Following winning their first two series of the year, the Seattle Mariners kept the good results rolling with their first successful road trip of the season. Seattle took two of three games from Toronto, and they followed it up with a split in a quick two game set at Pittsburgh. Their winning ways in the last couple of weeks have moved Seattle closer to .500, standing at 16-19. As we find ourselves a couple of weeks into May, Seattle trails the Rangers by 5.5 games and the A’s by 1.5 games.
Blue Jays series. With a couple of outstanding performances from the 1-2 punch in their rotation, Seattle took the first two games of the series. They won 4-0 on Friday on the shoulders of King Felix, and they took Saturday’s game 8-1 moving Iwakuma to 3-1 on the season. The Mariners found themselves in position for their first sweep of the season, but ex-Mariner Brandon Morrow earned his first win of the season in a 10-2 runaway on Sunday. Hernandez started the series off on the right foot throwing eight shut out innings against the struggling Jays while Kyle Seager and Jason Bay each homered to power the offense. The Mariners then made it two in a row extending R.A. Dickey’s early season woes. Michael Saunders, back off the DL, led off with a home run and Dustin Ackley hit a grand slam in the fourth inning that put the game away for good. Iwakuma lowered his ERA to 1.61 on the season limiting the Jays to one ER in seven innings of work. Herandez and Iwakuma combined to hold the Jays to one run in fifteen innings.
Pirates series. Finally getting some off days, Seattle decided to skip rookie Brandon Maurer’s turn in the rotation making the two pitchers for the brief visit to PNC Park: Aaron Harang and Felix Hernandez. The Pirates took the opener 4-1 as the bats struggled against Pirates emergency starter Jeanmar Gomez, filling in for James McDonald. Harang, who earned his first win as a Mariner last week against the Orioles, had his second straight strong outing taking a tough loss luck. He went six innings allowing five hits and two ER while striking out six. The Mariners’ bats weren’t much more productive in the finale but Felix Hernandez turned in another gem in a 2-1 Seattle win. Hernandez went eight innings for the second time on the road trip, holding the Pirates to one ER on six hits while striking out five. The hero was C Jesus Montero who snapped a 1-1 tie in the seventh with a home run of Pirate ace A.J. Burnett.
Home Briefly. It’s good the Mariners have moved so close to .500, because the schedule becomes difficult again. Seattle will have a brief three game home set vs. the 2nd place A’s before going on the road for nine that will take them through New York, Cleveland, and Anaheim. Hisashi Iwakuma will throw the opener vs. Oakland followed by Brandon Maurer and Joe Saunders. Maurer, who was skipped on the road trip, hasn’t pitched since a bad outing April 30th vs. Baltimore. Saunders will also be on extra rest, having not pitched since last Sunday in the loss to Toronto. Saunders is 2-0 in Seattle, including a complete game victory over the Orioles in his last start in Safeco. This is the second time the A’s and Mariners have played this season having split four games in the first week of the season in Oakland. Oakland is finish up a ten game road trip that looks a lot like the trip Seattle is about to embark upon. The A’s won two of three in Oakland, then lost all four in Cleveland including the infamous game Wednesday featuring an obvious blown call on a ninth inning home run that replay failed to overturn.