No team owned the Mariners more in 2012 than the Baltimore Orioles, who won eight of nine. The two clubs hook up in a three-game series starting Monday at Safeco Field.
GAME: Orioles (15-10, 3rd, AL East, -3.0 GB) at Mariners (11-16, 3rd, AL West, -6.0 GB). GAME #: 28. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 1st (Orioles won 2012 series 8-1). WHEN: Monday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 2; Orioles L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Except as an innings eater, LHP Joe Saunders is pretty worthless when he throws for the Mariners away from Safeco Field. Wednesday, for example, the seven-win, $25 million payroll Houston Astros butchered Saunders for 11 hits and eight earned runs in five innings at Minute Maid Park, making Saunders’ road ledger read 0-3 with a 12.51 ERA in three starts. But it has been an entirely different story at home.
Saunders has yet to allow an earned run in 13.1 Safeco innings and is 7-0 with a 1.71 career ERA in 11 starts at the ballpark covering 68.1 innings. Even more noteworthy, perhaps, is that Saunders is 5-0 in seven career starts against the Baltimore Orioles.
Saunders pitched for the O’s briefly last year after his trade to the crab capital by Arizona and will face them Monday night when Seattle begins the first of the three against the AL East’s third-place club.
This shapes up as a difficult series for the Mariners, who collected their first series win of the season Sunday by defeating the Angels 2-1. Although they lost 9-8 Sunday in Oakland, the Orioles won three of four from the Athletics, have won five of seven overall, and beat the Mariners eight of nine last year.
The Orioles rank fifth in batting average, seventh in on-base percentage and fourth in slugging. The Mariners are 13th, 13th and 14th in the same categories even after disposing of the Angels three times in four games.
According to multiple reports, Saunders came close to facing former Mariner ace Freddy Garcia Monday. Garcia, who spent 2012 with the Yankees, failed to find a major league team this year after signing with San Diego, which released him March 27. Garcia, 36, hooked on with Baltimore, which assigned him to the AAA Norfolk Tides.
The Orioles almost summoned Garcia from Norfolk to pitch Monday after he went 3-0, but instead opted for 25-year-old Zach Britton, who will make his third career start against Seattle. A closer look at the probables:
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (1-3, 6.33 ERA, 1.77 WHIP)
The 31-year-old Saunders, a Virginia native in his ninth major league season and first with the Mariners, will make his sixth start and first against the Angels, the team Saunders broke in with in 2005. Saunders played for the Angels through mid-2010 when they dealt him to Arizona. In his five starts, Saunders has twice allowed no earned runs and three times allowed at least four. His last two outings, both on the road, have been his worst of the season. Overall, Saunders has allowed 20 earned runs on 36 hits.
ORIOLES: Zach Britton (1-0, 1.98 ERA, 1.46 WHIP*)
The 25-year-old Britton, a Panorama, CA., native in his third major season, all with the Orioles, will make his first start following his summons Friday from the AAA Norfolk Tides, where he went 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA (13.2IP, 3ER) in three starts. The left-hander is 16-14 with a 4.74 ERA (214.2 IP, 113 ER) in 40 games (39 starts) in the major leagues since 2011.
*=Stats with Norfolk Tides
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|4/29||Mon||vs. Bal||LHP Joe Saunders (1-3) vs. LHP Zach Britton (0-0)|
|4/30||Tue||vs. Bal||RHP Brandon Maurer (2-3) vs. RHP Jason Hammell (3-1)|
|5/1||Wed||vs. Bal||RHP Aaron Harang (0-3) LHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-2)|