BY SPNW Staff 06:30AM 04/07/2013

#7: Mariners Eye Positive Cap To First Week

The Mariners seek to finish their season-opening road trip with a winning record (4-3). Seattle hasn’t started with a winning road mark since 2009, their last winning season..

White Sox lefty Chris Sale won 17 games in 2012, defeated the Mariners twice and is off to a 1-0, 0.00 ERA start this season. / Wiki Commons

GAME: Mariners (3-3, 3rd, AL West, -1.0 GB) at White Sox (3-2, 1st, AL Central, +0.5 GA). GAME #: 7. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 3rd (series tied 1-1). WHEN: Sunday, 11:10 a.m., U.S. Cellular Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 1; White Sox W 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network

It’s not often that the Mariners start a season with a road trip of five games or longer and come home with a winning record. In fact, they’ve done it just once, in 2009, when that edition of the ball club returned to Safeco Field after a seven-game swing through Minnesota and Oakland with a 5-2 mark.

The 2009 Mariners went on to become the last Seattle team to finish with a winning record at 85-77. That third-place finish has been followed by three consecutive last-place finishes.

The Mariners can end their first road trip of the season 4-3 if they defeat the Chicago White Sox Sunday. Even with Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0, 1.50 ERA) on the mound, the task looms large. The Mariners have lost 20 of their past 24 games at the stadium, including a 4-3 setback Saturday, and have not won back-to-back games in Chicago since Sept. 16-17, 2009.

Also, the Mariners will be facing lefty Chris Sale, a 2012 All-Star who went 2-0, 2.93 against Seattle last year and posted a 9-3, 2.30 mark at U.S. Cellular Field.

SUNDAY’S PROBABLES

MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0, 1.50 ERA, 0.33 WHIP)

Iwakuma enjoyed an excellent first season in the major leagues while making 16 starts and 14 relief appearances. He the first game of this season, he beat the Oakland Athletics, in which he pitched six innings and finished with a 1.50 ERA. Iwakuma has never started against the White Sox, but had two, 2012 relief appearances.

  • LAST START: April 2 at Oakland, defeated the Athletics 7-1; 1 earned run on 2 hits over six innings; 7 strikeouts, no walks, 88 pitches, 53 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. WHITE SOX: June 2, 2012, pitching in relief, earned his second save in a 10-8 Seattle win at U.S. Cellular Field; did not allow a hit or a run in his  inning of work.
  • CAREER VS. WHITE SOX: 0-0, 1.80 ERA in two appearances (no starts) covering 7.0 innings; 3 strikeouts to 2 walks, 1 home run, 0.60 WHIP.
  • AT U.S. CELLULAR FIELD: 0-0, 0.00 ERA in 1 appearance covering 4.0 innings; 1 strikeout, 1 walk, 0 home runs; 1.00 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Gordon Beckham (0-for-2, .000), Alexei Ramirez (0-for-2, .000), Dayan Viciedo (0-for-2, .000).
  • HATES TO FACE: Adam Dunn (1-for-2, .500), Jeff Keppinger (1-for-3, .333).
  • CURRENT WHITE SOX VS. IWAKUMA: 2-for-16, .125 BA, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, .222 on-base percentage.

WHITE SOX: LHP Chris Sale (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)

Sale went 17-8 for the White Sox in 2012 (192 innings). A left hander, Sale made his major league debut in 2010, just months after the White Sox made him the 13th overall choice in June draft. He pitched in the All-Star Game last year and recorded two victories over the Mariners.

  • LAST START: April 1 vs. Kansas City, won 1-0; allowed 7 hits in 7.2 innings; 7 strikeouts, 1 walk, 104 pitches, 72 for strikes in facing 29 batters.
  • LAST VS. MARINERS: June 3, 2012, threw a complete-game win, beating Seattle 4-2; 2 earned runs on 5 hits in 9.0 inning; 8 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run; 119 pitches, 81 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: 2-0, 2.55 ERA in 4 games, including 2 starts, covering 17.2 innings; 21 strikeouts to 5 walks, 2 home runs; 1.075 WHIP.
  • AT U.S. CELLULAR FIELD: 12-4, 2.62 ERA in 56 games, including 15 starts, covering 151.1 innings; 158 strikeouts to 39 walks, 15 home runs; 1.057 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Justin Smoak (0-for-5, .000), Brendan Ryan (1-for-6, .167).
  • HATES TO FACE: Jesus Montero (3-for-7, .429), Michael Saunders (1-for-3, .333), Dustin Ackley (2-for-7, .286).
  • CURRENT MARINERS VS. SALE: 11-for-40, .275 BA, 14 strikeouts, 7 walks, 1 home run, .383 on-base percentage.

MARINERS STATS / NOTES

  • CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Four at Oakland (Monday-Wednesday), three at Chicago White Sox (Friday-Sunday).
  • UPCOMING HOME STAND: Three vs. Houston (Monday-Wednesday), four vs. Texas (Thursday-Sunday), three vs. Detroit (June 16-18). The Mariners get their first day off April 15.
  • Three leadoff home runs have been hit in the major leagues this season and Franklin Gutierrez has hit two of them. Michael Saunders belted a home run out of the leadoff spot Saturday, but did it in the eighth inning of Seattle’s 4-3 loss.
  • Kyle Seager, one of Seattle’s leading hitters last year, is batting .227 after going 0-for-3 in Game 2 of the series Saturday.
  • Dustin Ackley, looking to rebound from a notable regression in 2012, went 0-for-2 Saturday and is hitting .053.
  • Philip Humber, who threw a perfect game at Safeco Field April 21, 2012 while representing the Chicago White Sox, will start for Houston Monday in Seattle’s home opener.
  • Erik Bedard, who pitched for Seattle from 2008-11, will start for the Astros Tuesday, opposing rookie Brandon Maurer.
  • Saturday’s game got underway at 12:10 p.m., CT, just the 18th time since 2000 that Seattle began taking its licks before 12:15 p.m. local time.

UPCOMING PROBABLES

Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
4/8 Mon vs. Hou LHP Joe Saunders (0-1) vs. RHP Philip Humber (0-1)
4/9 Tue vs. Hou RHP Brandon Maurer (0-1) vs. RHP Erik Bedard (0-0)
4/10 Wed vs. Hou RHP Blake Beavan (0-1) vs. RHP Brad Peacock (0-1)

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