The Oakland Athletics were the surprise of the baseball world a year ago. Lefty Tommy Milone was a big reason why. Milone starts his 2013 campaign on Wednesday when the A's continue their four-game series with the Seattle Mariners at O.co Coliseum.
As a rookie last year, Milone led the A's in innings pitched (190) and compiled 13 wins in the process, spanning 31 starts. He also walked just 36 batters for an average of 1.71 per nine innings, the second-lowest mark in the AL.
Acquired from Washington in the deal for Gio Gonzalez, Milone has faced the Mariners five times and is 2-1 with a 2.64 ERA.
Milone will be trying to slow down a Seattle team that has won the first two games of this series. After Felix Hernandez shut down the A's in the opener, the Mariners' bats came to life on Tuesday, as Michael Morse belted two home runs and Kyle Seager finished 3-for-3 in a 7-1 win.
"We put up some tough ABs tonight. When you do that, good things will happen," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) went six innings for Seattle, yielding just one run and two hits while striking out seven.
Yoenis Cespedes homered in the loss for Oakland, while Jarrod Parker absorbed the loss, allowing four earned runs and five hits over five innings. He also walked three hitters and struck one just one.
"I never really settled in, didn't really get comfortable," Parker said "You're not going to be very successful when that happens."
Oakland, which has managed just one run through two games, hasn't started a season 0-3 since 1996.
Getting the call for Seattle on Wednesday will be lefty Joe Saunders, who will be making his Mariners debut. Saunders struggled this spring, posting an 11.25 ERA in 11 2/3 spring innings.
"It's nice to get out of Spring Training and get into the real games. It's always nice to get through healthy and ready to go," Saunders said. "My arm feels good, so it was definitely a good Spring Training in that respect."
The 31-year-old made 28 starts between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Baltimore Orioles in 2012, finishing with a 9-13 record and 4.07 earned run average. Saunders also made two postseason starts for Baltimore this past season, going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA over 11 1/3 innings pitched.
Oakland won 12 of its 19 matchups with the Mariners last season.