Mariners Game Notes: Chris Taylor Starting at SS, Kuma on the Mend

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The Seattle Mariners (36-42) will battle the Oakland A’s (36-45) in the opener of a 4-game weekend series on Thursday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 pm from the O.co Colosseum in the East Bay. Roenis Elias (4-5, 4.25 ERA) will have one final opportunity to earn his keep in the Mariners’ rotation tonight. Scott Kazmir (4-5, 2.79 ERA) will toe the rubber for the last place Athletics. Root Sports Northwest will broadcast the game live locally, and MLB.tv subscribers can watch worldwide on connected devices.

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Seattle remains in 4th place in the American League West, 9.5 games back of the division leading Houston Astros. Don’t look now, but the M’s are slowing inching their way back into the wild card hunt. The Mariners currently sit 5 games back in the race for the second wildcard spot.

Mariners’ skipper Lloyd McClendon and A’s manager Bob Melvin have released the following lineups for tonight’s series lift-lifter:

Chris Taylor Makes His Return to the M’s Lineup

Mariners’ fan favorite Willie Bloomquist was designated for assignment on Thursday morning. Chris Taylor has been recalled from Tacoma and is starting at short tonight for the M’s. Taylor hit .159 with 1 RBI across 20 games with Seattle in 2015. The 24-year-old has not fared much better in AAA, as he is hitting just .243 with 2 RBI’s over his last 10 games with the Rainiers. He has not earned another shot in the show, but Taylor is getting another opportunity to prove his worth. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times is reporting that Taylor will backup Brad Miller at shortstop, but will get starts against left-handed pitching.

Hisashi Iwakuma Throws Bullpen Session

All indications suggest Kuma’s bullpen session was a success, and he did not suffer any setbacks. Iwakuma has made 3 rehab starts, including 5.2 impressive innings of 1-run ball this week in Tacoma. However, the 34-year-old right-hander had to exit his outing on Tuesday due to a blister on his throwing hand. The former All Star hurler is working his way back from a lat strain, and should be back in the Mariners’ rotation next week. Tonight is likely Roenis Elias’ final chance to impress before being demoted to make room for Kuma.

Sep 17, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez (21) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Pick to Click

Seattle has had an offensive explosion in their 2-game series with the San Diego Padres, scoring 12 runs and clubbing 4 home runs. Franklin Gutierrez is hitting 5th and playing left field tonight for the M’s, and he is my pick to click. The 32-year-old is hitting a measly .182 since his promotion last week, but a quick glance at his numbers versus Scott Kazmir suggest tonight could be a big night. Guti is a lifetime .389 hitter with 3 home runs and 5 RBI’s against the veteran southpaw. Gutierrez will lead the Mariners to victory tonight baby hitting his first big league blast since September 27th, 2013.

Final Score Prediction

The Mariners are coming off their best series of the season, and hopefully they can ride that momentum to another strong series this weekend in Oakland. This is a massive set for the M’s. If Seattle wins this series, they will be right back in the race, but if they lose, Oakland will have leapfrogged the Mariners for 4th place in the AL West. Roenis Elias has been shaky at best over his last 3 outings, but hopefully he can shut down the A’s tonight. I predict the Mariners will take the opener 5-4 on Thursday night.

Next: Mariners News: M's Ink Int'l SS Prospect Carlos Vargas

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