The Seattle Mariners opened their most recent road trip by going on a season-high win streak. They closed it one loss shy of matching their longest losing streak of the year.
Beginning a season-high 12-game homestand, the Mariners look to snap a five-game skid when they face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.
Seattle (35-31) won the first five games of its 10-game trip to improve to 9-2 in June, but dropped the last five contests on the swing, getting outscored 32-14 while posting a 6.30 ERA.
“It’s like a comedy of errors,” center fielder Ichiro Suzuki said. “But for us, it’s not funny.”
Ichiro is 13-for-20 (.650) during the losing streak, but his teammates are batting .188 (28-for-149) in the five losses - all to NL Central opponents.
Overall, Ichiro has hit safely in 38 of his last 40 games, including 13 in a row. He’s batting .412 since May 7 and became the first AL player to reach 100 hits with a 4-for-5 performance Sunday.
“You marvel at what he does because it’s routine for him,” manager Mike Hargrove told the team’s official Web site.
Despite Ichiro’s hot hitting, Seattle lost 10-3 to Houston on Sunday to get swept in a three-game series for the first time since being swept by Minnesota and the Los Angeles Angels from April 17-22. That six-game losing streak is the Mariners’ only skid longer than its current one.
The Pirates (30-39), meanwhile, have won back-to-back series for the first time this season. They took two of three from Texas and the Chicago White Sox last week.
Jason Bay’s catch at the left field wall robbed Chicago’s Jim Thome of a three-run home run in the ninth inning Sunday, helping Pittsburgh earn an 8-7 win - its fourth in nine interleague games this season. The Pirates were 3-12 against AL opponents last year.
“(Winning two consecutive series) is big-time for us,” said Matt Capps, who has converted all five of his save opportunities since taking over as Pittsburgh’s closer. “It’s something for us to build on and hopefully turn things around and carry that momentum onto the road.”
Capps, though, won’t be available to help his club do that in this series, as he’ll begin a three-game suspension Tuesday for hitting Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder with a pitch May 5. Capps had the suspension reduced by one game Monday, and left-hander Damaso Marte or right-hander Shawn Chacon are expected to cover any save opportunities Capps misses.
The Pirates will take on a Seattle club that swept a three-game set at PNC Park from June 18-20, 2004 in the teams’ only meeting.
Tom Gorzelanny (6-4, 3.04 ERA) takes the mound for the Pirates looking for his first win since May 29. The left-hander was 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA in his first 11 starts this season, but is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three June outings.
Gorzelanny matched a season high by allowing five earned runs in seven innings of a 6-0 loss to Texas on Thursday. He has given up nine runs in 13 1-3 innings over two interleague starts - both Pittsburgh defeats.
Gorzelanny has never faced the Mariners, who are batting .288 against left-handers.
Miguel Batista (7-5, 5.10) will start for Seattle, which has won five of the right-hander’s last six appearances. The Mariners were undefeated as Batista went 4-0 in five games - four starts - from May 23-June 10.
Seattle’s win streak with Batista on the mound was snapped in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. Batista held the Cubs to one earned run in seven innings, but a throwing error by shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt led to two unearned runs in the fifth.
Batista is 3-5 with a 4.76 ERA in 12 games - eight starts - against the Pirates. He has posted a 2.95 ERA in going 1-2 in four outings against NL opponents this season.