Weary Mariners bullpen looks to regroup against A's

Wade LeBlanc wasn't too thrilled at the prospect of having an "opener" start a game for him.

However, the veteran Seattle Mariners left-hander has taken to it nicely.

LeBlanc will follow an opener again Saturday night vs. the Athletics in Oakland, with right-hander Gerson Bautista (0-0, 5.40 ERA) leading off before handing over the ball.

In his two "relief" outings, LeBlanc has pitched 14 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts.

In his latest outing, LeBlanc (3-2, 5.31 ERA) picked up his first victory since returning from a five-week stint on the injured list that was caused by a strained right oblique.

The Mariners won 9-3 Sunday against the host Los Angeles Angels. After right-hander Austin Adams pitched a scoreless first, LeBlanc went six innings and allowed two runs on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.

"The opener worked," Mariners manager Scott Servais said after that game. "Adams did a great job getting through the first inning, and Wade LeBlanc took it from there. Wade has really gotten sharp his last couple times out. You can really see the cutter and command coming back. He did an awesome job getting us deep into the ballgame."

In LeBlanc's first game with an opener, he inherited a 3-0 deficit but allowed just one more run over eight innings against the Houston Astros in a 4-2 Seattle loss. LeBlanc set a franchise record for most relief innings pitched in a game.

"We are starting to see some of the hard work pay off," LeBlanc told The Seattle Times.

LeBlanc is 3-1 with a 3.82 ERA in eight career games against Oakland, including six starts. He took a 6-2 loss on May 24 at Oakland, allowing four runs on five hits in five innings with one walk and four strikeouts.

The Athletics are scheduled to send Frankie Montas (8-2, 2.84 ERA) to the mound. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in four career appearances against Seattle, including one start.

Montas is unbeaten since the start of May, going 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA in his past seven starts.

The A's, who lost the series opener 9-2 on Friday night, likely will remain without outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who underwent successful surgery on Thursday's off day to remove a melanoma from his right ear. A mole was discovered May 28, and a biopsy came back positive for the form of skin cancer.

Piscotty was given the day off to rest Friday but is expected to be back at the Coliseum on Saturday, even if he'll probably miss a few more games.

"We believe it was caught early, hopefully as a result of Stephen being vigilant," A's general manager David Forst said. "This is something we talk about all the time with players and staff, protecting yourself from the sun and having yourself checked regularly."

A's manager Bob Melvin said he was told of Piscotty's diagnosis during the club's recent 10-game trip but that the outfielder kept it relatively quiet.

"I think maybe what he went through last year," Melvin said, referring to Piscotty dealing with his mother Gretchen's battle with ALS. "I think in his mind this is probably minor as far as that goes, which it isn't. But he just wanted to get it over with and get back as soon as possible."

The A's haven't placed Piscotty on the 10-day injured list because they think he'll be back in a few days.

"Obviously we're thinking about him right now," Melvin said. "At this point, we haven't made a move. We're trying to hold our hopes out that we get him back sooner than later."

--Field Level Media
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