(Sports Network) – Nothing gives a team more confidence before a lengthy road trip than a winning streak. Before the Seattle Mariners can do that, however, they’ll have to sweep the Oakland Athletics in today’s finale of a three-game series from Safeco Field.
The Mariners have swept the AL West-rival A’s three times in the Emerald City since the 2008 campaign and have taken the first two portions of this set. After Monday’s 3-1 victory in interim manager Daren Brown’s debut, Seattle made it three straight wins overall with last night’s 2-0 victory behind eight shutout innings from Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez struck out a career-high 13 batters and scattered five hits before David Aardsma recorded his 22nd save with a scoreless ninth inning.
“It’s been a while since I won a game, nice win today,” said Hernandez, who hadn’t won since July 10. “All my pitches were working today and that’s the key for me.”
Franklin Gutierrez and Casey Kotchman finished with two hits and an RBI for the Mariners, who will embark on a 12-game road trip against the Indians, Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox starting this weekend.
Luke French will try to keep the spirits high when he takes the ball Wednesday for the Mariners. French is coming off eight innings of one-run ball in last Friday’s 7-1 win over Kansas City. He was reached for nine hits and struck out four batters to improve to 1-2 in six games — three starts — this season.
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 5.84 ERA in four career games (2 starts) against the Athletics.
Oakland has lost three of five games and wasted a solid performance from Brett Anderson, who tossed seven innings of one-run ball to absorb the loss. He struck out seven batters and issued a pair of walks to fall to 3-3 in 2010.
Coco Crisp ended with a team-best two hits off of King Felix for the A’s, who are now nine games behind Texas for the American League West lead.
“After that first inning tonight, (Hernandez) was real focused and his stuff was as sharp as I’ve seen it and I’ve faced him quite a few times,” said Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis, who struck out all three times at the plate.
The A’s will try to salvage the finale of this series when they send Dallas Braden to the mound Wednesday. Braden had a two-start winning streak come to an end in Friday’s 5-1 loss versus Texas, as he permitted four runs in six innings just one outing after going the distance in a win over the White Sox.
Braden, who is 6-8 with a 3.75 earned run average in 19 starts this season, is 1-1 in five career games (4 starts) against Seattle. The lefty faced the Mariners in a 2-1 win on April 6 this season and did not figure into the decision after seven innings of one-run ball and 10 K’s.
Oakland is 6-5 against Seattle this season, but the Mariners own a 19-11 ledger in the past 30 meetings between the two clubs.