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MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners (79-61) at Tampa Bay Rays (85-56)

SEATTLE MARINERS NOTES:

TONIGHT’S TILT…the Mariners continue the 10-game road trip (3-4) tonight with the 2nd of 4 games against the Tampa Bay Rays (1-0)…the Mariners opened the road trip with a 3-game series against the New York Mets (1-2), followed by a 3-game series at the Cincinnati Reds (1-2)…following Sunday’s series finale against the Rays, Seattle will return home for a 7-day, 6-game homestand vs. the Los Angeles Angels (3 G, Sept. 11-13) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (3 G, Sept. 15-17)….tonight’s game will be televised live on ROOT SPORTS with Dave Sims and Mariners Hall of Famer Dan Wilson on the call…the game will also be broadcast live on Seattle Sports (710 AM) and Mariners.com with Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith on the call.

ODDS AND ENDS…the Mariners won yesterday’s series opener vs. the Rays by a 1-0 score…with yesterday’s win, the Mariners are 16-6 over their last 22 games, 24-9 over their last 33, 26-10 over their last 36, 29-11 over their last 40, 32-13 over their last 45 and 41-19 over their last 60 games…the Mariners are 61-21 when scoring at least 4 runs and 18-40 when scoring 3-or-fewer…the Mariners are 39-29 at T-Mobile Park and 40-32 on the road this season…they are 26-23 in day games and 53-38 at night. It’s Still Series-ly Impressive – The Mariners have dropped back-to-back series on this road trip for the first time since losing 2 series in a row at Baltimore (June 23-25) and vs. Washington (June 26-28)… despite the back-to-back series losses, the Mariners have won 11 of their last 14 series and hold a 14-4-1 series record over their last 19 series. Slim Margins – The Mariners won their third 1-0 game of the season (also: 4/16 vs. COL, 5/31 vs. NYY)…the Mariners 3 wins by a 1-0 score are tied for the most in the Majors (also: Milwaukee and Baltimore). Feats of Strength – The Mariners have hit 77 home runs since July 22, the most in the American League and 2nd in the Majors during that span, trailing only Atlanta (86 HR).

BEST IN THE LAND SINCE JULY 1…the Mariners are 41-19 (.683) over their last 60 games (7/1-c), the best record in the Majors during that span, ranking ahead of Baltimore (40-19, .678)…since July 1, the Mariners offense ranks 2nd in the American League with a .810 OPS, while also ranking 2nd in the AL with a .346 on-base percentage…Seattle pitchers have allowed the fewest runs (218) and have posted the lowest ERA (3.35) in the Majors during that span.

TEOSCAR-WORTHY PERFORMANCE…Teoscar Hernández went 2-for-4 in yesterday’s game to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games (8/21-c)…his 16-game streak is the longest by a Mariners hitter since Mitch Haniger had a 17-game streak from Aug. 18-Sept. 7, 2018 and is the longest active streak in the Majors and tied for the 9th-longest streak overall in the Majors this season…during his active streak, he is batting .394 (26×66) with 2 doubles, 7 home runs, 20 RBI and a 1.165 OPS…over his last 33 games since the beginning of August, Teo is batting .371 (49×132) with 17 runs scored, 10 doubles, 9 home runs, 27 RBI, 6 walks, 2 hit-by-pitches and 1 stolen base, while reaching base at a .401 clip and slugging .652 with a 1.053 OPS.

CAPTAIN CRAWFORD…J.P. Crawford is batting .312 (58×186) with 40 runs, 14 doubles, 9 home runs and 22 RBI since July 1, getting on base at a .430 clip and slugging .532 (.962 OPS) during that span… among MLB shortstops with at least 100 PA during that span, Crawford’s .962 OPS ranks 3rd, trailing only Corey Seager-TEX (1.083 OPS) and Luis Rengifo-LAA (.980)…with 15 HR and 81 walks this season, Crawford is the fourth shortstop to record 15 HR and 80 BB in a season since 2000: Crawford-SEA (2023, 15+ HR/81+ BB), Marcus Semien-OAK (2019, 33 HR/87 BB), Hanley Ramirez-FLA (2008, 33 HR/93 BB) and Alex Rodriguez-TEX/SEA (done 3x, 2000, 2002, 2003)…Crawford is only the 3rd Mariners shortstop to hit 15+ HR in a single season, joining Alex Rodriguez (5x, 1996-2000) and Todd Cruz (1982).

