The surprise team of the season so far, Montreal has been stellar lately winning its last six games.
“This team is great,” Expos starter Livan Hernandez said. “Everybody is great together. Everybody’s friends and everybody is your teammate. Everybody plays hard.”
More impressively, the Expos have won three of the last four games by one run.
Montreal’s bullpen continues to shine, pitching 11 1-3 scoreless innings with four saves over the last four games.
“That’s what they’re supposed to do,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “Whatever they give me, I’ll take.”
While Montreal’s relievers have pitched well, Seattle will be without its closer for a while as Kazuhiro Sasaki injured his ribs while carrying a suitcase up a flight of stairs in his home.
“That’s a first for me,” Mariners first-year manager Bob Melvin said of Sasaki’s off-the-field injury. “But it’s just one of those things that happen.”
Sasaki will be eligible to come off the disabled list June 21 in San Diego.
Seattle had won 20 of 23 coming into this series.
STANDINGS: Expos - 2nd place, 4 1/2 GB, NL East. Mariners - 1st place, AL West.
EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Claudio Vargas (3-2, 3.38 ERA). The 24-year-old right-hander has not allowed more than one earned run in his past two starts. The rookie was fortunate to win his last start—a 5-4 victory over Texas—as he had control problems, walking five in five innings. Vargas has never faced the Mariners.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Ryan Franklin (4-4, 3.51 ERA). Franklin has pitched well of late, allowing three runs or fewer in each of his last seven starts. He pitched well in Friday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Mets, allowing three runs and five hits over seven innings. This will be the 30-year-old right-hander’s first appearance against the Expos.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Expos - Jose Vidro, .429 avg.; Orlando Cabrera, 9 HRs and 41 runs; Brad Wilkerson, 36 RBIs; Endy Chavez, 11 SBs. Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .332 avg. and 14 SBs; Bret Boone, 17 HRs, 50 RBIs and 52 runs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Expos - 6-2. Mariners - 5-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Expos - Montreal has won 14 of 19 one-run games this season. … INF Jose Offerman is the only Expo to have faced Franklin and he struck out in his only two at-bats. … The Expos welcomed back 1B Wil Cordero, who missed two games after leaving last Saturday’s game when he was hit by a pitch. Cordero went 1-for-4 with an RBI on Wednesday. Mariners - Seattle recalled RHP Julio Mateo from Triple-A Tacoma for Wednesday night’s game. Mateo was optioned to Tacoma before Tuesday night’s game to make room for LHP Matt White, a Rule 5 player who was acquired in a trade from Boston last week. … The Mariners will be looking to snap a season-high four-game losing streak at home. … RHP Franklin is 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA at home this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Expos - 16-15 on the road; Mariners - 17-13 at home.
INJURIES: Expos - OF Vladimir Guerrero (back), 15-day DL; RHP Tony Armas Jr. (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Zach Day (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Orlando Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL. Mariners - OF John Mabry (shoulder), 15-day DL.