The surging Seattle Mariners have finally carried their strong play to the road, and are on the verge of their first series victory away from Safeco Field in a month.
The Mariners (64-71) try to accomplish that rare feat when they meet the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (54-82) in the finale of a three-game series at Tropicana Field on Sunday.
Seattle overcame a triple play to beat Tampa Bay 4-3 on Saturday and snap a 12-game road losing streak. It was the Mariners’ first road victory since Aug. 2, when they topped Baltimore 2-1 to cap a series win.
Seattle went a franchise-worst 0-11 on its last road trip from Aug. 10-20, then went 7-2 on the ensuing homestand. The Mariners opened their current six-game stretch away from home with a loss before ending the skid Saturday.
Adrian Beltre went 2-for-5 with two RBIs for Seattle, winner of eight of its last 10 meetings with Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays got off to a good start with a 2-6-2 triple play in the first inning, the second in team history, but the Mariners recovered to notch the victory.
“You just have to get rid of the absolute hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach,” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said of the triple play. “It takes a couple of innings. Everything had to happen just right for that to be pulled off and it did. It obviously gave them the momentum back, and our guys battled through that and did what we had to do to win the ballgame.”
Felix Hernandez (11-12, 4.54 ERA) looks to build on his best outing of the season when he takes the mound for Seattle. The right-hander pitched a five-hitter Monday to beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-0. He threw 70 of his 95 pitches for strikes, walking none and striking out four.
The performance snapped a three-start losing streak, during which Hernandez posted a 9.39 ERA.
“It was one of the best games I’ve ever had,” said Hernandez, who induced 16 groundouts in his second complete game of the season. “Everything worked well and I was getting strikes in on the batters.”
Despite the strong outing, Hargrove said Friday that he will limit the 20-year-old right-hander’s innings the rest of the season. Hargrove said Hernandez, who has pitched 160 2-3 innings, will miss two of his final five starts, which have yet to announced.
“We told him in spring training that there would be times when he’s pitching well and we’d take him out of ballgames to save innings, and we’ve done that,” Hargrove said.
Hernandez is 1-0 with a 1.15 ERA in two starts against the Rays this season, holding them to two earned runs through 15 2-3 innings.
Tampa Bay will counter with Brian Stokes, who will make his major league debut after being called up from Triple-A Durham on Friday.
The 26-year-old right-hander was recalled to replace Casey Fossum, who’s out with a shoulder injury. Stokes was 7-7 with a 4.11 ERA in 29 games for Durham. He will try to provide a lift for a Tampa Bay team that has lost seven of its last nine.
“A lot of good things,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said after the defeat. “We just got beat tonight.”