By Shannon Drayer
OAKLAND, Calif. – We had an interesting talk this morning with Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon about the progress we are seeing with the ballclub, and surprisingly he wanted to focus on what we are not seeing.
The conversation I think gave us a good picture of what he is doing and how he and his coaches are going about the business of managing this team. I will have a post up later today (plenty of time to write with two games) about this. There was a lot to like in what McClendon was saying. These wins aren’t just happening. There is still a lot of work going on. For now, the lineup for Game 1 of the no-rainout doubleheader.
Michael Saunders, 9
James Jones, 8
Robinson Cano, 4
Corey Hart, DH
Justin Smoak, 3
Kyle Seager, 5
Dustin Ackley, 7
Brad Miller, 6
Mike Zunino, 2
The team is 6-2 when Michael Saunders leads off. McClendon is not about to take him out of that spot.
“You don’t argue with success,” he said. “You certainly don’t mess with it. For whatever the reason is. I don’t know what the reason is but he has done a nice job and we are winning, so he will stay there.”
The Mariners have scored in the first inning in four of the six games so far on this roadtrip.
Felix gets the start and should be at 100 percent after battling the flu in his start against the Yankees last week. The Mariners could use some innings from him as the bullpen is a bit short with McClendon wanting to stay away from Dominic Leone and possibly Charlie Furbush. I would expect McClendon to use both Fernando Rodney and Danny Farquhar if there are save opportunities in both games.
• The Mariners left home 11 days ago in fourth place in the division. With a sweep today they would come home in first place. Seattle has never swept a four-game series against the A’s in Oakland.
• Furbush has had back-to-back good outings, facing one batter in each. On Monday he came up with a crucial double play on four pitches and last night a strikeout of Brandon Moss on three. Monday he got the outs using his fastball only, while last night the first two strikes came on his slider, which has been giving him problems lately.
Before the game, pitching coach Rick Waits told me that Furbush had a much better feel for the pitch in recent days and that he was very close to getting back to where he needed to be with the pitch. This could be big for both Furbush and the team.
• Good news on another reliever. Last night Stephen Pryor threw three scoreless innings in the Rainiers’ 7-0 win over Reno. The three innings was a career high for Pryor, who has been making good progress coming back from the lat injury. I am told he has been sitting 91-93 mph with the fastball but also hitting 94 and 95. According to Waits, Pryor has been getting outs early in counts and they are very encouraged by what they have seen.