In the past two games against his former team, Gutierrez has showcased his hitting progress and now will try to lead the Mariners to consecutive four-game series victories for the first time this season in Sunday’s finale against the Indians.
After hitting .285 with 22 home runs and 85 RBIs in four seasons with the Indians, Gutierrez was traded as part of a three-team, 12-player deal on Dec. 10.
“(Gutierrez is) still young, and there is a big upside to him,” Zduriencik told the team’s official Web site after the trade. “We hope he comes on some offensively. If he does that, we’ll be real happy.”
Zduriencik has to be pleased so far.
Gutierrez has hit .294 with 12 home runs, including one in each of the past two games against Cleveland. He opened the scoring in Friday night’s 6-2 win with a solo shot, and his two-run homer Saturday helped lift the Mariners to a 3-1 victory.
As Seattle’s starting center fielder, Gutierrez has a hit in 24 of his last 26 games with seven homers and 19 RBIs in that span. With Grady Sizemore(notes) starting in center, Gutierrez was forced to play mostly right field while with the Indians.
“I’m playing center every day now,” he said. “I’m feeling comfortable and having fun.”
Seattle also took three of four from Texas before the All-Star break. To earn their sixth win in eight games, the Mariners (48-43) will look to Erik Bedard(notes) (5-2, 2.63 ERA), who will make his third start since returning from left shoulder inflammation earlier this month.
In coming back from his third trip to the DL in two seasons with Seattle, the left-hander pitched four innings July 7 against Baltimore and 5 2-3 innings Sunday versus Texas. He didn’t get a decision in either start but extended his streak of allowing two runs or fewer to eight straight games.
While looking to improve to 4-0 on the road and in day games this season, Bedard will also try to move to 3-0 against the Indians in eight career starts. He hasn’t faced Cleveland since May 4, 2007, when he was in his final season with the Orioles.
Bedard faces an Indians team that’s lost 20 of 27. Cleveland also has been outscored 29-14 while going 2-4 in its last six.
Aaron Laffey(notes) (3-2, 4.24) will look to avoid three consecutive defeats for the first time in his career. After suffering a loss in relief on May 22, Laffey spent more than six weeks on the disabled list with a right oblique strain.
In his return July 8 against the Chicago White Sox, the left-hander allowed four runs and seven hits over six innings in a 5-1 defeat.
“It felt good to be back out there and be back in that competitive atmosphere,” Laffey said.
Laffey is 0-1 with a 4.60 ERA in three career starts versus Seattle. He was tagged for eight runs—three earned—over 3 2-3 innings in an 8-2 road defeat on July 18, 2008.