Tuesday night features the Seattle Mariners (57-50, 24-27 away) battling the Tampa Bay Rays (64-43, 34-21 home) in game two of a three-game series between the two American League opponents. Seattle rolled in Monday night’s tilt, 8-2.
The first pitch for Tuesday’s showdown is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. EST inside Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. According to oddsmakers, the Rays are the betting favorite (-155), and the run total is set at 8.
What to Know – Seattle Mariners
Seattle bounced back Monday night with a pair of losses to close out the weekend to the Texas Rangers. The Mariners have owned the Rays this season, winning all five previous matchups between the two teams. As the calendar turned to August, Seattle sits in third place in the AL West standings.
The expected starter for Seattle is left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (6-6, 4.01 ERA, 1.16 WHIP). The 30-year old has been shaky in his last four trips to the mound, picking up three losses and lifting his earned run average to over four. Kikuchi pitched five innings in his previous outing, surrendering three earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts.
The Mariners’ offense ranks near the bottom in the league in almost every offensive category. Top performers at the plate for Seattle has been outfielder Mitch Haniger and third baseman, Kyle Seager. Haniger leads the Mariners with 25 home runs and 63 runs batted in, while Seager adds 22 long balls and a team-high 66 RBIs.
What to Know – Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays took over the top spot in the AL East over the weekend after a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox. Tampa has an 11-6 record since returning from the All-Star break. The Rays were aggressive at the trade deadline, trading for hitter Nelson Cruz to bolster their offense.
On the hill for the hosts is Luis Patino (2-2, 4.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP). Patino makes his seventh start on the mound this season but has thrown only 31.2 innings. The 21-year old’s longest outing came in his last start when he logged six innings of work in a victory over the New York Yankees.
Tampa’s offense ranks 15th in on-base percentage (.316) and 13th in slugging percentage (.407) in the majors. Designated hitter Austin Meadows is an RBI machine, ranking fifth amongst batters with 76 RBIs on the year. Second baseman Brandon Lowe has come alive at the plate over the last two months, raising his average from .188 to .221 and leading the Rays with 23 home runs.
The Pick is In
This series is an important set of games between two teams that are squarely in the playoff mix. The Rays hold a narrow one-game lead over the Red Sox with a looming series in Boston beginning next week.
Neither pitcher jumps out on paper, but Patino’s last performance on the mound was his best of the season, giving Tampa the edge Tuesday night. The Rays came into the week riding a four-game winning streak, and tonight they get back into the win column.
The Pick: Tampa Bay Rays ML