Interleague play is over for the Seattle Mariners, but their road trip continues. The Mariners benefited from interleague play to win a season-high six straight games including an impressive sweep over the Reds where they held them to one run for three games. It’ll be back to the American League for Seattle, and their first stop will be in the Big Apple. The new leaders of the A.L. East, the New York Yankees, await. After losing two of three in Milwaukee, Seattle stands at 31-44 on the season. This will be the first meeting of the season between the Mariners and Yankees. New York is 47-28 after going 4-2 on a West Coast swing through Arizona and Los Angeles.
Tuesday, June 29th: Phil Hughes (10-1, 3.17) vs. Cliff Lee (6-3, 2.39). Concerned about his innings, Hughes skipped his last turn in the rotation. He last started June 19th against the Mets holding them to five hits and three runs over seven innings. Hughes has won his last five starts after dropping his only decision of the year to the Mets in Citi Field. The Mariners have to feel with Lee on the mound they’ll have a chance to win even against Hughes. Lee gave up one earned run in two straight complete game victories over the Cubs and the Reds. Maybe Lee’s most impressive stat is that in 86.2 innings of work this season, he has walked only four batters.
Wednesday, June 30th: Javier Vazquez (6-6, 5.16) vs. Felix Hernandez (5-5, 3.28). Instead of mirroring his 2009 with Atlanta, Vazquez is pitching like he did in his first tour of duty in pinstripes where he went 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA in 2004. Vazquez had a decision in his previous eight starts before a no-decision Wednesday against the Diamondbacks where he left after five innings. Hernandez enjoyed his work against National League teams going 2-0 in his last three starts. In his no-decision over that period, he went nine innings against the Cubs and left with the game tied at two allowing five hits and striking out eight.
Thursday, July 1st: CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.49) vs. Ryan Rowland-Smith (1-7, 6.18). Sabathia comes into this game on a tear having won his last five including only giving up one run over sixteen innings in his last two starts against the Mets and Dodgers. After an impressive start against Cincinnati, Rowland-Smith couldn’t follow it up in his next start in Milwaukee. The Brewers got to Rowland-Smith for five runs and five hits in 5.1 innings sending the left-handed Australian to 1-7 on the season.
Grif’s Take: First off, it was great to see the Mariners haven’t given up on the season yet. Although catching Texas right now seems impossible, the Mariners added a much-needed bat in reacquiring Russell Branyan from Cleveland for two prospects. Interleague was good to the Mariners, but they’ll get the best team in baseball, the Yankees, in New York right after a disappointing series loss in Milwaukee. Still, the Mariners have a good shot to surprise the Yankees with Lee and Hernandez both going in this series. Hernandez will get the added benefit of facing the Yankee starter with the worst numbers this season, Javier Vazquez. After these three games, the Mariners will head back to the Midwest for three games with the Detroit Tigers.