Seattle Mariners Series Preview: vs. Tampa Bay Rays
By Matt Seto
Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
The Mariners came out of the weekend with a 2-2 split against the Royals. In some respects that’s not a terrible outcome, the Royals are a good team in the middle of their own fight in the AL Central; but on the other hand, this is the first time the Mariners haven’t won a series in their last 5 outings. At least they didn’t lose it. The Rays are in town this week for a three-gamer, after which the Mariners are taking a well deserved day off before a short roadie. Also, Happy Felix Day! Here’s your Seattle Mariners Series Preview aganst the Rays.
Game one: Cesar Ramos (1-1, 2.96 ERA) v. Felix Hernandez (3-1, 2.73 ERA)
Ramos started the season in the Pen, but was moved to the starting rotation in mid April where he’s been mediocre. For one, Ramos hasn’t gone deeper than 5.2 innings in a game, meaning the Rays pen could see a lot of work early in the series. His starts have been getting longer, and he’s probably hoping to reach 6+ innings this time around, but the Mariners would be wise to knock him out early. Poor Felix hasn’t registered a decision since April 21st, and hasn’t logged a win since April 11th. It’s a bump in the road for the Cy Young winner, as he hasn’t been horrible over those starts, but it would be nice to see him get back on the rails soon.
Game two: David Price (3-3, 4.53 ERA) v. Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 2.45 ERA)
MLB notes that this is Price’s first start at Safeco, so that’s neat. Price hasn’t been his usual self so far this season, he’s been hit for a bunch of runs in almost all of his starts, including a 4, 6, and 8 run game. So he’s not invincible. That being said, you have to respect a guy like Price. Iwakuma, another guy to be feared, has been bang on since coming off of the DL. Iwakuma was spectacular this weekend against the Royals where he went 8 deep for the 1-0 win in a nail biter. Look for him to keep it rolling.
Game three: Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.79 ERA) v. Brandon Maurer (1-1, 6.20 ERA)
Odorizzi is another guy who hasn’t recorded a decision in some time, and his only win this season was way back on April 4th, so his slot seems a little tenuous right now. When he’s started, the Rays haven’t won since that start April 4th. Moreover, all of his runs this season have been earned (21), so he’s hittable and it’s been happening a lot. The M’s will need a bunch of runs, given that Maurer is on the mound again. Maurer hasn’t been spectacular since being called up late April, but he’s at least kept the M’s in it. Maurer has given up almost 30 hits in his four starts this season, so run support is the name of the game on Wednesday.
- Kyle Seager seems to have things on track with another homer this weekend. After starting the season abysmally, it’s nice to see things coming together now.
- Michael Saunders hyperextended a knee this weekend, and while he says he’s good to pinch hit (which he did Sunday), I doubt we’ll be seeing him for a few more days. This gives James Jones a chance to really get some work in.
- James Jones has been decent in his call-up. While he’s been off of the scoresheet for RBIs, he’s logged three runs and a stolen base. He certainly fits the mold for a classic leadoff guy who can steal his way into scoring position.
- Taijuan Walker threw 25 pitches on Sunday morning, and said everything felt good. He’s also slated to throw again on Wednesday. He’ll likely have a few more sim games before getting a rehab assignment in a few weeks.
- James Paxton also threw on Sunday morning. He threw 40 pitches and mixed in some curveballs and changeups. Again he noted everything felt great and he’s slated again Wednesday morning. He’s likely a week or two ahead of Walker.
- The Rays are last in the AL East right now, and 6 games below .500, which is uncharacteristic for them. They’re 4-6 in their last ten, which is part of the problem, they’ve lost their last two series, including getting swept at home against the Orioles.
- The Mariners won’t be seeing him, but Erik Bedard has been a pleasant surprise for the Rays this season, similarly to Chris Young here in Seattle. Bedard was signed, dropped and signed again by the Rays this spring and shut out the Indians over 6 last weekend.
- The Rays are going to get a taste of the Fernando Rodney Experience this week, and Rodney is looking to make them pay for letting him go.
- The Rays’ pitching is also in a bit of trouble with Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb both on the DL right now, Cobb looks to be back next week, but Hellickson isn’t even pitching off of a mound yet.
Around the AL West
The Mariners are third in the West right now 3.5 back of the A’s, but only a half-game behind Texas for second, so things remain tight. This is a good chance for the Mariners to make up some ground against the struggling Rays.
- The A’s are at home against the White Sox this week, the Sox are second in the AL Central right now, and they’re trying to make moves against the Tigers, who are dominant so far this season.
- The Rangers are in Houston to take on the Astros, so Mariners fans are definitely going to want to be rooting for Houston to steal a few wins these next few days.
- Houston needs to win at least one of these games for the Mariners to stay close, but the Astros are 7.5 games back of the M’s and 11.0 back of the A’s in the West
- The Angels are only a half game behind the Mariners right now, and they’re off to Philadelphia for an interleague series against the Phillies. The Phillies are last in a very close NL East right now, at 17-19.