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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, June 26th (All times Eastern)

Oakland Athletics (36-38) at Seattle Mariners (31-44), 10:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - Travis Blackley (1-2, 3.15) Seattle - Jason Vargas (7-7, 4.66)

(Sports Network) - A pair of American League West inhabitants resume a three- game set tonight as the Oakland Athletics target a series victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

The Athletics needed only one run in last night's series-opening 1-0 triumph and got seven shutout innings from Tom Milone. Milone struck out five batters and did not issue a walk, while Grant Balfour hurled a scoreless eighth inning before Ryan Cook closed the door in the ninth for his fifth save.

"After my last start here, I realized there is a lot of room in the outfield just like in the Coliseum," Milone said. "It makes it a lot easier to throw strikes and let them hit it and hopefully at people."

Seth Smith made a winner out of Milone with a solo home run in the top of the second inning and both Brandon Inge and Brandon Moss reached base in the three-hit attack for the A's, who opened a seven-game road trip on a high note and have won 10 of their last 13 games.

Oakland will also visit the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on the journey.

Travis Blackley draws the start tonight for the A's and he is just 1-2 with a 3.15 earned run average in eight games (5 starts) this season. Blackley pitched well in a no-decision his last time out in a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, hurling eight innings of one-run ball with six K's and no walks. He allowed two runs in six innings for his first win of the season the start before versus San Diego on June 15.

Blackley, a left-hander, has never faced Seattle in his career. Blackley hopes to get a boost from young star Yoenis Cespedes tonight. Cespedes is expected to return to the outfield on Tuesday and had been the designated hitter over the past week or so due to a sore left hamstring.

Seattle kicked off a 10-game homestand on a sour note and wasted a strong start from Erasmo Ramirez. Ramirez struck out 10 batters and yielded one run in eight innings.

"You saw a complete performance by a young starting pitcher today," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said of Ramirez's outing. "He has something now that he can really work off of, now it's time to go back to work and get prepared for his next start."

Jesus Montero had two of Seattle's game-high seven hits.

The Mariners will pin pitching duties on Jason Vargas tonight and he has dropped three straight and four of his last six starts. Vargas was embarrassed by Arizona in last Wednesday's 14-10 setback and surrendered 10 runs and nine hits, including a career-high five home runs, in just 4 1/3 innings. The lousy effort dropped Vargas to 7-7 in 16 starts and raised his ERA to 4.66.

Vargas, a left-hander, has allowed at least three runs in each of his previous eight performances and has faced Oakland twice already this season, going 1-0 in that time. Vargas is 4-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 11 career games (9 starts) against the Athletics.

Seattle is 5-3 this season against the A's.

06/26 10:42:39 ET