Despite his club's 14-game lead over its American League West rival, A's manager Bob Melvin is wary of the Mariners, Oakland's opponent on Tuesday night in the second game of a three-game series at O.co Coliseum. Seattle has a 8-6 record over Oakland this season, which Melvin credits to big bats and bad timing.
"They can hit. They hit homers. We saw that in Spring Training, and we saw it early in the season against us, too," Melvin said. "They've just played well against us. It seems like we get Felix [Hernandez] and [Hisashi] Iwakuma every time, too, and that's a difficult tandem to deal with all the time. Luckily, we're just getting Iwakuma this time."
Seattle has been a thorn in the side of all of its division opponents, with winning records against every club except Texas. Against the AL West, the Mariners are 29-26 overall and 4-1 in their last five road series.
Even though Oakland will miss Seattle ace Hernandez in this series, Tuesday night's starter, Joe Saunders, has proved to be trouble enough. Saunders has excelled against the A's, posting a 15-6 record with a 3.36 ERA. His 15 wins against the A's are his most against any opponent.
For the season, Saunders is 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA against Oakland.
The 32-year-old lefty has been in a funk lately, with a 7.28 ERA over his last six starts, while averaging fewer than five innings per start. In his last start, Saunders lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits against the Rays.
Mariners: Wedge expected to rejoin team
The club expects to receive a homecoming gift on its return to Seattle on Friday, the presence of manager Eric Wedge. The skipper has been away from the team since he had a mild stroke before a home game on July 22.
"He's champing at the bit to get back," acting manager Robby Thompson said. "He'll slowly get back into it, and we'll see how we work things out as far as that goes."
Athletics: Norris touts Gray
Sonny Gray is scheduled to make just his third big league start (fifth appearance) on Tuesday night. He notched his first Major League win on Thursday against the Astros, throwing eight shutout innings, allowing four hits with one walk and nine strikeouts.
Catching him will be Derek Norris, who is batting .400 over his last 12 games.
"He throws the ball outstanding, and he's a very exciting arm," Norris said. "I'm looking forward to catching him several hundred times."
Gray is 1-1 with a 1.00 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 18 innings pitched. He has allowed just 10 hits and five walks. All four of the runs he's allowed (two earned) came in a loss to the Blue Jays on Aug. 10.
• Kyle Seager is one home run short of becoming the first Mariners player to hit 20 in back-to-back seasons since Raul Ibanez did so in 2007-08.
• The A's have won four out of their last five contests since losing six of seven.
• With 25 home runs, Raul Ibanez is one shy of tying Barry Bonds for second-most by a player in their age-41 season. Ibanez has hit just one homer since the All-Star break.