Winners of seven in a row after Wednesday’s 5-3 victory and three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Mariners get an off day Thursday to get to New York to open a three-game series Friday against Ichiro and the Yankees. The 10-day, nine-game road trip also goes to Baltimore and Anaheim.
While the Mariners have thrived in Ichiro’s absence, putting together their longest winning streak since winning eight in a row from June 23-July 1, 2007, Ichiro’s batting average has taken an 11-point dip since he was traded him to New York.
With the Mariners, Ichiro hit .261. With the Yankees, Ichiro, who made his first start in left field Wednesday, has had a hit in every game but has yet to produce a multi-hit game. For New York, Ichiro is batting .250 (9-for-36) with one home run and three RBIs.
This weekend, the Mariners will face two pitchers they saw last week in Seattle, Hiroki Kuroda Saturday and Freddy Garcia Sunday. Kuroda defeated Seattle 4-1, while Garcia pitched well over 8.0 innings but lost to Felix Hernandez. A closer look at the weekend matchups:
Millwood: Coming off his first win since May 23, Millwood will make his 21st start and third against the Yankees. During his winless streak, Millwood had four losses and six-no decisions, but didn’t receive enough run support. In his last start, he allowed one unearned run in 6.1 innings with three strikeouts and one walk in a 4-3 victory over Kansas City. Vs. New York: 1-1, 2.57 this season, 3-7, 4.73 for his career. Millwood defeated the Yankees 6-2 May 13 in New York lost to the Yankees 4-1 at Safeco Field July 23. At the New Yankee Stadium, Millwood has surrendered 12 earned runs in three career starts.
Sabathia: The Red Sox hammered Sabathia hard in his last start July 8, getting to him for six earned runs on eight hits. Sabathia is coming off consecutive no-decisions folllowing a three-game winning streak. Vs. Seattle: Sabathia hasn’t pitched against the Mariners since July 26, 2011, when he beat them 4-1 at Yankee Stadium. For his career against Seattle, Sabathia is 11-4, 2.42 in 19 starts in 130 innings.
Hernandez: The Mariners ace is 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 67. 1 innings over his past nine starts. In his past three, Hernandez is 2-0, 2.01 ERA with 13 strikeouts. Vs. New York: Hernandez is 7-5 with a 3.38 ERA in 13 career starts against the Yankees and 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA in four starts at new Yankee Stadium. Hernandez lost to the Yankees 6-2 May 11 and defeated the Yankees 4-2 July 24.
Kuroda: He struggled in his first start out of the All-Star break, but has allowed only three runs in 22 innings since. In his past three, Kuroda is 2-0, 1.23 ERA with 18 strikeouts. Vs. Seattle: Kuroda was strong a week ago in Seattle, where he held the Mariners to one run on three hits over seven innings, fanning nine.
Iwakuma: Former Japanese standout is coming off by far his best game since moving into Seattle’s rotation at midseason: 13 strikeouts in 8.0 innings in a 4-1 victory over Toronto. After beginning the season in the bullpen, he’s 1-1 with a 3.41 ERA in five games as a starter. Vs. New York: Lost to the Yankees 5-2 July 25 at Safeco Field, his first career start vs. New York.
Garcia: Garcia is 0-3 with a 4.74 ERA over his past three and labored through 6.0 innings his last time out, against Baltimore. Vs. Seattle: Pitched into the eighth inning a week ago in Seattle, allowing three runs on five hits over 7.1 innings against his former club, striking out eight with no walks.
NOTES: Mariners are 14-6 since the All-Star break, second in the AL to Oakland’s 13-5 . . . Mariners have won 13 of their last 17 and eight of nine . . . Mariners have won four of their past five series, defeating Kansas City 3-1 and Tampa 2-1, losing to New York 1-2, and then defeating Kansas City 4-0 and Toronto 3-0 . . . Sweeps of Kansas City and Toronto mark the Mariners’ first back-to-back sweeps since June 25-27 vs. Boston and June 29-July 1, 2007 vs. Toronto . . . During the seven-game streak, all at home, the Mariners are batting .310 with 37 runs scored . . . Mariners have yielded three or fewer runs in six of their past seven games . . . Blake Beavan (7-6) is undefeated in (4-0) since his recall from Tacoma July 17. In beating the Blue Jays 5-3 Wednesday, he allowed three runs on seven hits in an 82-pitch outing. During the four-game win streak, Beavan has 18 strikeouts and just one walk . . . New Mariner OF Eric Thames, acquired Monday for RHP Steve Delabar, hit a home run in his first appearance with the club Wednesday. He is the fifth Mariner to hit a home run in his first game with the club, joining Jamie Nelson (1983), Alvin Davis (1984), Greg Dobbs (2004) and Kenji Johjima (2006) . . . Although the Mariners are seven games under .500, they have outscored their opponents by three runs this season . . . Mariners have scored four or more runs in each of their last seven wins.