Mariners Game Notes: Pair of Aces Square Off in Seattle

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The Seattle Mariners (56-65) will welcome the Chicago White Sox (55-62) to Safeco Field on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm from the corner of Edgar & Dave. It will be a premier pitching matchup in the opener, as Felix Hernandez (14-7, 3.65 ERA) will be on the bump for the M’s and White Sox ace, Chris Sale (11-7, 3.32 ERA) will toe the rubber for the south siders. Root Sports Northwest will broadcast the game live locally, and MLB.tv subscribers can watch worldwide on connected devices.

The Mariners are back home in the Emerald City after going a combined 2-4 and losing both series on their recent 6-game road trip. Seattle is sunk in regards to the postseason, as they currently sit 9.5 games back of the American League West leading Houston Astros. The prognosis is equally as bleak when it comes to the wildcard race. The M’s are 7 games back of the Los Angeles Angels for the second wildcard spot.

Mariners’ skipper, Lloyd McClendon and White Sox boss, Robin Ventura have released the following lineups for tonight’s series opener:

Pick to Click

Aug 1, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Seattle Mariners right fielder Nelson Cruz (23) celebrates after hitting a home run in the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

This season has overflown with disappointment for Mariners’ fans, but Nelson Cruz has done everything in his power to make the M’s winners. Cruz is having a season for the ages. The 35-year-old enters play riding a 30-game on base streak, good for the longest in the American League in 2015. Cruz will join Roy Sievers, Goose Goslin and Babe Ruth as the only players since 1914 to have the longest hit streak, on base streak and home run streak in the league within the same season if no one surpasses him in any of those categories. Cruz has hit .462 against Sale during his career, and I expect a 2 for 5 night with 1 home run and 2 RBI.

Pitching Preview

Felix Hernandez will get a chance to put the worst start of his career in the rear view mirror this evening against Chicago. King Felix allowed a career high 10 earned runs on 12 hits through 2.1 innings of work in his last time out against the Red Sox. This is not the first rough outing for Felix this season, and his 3.65 ERA is his highest since the 2007 season. My personal belief is that Hernandez is attempting to pitch through a foot/ankle issue this season, but hopefully pitching at Safeco Field will be the antidote he needs. Tonight will mark the 75th Kings Court, and it would be fitting to celebrate the occasion with a win.

Thankfully, Chris Sale has not looked like himself this season either. Much like King Felix, the 26-year-old southpaw has a respectable win/loss record (11-7), but some of his other numbers are not ideal. Sale’s 3.32 ERA represents a career worst, and he has allowed 7 runs or more in three outings this year. He enters play tonight with a 3-3 record and an ERA of 5.21 over his last 6 starts. However, Sale did hurl 7 shutout innings of 1-hit ball while tallying 15 strikeouts against the Cubs during his last start.

Final Score Prediction

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Tonight’s game is one of the best pitching match-ups in baseball this season, and I hoping neither hurler lets us down. Typically, there is more offense than fans would expect when a pair of aces square off. However, I don’t see that happening tonight. Felix should be extremely motivated to show well, and Sale is fresh off his best start of the season. I predict the M’s will win 3-2 in the series opener against the White Sox on Friday night at Safeco Field.

Be sure to check back after the game for a full recap of tonight’s action!

Next: Mariners Place LHP Joe Beimel on the 15-Day DL

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