Mariners at Rays: Can the M’s dominate Tampa like they did in 2021?

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - APRIL 23: Julio Rodriguez #44 and Ty France #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrate France's three run home run during the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at T-Mobile Park on April 23, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - APRIL 23: Julio Rodriguez #44 and Ty France #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrate France's three run home run during the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at T-Mobile Park on April 23, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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In 2021, the Mariners had their way with the Rays. They played them in two series, sweeping them in a 4-game set at home and then winning a 3-game set in Tampa. The Rays are no joke and are a perennial power, making the 6-1 record quite impressive.

The Mariners are going to have their hands full with Tampa, and it’s a sort of battle between the young burgeoning superstars with Julio Rodriguez and Wander Franco. If the Mariners can take another series against Tampa, it’ll be a nice point for anyone looking back on the season and wondering if the Mariners can actually sit at the big kid’s table.

Let’s preview the first series of the year between the Mariners and Rays

Mariners @ Rays: Pitching Matchups

Tuesday, April 26th @ 3:40 PM PT: Logan Gilbert vs. Matt Wisler

Wednesday, April 27th @ 3:40 PM PT: Marco Gonzales vs. Drew Rasmussen

Thursday, April 28th @ 10:10 AM PT: Chris Flexen vs Corey Kluber

Wisler is an opener, so don’t expect him to go too long in the first game of the series. Tampa has utilized this a lot, and it works for them. The Mariners have Gilbert taking the mound, who has been having an incredible year so far, which includes being one of the league leaders in ERA at 0.54.

Rasmussen isn’t quite an opener, but he has only gone four, five, and three innings so far this year. Kluber isn’t what he once was, but is still a crafty vet, although he got hit hard by the Red Sox in his last start, giving up 11 hits in five innings.

Flexen will look to improve on one of the three best starts any Mariners SP has had this year after a game score of 66 against the Royals. It’s Marco though who we hope can actually have a strong defense behind him for once, as he has given up 13 runs with only five earned.

Mariners @ Rays: Hitters to Watch

Wander Franco – He’s Wander Franco. Just turned 21, and is hitting .349/.364/.635 with 7 2B and 3 HR. You should know his name for sure.

Ji-Man Choi – He leads their team in BA with a .351 mark and has an insane .500 OBP. He’s gonna be a tough out every single time!

Francisco Mejia – On the other hand, Mejia has yet to walk, but is hitting .348. Let’s see if the Mariners can keep that going.

The Lowes – Brandon and Josh Lowe have a combined 35 Ks in just 105 ABs. Woof.

Ty France – He’s hitting .375, and is one of the hottest hitters in baseball. With Tampa’s interesting use of their bullpen, it will be fun to watch and see how they try and force matchups in their favor with France.

Julio Rodriguez – He’s hitting his first home run, and it’s happening in game two. Calling it now. JULLLIOOOOO!

Jesse Winker – He’s doing it too. He’s been crushing the ball and will pop off this series.

Mariners @ Rays: Final Thoughts

The Mariners are going to have their hands full with Tampa… but I think the same holds true the other way around. The Mariners are dangerous on offense and have a good pitching staff. This isn’t just a team that’s hoping to make the playoffs, it looks like a team that deserves to be a part of the conversation.

Go and take a look at the AL leaders in a bunch of the main statistical categories, and Mariners are at or near the top of all of them. 2B, HR, RBI, SB, BA, OBP, BB. They’ve got people near the top of all of them. This is going to be a great series, and could easily be a playoff preview if matchups fall the right way.

I’m not gonna get ahead of myself though, because 2001 was a long time ago. One game at a time, and one series at a time. It starts down in Florida with the Rays, and it should be a great series.

Next. SEAside Thoughts: Mariners Homestand To Remember. dark

As Always… Go Mariners!

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