FOR HE’S A RALEIGH GOOD FELLOW…in 41 games dating back to July 22, Cal Raleigh is batting .269 (40×149) with 27 runs, 8 doubles, 14 home runs, 29 RBI and 18 walks, while reaching base at a .345 clip and slugging .604 with a .949 OPS…during that span, his 14 home runs are tied for the American League lead (also: Julio Rodríguez-SEA) and rank tied for 5th in MLB…Raleigh’s 48 extra-base hits this season are tied for a career-high (also: 2022) and are 2 shy of Mike Zunino’s franchise record of 50 XBH by a catcher set in 2017…overall this season, Cal leads all MLB catchers with 26 home runs and leads AL catchers with 4.1 fWAR, while trailing only Sean Murphy-ATL (4.5) and William Contreras-MIL (4.3) for most fWAR among MLB catchers.

THE J-ROD SHOW…Julio Rodríguez has been one of the best hitters in the Majors since July 1, batting .337 (82×243) with 39 runs, 18 doubles, 1 triple, 14 home runs, 51 RBI, 15 walks and 18 stolen bases, while getting on base at a .386 clip and slugging .593 (.978 OPS) in 55 games…during that span, he ranks among the Major League leaders in average (5th), OPS (11th), extra-base hits (T-3rd, 33), stolen bases (T-3rd, 18) wRC+ (11th, 169) and fWAR (2nd, 3.5). Exclusive Club – Julio has 11.5 bWAR over his first 2 Major League seasons, tied for 11th-most over a player’s first 2 seasons in MLB history with Oscar Charleston (1920-21)…since 1969, J-Rod trails only Kris Bryant-CHC (12.6), Albert Pujols-STL (12.1), Evan Longoria-TB (11.9), Carlos Correa-HOU (11.8) and Wade Boggs-BOS (11.7).

KIRBY’S CY YOUNG ADVENTURE…tonight’s starter George Kirby has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, going 10-9 with a 3.39 ERA (60 ER, 159.1 IP), 14 walks and 145 strikeouts…among qualified AL starters, Kirby ranks T-5th in ERA, T-10th in innings, 3rd in WHIP (1.048), 1st in BB/9 (0.8), 1st in SO/BB (10.36) and T-4th in fWAR (3.9)…Kirby’s 10.36 SO/BB ratio would be the 2nd-highest by a qualified pitcher since 1900, trailing only Phil Hughes-MIN (11.63 in 2014)…Kirby is 6-4 with a 1.81 ERA (19 ER, 94.2 IP) against teams with a .500 winning percentage or better this season… among pitchers with at least 50.0 IP against teams with at least a .500 winning percentage, Kirby’s 1.81 ERA leads the Majors, ranking ahead of Tanner Bibee-CLE (2.48) and Spencer Strider-ATL (2.63).

HOMESTAND HIGHLIGHTS…following Sunday’s series finale in Tampa Bay, the Mariners return to T-Mobile Park for a 6-game homestand against the Angels (3 G, Sept. 11-13) and Dodgers (Sept. 15-17)… the upcoming homestand is highlighted by Hispanic Heritage Day on Sept. 17, “Electric Factory” Shirt Night on Sept. 16 and a post-game drone show on Sept. 15…the upcoming homestand also features 3 Mariners Value Games vs. the Angels from Sept. 11-13.

AS YOU MAY KNOW…Matt Brash struck out his 96th batter of the season in yesterday’s game, and… YOU MAY ALSO KNOW…that Brash’s 96 strikeouts are tied for the 5th-most by a reliever in franchise history, trailing Edwin Díaz (124 in 2018), Bill Caudill (111 in 1982), J.J. Putz (104 in 2006) and Paul Sewald (104 in 2021), but…DID YOU KNOW?…that the Mariners are the only team in the Majors to have a reliever tally at least 90 strikeouts in each of the past 3 seasons?…Brash joins Andrés Muñoz (96 in 2022) and Sewald as Mariners relievers to strike out 90 batters since 2021.

