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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, September 7th (All times eastern)

Oakland Athletics (76-60) at Seattle Mariners (67-71), 10:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - A.J. Griffin (4-0, 2.26) Seattle - Felix Hernandez (13-6, 2.51)

(Sports Network) - The Oakland Athletics hold one of the American League's wild card spots, but that status could take a hit Friday against Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a three-game series.

The Athletics, who also sit 5 1/2 games behind Texas for the AL West lead, were just swept in three games versus the LA Angels of Anaheim and couldn't solve either one of their starters: C.J. Wilson, Zack Greinke and Dan Haren.

Haren held the A's to a run and three hits in six innings, while Brandon McCarthy allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings before leaving the game after taking a line drive off of the side of his head. McCarthy underwent surgery for a skull fracture and is resting comfortably. A CT Scan revealed an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture.

"Our first concern is Brandon's health, and we are heartened to learn he has shown progress in his recovery after surgery," A's vice president and general manager Billy Beane said in a statement. "We are glad to report he is stable, awake and alert. The team will provide further updates as they become available in the coming days."

Seth Smith drove in the only run for Oakland, which entered the series riding a nine-game winning streak. The Athletics are 2 1/2 games ahead of Anaheim and 1 1/2 games in front of Tampa Bay in the wild card standings.

The A's are scheduled to visit the Angels for four games on this road trip and will send rookie A.J. Griffin to the bump this evening. Griffin is 4-0 with a 2.26 earned run average in nine starts and came off the disabled list to start Saturday's 7-1 win versus Boston. Sidelined with a shoulder ailment, Griffin took the mound for the first time since Aug. 4 and limited the Red Sox to a run and three hits. Oakland is 7-2 when Griffin takes the hill.

Griffin, a right-hander, is 2-0 in three road outings and has never faced the Mariners and is the first pitcher in team history to begin his career 4-0 as a starter. The only pitcher in Oakland history to start his career 5-0 is Todd Burns in 1988.

Seattle has won six of its last 10 games and is 3-3 so far on a nine-game homestand. It took two of three from the Boston Red Sox and won the series with Wednesday's 2-1 win thanks to strong pitching from Kevin Millwood and five relievers.

Millwood gave up the lone run in six innings of work, while Stephen Pryor, Charlie Furbush, Josh Kinney, Lucas Luetge and Tom Wilhelmsen combined to hurl three scoreless innings. Wilhelmsen notched his 24th save in the process.

Dustin Ackley drove in both runs for the Mariners.

"I think we are coming up with some big hits in some big situations," Ackley said. "Maybe we aren't scoring seven or eight runs a game, but we're getting it done when it needs to be done."

Mariners outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders could return to the lineup Friday and have been with groin issues.

Meanwhile, Hernandez is coming off a rare loss and looks to start a new unbeaten streak this evening. King Felix was 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA in 14 starts until the LA Angels got to him in a 5-2 victory on Saturday. The AL Cy Young Award candidate allowed five runs -- four earned -- in 7 1/3 innings and fell to 13-6 in 28 starts with a 2.51 ERA.

Hernandez, who recorded a perfect game on Aug. 15 versus Tampa Bay, is 1-1 in four starts against the Athletics this season and 13-5 with a 2.63 ERA in 25 lifetime starts in this AL West series.

Seattle has a slight edge against Oakland this season, winning seven of the 13 matchups between the ballclubs.

09/07 10:44:27 ET