The Seattle Mariners have not been a very good team in recent years, finishing with a winning record just twice in the past nine seasons and not since 2009.
Boston has been part of the Mariners’ poor results, winning the season series three straight years and four of the past five seasons. The Sox will be around -150 favorites to win this week’s three-game set at Fenway Park, which begins Tuesday night.
Seattle (50-55) has been playing better of late, winning seven of 10 since the All-Star break and not losing a series. Still, with the playoffs a pipe dream, it’s possible the team could be a seller ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline. Designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales and outfielder Raul Ibanez would add value to contending teams needing a left-handed bat. Right-handed hitting outfielder Michael Morse (.253, 11 home runs) also could go. He’s been out since June 20 but is expected back in the lineup Tuesday.
The Mariners have some good young talent, including second baseman Nick Franklin. He’s hitting .277 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs and hit two dingers on Sunday in a win over the Twins. Franklin is only the second rookie second baseman with a pair of multiple-homer games in the same season since 1966. He also hit two against San Diego on May 30.
Boston, which remains the +110 AL East favorite, won three of four in Seattle from June 8-11 but will face the team’s three best pitchers this time. On Tuesday, the Mariners are scheduled to start lefty Joe Saunders (9-9, 4.48 ERA). He was roughed up for six runs in 4 2/3 innings in a loss to Cleveland last time out but was 4-0 with a 1.73 ERA in his previous four starts before that. He didn’t face the Sox in the first series and is 5-2 with 4.11 ERA in 61 1/3 career innings against Boston. Expect Jonny Gomes in the lineup on Tuesday, as he’s batting .389 with five RBIs in his career off Saunders. Jacoby Ellsbury struggles off Saunders, going 3-for-17.
On Wednesday, the M’s start All-Star Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4, 2.87 ERA). He has had three straight quality starts and blanked Minnesota over six innings last time out. However, Iwakuma’s worst start of the season was July 9 against Boston, as he was lit up for six runs and eight hits in three innings. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli all homered off Iwakuma in the 11-8 victory. The M’s were -133 favorites in that one (Allen Webster started for Boston) but won’t be Wednesday.
On Thursday the Sox face one of the best pitchers in baseball in Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.34 ERA). Hernandez has allowed just one earned run in each of his past three starts, striking out 22. He hasn’t suffered a loss since May 25. Hernandez beat the Red Sox on July 8. He allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings of the 11-4 victory. Hernandez is 7-2 with a 3.13 ERA in his career against Boston. If considering a hitting prop bet on a Red Sox player, Ellsbury has had some success against Hernandez, going 6-for-21 with two homers. Ortiz is at .310 with a homer.