Mariners Game Notes: Brad Miller Makes First Start in CF


The Seattle Mariners (18-22) are north of the border tonight to battle the Toronto Blue Jays (19-24) in the opener of a 3-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 4:07 pm from the Rogers Centre in TO. Felix Hernandez (6-1, 2.30 ERA) will toe the rubber for the M’s as looks to bounce back from his first loss of the season. Veteran right-hander Marco Estrada (1-2, 3.55 ERA) will get the ball for the home side in the opener. Root Sports Northwest will carry the game live locally, and subscribers can watch on connected devices.

With yesterday’s loss, the Mariners are barely holding on to 3rd place in the American League West. Seattle currently trails the division leading Houston Astros by 8.0 games, and lead the Texas Rangers by just 1/2 a game.

Mariners’ skipper Lloyd McClendon and Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons have released the following lineups for tonight’s series opener:

Brad Miller Hitting leadoff and Playing Center Field

McClendon is going with many of the same names in his starting 9 from yesterday’s game, but Brad Miller will hit leadoff and make his first career start in center field Friday night in Toronto. Miller has fared well in left field lately, and many believe he could develop into the M’s 2016 starting center fielder. The 25-year-old Orlando, FL native won the AL Player of the Week award last week, and he is hitting .387 with 3 doubles, 4 home runs and 5 RBI’s over is last 9 games. I am very intrigued with him at the top of the lineup, as he has scored 7 runs and nursed 3 walks over the same stretch. Combine his recent production with his plus speed, and you may be looking at one of the better leadoff hitters in baseball.

Welington Castillo Starts at Designated Hitter

The Mariners’ latest acquisition will make his 2nd consecutive start for Seattle on Friday, but unlike yesterday, Welington Castillo will not be behind the plate. Castillo will get a chance to be the M’s designated hitter in the series opener with the Blue Jays. The 28-year-old performed reasonably well on Thursday afternoon, going 1 for 4 with a run scored, an RBI and 2 strikeouts in his Mariners’ debut. His .170 batting average in uninspiring, but I am intrigued to see how he does as the DH for the first time in his career. I do not expect this to become a routine thing, but it is nice to have multiple options to plug into the DH spot.

Pick to Click

Fans have been very disappointed in the M’s performance with runners in scoring position in 2015, and rightfully so. Seattle ranks 26th in baseball with a .220 batting average with RISP. Only 4 Mariners are hitting over .300 with RISP (Nelson Cruz, Brad Miller, Rickie Weeks and Justin Ruggiano). Robinson Cano, Logan Morrison and Dustin Ackley have combined to hit .108 with RISP. This has to change, and it has to change fast.

My pick to click tonight is Robby Cano. The Mariners simply cannot make the postseason unless Cano turns things around. Robby has hit .385 over his last 3 games, but has not tallied any RBI’s. I think that will change this evening. Look for Cano to record multiple hits, including a home run, and drive in 3 runs for Seattle.

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Final Score Prediction

Anytime King Felix is on the mound, the M’s have a good chance to win. Marco Estrada has had a good start to his season, but he is still searching for his first win in the Blue Jays’ starting rotation. Seattle has played much better over the last month, but the results have not been there. Timely hitting is the missing ingredient right now, and I hope tonight’s game will be the turning point. I think Seattle will explode offensively tonight in Canada, winning 8-1 in the series opener. The Rogers Centre is notoriously hitter friendly, and I expect the heart of the Mariners’ order to take advantage.

Next: Mariners Game Recap: M's Fall 5-4 to O's in Series Finale

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