The Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles may be not be intimidating given their nearly identical records and matching minus-23 run differentials, but both teams very much are in the running for a wild-card spot in the wide-open American League. Two of the three teams within two games of the second wild card continue to jockey for position starting Monday, when the Mariners visit the Orioles for the opener of their three-game series.
The Orioles (65-65) are riding a four-game winning streak after completing a three-game sweep in Boston over the weekend, outscoring the AL East-leading Red Sox 25-4 in the process. Sunday’s 2-1 triumph kept Baltimore two games behind Minnesota for the second wild-card berth. The Mariners (66-65) are one-half game ahead of the Orioles at the moment, but they are coming off a dismal outing in which they became the first major-league team in 40 years to commit five errors in one inning during Sunday’s 10-1 loss to the New York Yankees. Seattle has fared well recently against Baltimore, however, winning two of three at home two weeks ago and eight of the last 10 overall meetings.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, ROOT Northwest (Seattle), MASN2 (Baltimore)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners LH Marco Gonzales (0-1, 7.40 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Chris Tillman (1-7, 7.75)
Gonzales failed to make it through five innings for the fifth time in as many starts Tuesday at Atlanta, taking the loss after allowing two runs on six hits and three walks while throwing 99 pitches over 4 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old Gonzaga product has given up at least one home run in each of his five turns this season - including one with St. Louis - and is allowing opponents to bat .352 against him. Gonzales settled for a no-decision versus the Orioles on Aug. 16, when he permitted four runs over 4 1/3 frames.
Tillman did not factor in the decision in his return to the rotation on Aug. 20 versus the Los Angeles Angels after surrendering four runs and issuing a career high-tying six walks across 5 1/3 innings. The 2013 All-Star was coming off a pair of scoreless relief appearances - the first two of his career - but has logged an 8.00 ERA in his 16 turns this season. Robinson Cano (15-for-36) and Nelson Cruz (5-for-16) both have hit a pair of homers against Tillman, who is 7-1 with a 3.30 ERA in 11 career games (10 starts) versus Seattle.
1. Since joining Seattle in 2015 after one season in Baltimore, Cruz has hit .392 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 51 at-bats against the Orioles.
2. Baltimore 2B Jonathan Schoop went 0-for-4 on Sunday to end a seven-game hitting streak during which he was batting .433.
3. Cano returned to the lineup Sunday after being limited to pinch-hitting duties in the previous two contests but was removed late because he wasn’t running particularly well, according to Seattle MGR Scott Servais.
PREDICTION: Orioles 8, Mariners 7