Jul 31, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson (14) hits an RBI single in the second inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Mariners Series Preview: at Detroit Tigers

Sweeeeeeeeeeep!

That was a huge series for the Mariners, who are now only a half game back of the Tigers for that second Wild Card Spot. Things are getting really snug at the top of the AL West as well, the A’s look poised to drop their division lead to the Angels any day now. Expect there to be fireworks at Comerica Park this weekend as the Mariners take their winning streak on the road.

I mentioned last week that the Blue Jays series was the most important of the season. That is no longer the case. This weekend’s three-game set might just trump it. Here is your Mariners Series Preview for the weekend matchup against the Tigers.

 

Matchups

Game one: James Paxton (2-0, 2.38 ERA) v. Rick Porcello (13-7, 3.11 ERA)

Paxton is making his third start since coming back from that extended oblique injury, his last being on 6-days rest at home against the White Sox. Tonight’s start puts him on another 6 days of rest. Paxton is still making his first rounds through the MLB, but he has faced the Tigers before. In late September 2013, Paxton went 5.0 innings in Detroit giving up 5 hits and 3 runs. The Mariners eventually lost 5-4.

He’s up against Rick Porcello, one of many terrifying arms in the Detroit rotation. Until yesterday, Porcello was tied for first in the AL with 13 wins (Felix too!). Porcello actually came on in relief against the Blue Jays last week in that 19-inning marathon. He took the loss after giving up the winning run in the bottom of the 19th. He threw only 36 pitches in that outing, so he should be well rested for tonight’s game.

 

Game two: Felix Hernandez (13-3, 1.95 ERA) v. David Price (11-8, 3.21 ERA)

It should be no surprise that Felix is still dominant, now that he’s extended that record-breaking streak of his to 16 games. I don’t think there’s much to say about Felix at this point, other than the fact that you pretty much know what to expect from him every outing. His last start against the Jays dropped his ERA down to 1.95 on the season, (AL best), and his WHIP is also an AL best at 0.860.

This has the markings of a pitchers duel though, as the Tigers are sending their newly acquired starter to face the M’s. David Price will be making his third appearance in a Tigers uniform, and is still in search of that first win. Price has already faced the Mariners twice this season, May 13th (Complete game 2-1 win), and again on June 9th (8.0 innings, 3-0 loss). So the Mariners should know what they’re in for. This will be Price’s first home start with the Tigers, so expect a welcoming crowd.

 

Game three: Chris Young (11-6, 3.20 ERA) v. Robbie Ray (1-2, 5.31 ERA)

Chris Young did it again against the Jays at home, and is now only one win shy of tying his career high 12 wins in a season. Talk about a comeback story. Young is looking for his 4th straight win, and hasn’t lost since the All-Star Break. Young pitched well against a powerful Jays offense this week going 6 innings with only 2 hits.

On the opposite end of the age spectrum is rookie Robbie Ray, making his 5th career start. He’s taking Anibal Sanchez‘s spot now that he’s on the DL with a pectoral strain. Ray got hit around a little bit in Pittsburgh last week when he went 5.0 innings giving up 6 hits and 4 runs. He was on the hook for the loss as part of that 4-game losing streak the Tigers had.

 

Series Notes

  • Captain Dan put together a list of 5-things you should look for this weekend. Check it out here.
  • This series marks the return of Austin Jackson to Detroit after his move to the Mariners. AJax put in a lot of time in Detroit (4+ years) and he’s going to get a warm reception from the fans.
  • Detroit is currently 2nd in the league in team batting average (.274), giving the Mariners a similar problem to last week’s matchup against the Blue Jays. A heavy hitting team might have some trouble against the Mariners’ league leading ERA (2.95), but they’re certainly going to need to plate some runs to keep up.
  • As should be expected, the Tigers have a few players leading the league in batting categories. Miguel Cabrera is tied for the AL RBI lead at 86, while Victor Martinez is sporting the 4th best batting average in the AL at .323.
  • The Mariners have 2 more series against both the Angels and the A’s, all in September. Definitely offering up some time to make up ground in the West.
  • A few weeks ago I noted that Detroit might have one of the most dangerous starting rotations in baseball, but luckily for the Mariners, we’re not getting all of them at once. Missing from this weekend’s festivities are Anibal Sanchez (on the DL), and Justin Verlander (shoulder soreness, not on the DL yet).

 

Wild Card Roundup

To put it mildly, things are getting interesting. I have been describing it as shit’s getting real.

At this point the Indians are on the outside looking in, at 5.5 games back they’re going to have to go on a Kansas City-esque run (9 straight) just to get back into the race, while the Yankees are going to need to break that 4 game losing streak they’re currently rocking. And of course, we all know what happened to the Jays…They’re only 3.5 back now, (3 back of the Mariners), so they’re certainly not out of it yet, but those were some key games they just lost.

Finally, the AL West is tightening up again, for the first time since April. The Angels are now only 2.0 back of the A’s for first in the west, but the Mariners are still 7.5 back of the top spot.

  • The Angels are in Texas for a three game weekend series against the Texas-bottom-feeding-Rangers. The Rangers are having an abysmal season and 2015 can’t come soon enough in Texas.
  • Obviously, the Tigers are facing the Mariners in a showdown for that second spot.
  • The Blue Jays are making a stop off in Chicago on their way back to Toronto. It’s pretty much crunch time for the Jays after their poor showing in Seattle.
  • In an AL East matchup, the Yankees are off to Tampa to take on the Rays. Tampa has managed to climb out of the bottom spot in the East, so these games still have meaning for the Rays.

 

Team Games Back
LA Angels +5.0
Detroit Tigers -
Seattle Mariners 0.5
Toronto Blue Jays 3.5
NY Yankees 4.0

Tags: Seattle Mariners

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