Seattle (65-71) has opened September on a roll offensively, batting .336 with eight home runs and averaging 8.5 runs in winning all four games. Seth Smith had three hits Saturday, while Logan Morrison and Shawn O’Malley homered in an 8-3 win at O.co Coliseum.
“We sprinted to the lead and held on,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I thought the guys swung the bats real well.”
Morrison is 6 for 11 with three home runs and 10 RBIs this month, and O’Malley has gone 5 for 6 with three RBIs in two games since getting recalled. Kyle Seager is 17 for 34 with four homers, four doubles and 11 RBIs over his past eight.
The Mariners may have to chase their first five-game win streak since Sept. 2-6, 2014, without Cruz. The 35-year-old is second in the majors with 39 homers but hasn’t played since Wednesday due to a quad injury. McClendon said he’s 50-50 for Sunday.
Seattle, well back in the playoff race, is also seeking its first three-game sweep in Oakland since 2009.
Iwakuma (6-3, 4.22 ERA) went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA over a four-start stretch that included a no-hitter versus Baltimore before allowing a career high-tying seven runs over 4 2-3 innings in an 11-5 home loss to the A’s on Aug. 24. He was 4-2 with a 3.54 ERA in his prior six versus Oakland.
Iwakuma matched a career high with four walks last Saturday, but only gave up two runs over 5 2-3 innings in a 7-6 win at the Chicago White Sox. He’s 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his last five road starts.
Billy Butler went 2 for 3 with two RBIs Saturday and Mark Canha hit his 12th home run to extend Oakland’s homer streak to a season-best 11 games. Butler has gone 12 for 23 over his last nine games, while Stephen Vogt is 11 for 19 in his past six.
Brett Lawrie doubled in the opener, leaving him 14 for 28 in his past eight games versus Seattle.
The AL West-worst A’s (58-78) look to avoid their fifth straight loss as Sean Nolin makes his first start since coming over from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade in the offseason.
The left-hander had a 2.66 ERA over 14 appearances – including 12 starts – at Triple-A Nashville after missing most of the season following sports hernia surgery and a strained shoulder.
“It’s definitely been a long year, but I think just getting everything corrected and doing it right has finally paid off in the past month or so,” Nolin told MLB’s official website.
In his only other career start, the 25-year-old allowed six runs and seven hits over 1 1-3 innings in Toronto’s 10-6 home loss to Baltimore on May 24, 2013. He also gave up one run in one inning of relief in a 14-4 victory over visiting Seattle last September.
Seattle’s Franklin Gutierrez is day-to-day with a groin injury, while Oakland’s Sam Fuld could return from a back issue. Josh Reddick is uncertain after leaving Saturday’s game with an illness.