GAME: Brewers (49-66, 5th, NL Central, -21.5 GB) at Mariners (53-61, 3rd, AL West, -11.5 GB) GAME #: 115. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 1st (1st series between the teams since 2010). WHEN: Friday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Brewers L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
When, in May, the Mariners determined that Jesus Montero couldn’t catch (or hit, or run) they shipped the plodder to AAA Tacoma and elevated backup Kelly Shoppach to the starting role. But when, in mid-June, the Mariners figured out Shoppach couldn’t hit (.196) a lick, they designated him, promoted No. 1 pick Mike Zunino and signed 41-year-old Henry Blanco when Jesus Sucre went down.
Zunino would still be catching had he not suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand in late July. By default, that elevated Blanco to the starter’s role. To replace Zunino, the Mariners signed another veteran backup, 34-year-old Humberto Quintero.
You don’t expect much out of a 41-year-old starting catcher and a 34-year-old backup. But Blanco started his career in Seattle with a bang June 15 when, at 41 years, 290 days, he became the oldest Mariner to hit a grand slam (vs. Oakland) and the first to do so in a Seattle debut since Leon Roberts April 9, 1978.
Quintero hit his first home run Aug. 2 in an 11-8 win at Baltimore and came back with another, and three RBIs, Wednesday in the 9-7 comeback victory over Toronto.
Blanco (3) and Quintero (2) have now combined for five home runs in 23 games, giving Seattle an unexpected power boost while Zunino recuperates.
Joe Saunders, who will start for Seattle Friday night, has yet to work with Quintero, but he’s worked three games with Blanco with less than shining results. Saunders has a 6.89 ERA in those games.
Saunders is coming off a 3-2 win at Baltimore and will face RHP Kyle Kohse, who hasn’t contested the Mariners since 2007, when he pitched for Cincinnati.
The Mariners and Brewers haven’t faced each other since 2010 when Seattle lost a three-game series at Miller Park (2-1). Before that, the teams hadn’t played since 2004, also in Milwaukee. This series marks the Brewers’ first at Safeco Field.
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (10-10, 5.27 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Saunders, a Fairfax, VA., native in his ninth major league season and first with Seattle, will make his 24th start and first against Milwaukee. Saunders snapped a two-game losing streak by winning his last start, against Baltimore. Since July 2, the left hander has won five of seven outings. After allowing 10 earned runs on 12 hits in his two recent defeats, he allowed two against the Orioles.
- LAST START: Aug. 4 at Baltimore, won 3-2; 2 earned runs on 8 hits in 6.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 115 pitches, 69 for strikes.
- LAST VS. BREWERS: July 20, 2011, took a no-decision in Arizona’s 5-2 loss; 2 earned runs on 5 hits in 7.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 120 pitches, 68 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. BREWERS: 0-1, 5.68 ERA in 2 starts covering 12.2 innings; five strikeouts, 5 walks, 3 home runs, 1.26 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 11-4, 2.90 ERA in 19 starts covering 114.2 innings; 65 strikeouts, 38 walks, 10 home runs, 1.20 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Rickie Weeks (1-for-5, .200), Yuniesky Betancourt (8-for-31, .258).
- HATES TO FACE: Aramis Ramirez (1-for-3, .333), Corey Hart (1-for-3, .333), Carlos Gomez (4-for-13, .308).
- CURRENT BREWERS VS. SAUNDERS: 19-for-67, .284 BA, 5 strikeouts, 3 walks, 2 home runs, .314 on-base percentage.
BREWERS: RHP Kyle Lohse (7-7, 3.23 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
The 34-year-old Lohse, a Chico, CA., native in his 13th major league season and first with Milwaukee, will make his 24th start and first against the Mariners. Lohse, who has also pitched for Minnesota (2001-06), Cincinnati (2006-07), Philadelphia (2007) and St. Louis (2008-12), is coming off a pair of no-decisions following consecutive victories. He has worked into the seventh inning in six of his starts.
- LAST START: Aug. 4 vs. Washington, took a no-decision in Milwaukee’s 8-5 win; 2 earned runs on 5 hits in 5.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 93 pitches, 53 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: June 23, 2007, pitching for Cincinnati, lost 9-1; 8 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 3 walks, 3 home runs, 91 pitches, 57 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 2-5, 4.45 ERA in 10 starts covering 64.2 innings; 42 strikeouts, 19 walks, 8 home runs, 1.26 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 2-3, 4.66 ERA in 6 starts covering 38.2 innings; 33 strikeouts, 16 walks, 6 home runs, 1.31 WHIP.
- LOVE TO FACE: Since current Mariners hitters have a .366 team batting average against Lohse, none fear him.
- HATES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (2-for-2, 1.000), Michael Morse (7-for-15, .467), Humberto Quintero (6-for-16, .375).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. LOHSE: 30-for-82, .366 BA, 10 strikeouts, 4 walks, 5 home runs, .391 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Toronto (Monday-Wednesday), three vs. Milwaukee Friday-Sunday. Following the home stand, which will include Ken Griffey Jr.’s induction into the Mariners Hall of Fame Saturday, the Mariners have a nine-game road trip through Tampa Bay, Texas and Oakland.
- When the Mariners overcame a five-run deficit to beat Toronto Wednesday, it marked their largest comeback win since April 11, 2011, when they trailed Toronto 7-0 and won 8-7.
- Seattle’s bullpen threw 7.0 scoreless innings Wednesday, its longest stint since Sept. 28, 2011 when the Mariners’ pen had 7.0 scoreless innings vs. Oakland.
- The Mariners scored six runs in the fifth inning Wednesday, the fourth time this season they have tallied six or more in a frame.
- Danny Farquhar, with three saves in the past week, has not allowed a run in 12.2 innings.
- Aaron Harang has allowed seven earned runs in each of his past two starts and four times this season.
- Justin Smoak will enter the Milwaukee series with a season-high eight-game hitting streak.
- Kendrys Morales is batting .526 since July 30.
- When Nick Franklin tripled in the first inning Wednesday, he snapped an 0-for-27 slump. That was Franklin’s first career triple.
|8/9||Fri||vs. Milw||LHP Joe Saunders (10-10) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (7-7)|
|8/10||Sat||vs. Milw||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-5) vs. RHP Tyler Thornburg (1-0)|
|8/11||Sun||vs. Milw||RHP Felix Hernandez (11-5) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (8-11)|
Hope to see some signs referring to the Brewers as the Milwaukee Pilots. Or at least some vintage Pilots jerseys and/or hats in the crowd. I always get annoyed when I see the Brewers play and realize they could still be in Seattle.