The Mariners close out their three-game series in Baltimore Sunday when Joe Saunders will attempt a bounce back from a tough outing in Boston. Mariners return to Safeco Monday.
GAME: Mariners (51-59, 4th, AL West, -13.0 GB) at Orioles (61-50, 3rd, AL East, -5.5 GB). GAME #: 111. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 6th (Mariners lead 3-2). WHEN: Sunday, 10:35 a.m., Camden Yards. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Orioles L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Almost lost amid Seattle’s consecutive losses in Boston last week and the seven home-run extravaganza Friday in Baltimore was Kendrys Morales’ improbable feat of producing four hits in back-to-back games. Morales went 4-for-5 in Boston Thursday, collecting hits in his final four at-bats. Then on Friday, he went 4-for-4, which included his 17th home run.
Consecutive four-hit games — and hits in eight consecutive plate appearances — is rare. Until Morales did it, only one other player in 36+ years of Mariner baseball had done it, and little brain power is required to deduce that it had to be Ichiro.
Three times, including twice in 2004 as he neared his record 262 hits, and again in 2006, by which time Ichiro had produced so many multi-hit games that his third occurrence of back-to-back, four-hit contests passed by virtually unnoticed. During the 2004 season, Ichiro had a week in which he had two five-hit games, although not back-to-back.
The club record for consecutive hits is nine, by Raul Ibanez in 2004. Morales had a chance to duplicate that mark Saturday but, alas, no. He grounded out in his first at-bat, snapping the streak, and proceeded to go 0-for-3 before coming back with hits in his final two at-bats.
Michael Saunders wound up hogging the headlines by ripping two homers and driving in five runs in Seattle’s 8-4 victory. But what Morales has done on this road trip has been extraordinary. In five games, he’s an Ichiro-like 15-for-22 (.682).
Lefty Joe Saunders gets the call for Seattle in the series finale. He is coming off a tough loss in Boston last week, but threw a complete-game shutout over Baltimore last April. Saunders will be matched against LHP Wei-Yin Chen, who has pitched well for the Orioles since returning from a strained oblique. A closer look:
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (9-10, 4.65 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Saunders, a Fairfax, VA., native in his ninth major league season and first with Seattle, will make his 23rd start and second against the Orioles. Saunders had a weird July. He won his first four starts (following consecutive losses) and then lost his last two, allowing a combined 10 earned runs on 18 hits in the pair. He’s coming off an 8-2 shellacking in Boston.
ORIOLES: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (6-3, 2.87 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)
The 28-year-old Chen, a Taiwan native in his second major league season, both with Baltimore, will make his 13th start and second against the Mariners. Chen has won his last four decisions and hasn’t been beaten since the Mariners got him 8-3 May 1 at Safeco Field. He pitched his best game April 26 vs. Oakland, allowing two hits over 8.0 innings in a 3-0 victory.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|8/4||Sun||at Bal||LHP Joe Saunders (9-10) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (6-3)|
|8/5||Mon||vs. Tor||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4) vs. RHP R.A. Dickey (8-11)|
|8/6||Tue||vs. Tor||RHP Felix Hernandez (11-4) vs. RHP Josh Johnson (1-8)|
|8/7||Wed||vs. Tor||RHP Aaron Harang (5-10) vs. RHP Todd Redmond (1-1)|