GAME: Mariners (54-63, 3rd, AL West, -14.0 GB) at Rays (66-50, 2nd, AL East, -3.0 GB). GAME #: 118. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 1st (Rays won 2012 series 6-4). WHEN: Tuesday, 4:10 p.m., Tropicana Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Rays L 5. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
After salvaging an otherwise dreary home stand Sunday with a Felix Hernandez-orchestrated 2-0 win over Milwaukee, the Mariners face a hard part of the schedule. Their next nine games, on the road against playoff contenders, will either give them a chance to finish .500 or better, or bury them in another lost season.
The Mariners are 54-63 after 117 games as they prepare to play Tampa Bay, Texas and Oakland. One year ago after 117, they stood 53-64, so they are a plus one from 2012 to 2013. That’s hardly the kind of improvement the Mariners expected to make when ’13 began.
Since the Mariners used Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez in the Milwaukee series, they will be forced to go with the back end of their rotation at Tropicana Field, where the Mariners have not had a winning record since 2008.
This will be the first meeting between the Mariners and Rays, who had major league baseball’s best record in July at 21-5, but are riding a five-game losing streak.
Erasmo Ramirez is scheduled to start for the Mariners, but there is a chance acting manager Robby Thompson will move him to Wednesday, switching places with Aaron Harang. Ramirez pitched 1.3 innings of relief Friday against Milwaukee.
MARINERS: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (3-0, 7.25 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)
The 23-year-old Ramirez, a Nicaragua native in his second major league season, both with the Mariners, will make his fifth start and first against the Rays. Ramirez will be pitching on nine days’ rest between starts as the Mariners skipped him in the rotation with their last off-day Thursday. After missing the first three months with an elbow issue, he’s won three straight starts thanks to some healthy run support.
- LAST START: Aug. 3 at Baltimore, won 8-4; 4 earned runs on 4 hits in 6.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 0 walks, 2 home runs, 96 pitches, 63 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RAYS: May 2, 2012, working in relief, did not factor in the decision, a 5-4 Seattle loss; 0 earned runs on 1 hit in 0.2 innings; 0 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 15 pitches, 9 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. RAYS: Same as last vs. Rays.
- AT TROPICANA FIELD: Same as last vs. Rays.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Tampa hitters have had 10 at-bats against Ramirez, going 3-for-10, .300 BA. Yunel Escobar is 2-for-3, .667.
- CURRENT BREWERS VS. RAMIREZ: 3-for-10, .300 BA, 1 strikeout, 0 walks, 0 home runs, .300 on-base percentage.
RAYS: RHP Chris Archer (6-4, 2.71 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)
The 24-year-old Archer, a Raleigh, NC., native in his second major league season, both with Tampa Bay, will make his 14th start and first against the Mariners. Archer, who made 10 starts for AAA Durham before joining the Tampa rotation June 1, has won five of his past six decisions. He has allowed six earned runs in his past six starts.
- LAST START: Aug. 7 at Arizona, took a no-decision in Tampa Bay’s 9-8 loss; 1 earned run on 2 his in 1.2 innings; 1 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 27 pitches, 17 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Never pitched.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: No record.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: Never pitched.
- LOVE/HATES TO FACE: Archer has faced only two Mariners, Endy Chavez and Michael Morse. Chavez is1-for-1, Morse 0-for-2.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Tampa Bay (Tuesday-Thursday), three at Texas (Friday-Sunday), three at Oakland (Aug. 19-21). Following a day off Aug. 22, the Mariners will begin a six-game home stand Aug. 23 vs. the Angels and Rangers.
- Felix Hernandez, who recorded his 12th win Sunday, is 7-1 with a 2.11 ERA and 12 quality starts in his past 14 outings. He fanned seven or more batters nine times in that stretch, including nine Sunday in the series-ender against Milwaukee.
- With those nine strikeouts, Hernandez moved into the No. 2 slot in AL strikeouts with 178 (Yu Darvish of Texas leads with 207 after nearly no-hitting the Houston Astros Monday).
- Hernandez has pitched 98 games in which he has allowed one run or less and is 65-4 in those starts.
- Closer Danny Farquhar retired 25 of the last 27 batters he’s faced and hasn’t allowed a run in 13.2 innings.
- When Brendan Ryan singled in the fifth inning Sunday, he snapped an 0-for-19 skid at the plate.
- Catcher Henry Blanco has thrown out 50 percent of the runners trying to steal on him (six attempts, three caught stealing).
|8/13||Tue||at TB||RHP Erasmo Ramirez (3-0) vs. RHP Chris Archer (6-4)|
|8/14||Wed||at TB||RHP Aaron Harang (5-10) vs. LHP David Price (6-5)|
|8/15||Thr||at TB||LHP Joe Saunders (10-11) vs. TBA|