ATHLETICS (48-40) AT MARINERS (38-53)
10:10 p.m. ET; ROOTNW, NBCSCA, MLB.TV
Liam Hendriks doesn’t much care which inning he pitches. He just wants the ball.
Which is a good thing, since his time as the Oakland Athletics’ closer is coming to an end with fellow right-hander Blake Treinen activated from the 10-day injured list on Wednesday.
The A’s open a three-game series in Seattle on Friday night before heading into the All-Star break.
Despite earning the American League’s reliever of the month award for June, Hendriks will return to setup duty.
“I’m going to be whatever role they want me to. I’m not going to say no,” Hendriks said. “If they want me to open, I’ll open. Throw the seventh, I’ll throw the seventh. Whatever role, I’ll be ready for it. I’m just happy to be pitching on this team.”
Hendriks, 30, made 14 appearances in June and allowed one run in 15 innings, going 1-0 with two saves. Just one year ago, he was designated for assignment by the A’s. Now he sports career bests in ERA (1.29) and WHIP (1.05).
“That’s quite a feather,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Hendriks getting the monthly award. “He’s come a long way, not only since last year, but also this year from where he started out. Credit to him for hard work and serious conviction in what he’s doing.”
Treinen is coming off an All-Star season in which he became the first reliever in major league history to have at least 30 saves, 100 strikeouts and a sub-1.00 ERA.
“He’s had a pretty good body of work for us,” Melvin said. “We just want to make sure he’s healthy and gets out there. You can do all the minor league rehab you want, but it’s different when you get to the big-league level.”
Treinen took a loss in his return to action Wednesday, giving up a run in one-third of an inning against the Minnesota Twins.
Since losing two of three games at home to the Mariners in mid-June, the A’s have won 12 of their past 16 move into second place, capped by a 7-2 victory Thursday over Minnesota. Marcus Semien hit a solo homer and a grand slam.
The Mariners have lost six of their past seven games, including a 5-4 defeat Thursday against visiting St. Louis. The Cardinals took their only lead on Tommy Edman’s two-run single in the seventh inning. The previous night, the Cardinals scored five ninth-inning runs to win 5-2, the tiebreaking blow being pinch hitter Edman’s three-run homer.
“How to finish off ballgames and execute late in games, whether it’s an at-bat or a play in the field or a pitch in a count and striking a guy out or get some weak contact, we’ve struggled to do that,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Some of it is inexperience. You have to go through it.
“We knew coming into the season that was going to be something we were going to grow from and learn from, and our guys are learning. We’ve seen stretches when it shows up and we are productive. That’s a separator in this league.”
Mariners rookie Yusei Kikuchi (4-5, 5.12 ERA) is scheduled to face fellow left-hander Brett Anderson (8-5, 3.92) of the A’s in Friday’s series opener.
Anderson pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings his last time out on Saturday in a 4-0 road win over the Los Angeles Angels. He is 9-5 with a 2.34 ERA in 21 career appearances (20 starts) against the Mariners, including 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts this season.
This will be the fourth time Kikuchi has faced the A’s. He is 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA against them.
In his most recent outing, Kikuchi got a no-decision at Houston on Saturday after allowing five runs (three earned) in five innings.
–Field Level Media