After their big rally from a 7-2 deficit Wednesday, the Mariners will host the team that once was the Seattle Pilots, the Milwaukee Brewers, starting Friday.
GAME: Brewers (49-66, 5th, NL Central, -21.5 GB) at Mariners (53-61, 3rd, AL West, -11.5 GB) GAME #: 115. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 1st (1st series between the teams since 2010). WHEN: Friday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Brewers L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
When, in May, the Mariners determined that Jesus Montero couldn’t catch (or hit, or run) they shipped the plodder to AAA Tacoma and elevated backup Kelly Shoppach to the starting role. But when, in mid-June, the Mariners figured out Shoppach couldn’t hit (.196) a lick, they designated him, promoted No. 1 pick Mike Zunino and signed 41-year-old Henry Blanco when Jesus Sucre went down.
Zunino would still be catching had he not suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand in late July. By default, that elevated Blanco to the starter’s role. To replace Zunino, the Mariners signed another veteran backup, 34-year-old Humberto Quintero.
You don’t expect much out of a 41-year-old starting catcher and a 34-year-old backup. But Blanco started his career in Seattle with a bang June 15 when, at 41 years, 290 days, he became the oldest Mariner to hit a grand slam (vs. Oakland) and the first to do so in a Seattle debut since Leon Roberts April 9, 1978.
Quintero hit his first home run Aug. 2 in an 11-8 win at Baltimore and came back with another, and three RBIs, Wednesday in the 9-7 comeback victory over Toronto.
Blanco (3) and Quintero (2) have now combined for five home runs in 23 games, giving Seattle an unexpected power boost while Zunino recuperates.
Joe Saunders, who will start for Seattle Friday night, has yet to work with Quintero, but he’s worked three games with Blanco with less than shining results. Saunders has a 6.89 ERA in those games.
Saunders is coming off a 3-2 win at Baltimore and will face RHP Kyle Kohse, who hasn’t contested the Mariners since 2007, when he pitched for Cincinnati.
The Mariners and Brewers haven’t faced each other since 2010 when Seattle lost a three-game series at Miller Park (2-1). Before that, the teams hadn’t played since 2004, also in Milwaukee. This series marks the Brewers’ first at Safeco Field.
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (10-10, 5.27 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Saunders, a Fairfax, VA., native in his ninth major league season and first with Seattle, will make his 24th start and first against Milwaukee. Saunders snapped a two-game losing streak by winning his last start, against Baltimore. Since July 2, the left hander has won five of seven outings. After allowing 10 earned runs on 12 hits in his two recent defeats, he allowed two against the Orioles.
BREWERS: RHP Kyle Lohse (7-7, 3.23 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
The 34-year-old Lohse, a Chico, CA., native in his 13th major league season and first with Milwaukee, will make his 24th start and first against the Mariners. Lohse, who has also pitched for Minnesota (2001-06), Cincinnati (2006-07), Philadelphia (2007) and St. Louis (2008-12), is coming off a pair of no-decisions following consecutive victories. He has worked into the seventh inning in six of his starts.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|8/9||Fri||vs. Milw||LHP Joe Saunders (10-10) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (7-7)|
|8/10||Sat||vs. Milw||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-5) vs. RHP Tyler Thornburg (1-0)|
|8/11||Sun||vs. Milw||RHP Felix Hernandez (11-5) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (8-11)|