The Seattle Mariners (64-55) have won the first two of three games against the Toronto Blue Jays (63-58), which could be pivotal in the M’s quest to capture a place in the postseason. In recent days, Seattle has thrust themselves ahead of the Jays into a current dead heat with the Detroit Tigers (63-54) in this year’s AL wild card race.
The Mariners picked up the win at home Tuesday night after sending Chris Young out to the mound. Young improved to 11-6, and continued to be a very strong presence for them in 2014, especially at Safeco Field.
The Mariners’ struggles at home this year have been well documented. Immediately after the All-Star break, things were not looking very encouraging either. They went 3-7 in their first 10 games, but have since bucked that trend. Overall, the M’s are 13-11 in the second half of the season, and have even managed to get their overall home record above .500 at 33-32. The club sits at 8-2 over their last 10 contests and currently is riding a three-game winning streak.
Set to lay the knockout blow to the Jays tonight is one of the quieter talents and possibly the best No. 2 pitcher from any rotation in MLB, Hisashi Iwakuma. Kuma is 2-1 in three starts against the Jays in his career, with a fourth appearance coming out of the bullpen. He has a 3.09 ERA against Wednesday’s opponent.
During the 2014 season, Iwakuma’s ERA has been on the steady decline since July 24, now resting at a very respectable 2.86. The 33-year-old Japanese import has failed to complete seven innings of work for the Mariners only once over his last eight starts, that one dating back to July 1 in particular.
The Jays send R.A. Dickey to the bump tonight, suggesting an even greater chance that being swept is on their horizons. Dickey has not fared well traditionally at Safeco Field in his career, where he is 3-6 with a 4.72 ERA. The Jays are also still without one of their greatest offensive threats, 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is not expected to return to the lineup until the weekend.
The white hot Mariners are keen to pick up their fourth consecutive win tonight. Coupled with a Tigers loss, SoDo district will be flush full of enthusiasm come roughly 10:00 p.m. PST as Seattle could once again have sole possession of that coveted second wild card spot.