The visiting Seattle Mariners will attempt to continue to move up in the American League West standings at the expense of the Oakland Athletics when the West Coast rivals conclude a two-game series on Tuesday afternoon.
For the second consecutive day, the third-place Mariners used a late rally to pick up a game on both the first-place Houston Astros and second-place A’s when they scored three in the ninth Monday for a 5-3 win at Oakland.
Seattle will take the field Tuesday 5 1/2 games behind the Astros and two games back of the A’s.
Staff ace Chris Flexen (10-5, 3.65 ERA) will get a shot at a happy homecoming when he gets the ball for the Mariners in the series finale. He will be opposed by Oakland left-hander Cole Irvin (9-11, 3.57).
A native of the Oakland suburb of Newark, Flexen will be facing the A’s on the road for the first time in his four-year career.
He pitched twice against the A’s earlier this season, both times in Seattle, and lost both, allowing seven runs in 11 1/3 innings (5.56 ERA). They were his first career head-to-head matchups with the A’s.
Mitch Moreland homered off Flexen in Oakland’s 6-0 win in Seattle on June 2, while Mark Canha went a total of 3-for-5 with a double and a walk in the two games.
Flexen was matched up with Sean Manaea in both earlier meetings.
Like Flexen, Irvin has had no luck against Tuesday’s opponent this season. He has gone 0-2 while allowing eight runs in 8 2/3 innings (8.31 ERA) in his first two lifetime matchups with Seattle.
J.P. Crawford has been a thorn in Irvin’s side, going 4-for-6 with a double and an RBI in the two contests.
One hitter Irvin won’t have to worry about is reigning American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis, who is expected to start a minor league rehab assignment this week as he gets closer to returning from torn meniscus in his right knee. He sustained the injury on May 31.
Word of his pending return to the field had been the Mariners’ best news of the day Monday until their three-run, ninth-inning rally.
“He’s feeling much better. All positive,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said before the game. “Hopefully we can get him out here sooner rather than later. Looking forward to eventually getting him back, that’s for sure.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin likewise had good news on star third baseman Matt Chapman, who fouled a ball off his foot in Sunday’s loss to San Francisco. X-rays were negative, but Chapman was still scratched from the lineup Monday. He is expected to return to action sometime this week.
Even though his bullpen blew a third straight lead, Melvin blamed the Chapman-less Oakland offense for setting the stage for Monday’s loss. The relievers wasted a strong performance from starter Paul Blackburn, who allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
“If we score a few more runs, we’re talking about what a good game he pitched,” Melvin said, “but we didn’t do enough damage offensively.”
The A’s were out-hit 10-6 in the loss.
–Field Level Media