Just three more games and then the Orioles are done of the west coast for the regular season. That said, these may be the three biggest games of the season so far.
The O’s now head to Seattle to battle with a fellow AL Wild Card contender. It would seem like the best time to catch the Mariners. They come in as victims of a four-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels and Anaheim over the weekend. The M’s are down, but certainly not out as they sit just two games back of the Halos for the second wild card spot. Just behind them? The Orioles, who are still only 2.5 games out somehow.
In case you aren’t familiar, these Mariners can hit a little bit. Shortstop Jean Segura leads the team with a .315 batting average and .369 on base percentage. Outfielder Ben Gamel is having a nice season. hitting .297/.346/.422. And of course both Robinson Cano (.277/.338/.469, 19 home runs, 75 RBI) and Nelson Cruz (.288/.369/.549, 28 home runs, 94 RBI) are beasts in the middle of the order.
Some other guys to keep an eye on: Jarrod Dyson has 28 steals in 35 attempts. Former Oriole Danny Valencia has a big role on the team and both Kyle Seager (.256/.326/.449) and Guillermo Heredia (.279/.341/.384) are good pieces.
Pitching is where Seattle is struggling right now. Much of the problem is how badly they have been bit by the injury bug. Of the nine players on the Mariner’s DL, eight are pitchers, including Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Drew Smyly
The bullpen is middle of the pack. Their reliever’s joint ERA (3.98) is ranked seventh in the AL, right behind Baltimore (3.97 ERA). Some standouts include closer Edwin Diaz (25/29 in save opportunities, 3.40 ERA, 1.21 WHIP), Nick Vincent (2.03 ERA) and Tony Zych (2.79 ERA).
Game 1 - Monday, 10:10 p.m. ET, MASN
Starting pitchers: Kevin Gausman ( 8-8, 5.21 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (5-7, 5.38 ERA)
The trades with Seattle keep paying off for the Orioles. Gallardo has been bad this season. He has a WAR of 0.1 over 22 games (18 starts). He hasn’t had a six-inning start since June 12, but that was also the last time he allowed more than three runs. So, it would seem he has a short leash, but has shown an ability recently to at least keep the M’s competitive.
Gausman had his first hiccup in a while last time out; four runs on eight hits and two walks in 5.1 innings against the Angels. Prior to that, he had strung together four really good outings. The righty has three career starts at SafeCo Field. In those games, he is 0-2 with a 3.20 ERA and .276 opponent’s batting average.
Game 2 - Tuesday, 10:10 p.m. ET, MASN2
Starting pitchers: Wade Miley (6-9, 5.19 ERA) vs. TBD
Man, those trades with Seattle suck. The Wade Miley for Ariel Miranda swap was, in hindsight, a poor decision. However, to be fair to the southpaw, he was quite good last week against Oakland. Over seven innings, he allowed just the one unearned run on three hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. Seeing as this is a matchup with his former employer, let’s hope he is a little amped up, in a good way.
This would be Paxton’s turn in the rotation, but he won’t pitch because of the whole “left pectoral strain” issue he’s got going on. I guess your pectorals are important. Given that this is still TBD on Seattle’s website, one has to think a decision hinges on how the game on Monday goes and possibly what is done down at Triple-A Tacoma.
Game 3 - Wednesday, 12:10 p.m. ET
Starting pitchers: Ubaldo Jimenez (5-7, 6.25 ERA) vs. Marco Gonzales (0-0, 8.49 ERA)
What a start from Jimenez last time out, am I right? He went just 5.1 innings because he was hit on the leg with a line drive. But in that relatively brief outing, he fanned 11 hitters and walked just one while allowing three runs on six hits. It was Jimenez’s Orioles career in a nutshell. That is four starts in a row where Jimenez has gone at least five innings and allowed three or fewer runs. Go play the lottery with that luck, Ubaldo.
Gonzales became a Mariner back on July 21 after being sent from St. Louis in a trade. The 25-year-old has had a rough season, no matter what league he’s pitching in. But he’s been better with a Seattle, pitching to a 6.48 ERA over two starts and 8.1 innings.
While technically still a rookie, Gonzales made his MLB debut back in 2014 as a 22-year-old. Three years later, he’s made just 14 big league appearances. His track record suggests it will be a short outing for the lefty, but the Orioles could always do what they do and give him a career-best game.
How many games will the Orioles in this series against the Mariners?
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