(SportsNetwork.com) - Left-hander Roenis Elias makes his major league debut on Thursday and will try to keep the Seattle Mariners stay undefeated in the opener of a four-game series with the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum.
Seattle completed its first season-opening sweep in 29 years on Wednesday, as James Paxton tossed seven scoreless innings, Mike Zunino hit a three-run homer and the Mariners handled the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 8-2, at Angel Stadium.
The Mariners have now won three straight to start the season for the third time in club history, joining the 1985 and 1995 clubs.
Paxton (1-0) gave up just two hits while striking out nine. The left-hander made his MLB debut with four starts last September and impressed with a 3-0 mark and 1.50 ERA.
"I got into a groove and found my rhythm around the fifth inning," Paxton said. "My curveball got me strikeouts and my release point was pretty good."
Justin Smoak and Corey Hart hit back-to-back homers in the ninth for Seattle, which got an RBI apiece from Stefen Romero, Brad Miller and Robinson Cano.
Now the Mariners will turn to Elias, who took advantage of injuries in the Mariners' rotation this spring and impressed with a 3-0 mark and 2.04 ERA in Cactus League action.
"Obviously it's a shame (Hisashi) Iwakuma and Taijuan (Walker) had injuries," Elias said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. "When you look around, you think to yourself, 'Who else?' We all have arms, we're all throwing. Why not?"
Elias was a Southern League All-Star last year at the Double-A level.
Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with Jesse Chavez, who, like Elias, was the beneficiary of some injuries and will make just the third start of his big league career on Thursday.
Chavez has made 191 big league appearances, but just two have come in a starting role. However, with injuries to both Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, the A's turned to Chavez, who responded with a terrific spring.
The right-hander made seven appearances (5 starts) in the Cactus League and was 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA over 28 1/3 innings.
Chavez will be trying to help an Oakland team that has lost two of three to start the season. The A's split Wednesday's double-header with the Cleveland Indians, winning the opener, 6-1, before falling, 6-4, in the nightcap.
Closer Jim Johnson, who was acquired from Baltimore in the offseason, seems to be having a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings. He surrendered both runs in the ninth inning of a 2-0 loss in Monday's opener, then was charged with a blown save in the second game on Wednesday, as he gave up three runs in that one.
In fact, Johnson has been charged with five of the team's nine runs allowed in just one full inning of work.
"We should be 3-0, and I take responsibility," Johnson said. "But if I sulk or pout it's not going to do anyone any good. I have to be better."
Seattle was 11-8 versus the A's last season.