MARINERS STARTER – RHP GEORGE KIRBY
2023 MLB Breakdown:
W-L ERA G/GS IP H R ER BB SO HR
Overall 10-9 3.39 26/26 159.1 153 63 60 14 145 18
Home 6-3 2.87 12/12 75.1 60 25 24 7 78 8
Road 4-6 3.86 14/14 84.0 93 38 36 7 67 10
vs. TBR 1-0 2.57 1/1 7.0 2 2 2 2 7 1

Career MLB Breakdown:
W-L ERA G/GS IP H R ER BB SO HR
Overall 18-14 3.39 51/51 289.1 288 117 109 36 278 31
Home 9-6 3.07 25/25 146.2 137 54 50 17 155 17
Road 9-8 3.72 26/26 142.2 151 63 59 19 123 14
vs. TBR 1-0 1.38 2/2 13.0 6 2 2 2 14 1

ABOUT KIRBY…

  • 25-year-old right-hander is making his 27th start of the season, 2nd against Tampa Bay…he is also making his 52nd career start, and 2rd career start against the Rays. Selected by the Mariners in the first round (20th overall) of the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft; signed by Mariners scout Ty Holub. Played 3 seasons (2017-2019) at Elon University (NC), going 19-8 with a 3.30 ERA (88 ER, 240.0 IP) in 45 games (34 GS) with the Phoenix. Became the first rookie in MLB history to record a save in the postseason in his first career relief appearance. Graduated from Rye HS (Rye, NY) where he was named to the all-metro, all-state, all-section and all-league baseball teams 3 times.

LAST TIME OUT…L#9 in last start on 9/3 at NYM…pitched 3.0 innings and allowed 4 runs (3 ER) on 6 hits (1 HR) with 3 strikeouts.

THESE BOOTS WERE NOT MADE FOR WALKING…leads all qualified pitchers in the Majors with a 10.36 strikeouts-to-walk ratio, ranking ahead of Zach Eflin-TBR (7.52)…
his 10.36 SO/BB ratio currently ranks as the 4th best in a single season in MLB history among qualified starting pitchers.

NIFTY FIFTY…through his first 50 career starts Kirby recorded 275 strikeouts and 36 walks…his 7.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio is highest in Major League history through a pitcher’s first 50 career starts…Kirby ranks ahead of Shane Bieber (6.00), Corbin Burnes (5.81) and Masahiro Tanaka (5.73).

NO WALKS ALLOWED…has not given up a walk in 5 consecutive starts which is a new a career high…his previous career-high was 4 consecutive games…Kirby has only allowed 14 walks all season.

CAREER-HIGH INNINGS…threw 9.0 innings and allowed only 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks and struck out 7 over 103 pitches in his start against BAL on 8/12…his 9.0 IP is a new career high (previously: 8.0, 2x, last: 5/31/23 vs. NYY)…the last time a Mariners pitcher tossed 9.0+ innings in a team loss was Félix Hernández on 7/26/13 vs. Minnesota.

NO FREE PASSES…has the fewest walks allowed through the first 26 starts in a season in franchise history with 14…he currently ranks ahead of Hisashi Iwakuma who allowed 18 walks through 26 starts in 2014.

TAMPA BAY RAYS NOTES:

RAY REPORT — Tampa Bay continues its seven-game, seven-day homestand against Boston and Seattle tonight at Tropicana Field, having gone 2-2 thus far…the Rays are 23-13 in their last 36 games, including wins in 11 of 16, 13 of 19 and 16 of their last 24, following an MLB-worst 5-15 (.250) stretch from 7/1-26…the Rays, who are seeking a fifth consecutive postseason berth, currently occupy the first AL Wild Card spot, leading Seattle by 5.5 games and Toronto by 7.5 games…if the postseason began today, the Rays would host the Mariners in a best-of-three AL Wild Card Series at Tropicana Field…with 21 games remaining, Tampa Bay is a season-high 4.0 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East…the Rays are on pace for 96 wins, which would tie the 2019 Rays for the third-most victories in club history behind the 2021 (100-62) and 2008 (97-65) teams. The Rays have won 10 of their last 12 series on the heels of a 2-7-2 performance in series play from 6/12-7/26…their 23-13 (.639) record during that span (since 7/28) is third best in the AL behind the Mariners (27-11, .711) and Orioles (26-11, .703). Tonight’s contest marks the Rays eighth of 17 consecutive games to open September before their first of three off days during the month (9/18, 9/25, 9/28). The Rays remaining opponents have a combined winning pct. of .547, the third-highest mark in the majors behind the Nationals (.562) and Red Sox (.549). Tampa Bay was shut out last night for the sixth time this season, including just the third time at Tropicana Field…the six shutouts are tied for third fewest in the AL behind the Angels and Astros (5 each).
Rays pitching has registered a 1.55 ERA (29.0IP, 5ER) over the last three games since allowing seven runs on 9/4 vs. Boston. The Rays have lost eight of their last 12 matchups against AL West opponents…they have gone 13-13 (.500) vs. the AL West and 45-24 (.652) against all other AL clubs. Tampa Bay is 10-2 (.833) when donning its throwback Devil Rays uniforms, which debuted on Opening Day and have since been worn at all Friday night home games.

