Jarrod Parker will face an easier mound opponent than he did in the postseason for the Oakland Athletics as he gets ready to also put some poor outings in spring training behind him.
Parker matches up with fellow inexperienced right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma on Tuesday night when the Athletics and Seattle Mariners continue a four-game set at O.co Coliseum.
Last season, Parker (13-8, 3.47 ERA) tied teammate Tommy Milone for the team lead in wins as both set Oakland records for victories by a rookie. Parker went 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA over his final five regular-season starts to earn the nod in the Athletics' playoff opener at Detroit.
He squared off with Tigers ace Justin Verlander in that contest and again in Game 5 at home, going 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA in those outings.
The right-hander went 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA in five spring starts, but the 24-year-old knows his spot in the rotation is secure after 2012.
"That's really big for me," Parker told the Athletics' official website. "I don't know if I've ever had a great spring, so I don't want to fall into that routine, but it's great to be able to work on things and not feel like every time out is a test and you're trying to make the team."
Parker went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts against Seattle last season. Mariners newcomer Kendrys Morales is 5 for 12 against him.
The 31-year-old Iwakuma (9-5, 3.16) is no doubt a less formidable opponent than Verlander, although he set a franchise record for rookies with a 2.65 ERA as a starter in 2012 for pitchers with at least 10 starts.
The Japanese right-hander posted a 4.26 ERA in six Cactus League appearances, and the Mariners are happy with what they have seen from a pitcher who worked 125 1-3 innings a season ago.
"He's a veteran guy who pitches like a veteran, he makes adjustments well and has a real good understanding of what is working and maybe what's just a tad off," manager Eric Wedge told the Mariners' official website. "And because he has multiple weapons, it really helps him as a starting pitcher."
Iwakuma went 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA in two 2012 starts against the Athletics heading into the first of his career at the Coliseum. Yoenis Cespedes was 2 for 4 with a homer in those games.
These starters will try to duplicate the efforts from Monday's opener when Felix Hernandex outdueled Brett Anderson in Seattle's 2-0 victory.
King Felix surrendered three hits and one walk over 7 2-3 innings while Anderson lasted seven and was charged with both runs on Franklin Gutierrez's single in the fifth.
Monday also marked John Jaso's first game against his former team. Hernandez presented Jaso a shiny Rolex for catching his perfect game before the former Mariners catcher went 1 for 3 against him.
Morales, acquired in the offseason deal that sent Jason Vargas to the Angels, went 0 for 4 in his Seattle debut at designated hitter.
Cespedes, who hit six of his 23 homers last year against Seattle, was also 0 for 4.