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Tampa Bay Rays (30-26) vs. Seattle Mariners (24-31) 7:10 PM PST
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Tampa Bay Rays:
1. Kevin Kiermaier CF
2. Joey Butler DH
3. David DeJesus LF
4. Logan Forsythe 2B
5. Steven Souza Jr. RF
6. Asdrubal Cabrera SS
7. Jake Elmore 3B
8. Nick Franklin 1B
9. Rene Rivera C
Notes: First-year manager Kevin Cash has shaken up his batting order a bit, giving Evan Longoria the day off and putting former Seattle Mariners prospect Nick Franklin at first base. Felix Hernandez has dominated the Rays throughout his career, with a perfecto and a recent complete game victory under his belt against the Tampa Bay ball club. Perhaps Cash is trying to find some magic tonight against the King, but let’s hope the only thing magical is that break that Felix gets on his changeup.
1. Austin Jackson CF
2. Robinson Cano 2B
3. Nelson Cruz RF
4. Kyle Seager 3B
5. Mark Trumbo DH
6. Seth Smith LF
7. Logan Morrison 1B
8. Willie Bloomquist SS
9. Mike Zunino C
Notes: Yet again, the Seattle Mariners’ offense was unable to come up with clutch hits last night, leading to a crushing 1-0 loss. In the bottom of the eighth with the game tied at zero, Robinson Cano rolled over with two outs and the bases loaded. Then, after Fernando Rodney allowed the go-ahead solo homer in the top of the ninth, the hot-hitting Austin Jackson got himself on third base with no outs to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Well, we lost 1-0, so I don’t have to tell you what happened, but it was difficult to watch. Somebody needs to step up in the clutch. Please, for the love of Dave Niehaus, somebody.
3 Things to Watch For:
1. King Felix Rescues His People
Yes, I know this is a cheap prediction, but it is also a no-brainer. It seems that we have said this far too often this season, but the Seattle Mariners need Felix Hernandez to throw a gem tonight. Too many times have the M’s leaned on their ace for a much needed win in 2015, but yet here we are, calling for it once again. He is one of the greatest to ever play, and my eyes are glued to the screen whenever he pitches. The high court will be in full session today, and they will be needing their King more than ever. Coming off his roughest start of the season, I expect Felix to deliver an “ultra-quality start” tonight, going at least seven innings and allowing no more than a pair of runs.
Jun 2, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson (16) hits an RBI double against the New York Yankees during the sixth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
2. The Famous Jet Jackson
When the Seattle Mariners traded for Austin Jackson at the deadline last season, I was absolutely pumped. We were getting a solid, professional hitter with great speed and an above average glove in center field. He reminds me of Mike Cameron. A lot of people have been upset with Jackson’s performance thus far as a Mariner, but trust me people, we want this guy as our center fielder for many years. Don’t believe me? Well, for starters he was just about the only guy that came up clutch in any way last night, lining a triple into right center field to lead off the bottom of the ninth before being stranded at third to end the game. More importantly, however, Jackson is 15 for 46 since returning from his ankle injury, en route to a .326 average. He is hitting balls extremely hard, and looks like he may have found his groove in Seattle. Remember, this guy is a career .274 hitter with an on-base percentage of .335, and he is 28 years old. Look for Jackson to stay hot tonight and pick up a couple of hits, including an extra-base knock.
3. Seth Smith, the Secret Savior
Quietly, Seth Smith has delivered himself from the abyssal depths that was the outfield platoon, and inserted himself as a staple in the middle of the Seattle Mariners lineup. Smith has been one of the most consistent players for the Mariners this season, drawing plenty of walks and coming up with a good portion of the scant clutch hits the M’s have seen in 2015. The corner outfielder is posting a respectable slash line of .255/.319/.477, and is tied with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager for the team lead in doubles at 12. With a right-hander on the mound for the Rays and Mark Trumbo in front of him tonight, the Padraig Harrington look-alike should get some good pitches to hit, and I don’t expect him to miss them. A couple of hits tonight for number 7, including his sixth home run of the season.
Last Game’s Predictions:
1. “I Put the Team On My Back”–OUT
No homers in this one, as the Seattle Mariners got blanked for, surprisingly, only the third time this season and the first time since April 10 against the Athletics. Seager did pick up a base knock to continue his excellent stretch of games, and was robbed of another by a diving play from Kevin Kiermaier late in the game. Seager did his best, but for all the runners the Mariners leave on base, he never had too much of a chance to drive in any runs.
2. Cruz Gives Them the Full Nelson–HIT
Nellie Cruz picked up a pair of base hits in this one, so I’ll give myself a hit here. Unfortunately, the slugger wasn’t able to put one out when the Mariners needed it most, but the American League home run leader still looks locked in at the dish. Let’s hope he can stay hot long enough for the rest of the Seattle Mariners ball club to get their heads out.
3. The Bullpen is Key–OUT
What do you know, I was right. I almost want to give myself a hit for this one, because what happened last night is exactly what I was thinking about avoiding when I made this prediction. Fernando Rodney blew the game in classic Fernando Rodney fashion, surrendering a solo shot to Logan Forsythe to lead off the top of the ninth. Don’t even get me started on the fact that it wasn’t a save situation, I don’t think anything needs to be said about that. Hopefully this was the last straw; I have a feeling that it was.
Hits: 26 Outs: 43 Batting Average: .377