Nick Markakis may find himself playing for somebody other than the Atlanta Braves in 2018, but the right fielder continues to produce offensively as they close out a three-game home series Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners. Markakis extended his hitting streak to four games with two hits, including his eighth homer of the season and two RBIs, in Tuesday’s 4-0 victory over Seattle, and enters the series finale batting .284.
Markakis has one year remaining on the four-year, $44-million deal he signed before the 2015 season, but could be expendable heading into the winter with top prospect Ronald Acuna likely to push for a spot on the big-league roster next spring. The Mariners remain focused on this season, sitting two games out of the final American League wild card spot, but being in the midst of a 12-game, 7,500-mile road trip might be catching up to them. Seattle committed two errors Tuesday after making four in the series opener, and its bullpen allowed two unearned runs in Tuesday’s defeat. Catcher Mike Zunino recorded two of the Mariners’ five hits, raising his average to .310 in his past 11 contests.
TV: 7:35 p.m. ET, ROOT Northwest (Seattle), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Erasmo Ramirez (5-4, 4.52 ERA) vs. Braves RH R.A. Dickey (8-8, 3.98)
Ramirez made 26 appearances (including eight starts) for the Tampa Bay Rays before being traded to the Mariners on July 28, and the 27-year-old has provided a boost for Seattle’s injury-riddled rotation. He is 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA in four starts since the trade, walking only three in 20 1/3 innings but allowing five homers (none in his past two starts). Ramirez earned his first victory in his second stint with the Mariners on Friday, holding the Rays to one run on two hits in six innings, six days after giving up one run on three hits in six innings against the Los Angeles Angels.
Dickey, who turns 43 in October, continues making a strong case for the Braves to pick up his $8 million option for 2018. He won his first two starts in August -giving up four runs on 10 hits in 13 innings - before losing to Cincinnati on Friday after allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings, striking out a season-high nine but allowing three homers. Dickey has been outstanding in his past 11 starts, posting a 2.45 ERA with a .238 opponents batting average while striking out 59 and walking 22 in 69 2/3 innings.
1. Seattle DH Nelson Cruz got the start in right field Tuesday, making just his fifth appearance in the outfield this season.
2. Atlanta rookie 2B Ozzie Albies has at least one hit in five of his past six games, hitting .348 in that stretch with two doubles and three triples.
3. The Mariners were shut out for the 10th time this season Tuesday, while Atlanta recorded its fifth shutout of the year.
PREDICTION: Braves 4, Mariners 3