Each team has the best record in its league, and though both have enjoyed varying degrees of success over the past several years, neither figured to be this good in 2003.
The Braves appeared ripe for a fall after going through a traumatic overhaul during the offseason. The pitching staff includes only four holdovers from last year, while the exodus claimed such familiar faces as Tom Glavine and Kevin Millwood.
Yet, the Braves still have the best record in the league and a commanding lead in the NL East, giving every indication their astounding run of consecutive division titles will grow to 12.
Atlanta has won seven of its last eight games, including a 4-2 win over Oakland on Thursday.
Seattle is coming in after losing two of three to Montreal. However, the Mariners salvaged the series with a 1-0 win on Thursday night.
Boone, who hit a career-high 37 homers in 2001, is on a pace to hit 45 homers this season.
Seattle leads second-place Oakland by eight games in the AL West.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Mariners - 1st place, AL West.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Russ Ortiz (7-3, 4.02 ERA). Despite an unsightly 6.55 ERA, Ortiz has lost just once in his past 12 starts. However, he has not received a decision in either of his last two outings, including a four-run, five-inning effort in the Braves’ 6-5 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Freddy Garcia (6-6, 5.00 ERA). In his last start, Garcia breezed past the New York Mets, pitching a six-hitter in a 13-2 victory on Sunday. It was his first complete game since May 19, 2002. He struck out seven, while walking just one.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Sheffield, .345 avg. and 53 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 19 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 58 runs and 11 SBs. Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .332 avg. and 14 SBs; Boone, 18 HRs, 51 RBIs and 53 runs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS - Braves - 5-1; Mariners - 6-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - Atlanta, which has eight homers in its last three games, is on pace to hit 268 homers, which would be four better than the major league record, set by the 1997 Mariners. … The Braves, who are 20-4 against American League opponents over the past two years, are just percentage points behind Oakland for the best all-time record in interleague play. … OF Sheffield leads the majors with a .406 road batting average. Mariners - Seattle is 61-52 in interleague play. … Before Thursday’s win, the Mariners had been 0-15 when scoring three runs or fewer this season, … 1B John Olerud is five hits away from 2,000 for his career.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 20-11 on the road; Mariners - 17-13 at home.