The Seattle Mariners are surging, and on the cusp of returning to .500 for the first time in over a month.
No team in baseball has further to go to reach .500 than the Chicago White Sox.
The Mariners look to get back to the break-even mark and send the White Sox to a ninth loss in 10 games Saturday night at Safeco Field.
Seattle (16-17), which lost nine of 10 to Chicago (11-22) last year, hasn’t held a .500 record since it was 2-2 on April 4.
The club is in position to get back to that mark after winning eight of 10 behind a 2.31 ERA - 1.33 from its bullpen.
The Mariners’ relievers got a night off Friday, as Felix Hernandez(notes) tossed a five-hitter before Brendan Ryan(notes) - hitting .191 - connected for a walkoff single in a 3-2 win in the opener of this series.
The impact of Seattle’s staff has been evident over the past seven games, with the team outscoring opponents 21-18 during that span. Mariners’ pitchers have needed to be very good with the offense managing only a .224 average and one home run over that stretch.
Doug Fister(notes) (2-3, 2.70 ERA) is familiar with the lineup’s struggles, and he’ll get the ball looking for a third consecutive winning decision. The right-hander has been backed by two runs or fewer in five of his six starts, including the last two.
Fister improved to 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last three starts, limiting Boston to five hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 2-0 victory last Saturday. He is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against the White Sox.
Seattle’s offense may be scuffling, but Justin Smoak(notes) has been a bright spot. The first baseman is 8 for 15 with three doubles, one homer and four RBIs in four games, a run that has increased his average 42 points to a team-best .315.
Smoak leads the Mariners with five homers and 21 RBIs, and manager Eric Wedge is avoiding the temptation to move the young slugger into the cleanup spot, instead leaving him at No. 5.
“That’s a discipline that I need to maintain,” Wedge told the team’s official website. “He’s a young player. He’s where he needs to be right now and that’s where I need to keep him. It’s up the other people to do their jobs to fill in the other spots.”
The White Sox, owners of the worst record in baseball, have dropped 18 of 22 and are on a three-game slide that started with being no-hit by Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano(notes) during a 1-0 loss Tuesday.
Chicago has totaled four runs and 11 hits in its last two games. The team is 1 for 31 with runners in scoring position over the last six games and 0 for 14 during the slide.
“We gave ourselves a chance to do some damage but we couldn’t pull the trigger at the right time,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We were short with men in scoring position once again.”
The right-hander was tagged for six runs and seven hits - including two homers - in six innings of a 6-4 loss to Baltimore on Sunday after giving up two runs in each of his previous two outings - both wins.
He’s 1-0 while tossing 14 scoreless innings in his past two starts against the Mariners.
Smoak’s only hit in 10 career at-bats against Floyd was a home run.