(Photo credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)
Rookie right-hander Bryan Woo can expect to be greeted by family and friends on Monday when the Oakland native leads the visiting Seattle Mariners into the opener of a three-game series against the Athletics.
The California visit represents a final breather for the Mariners (81-68). Seattle enters the last two weeks of the regular season one game behind the Texas Rangers and 1 1/2 back of the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-team battle for the final two wild-card spots in the American League.
Seattle completes a six-game trip with three games at Texas later this week. The Mariners the return home to duel with the AL West-leading Houston Astros for three contests and the Rangers again for four games.
Having been swept in a three-game series by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mariners hope to turn things around behind Woo (3-4, 4.16 ERA). The 23-year-old made his major-league debut in June.
Woo has pitched shutout ball in two of his past three starts, including allowing the A's only three hits over six innings in a 7-0 home win on Aug. 28. He coming off 5 2/3 innings of four-hit ball in an 8-0 home win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
A hot pitcher just might be what the doctor ordered for the Mariners, who have won just one series -- at home last week over the Angels -- since taking two of three when the A's visited Seattle on Aug. 28-30.
"Disappointing way to finish the homestand, for sure," Seattle manager Scott Servais said after Sunday's loss to the Dodgers. "You're hoping to get out on them early and get some runs and momentum early in the game, and we were unable to do that. They jumped on us."
Seattle has done just that against Oakland (46-103) this season, winning nine of the first 10 meetings by a total score of 50-20.
This time around, the Mariners will see an A's team that made their former manager, Bob Melvin, look awfully good in his first return to Oakland after leaving for the San Diego Padres following the 2021 season. The Padres swept the three-game series while outscoring the hosts 23-6.
Afterward, A's manager Mark Kotsay tried to focus on the positive, which meant digging up a 3-3 stretch on the road at Texas and Houston prior to the series against San Diego.
"I think (the sweep) was a reflection of San Diego," he said of a club that had high hopes this season. "For us, coming off a good road trip against two contending teams, we came in here and this is a weekend we want to put behind us."
Getting the first opportunity to do that will be left-hander JP Sears (5-11, 4.45), who is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in three starts this month.
Sears, 27, has pitched well with nothing to show for it in two previous starts this season against the Mariners, allowing just one run and seven hits over 11 innings in a pair of no-decisions. All told, he's gone 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA in five career head-to-heads (four starts) with the Mariners in his two-year career.
--Field Level Media