In the first meeting of the season between two teams that have long been out of postseason contention, the Seattle Mariners will visit the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night for the opener of a three-game series.
Despite losing 7-3 Wednesday after winning the first two games of a three-game series with the Texas Rangers, the Blue Jays took Thursday off having won 12 of their past 19 games. But they are also 22 games below .500.
The Mariners defeated the Detroit Tigers 7-2 Thursday in the rubber match of their first series of a nine-game road trip. Seattle is also 22 games below .500. The Mariners are 10-10 in their last 20 games, though the victory Thursday was only their third in the past 12 games.
The main attraction of the series figures to be Toronto shortstop Bo Bichette, whose major league career has started spectacularly since his promotion from Triple-A Buffalo on July 29.
Bichette has reached base safely in all 17 of his major league games. He has passed Ted Williams (15), tied Bill Russell (17) and is second to only Rocco Baldelli (24) for the longest on-base streak to open a career for a player 21 or younger.
"When it comes to Bo, I'm learning about Ted Williams and Mel Ott, and all these people," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters. "That's pretty cool. I think it's amazing, and I don't take it for granted that I'm watching that. He's making history against good pitching."
"Ted was someone my dad looked up to a lot," Bichette said, referring to former major-leaguer Dante Bichette. "They were actually relatively good friends before Ted passed away. When they mentioned on TV that I had passed Ted, my dad called me, 'Dude, I get you're passing some legendary players, but Ted Williams, that's crazy.'"
Dante Bichette is a 2016 inductee of the Ted Williams Museum & Hitters Hall Of Fame in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager will take a nine-game hit streak to Toronto after going 2-for-5 with three RBIs on Thursday. He is batting .406 (13-for-32) with five homers and 12 RBIs on the streak.
The Mariners selected left-hander Taylor Guilbeau from Triple-A Tacoma for the game Thursday, which would be his major league debut. He was obtained in a trade with the Washington Nationals July 31. Right-hander Brandon Brennan (shoulder inflammation) was put on the injured list.
"With where we are at coming up on our schedule with a couple of games with an opener and a bullpen day, we really need all of our pieces functioning," Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Guilbeau would be the 62nd player and the 40th pitcher used by Seattle this season. The Texas Rangers hold the record for players used, 64 in 2014. The 2017 Mariners also used 40 pitchers.
"That's what it is now?" Servais said. "Forty pitchers. We aren't done. We'll have some more in September. It's the year of opportunity."
Right-hander Jacob Waguespack (3-1, 4.31 ERA) will likely start for Toronto on Friday, with Seattle expected to use an opener followed by left-hander Wade LeBlanc (6-6, 5.14).
It will be Waguespack's first appearance against the Mariners, his ninth career major league appearance and sixth start.
LeBlanc is 4-2 with a 3.23 ERA in 11 appearances following an opener this season. The 35-year-old has no wins or losses but does have a 5.40 ERA in three career appearances (one start) against Toronto.
--Field Level Media