The Athletics are in the midst of trying to end a skid which has seen them drop a season-high six in a row and seven of eight -- definitely not the way that manager Bob Geren envisioned his young club finishing, especially since a formidable rotation sets them up nicely in 2011. Also, after getting swept by the Angels, the A's find themselves in third place for the first time since Aug. 17. The final series of the season will be a sprint against the Halos to try and finish the season in the No. 2 spot.
On the other side of the field, the Mariners are trying to get healthy in time for the offseason. At the same time, there are still important games to be won, and Seattle could capitalize on Oakland's recent slide to pick up some victories in front of the home fans.
The Mariners are toying with the idea of getting DH Russell Branyan back in the mix for the final series if he's ready. Branyan has been out since Sept. 17 with stiffness in his back.
"[He] saw the doctor [Tuesday]," Mariners interim manager Daren Brown reported. "He was feeling good and we'll give him another couple of days. Re-evaluate tomorrow. We'll sit down and see what's going on and go from there. With his history, we want to make sure we're doing what we need to be doing."
While the Mariners want to remain cautious because of Branyan's back history, there's some value to Branyan returning to the lineup for a couple of games to end the season, if there's no danger to his back.
"I know he would like to [return to the lineup] if he's able," Brown said. "I can relate to back issues. The minute you think it feels good, go out and swing a golf club and the next day you are sore again. The good thing was it has felt better the last couple of days. The doctor thought everything was OK. Give him a couple of days. See what he says tomorrow and go from there."
Athletics: Gonzalez aims to finish strong
One of the pieces to that 2011 pitching puzzle, Gio Gonzalez, will make his final start of the season Thursday. Gonzalez has held the Mariners to a 3.93 ERA this season and could pick up his 15th win of the campaign. Fourteen is already a career high for the 25-year-old lefty.
It's been quite the season for the young southpaw, who barely made the rotation out of Spring Training, but has proved to be one of the most consistent pitchers in the rotation. After struggling earlier in the month, Gonzalez has allowed just three earned runs over his past two starts. His previous start was against the Rangers, the night Texas clinched the AL West.
Mariners: Fister looking for consistency
Doug Fister will get the ball in the final start of his roller coaster rookie season. The right-hander has shown flashes of becoming a key cog in the Mariners' rotation, but at other times has seemingly shown the need for more time to develop. His past three starts are a good example -- sandwiching a stellar seven-inning shutout against the Rangers between two mediocre losses to the Red Sox and Rays -- both of which he allowed four runs or more. In his previous start, though, Fister gave up four runs early, but made an in-game adjustment to start using his breaking pitches earlier in the count. "For the way the game started, I thought Fister put it together," Brown said. "He made some adjustments and did a nice job."
The Mariners have swiped five bags in their past five games after not attempting a steal in their five previous games. ... Seattle finished with a 26-55 record on the road this season. ... Oakland might be a good team for Fister to finish against this season as he's 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA in six career starts against the Athletics. ... The A's left 34 runners on base over their three-game sweep at the hands of the Angels.
Thu, 9/30 10:10 PM ET
A's ride barrage of hits to victory
The A's belted out 16 hits -- 14 singles and a pair of home runs -- and Gio Gonzalez struck out eight over seven scoreless innings as Oakland sent Doug Fister and the Mariners to a loss to snap its six-game skid.
- A's fire on all cylinders to snap skid in Seattle »
- Fister roughed up by A's in final start of 2010 »
|Davis, R, CF||5||1||4||0||0||0||1||.281|
|Suzuki, K, C||5||0||0||0||0||0||3||.243|
HR: Carter (2, 6th inning off Fister, 1 on, 1 out), Pennington (6, 8th inning off Varvaro, 0 on, 2 out).
TB: Davis, R 4; Barton 2; Ellis 2; Cust 2; Kouzmanoff 2; Hermida; Carter 5; Pennington 4.
RBI: Ellis (45), Cust 2 (51), Carter 2 (4), Pennington (45).
2-out RBI: Ellis; Cust 2; Pennington.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Ellis 2.
GIDP: Cust; Hermida.
Team RISP: 4-for-9.
Team LOB: 8.
SB: Davis, R (48, 2nd base off Sweeney/Moore), Ellis (7, 2nd base off Fister/Moore).
E: Pennington (24, throw).
2B: Smoak (12, Gonzalez, G).
TB: Suzuki, I 2; Smoak 3; Mangini; Wilson, Jo.
RBI: Halman (2).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Halman; Gutierrez, F 3; Wilson, Jo 2; Saunders, M.
Team RISP: 0-for-12.
Team LOB: 11.
E: Wilson, Jo (22, throw), Moore (4, throw).
Outfield assists: Suzuki, I (Carter at home).
DP: 2 (Mangini-Wilson, Jo-Smoak, Figgins-Wilson, Jo-Smoak).
Pitches-strikes: Gonzalez, G 118-73, Mazzaro 32-20, Fister 81-56, Sweeney 24-14, Varvaro 35-20.
Groundouts-flyouts: Gonzalez, G 7-3, Mazzaro 3-3, Fister 3-4, Sweeney 3-1, Varvaro 2-1.
Batters faced: Gonzalez, G 30, Mazzaro 9, Fister 26, Sweeney 7, Varvaro 10.
Umpires: HP: Bruce Dreckman. 1B: Paul Emmel. 2B: Bill Hohn. 3B: Gary Darling.
Weather: 65 degrees, clear.
Wind: 2 mph, L to R.
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media