GAME: Cubs (33-44, 4th, NL Central, -14.5 GB) at Mariners (34-45, 4th, AL West, -11.5 GB). GAME #: 80. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 1st (1st series since 2010). WHEN: Friday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 2; Cubs W 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Except for high payrolls and historic futility, the Seattle Mariners and New York Mets would not seem to have much in common. Except this year they do. When the Mariners lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 Wednesday, it marked the sixth time this season that they lost a home game that was tied entering the eighth inning. That tied the Mets for the most such losses in the majors.
If not for the relative novelty of hosting the Chicago Cubs, which the Mariners have not done since the 2010 season, the three-game series Friday through Sunday would not have much to recommend it. The Mariners are 11.5 games out of first place, playing out the string and hoping nobody will notice.
The Cubs are even more irrelevant in the NL Central, trailing Pittsburgh by 14.5 games.
Although Hisashi Iwakuma hasn’t been up to par in in his last two starts, he remains one of the game’s most fearsome pitchers at home. At Safeco Field this season, the right-hander, who has never faced the Cubs, has a 1.46 ERA and has struck out 52 batters with only three walks.
Iwakuma will oppose lefty Travis Wood. Wood has posted a quality start in 13 of his 14 outings, but doesn’t have much to show for it with a 5-6 record, although he ranks among the top 12 National League starters with a 2.85 ERA. Wood has never faced the Mariners, and is 2-3 with a 4.01 ERA in eight starts vs. American League teams.
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3, 2.26, 0.85)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 17th start and first against the Cubs. Despite an uncharacteristically rough appearance Friday, Iwakuma is still one of the game’s most fearsome pitchers at home. At Safeco Field this season, the right-hander has a 1.46 ERA and has struck out 52 batters with only three walks.
- LAST START: June 21 at Safeco Field, lost to Oakland 6-3; 4 earned runs on 6 hits in 7.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 0 walks, 3 home runs, 98 pitches, 70 for strikes.
- LAST VS. CUBS: Never faced.
- CAREER VS. CUBS: No record.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 9-4, 2.05 ERA in 25 games, including 18 starts, covering 131.2 innings; 129 strikeouts, 29 walks, 13 home runs, 0.94 WHIP.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Iwakuma has never faced a member of the current Cubs roster.
CUBS: LHP Travis Wood (5-6, 2.85 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
The 26-year-old Wood, a native of Little Rock, AR., in his fourth major league season and second with the Cubs, will make his 16th start and first against the Mariners. Selected by Cincinnati in the second round of the 2005 amateur draft, Wood has three losses and a no-decision in his past four outings. He threw his best game May 13 vs. Colorado, allowing just two hits over 7.0 innings in a 9-1 victory.
- LAST START: June 22 vs. Houston, took a no-decision in a 4-3 Chicago loss; 3 earned runs on 5 hits in 6.0 innings; 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 89 pitches, 55 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Never faced.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: No record.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: Never pitched.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Current Mariners have had just nine at-bats (2-for-9, .222 BA) against Wood, Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez collecting the hits.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Oakland (Friday-Sunday), two vs. Pittsburgh (Tuesday-Wednesday), three vs. Chicago Cubs (Friday-Sunday). Following the home stand, the Mariners will head out on a six-game road trip through Texas and Cincinnati.
- Raul Ibanez, who hit his 18th home run Wednesday, has 12 hits against lefties this season and six have been home runs. Ibanez has a four-game hitting streak.
- Ibanez’s nine home runs in June are tied with Chris Davis of Baltimore for the American League monthly lead. Ibanez has hit 16 of his 18 homers since May 10.
- Felix Hernandez, who had 11 more strikeouts Wednesday, now has 23 career games with double digits in strikeouts. He’s 15-2 in those games.
- Nick Franklin has hit safely in 12 of his past 14 games, dating to June 11. He is batting .316 during that span.
- Rookie catcher Mike Zunino is batting .212 with a .257 OBP through his first 10 major league games.
|6/28||Fri||vs. Cubs||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3) vs. LHP Travis Wood (5-6)|
|6/29||Sat||vs. Cubs||RHP Aaron Harang (3-7) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-7)|
|6/30||Sun||vs. Cubs||RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-1) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (3-10)|