HOME SWEET DOME — The Rays 47-25 (.653) home record ranks second in the majors behind the Dodgers (47-24, .662)…they are on pace for 52 home victories, which would match their second most in club history behind the 2008 squad (57-24)…they need to go at least 6-3 over their final nine home games in order to surpass the 2021 Rays (52-29) for the second-most home wins in a season in franchise history…Tampa Bay is 9-4 it its last 13 games at Tropicana Field on the heels of 4-11 stretch at home from 7/4-8/10. The Rays are an MLB-best 44-12 (.786) at home when plating 3+ runs…they have won nine of their last 10 games at Tropicana Field when scoring just 3+ times. Yandy Díaz’s .424 on-base pct. at home is second highest in MLB behind LAD Mookie Betts (.431) while his .343 batting average ranks third…Brandon Lowe is batting .370 (10-for-27) with two doubles, three homers and 12 RBI during his seven-game home hitting streak.

BULLISH ON THE PEN — The Rays bullpen has posted an MLB-leading 1.41 ERA (38.1IP, 6ER) over its last 11 games since 8/26, ahead of the Yankees (2.27)…Tampa Bay relievers posted a 19.0 scoreless inning streak from 8/25-9/2. The Rays 62-6 (.912) record when leading after six innings is fifth best in the majors, while their 63-3 (.955) when leading after seven innings is second best in MLB behind the Red Sox (60-2, .968).

DAWGS GOTTA EAT — Brandon Lowe has a career-best 17-game on-base streak, tied the second-longest active streak in the AL behind SEA Teoscar Hernández (22G)…he is slashing .290/.400/.532 (18-for-62) with three doubles, four homers, 16 RBI and nine walks during the streak…his first-inning double last night gave him sole possession of ninth on the Rays all-time extra-base hit list, surpassing Matt Joyce (197XBH)…he is four extra-base hits shy of tying Fred McGriff (202XBH) for eighth on the list.

THUNDER AND LIGHTNING — The Rays lead the AL in both homers (202) and stolen bases (151)…they are attempting to become the fifth team to lead the AL in both categories, joining New York-AL in 1931, 1933 and 1938 and Cleveland in 1995 (Elias)…the 202 homers are their most through 141 games in club history, outpacing the 2017 club (201HR), while the 151 steals are third most behind the 2009 (172SB) and 2010 Rays (157SB). The Rays have hit 97 long balls at home this year, sixth most in a season in team history…with nine home games remaining, the Rays needs nine homers to match the 2017 squad (106HR) for the club’s most at home in a single season. Tampa Bay’s .682 (73-34) winning pct. when hitting at least one home run paces the AL and is tied with Los Angeles-NL (also 73-34) for second best in the majors behind Atlanta (87-37, .702)…the Rays 12 wins when failing to homer are tied for seventh fewest in the AL.

RUNNING WILD — The Rays have stolen at least one base in six consecutive games, their second-longest streak of the season behind an 11-game run (5/24-6/4)…they have been one of the most aggressive baserunning teams in the majors this season, ranking second behind the Braves (50%) with a 49.0 pct. extra-base taken percentage, which is defined as the percentage of time a runner advances more than one base on a single or more than two bases on a double, when possible…the Rays have gone from first to third on singles 88 times, second most in the AL behind the Guardians and Orioles (89 each)… they have made 54 outs on the bases, tied with Cleveland for second most in the majors behind Cincinnati (60); this does not include pickofffs, caught stealings or force plays… Tampa Bay baserunners have been picked off 16 times, tied for third most in MLB behind Oakland and Kansas City (17 each). Tampa Bay leads the AL in stolen bases (153) and caught stealings (41)…its 78.6 pct. stolen base success rate ranks ninth in the AL/19th in the majors. The Rays average sprint speed of 27.7 ft./sec. on competitive runs is third fastest in the AL/seventh fastest in the majors (Baseball Savant).

