Mariners Weekly Preview: Orioles and Blue Jays

5-18-15_CruzCelebratingSeattle Mariners vs. Baltimore Orioles
Tuesday, May 19th vs. Baltimore Orioles 4:05 PM PST
Taijuan Walker (RHP) 1-4 vs. Miguel Gonzalez (RHP) 4-2

Wednesday, May 20th vs. Baltimore Orioles 4:05 PM PST
Roenis Elias (LHP) 0-1 vs. TBD

Thursday, May 21st vs. Baltimore Orioles 9:37 AM PST
J.A. Happ (LHP) 3-1 vs. TBD

The Mariners travel to visit the AL East starting on Tuesday with a trip to Maryland to play those upstanding young lads, the Baltimore Orioles. Coming into the series, the Orange Birds have had a similar start to Mariners, both have been underachieving.

The Orioles return with more or less the same team they rolled out last year (minus Seattle’s newest masher Nelson Cruz); the O’s are hoping that 3rd baseman Manny Machado and 1st baseman Chris Davis can return to form after both put up hugely disappointing 2014s. So far, so good as Davis leads the team in home runs with 8 with Machado not far behind with 6.

New DH Jimmy Paredes, now on his 3rd team since 2013, is racking after starting the year on the disabled list. Leading the team in batting average (.343 across 99 at-bats), along with 5 home runs and 18 runs batted in, he has been a godsend to a team that does not have an excess of offense.

The Orioles’ rotation is normally firmly anchored by former Mariners prospect Chris Tillman, but he has been off to an erratic start with a 2-5 record and a 6.34 earned run average. Hopefully, Seattle takes advantage of that, as Gonzalez and Chen have both received more favorable production from their work.

Seattle Side Up Pick to Click:

Nelson Cruz – While the numbers don’t show it, I have a good feeling about Cruz’s chances on his first trip to Camden Yards since signing with the Mariners. Last year, with a near even split between home and road at-bats, he hit worse at home, with 10 fewer home runs and 28 fewer runs batted in.

Coming into the series Cruz is the majors’ home run leader with 15; there should be plenty of fireworks as he roasts up an Orioles’ team leading the Major Leagues in home runs given up per 9 innings.

Seattle Mariners vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Friday, May 22nd vs. Toronto Blue Jays 4:07 PM PST
Felix Hernandez vs. Mark Buehrle (LHP) 5-3

Saturday, May 23rd vs. Toronto Blue Jays 10:07 AM PST
James Paxton vs. TBD

Sunday, May 24th vs. Toronto Blue Jays 10:07 AM PST
Taijuan Walker (RHP) 1-4 vs. TBD

The Blue Jays continue the AL East tour as Seattle comes to town, hoping to cash in on a team that is struggling with its starting pitching. Of the starting rotation, 4 members have an earned run average of over 4.00, with 2 over 5 (Buehrle and R.A. Dickey) and 1 over 6 (Hutchison). All three starters the team will face have a walks plus hits per inning pitched over 1.50, which should give the offense plenty of runners to drive in.

This will be extremely important, as the always potent Toronto’s offense is hardly scuffing. Lead by new 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson, the Blue Jays lead the American League in runs scored and runs batted in with 198 and 187, respectively.

Two rookies are helping push those numbers, as 2nd baseman Devon Travis leads the team in RBIs with 26 and outfielder Kevin Pillar shares the team lead in doubles with Travis with 10 each.

Seattle has its 3 best starters going, there should be plenty of disappointment in Toronto’s future. Might be a good idea for the Mariners to pack brooms for this part of the trip.

Seattle Side Up Pick to Click:

The King – This one is a bit of a reach, as Hernandez hasn’t found a ton of success against Toronto over the past 3 seasons – 5.65 ERA with a 2-3 record – but there is just something going on with Felix this season that screams Cy Young.

That doesn’t mean Felix will coast to a win, it just means he’ll have extra confidence in himself as he craves up the best scoring team in the American League. The best thrive on challenging the best and defeating the beast–the O’s want to be in that category of the best.

Where to Watch/Listen to the Mariners:

Radio – 710 ESPN Radio in Seattle. Check listings for alternates.

TV- Root Sports Network or via MLB.tv if located outside the blackout region.

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