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Joe Saunders 2013 season in Seattle has been topsy-turvy to say the least. Tonight Seattle plays an Oakland Athletics team that went from scoring runs at a fierce pace early on in the season, to coming to a halt in the stretch pivotal run of the year. Saunders has given up home runs in four straight games causing the Mariners to have to go to the bullpen in the fifth inning in his last two starts. That’s worrisome on this play today, but Saunders had one of his best starts of this season against Oakland in which he only allowed one run on five hits in seven strong innings. The A’s new young ace, Sonny Gray, gets his third start of his career. Gray has shown strong velocity in his limited action, fanning nine batters his last start on the fifteenth. Saunders is the big worry here, but if he can fret away from one huge costly inning, this game should fall under the total. 8.5 is a tall order for two teams that have not been lighting up the bases. Saunders is also facing a challenge in incumbent new A’s ace in Gray. Pitchers look for every ounce of mental fortitude whether it’s facing a batter he has had a number on over the years or a pitching matchup. He should be up for the challenge as he tries to get one last grip on his career that is fading off into the sunset.


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