The Seattle Mariners will look to get back to the .500 mark for the first time since May 3 when they open a four-game series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
The Mariners, who as recently as June 19 were 29-39, have won four straight games and 12 of their past 15 to move into second place in the American League West.
“I told y’all back in May when we still had over 100 games left that we are fine,” Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford said. “I knew we were gonna get in a groove like we are right now. I knew it was going to come. It was just a matter of when, and it’s here and it’s been fun.”
With Jesse Winker serving a six-game suspension for his part in a June 26 brawl against the Los Angeles Angels and Ty France, Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis on the injured list, the Mariners have relied on players such as Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty. The Nos. 8 and 9 hitters in the lineup combined to go 5-for-7 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs on Tuesday in a 6-2 road victory over the San Diego Padres.
“We’re not sexy or anything like that in how we do it with the names that are out there,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “But we’ve given guys an opportunity and they understand who they are — ‘I got to get on base.’ ‘I need to come up with a big hit here.’ ‘I need to have a good at-bat here.’
“That’s what we’re getting from a number of different guys. That’s what it takes to put good streaks together. It’s everybody contributing.”
The Blue Jays have been headed in the opposite direction. They rallied for a 2-1 victory at Oakland on Wednesday afternoon, with Bo Bichette hitting a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning, to snap a five-game losing streak.
Toronto’s Matt Chapman homered for the second consecutive game against his former team.
“We needed it,” Bichette said of the victory. “I think when you’re trying to stop a skid, sometimes that’s how it goes, so I thought we fought well and definitely excited to get the win.”
The Blue Jays’ normally potent offense has been struggling, scoring more than three runs just once in the past six games.
“It seems like every time that (Bichette) hits a home run, it’s to go ahead or tie a game,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoya said. “It was good. Hopefully, that gets us going offensively again.”
The Blue Jays hadn’t named a starter for the series opener in Seattle.
Right-hander Kevin Gausman, who took a comebacker off his right ankle on Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays, is expected to miss his scheduled start on Thursday. Gausman played catch on Wednesday for a third straight day and might be available sometime this weekend.
The Mariners are set to send lefty Marco Gonzales (4-9, 3.29 ERA) to the mound on Thursday. Gonzales is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three career starts against the Blue Jays. He beat them 5-1 on May 18 in Toronto, when he allowed one run on five hits over six innings.
–Field Level Media