How about them Mariners eh? To be quite honest I didn’t think we’d be here after that road trip. Facing the Yankees and the A’s is tough, but winning 4 series in a row is quite a feat. This weekend the Royals are in town for a four game set against the M’s at Safeco. The Royals are right in the middle of their own fight in the AL Central, only 2.5 games separates second from fifth there. Let’s keep the ball rolling guys! Here’s the Mariners series preview against the Royals.
Duffy is making his second professional start tonight at Safeco, his first coming last week where to took the loss against the red-hot Tigers. Duffy only has 12 innings of work so far this season, so I suspect he’ll be on some kind of pitch count. Tonight we also get to see the one pitcher who didn’t throw in Oakland. Hisashi Iwakuma is making his second start of the season too. After taking his first win in Houston last weekend (albeit it was a close one), Kuma is set to take the mound again. He threw 81 pitches last time out, I suspect he will still be under 100 again this time around.
Vargas is back in town! He’s been good to start the season, with the exception of last week against the Tigers where he got lit up for 7 earned runs. Through the month of April, Vargas kept his ERA down to 2.4o. Maurer has only three starts so far this season and he hasn’t looked too sharp. He’s given up 10 earned runs already and hasn’t gone deeper than 5 innings yet.
Ventura is a hard throwing right hander and I would expect to see him throw a few in the 100 MPH region this weekend. Because of his velocity you would expect him to give up a few walks, but so far this season his K/BB ratio is 41:8. The M’s need to take care not to get over-zealous against him. This could be a pitchers’ battle as Chris Young takes the mound. Young has been good all season, but only recently has he gotten any run support. His last start against Oakland the A’s were commenting that his pitches were coming straight out of the sky and were really hard to pick up. Young is nearly 7 feet tall.
Guthrie has given up 4 earned runs with regularity so far this season (4 times), so it’s absolutely possible for the Mariners to take advantage of him and hit him up for a bunch of runs. MLB.com also notes that he’s given up 8 homers so far this season, so watch for the long ball too. Elias continues to impress in his rookie season, look for him keep the momentum rolling after three straight wins against the Rangers, Yankees and A’s.
- After the demotion of Abraham Almonte and the promotion of James Jones, we’ve already been treated to some nice plays. Jones has legged out two infield singles and looks to be Ichiro-like in his speed to first. There appears to be a lot to be excited about with this guy.
- The Mariners’ recent road trip makes them one of the hottest teams in the MLB right now, 8-2 in their last 10 games. Only Detroit has had a better run t 9-1, but they played at home against the Astros for three of those.
- Justin Smoak has been delivering in the RBI department, he has been hitting the doubles McClendon has asked him for and it’s working out really well.
- Michael Saunders took over the leadoff position for the Mariners in Oakland after Almonte was demoted. He is getting his first consistent playing time in, and he’s gotten his batting numbers up to .243/.305/.351 with 7 RBIs.
- Danny Duffy is making his second start of the season against the Mariners, but don’t look for him to stay there long, he’s expected to move back to the bullpen after this start in favor of Bruce Chen, who will be coming off of the disabled list.
- Also on the injury table, Omar Infante missed a start yesterday against the Padres when he couldn’t get loose for BP due to a tight back. It’s suspected that two extra-inning games are the culprit, and it’s not expected he will be out long.
- KC is 5-5 in their last 10 games, and only one game below .500 right now
- Like the Mariners, the Royals have had some problems with run production so far this season, but that may be changing after the first week of May.
Around the AL West
After taking 3 of 4 against the A’s, the Mariners are now in sole possession of second place in the AL West, and a game over .500 right now. The AL West is tight with only three games separating the A’s, Mariners, Rangers and Angels.
- Oakland is hosting the Nationals in the three game weekend series. The Nationals are first in the NL East right now, and are 8-6 on the road so far this season.
- Texas is only a half game back of the M’s right now, and they’re at home for a tough series against the Red Sox this weekend. The Rangers are also in the midst of a three game losing streak.
- The Angels are headed north of the border for a four game series against the Blue Jays this weekend. The Jays are hot on a 4 game winning streak right now, so let’s hope they can keep it rolling against the Angels this weekend. The Angels are only 1.5 games back of the M’s right now
- Houston, 7.5 games back of the Mariners right now, is taking on the Orioles in Baltimore this weekend. Don’t look for the Astros to make a comeback soon, they’re already pretty far back in the standings.