Mariners Game Preview: M’s Look to Pax-Man in Series Finale

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The Seattle Mariners (74-78) will battle the Kansas City Royals (88-63) in the series finale on Thursday night. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 pm PT from Kauffman Stadium. James Paxton (3-4, 3.70 ERA) will get the ball for the Mariners in the rubber match, and Johnny Cueto (2-6, 5.12 ERA) will be on the bump for the home side. Root Sports Northwest will carry the game live locally, and MLB.tv subscribers can watch worldwide on connected devices.

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With last night’s  loss, Seattle dropped to 8.5 games back of the Texas Rangers in the American League West. The M’s are currently 5.5 games back in the race for the final wildcard spot.

Mariners’ skipper Lloyd McClendon and Royals’ manager Ned Yost have released the following lineups for tonight’s rubber match:

Pitching Preview

On this day in 2013, James Paxton hurled 7 shutout frames, racked up 10 K’s and walked none en route to earning a win against the Royals. To quote the late Yogi Berra, hopefully “it’s deja vu all over again” for Paxton tonight. The Ladner, BC product has struggled since being activated from the disabled list on September 13, going 0-1 and posting a 3.68 ERA. Pax-Man has struck out 10 and walked 7 through 7.1 innings. If the 26-year-old southpaw can work into the 6th inning and allow 2 runs or less, tonight will be considered a success.

The Royals gave up a lot to pry Johnny Cueto away from the Cincinnati Reds on July 26, and thus far, he has been a huge disappointment. The former All-Star is 2-6 since being acquired, and has registered a 5.12 ERA during his first 10 starts. Cueto is averaging 2 strikeouts less per 9 innings since leaving the Reds, and is allowing 5 more hits per 9 innings with KC. The 29-year-old’s regression is alarming, and will likely hurt his value this offseason on the free agent market.

Jun 23, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison (20) celebrates after hitting a solo-homer against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Kansas City, 7-0. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Pick to Click

Logan Morrison missed the first two games of this series to be with his wife, Christie, while she was giving birth to their first child. Now that LoMo is a daddy, I expect him to put on a show in his hometown on Thursday night. The 28-year-old is hitting just .225 on the season, but he has posted a .282 batting average so far in the month of September. Morrison is also hitting the ball much better away from Safeco Field in 2015. I predict LoMo will tally at least 2 hits, 2 RBI and launch his 17th home run of the season tonight.

Final Score Prediction

The Mariners have been playing some quality baseball this month, and they enter play with a record of 13-7 in September. The playoffs are nearly out of reach, but the M’s are finally playing the way many believed they were capable of when the season began back in April. Tonight’s game will likely come down to the starting pitching matchup. If James Paxton can be effective, Seattle has a great chance to win. Johnny Cueto is having a rough time, and the Mariners’ offense has been rolling as of late. I am hopeful Seattle will take the rubber match, 6-3 on Thursday night in Kansas City.

Next: The Mariners Season in a Nutshell

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