Streaking A's set to welcome slumping Mariners
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Quick quiz: Among major league center fielders, who has the second-most home runs this season, behind only the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout?
No, it's not the usual suspects.
Try Oakland's Ramon Laureano.
Laureano hit his 18th of the season, bested only by Trout's 30, as the Oakland Athletics completed a three-game sweep of the visiting Chicago White Sox with a 3-2 victory Sunday.
Laureano and the A's will seek their fifth consecutive victory when they play host to the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a two-game series Tuesday night.
Laureano's home run in the seventh inning Sunday tied the score at 2-2, and his grounder in the ninth, combined with a White Sox throwing error, allowed Chad Pinder to score the winning run.
"Typically, late in these games when both pitchers are pitching well, the way the ball is flying these days, a home run is going to be the difference," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Laureano's solo shot. "To be able to follow up right after we had just gone down was key."
Laureano, 25, has already set a career high for home runs -- including his time in the minors leagues going back to 2014.
"At some point in time, we felt like he had a chance to be a 30-homer guy," Melvin said. "Maybe he's on pace a little sooner than we expected, but it's not a surprise. He's a strong guy all around. He's understanding the league and making adjustments."
Laureano and the A's will face Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales (10-7, 4.24 ERA), who has dominated them this season. Gonzales is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in three starts against Oakland in 2019, including a 6-3 victory his last time out July 6 as he went eight innings and allowed two runs on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts. He's 4-1 with a 3.12 ERA in seven career appearances against the A's.
Gonzales also defeated Oakland in the season opener in Japan on his way to a 5-0 record by the end of April, a franchise record. Then came six successive defeats. But Gonzales has turned it around, going 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA over in past six starts.
"Getting 10 wins by the All-Star break says something," Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Gonzales, who has accomplished that feat each of the past two seasons. "He came out of the gate awesome, then struggled a bit like a lot of our guys did in May. But he's turned it in the right direction again and has plenty left in the tank."
The A's are scheduled to counter with right-hander Daniel Mengden (4-1, 4.73 ERA). He is 1-2 with a 5.20 ERA in six career appearances (five starts) against Seattle, but the victory came July 7 when he allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 7-4 decision.
The Mariners were swept in a three-game series by the host Los Angeles Angels coming out of the All-Star break, outscored 28-5 and no-hit on Friday.
"We didn't do a whole lot of things right, and they did," Servais said. "Everything contributed in this series to not getting the win here. It was pitching at times, it was defense at times, it was situational hitting, a little bit of everything."
--Field Level Media
Updated July 16, 2019