BY SPNW Staff 06:47AM 05/05/2013

#33: Mariners Eye Season’s First Series Sweep

The Mariners aim for first series sweep of the season Sunday when they play Toronto in the final game of a three-game series. Seattle won the first two by a combined 12-1.

Brandon Morrow, a former No. 1 draft pick by the Mariners, goes against his former team Sunday in the final of a three-game series. / Wiki Commons

GAME: Mariners (15-17, 3rd, AL West, -5.0 GB) at Blue Jays (10-21, 5th, AL East, -10.5 GB). GAME #: 33. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 3rd (Mariners lead 2-0). WHEN: Sunday, 10:07 a.m., Rogers Center. STREAKS: Mariners W 3; Blue Jays L 4. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network

After a miserable April, the numbers are finally trending in Seattle’s direction. The Mariners have won three consecutive series, their past three games (season high) by a combined 20-4, and seven of their past nine overall. At 15-17, Seattle is just two games under .500 and will close out a three-game series Sunday against a Toronto team that has allowed 25 runs in its past four contests.

Lefty Joe Saunders (2-3, 5.25 ERA) just needs to avoid plopping a mouse in this statistical soup when he opposes former Seattle starter Brandon Morrow (0-2, 5.29). Saunders had a lights-out effort in his last start at Safeco Field, throwing a complete-game win over the Baltimore Orioles. But he’s been a dud on the road with an 0-3 record and 12.51 ERA.

His career numbers in Toronto — 2-2, 3.04 — are decent enough, and he’ll be facing a Blue Jays team that has tallied just three runs in its past four games.

Morrow has been tough on the Mariners since they traded him to Toronto Dec. 23, 2009 for Johermyn Chavez (minors) and Brandon League, neither of whom is with Seattle any more. He’s 3-1 in four starts, his most notable effort coming April 28, 2012, when he blanked the Mariners on five hits over 6.0 innings in a 7-0 Toronto victory. Morrow had nine strikeouts and no walks that day.


MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (2-3, 5.25 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)

The 31-year-old Saunders, a Springfield, VA., native in his ninth major league season and first with the Mariners, will make his seventh start and first against the Blue Jays. Saunders is coming off his best start, a complete-game effort against Baltimore April 29, but has had massive trouble pitching on the road with an 0-3 record and 12.51 ERA (vs. 2-0, 0.81 at Safeco Field). In his last road outing, at Houston April 24, the Astros battered him for eight earned runs in 5.0 innings.

  • LAST START: April 29 at Safeco Field, threw a complete-game, 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles; 2 earned runs on 4 hits in 9.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 105 pitches, 66 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. BLUE JAYS: Sept. 25, 2012, lost 4-0; 4 earned runs on 11 hits in 6.1 innings; 2 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 94 pitches, 62 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. BLUE JAYS: 3-5, 3.47 ERA in 9 starts covering 59.2 innings; 27 strikeouts to 13 walks, 2 home runs, 1.20 WHIP.
  • AT ROGERS CENTER: 2-2, 3.04 ERA in 4 starts covering in 26.2 innings; 12 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 1.05 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Edwin Encarnacion (0-for-6, .000), Colby Rasmus (1-for-7, .143), Jose Bautista (2-for-9, .222).
  • HATES TO FACE: Jose Reyes (4-for-6, .667), Emilio Bonifacio (6-for-13, .462), Adam Lind (4-for-11, .364).
  • CURRENT BLUE JAYS VS. SAUNDERS: 42-for-138, .304 BA, 15 strikeouts, 14 walks, 0 home runs, .370 on-base percentage.

BLUE JAYS: RHP Brandon Morrow (0-2, 5.29 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)

The 28-year-old Morrow, a Santa Rosa, CA., native in his seventh major league season and fourth with the Blue Jays, will make his seventh start and first against the Mariners. Morrow has already had four no-decisions in his six starts and has struggled all season, failing to pitch more than 6.1 innings in a game this year. He allowed just one earned run in his first start (April 3), but has given up 11 earned runs in his past three.

  • LAST START: April 30, took a no-decision in Toronto’s 9-7 win over the Boston Red Sox; 3 earned runs on 6 hits in 5.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 3 walks, 2 home runs, 96 pitches, 61 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. MARINERS: Sept. 11, 2012, lost 4-3; 4 earned runs on 11 hits in 4.2 innings; 4 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 93 pitches, 63 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: 3-1, 3.04 ERA in 4 starts covering 23.2 innings; 32 strikeouts, 6 walks, 1 home run, 1.35 WHIP.
  • AT ROGERS CENTER: 19-14, 4.10 ERA in 50 games, including 45 starts, covering 272.1 innings; 298 strikeouts, 92 walks, 29 home runs, 1.27 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Dustin Ackley (2-for-11, .182), Robert Andino (2-for-11, .182), Justin Smoak (2-for-9, .222).
  • HATES TO FACE: Kyle Seager (6-for-11, .545), Brendan Ryan (3-for-7, .429), Kendrys Morales (3-for-10, .300).
  • CURRENT MARINERS VS. MORROW: 36-for-99, .263 BA, 35 strikeouts, 8 walks, 3 home runs, .330 on-base percentage.


  • CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Toronto Friday-Sunday, day off Monday, two at Pittsburgh Tuesday-Wednesday. Following another day off Thursday, the Mariners play a three-game series vs. Oakland Friday-Sunday.
  • Prior to the Mariners scoring eight runs Saturday at Toronto, Hisashi Iwakuma had received just one run of support in his three previous starts.
  • Michael Saunders, with two home runs Saturday, now has four such career games. He also did it June 30, 2010 at Yankee Stadium, April 27, 2012 at Toronto and Aug. 20, 2012 vs. Cleveland. Saunders has three home runs this season.
  • Dustin Ackley’s fourth-inning grand slam Saturday was the first by a Mariners’ player this season and also the first of Ackley’s career.
  • In the Mariners’ 15 victories, they are batting .316 (37-for-117) with runners in scoring position. In 17 losses, the Mariners are batting .115 (13-for-113) with RISP. The Mariners have no hits with RISP nine times in 32 games.


Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
5/5 Sun at Tor LHP Joe Saunders (2-3) vs. RHP Brandon Morrow (0-2)
5/7 Tue at Pitt RHP Aaron Harang (1-3) vs. RHP James McDonald (2-2)
5/8 Wed at Pitt RHP Felix Hernandez (4-2) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (2-2)



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