|Mariners to spring Leake on Athletics|
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Seattle Mariners will try to capitalize on two pieces of good news even in defeat Tuesday night when they wrap up a key three-game series against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday afternoon.
Veterans Mike Leake (8-7, 4.11 ERA) of the Mariners and Brett Anderson (2-3, 4.53) of the A's are scheduled to duel in the series finale after Oakland used one-run wins Monday and Tuesday to increase their 1 1/2-game lead over Seattle to 3 1/2 in the American League wild-card race. The A's also crept to within one game of Houston for the AL West lead.
The Mariners were able to get Robinson Cano immediately back into the swing of things in Tuesday's 3-2 loss after the standout infielder had missed 80 straight games on drug suspension.
Cano returned as a first baseman for the first time in his career after he had played 1,995 games at second base and one game at shortstop. He'd also served as a designated hitter 48 times.
After being showered in boos by the Oakland fans, Cano grounded out in the first inning before singling off A's starter Mike Fiers in the third. He later flied to center field and was the victim of a sensational catch by A's third baseman Matt Chapman on a foul pop fly.
His 1-for-4 night dropped his season average to .286.
The loss dropped Seattle farther behind Oakland in the wild-card race, but Cano nonetheless took time to applaud his teammates for keeping the club in the chase while he was sidelined for three months.
"I have to give them a lot of credit. They played so great," he said. "The goal is the same. We were all on the same page since the beginning of spring training. We all want to make it to the playoffs."
Because of his suspension, Cano is not eligible for the postseason. And for a while Tuesday, it appeared staff ace James Paxton might be joining him on the sidelines.
The left-hander was hit on the left arm by a Jed Lowrie line drive in the first inning, knocking him from the game.
X-rays taken at the stadium were negative, and the injury was immediately labeled as a bruise.
It's possible he won't even miss his next start.
The Mariners will count upon Leake to prevent an A's sweep that would allow Oakland to catch up in the season series after Seattle had recorded 2-1 wins in each of the first three series this season.
Leake pitched in two of those wins, allowing three runs in six innings in a 7-4 victory at Seattle in April and two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings in a 3-2 win at Oakland in May.
The veteran right-hander did not get credit for a win in either game, leaving him 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA in five career starts against the A's.
Leake has not won since June 23, going 0-3 in his last eight starts. His ERA is a respectable 4.11 in those outings, and the Mariners have won half the games.
Like Leake, Anderson went unrewarded when he pitched well in Oakland's 3-2 victory at Seattle in May after he had limited the Mariners to two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
The left-hander has pitched brilliantly in his career against Seattle, going 8-4 with a 1.96 ERA in 17 games (16 starts).