Series Preview: Oakland A's v. Seattle Mariners

Harden looks to make it three strong starts.

The A's head to their second stop of three on their unusual three-team, seven game road-trip when they head to Seattle to take on the Mariners. Oakland ventures to the Pacific Northwest tied for first place with the Mariners and the Angels. The A's send their two veterans to the hill against Seattle, as Barry Zito and Rich Harden take their turns in the rotation.

Who: Oakland A's (7-7) vs. Seattle Mariners (7-7)
When: April 20-21, 2005
Where: Safeco Field

Game One: Barry Zito (0-3, 7.27 ERA) vs. Joel Pineiro (0-1, 7.94 ERA)

Old-time nemeses Barry Zito and Joel Pineiro square off in the first of two games between the A's and the Mariners. Despite his familiarity with the Mariners, Zito will be seeing the revamped Mariners' line-up for the first time. Sluggers Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre beef up the middle of what was a tepid Mariners' offense last season. Zito had an ERA over 6.00 against the Mariners last season. He is 15-2 with a 4.40 ERA lifetime against the Mariners. The A's lefty is coming off of his best outing of the season, an eight inning effort against the Angels.

For the most part, Zito has had success against the current crew of Mariners. Zito, not surprisingly, has struggled against the incredible Ichiro. The Mariners right-fielder has a .375 lifetime average against Zito with two homeruns. Infielder Willie Bloomquist ruined a strong Zito outing during the last week of the 2004 season when Bloomquist hit a long three-run homer in the 7th inning to tie up the game 5-5. Oakland would later win the game in the bottom of the 9th on a Bobby Crosby sacrifice fly. Zito has faced Sexson and Beltre three times each, with Beltre collecting the only hit (a double).

Pineiro is coming off of an injury-plagued 2004 season and has made only one start so far this year. He didn't face the A's last season. Despite Pineiro's experience facing Oakland in 2001-2003, he has little history against a number of the A's newer acquisitions. Pineiro has never faced Keith Ginter, Charles Thomas, Nick Swisher, or Marco Scutaro. He has had very limited exposure to Jason Kendall and Mark Kotsay. The long-time A's have had little success against the talented right-handed pitcher. Eric Chavez is the only A to have homered off of Pineiro, but he sports a .227 lifetime batting average against Pineiro. Scott Hatteberg has had the best success, reaching base against Pineiro at a .450 clip.

Game Two: Rich Harden (1-0, 0.68 ERA) vs. Ryan Franklin (1-1, 2.73 ERA)

Rich Harden heads to the mound for his third start of the season after two impressive early season performances. The hard-throwing Harden is coming off of a stellar start on Saturday, where he worked eight shutout innings against the Angels. The A's eventually won that contest 1-0 in the 10th inning. Harden has struck out 13 and has walked only four in 13.1 innings pitched this year.

The British Columbia native has done well against his "hometown" team throughout his career. Harden has made two starts and two relief appearances against the Mariners and has limited the M's to a .203 BAA and he has a 2.76 ERA in those outings. Harden has allowed one homerun to the Mariners – a solo blast by Raul Ibanez that accounted for the only run Harden allowed in his first start against the M's in 2004. Randy Winn has three career hits against Harden in eight at-bats.

Harden will be opposed by Ryan Franklin. Franklin began the season in the Mariners' bullpen but he moved back into the rotation after Bobby Madritsch was put on the disabled list. Franklin has been very effective in his two starts this season, allowing only four runs in 16.2 innings pitched. The crafty right-hander has had success against the A's during his career, posting a 3.75 ERA in 86.1 innings pitched against Oakland. Franklin has one complete game, shut-out against the A's.

Bobby Crosby has had the most success of any current A's player against Franklin, but he will miss the series due to fractured ribs. Eric Chavez has also hit Franklin well, crunching four homeruns in 30 career at-bats against Franklin. Eric Byrnes will be a strong candidate to get the day off against Franklin. Byrnes has only one hit in 14 career at-bats against Franklin. Franklin has never seen Charles Thomas, Jason Kendall or Keith Ginter.

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