Saturday, April 11, 2015

Gray aims to build on historic start in showdown with Happ, Mariners

 A's right-hander Sonny Gray will be striving to carry on his outstanding start to the season on Saturday, while Mariners southpaw J.A. Happ will be looking to make a good first impression on his new club as the two American League West rivals square off in the middle game of a three-day set in a 1:07 p.m. PT contest at the Coliseum.
What to watch for:
• Gray became the first Major League pitcher since the Indians' Bob Lemon in 1953 to throw eight or more innings and allow one hit or fewer on Opening Day when he nearly no-hit the Rangers before giving up his lone base hit in the eighth on Monday. The 25-year-old owns a career-best 18 inning scoreless streak dating back to Sept. 23 of last season and is 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA in seven career starts against Seattle.
• Happ makes his Mariners debut after being acquired from the Blue Jays for outfielder Michael Saunders in December. The eight-year veteran is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in four outings against Oakland, including two starts. In his lone meeting with the A's last year, he fired seven shutout innings while allowing four hits in a 3-1 win on May 25 in Toronto.
• Former A's outfielder Seth Smith is expected back in Seattle's lineup after sitting out the past three games with a tight groin muscle. The Mariners traded for Smith in the offseason and the 32-year-old went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a triple and two RBIs in Seattle's 4-1 Opening Day victory over the Angels, but hasn't played since feeling sore the following morning. Smith was part of Oakland's AL West-champion teams in 2012 and '13 before being dealt to the Padres last year.

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