MARINERS SAIL TO THE BAY—The Rays and Mariners meet for the fifth of seven matchups this season…the Rays need to win each of the next three games in order to avoid their seventh season series loss to the Mariners in the last nine seasons (since 2014)…Tampa Bay’s 21-36 (.368) record vs. Seattle since 2014 is its worst against any opponent, behind Milwaukee (5-8, .385)…however, the Rays have won seven of their last 12 games over the Mariners following a six-game losing streak from 6/18-8/3, 2021. Rays reliever Shawn Armstrong appeared in 18 games with Seattle over the course of two seasons from 2018-19, recording a 3.93 ERA. Mariners pitching coach Pete Woodworth is a St. Petersburg native and a 2006 graduate of St. Petersburg Catholic High School…he signed with Tampa Bay in 2010 following a four-year career at Florida Gulf Coast University, pitching in 17 games with the FCL Rays the same year…he served as a Rays scout from 2012-13. Seattle bullpen and quality control coach Stephen Vogt was drafted by the Devil Rays in the 12th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and made his MLB debut with Tampa Bay in 2012.

TONIGHT’S STARTER: RHP TAJ BRADLEY (5-7, 5.42)
TONIGHT’S START — The 22-year-old rookie makes his 18th start of the season and his 8th at home…since recording his first career quality start on 6/21 vs. Baltimore, he has gone 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA (30.2IP, 27ER) and a .292/.367/.569 (38-for-130) opponent slash line over his last six MLB starts — the Rays are 1-6 in those games…ranks among MLB rookie leaders (min. 70.0IP) in SO rate (1st, 30.0%), SO/BB ratio (4th, 3.42) and strikeouts (6th, 106).

LAST TIME OUT — Did not factor into the decision on 9/3 at Cleveland… worked 5.0 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and five walks with seven strikeouts. His five free passes allowed set a career high, surpassing his previous high of four walks (2x, last: 7/29 at HOU). Snapped a streak of seven straight starts, dating back to 6/21 vs. Baltimore, in which he allowed at least one home run.

BATTLING THE M’S — Bradley did not factor into his lone career start against Seattle on 7/2…he tossed 3.1 innings, allowing five runs on a career-high tying nine hits (also 5/23 vs. TOR) and one walk with three strikeouts. In six career starts opposite AL West opponents, Bradley is 1-3 with a 7.66 ERA (24.2IP, 21ER) and 37 strikeouts against 14 walks.

STRIKEOUT SAVANT—Bradley’s 106 punchouts are the second most through a pitcher’s first 17 starts with the Rays in franchise history, trailing only Charlie Morton (120SO: 3/29-6/26, 2019). Since 2018, he is one of seven major league pitchers to have 106+ strikeouts over his first 17 career starts, joining NYM Kodai Senga (122SO), CIN Nick Lodolo (120SO), AZ Zac Gallen (111SO), MIA Trevor Rogers (109SO), CIN Hunter Greene (107SO) and ATL Ian Anderson (106SO). Since his MLB debut on 4/12, Bradley’s 30.0 pct. strikeout rate is fourth highest among AL starters (min. 15GS), behind teammate Tyler Glasnow (33.5%), TOR Kevin Gausman (31.7%) and LAA
Shohei Ohtani (31.4%). Bradley has struck out 7+ batters in eight of his first 17 career starts, the most in franchise history, ahead of Jake Faria, Shane McClanahan and Blake Snell (6GS each). On 6/15 at Oakland, Bradley recorded each of his first nine outs via the strikeout…his 11 punchouts on the day were tied with six other pitchers for the second most by a Rays rookie in club history, trailing only Dan Wheeler (12SO) on 9/12/99 vs. OAK …the last Tampa Bay rookie to record 11+ K’s was Jake Odorizzi (11SO) on 5/9/14.

MERRY-GO-ROUND — Bradley has allowed 16 walks in his last seven starts (4.70 BB/9.0IP) since 6/27…he has surrendered 26 free passes across 49.2 innings (4.71 BB/9.0IP) over his last 11 starts since 6/4 after allowing only five walks across 30.0 innings in his first six starts. He allowed a career-high five free passes in his last start on 9/3 at Cleveland…in 83 career minor league appearances (80 starts), Bradley had never allowed more than three walks (12x). He is one of three Rays pitchers (four instances) to allow 4+ walks in consecutive games, joining Shane McClanahan (2x, 4/5-11 & 5/8- 13) and Yonny Chirinos (5/5-10).

TROUBLE WITH THE LONG BALL — Bradley permitted only four homers in his first nine career starts from 4/12-6/15 — his 0.84 HR/9.0 IP in that span was 12th lowest in the AL (min. 40.0IP)…over his last eight starts since 6/21, he has yielded 10 homers, good for 2.45 HR/9.0 IP. Eleven of the 14 HR he has surrendered this season have been hit by right-handed batters…in 37.2 innings this season for Triple-A Durham, he allowed 9 HR, six of which were hit by righties.

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