|Seattle Returns Home To Take on Oakland's Dan Haren|
|Thursday, 26 July 2007 13:00|
Slumping Seattle Face A's
The Seattle Mariners are happy to be home after a very rough road trip.
The slumping Mariners will try to avoid a season-high seventh straight loss Thursday night when they open a four-game series against Dan Haren and the Oakland Athletics.
Seattle (54-45) lost the final six games of its seven-game trip to match its longest slide of the season. On Wednesday, closer J.J. Putz blew his first save of the season by allowing a go-ahead, two-run homer to Ramon Vazquez in a 7-6 defeat at Texas.
"It's been a long trip. We need to get out of here," Mariners manager John McLaren said. "No one feels worse than J.J. He's the ultimate gamer."
The Mariners were swept in the four-game series after Putz tried to notch his ninth save of more than one inning this year. He had converted 31 straight, including all 29 this year, before giving up Vazquez's homer with two outs in the eighth inning.
"There's not much I can say. He put a good swing on it," Putz said. "This is not the best time for this to happen. ... Things aren't going our way. We're in a bad cycle."
Third baseman Adrian Beltre tied a team record with three doubles and drove in four runs for the Mariners, who trail the first-place Los Angeles Angels by 3 1/2 games in the AL West.
Seattle, however, is the only team to beat league ERA leader Haren (11-3, 2.41 ERA) twice this season. The right-hander posted a 2.19 ERA in those outings, but was let down by errors that led to a total of five unearned runs.
Haren entered the season 5-0 with a 2.95 ERA in his previous six starts against the Mariners, including 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three outings last year. He threw 6 1-3 innings and gave up four runs - three earned - and seven hits in a 7-1 loss July 6 in his most recent matchup with the Mariners.
Haren won his last start by allowing three runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 4-3 victory over Baltimore on Saturday. He bounced back after giving up two runs in the first inning.
"Haren battled through it," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "He didn't have a bad first inning but he settled in and looked like a true ace. He just kept at it."
Haren is 4-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his last eight road starts.
Although Oakland (48-53) went 17-2 against Seattle last season, the Mariners have won seven of the first nine meetings of 2007.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Oakland -124 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Oakland -124 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Seattle has done it in part with some sparkling work from its bullpen, which has a 1.21 ERA versus the A's this year and has worked 16 straight scoreless innings against Oakland, with Putz responsible for 2 2-3 innings.
Beltre has given Oakland fits in 2007, hitting .343 (12-for-35) with nine RBIs. He's 13-for-29 (.448) in his career against Haren.
The A's captured a series for the first time this month by winning two of three from the Angels to open this seven-game road trip. Mike Piazza went 6-for-14 with two homers and six RBIs in the three games.
Jeff Weaver (2-8, 6.19) will take the mound for Seattle after pitching a four-hitter in a 1-0 loss at Toronto on Sunday. Despite his poor overall record, Weaver is 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA in his last six outings.
This will be the right-hander's second start this year against Oakland. He gave up one run in five innings July 6, but failed to receive the decision in a 7-1 victory.
Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez was limited to defense and pinch-running in the Anaheim series because of back stiffness, although the club expects him to return to the starting lineup soon. Chavez is 11-for-25 (.440) in his career against Weaver.
by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us
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