Opposite dugout: Mariners looking for first playoff berth since 2001

Manager: Scott Servais (2nd season)

MarinersLogo.jpgRecord: 59-60

Last 10 games: 4-6

Who to watch: DH Nelson Cruz (28 HR, 93 RBIs), SS Jean Segura (.319 with 17 stolen bases), 2B Robinson Canó (.273/.335/.464), CF Jarrod Dyson (27 stolen bases), RHP Edwin Díaz (3.40 ERA, 27 saves)

Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (6-1 in 2016)

Pitching probables:

Aug. 14: RHP Kevin Gausman vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo, 10:10 p.m., MASN
Aug. 15: LHP Wade Miley vs. TBA, 10:10 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 16: RHP Ubaldo Jiménez vs. LHP Marco Gonzales, 3:40 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Mariners:

The Mariners currently own the longest playoff drought in baseball, having not made the playoffs since their record-setting 2001 season. Seattle has flirted with the playoffs several times since then, most recently last year when they finished three games out of the second American League wild card. Now, the Mariners find themselves again looking to play meaningful October baseball for the first time since Ichiro Suzuki's rookie year. One major reason why they are in playoff contention: their success in one-run games. The Mariners have a very solid 19-11 record in those close games, which is the second-best mark in baseball.

Leading the way for Seattle's offense is a name very familiar to Orioles fans: designated hitter Nelson Cruz. At 36, Cruz has hardly showed any signs of slowing down. He leads the Mariners with a .918 OPS and his 28 homers rank eighth in the AL. From 2015 to 2017, no one has produced more longballs in all of baseball than the Dominican DH's 115. Eight-time All-Star second baseman Robinson Canó has seen his offense decline from 2016. His .273 batting average is the second-worst mark of his career and his on-base percentage and slugging percentage have both dipped from his 2016 figures. Another hitter who has declined from last season is third baseman Kyle Seager. Seager's .258/.329/.453 slashline is a drop off in all three categories from what he posted in 2016. While Seager has failed to improve on his 2016 figures, Seattle has been enjoying vastly improved production at shortstop. Jean Segura has been a huge upgrade at the position from Ketel Marte. Marte posted a .610 OPS as Seattle's main shortstop last season, while Segura sits at .812 thus far in 2017. As a whole, the Mariners do not blow anyone away with their power, ranking 10th in the AL for team slugging percentage.

On Monday night, former Oriole Yovani Gallardo takes the mound. Gallardo's 5.38 ERA is highly underwhelming, although he has cut down on his walks per nine innings from his 2016 season in Baltimore. Gallardo's home runs per nine innings has increased, going from 1.2 to 1.4. One of Gallardo's main problems is an inability to go deep in games: He has recorded six or more innings pitched in only seven of his 22 starts this season. While Tuesday's starter is listed as to be announced, the O's will face Marco Gonzales on Wednesday. Gonzales has made just two starts as a Mariner, after being traded from the Cardinals during the season. His first one was a poor effort, allowing five earned runs in four innings. His second one was much better, lasting only 4 1/3 innings, but allowing just one run. He has 5.69 career ERA, but that has pitched just 49 innings over three seasons.

Seattle's closer is righty Edwin Díaz and he comes armed with a fastball that averages 97 mph. Díaz strikes out 12.3 batters per nine innings, but also walks 4.6 batters per nine. Díaz is somewhat erratic, but the threat of a strong fastball has helped him go 25-for-29 in save situations. When Seattle has a lead going into the eighth inning, Nick Vincent is the guy they are the most likely to turn to. The right-hander has a 1.86 ERA in his last 10 relief appearances and has 20 holds this season.

This is Howie do it: first career grand slam lifts...
Wrapping up a loss in the series finale at Oakland
 

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