Two of the more surprising teams in the American League meet Saturday night as the Seattle Mariners host the Tampa Bay Rays. The two teams played 13 innings on Friday night, with the Mariners winning on a walk-off home run by Mitch Haniger. The Seattle Mariners are slight favorites at -118 over the Rays on Saturday.
The Rays got off to a disastrous start this season, but they managed to turn the tide. Tampa won 13 of their last 19 games to close out May, which included two separate winning streaks of five or more games. Despite Friday’s loss, the Rays sit at .500, and while they have almost no chance in the AL East, they are still just 6.5 games out of the second wild-card spot.
Seattle, meanwhile, enters Saturday 13 games over .500. That puts them just one game behind the Astros atop the AL West. Since losing Robinson Cano to an injury and subsequent suspension, the Mariners are 13-5, which is impressive, especially since Dee Gordon also missed time during that stretch.
No Bullpen Help
The Rays have taken an unconventional approach lately by having a reliever pitch the first inning or two before turning the game over to their starter. But they won’t be doing that Saturday night with Chris Archer set to take the mound. Archer has not had the best season, posting a modest 4.29 ERA in his first 12 starts. But he’s come on strong lately, giving up just one run over his last three starts.
On Saturday, Archer will face a Seattle lineup that has largely underperformed this season. Haniger, Nelson Cruz, and Jean Segura have all put together good seasons, but few others have stood out for the Mariners. Nevertheless, the power of Haniger and Cruz is something for Archer and the Rays to fear, especially with men on base.
Taking the mound for the Mariners on Saturday will be lefty Marco Gonzales. The Seattle rotation has been led by James Paxton for much of the season, but Gonzales has also pitched surprisingly well. Much like Archer, Gonzales had a rough start to the season but has turned things around lately. In his last three starts, Gonzales has allowed just two runs, both unearned, over 19.1 innings. The southpaw isn’t overpowering but he gets the job done.
Of course, the Rays don’t exactly boast a powerful lineup. That being said, C.J. Cron and Wilson Ramos have both been consistent performers this season. Tampa has also seen players like Daniel Robertson, Joey Wendle, and Johnny Field make surprising contributions in recent days.
The Rays suffered a tough loss on Friday, but with Archer on the mound Saturday, they’ll be in good shape to bounce back. With Gonzales also pitching lights out over his last three starts, this game has a chance to become an interesting pitcher’s duel. However, look for the Rays to stack their lineup with right-handed hitters and eventually find a breakthrough against the lefty. Since last Saturday, Tampa is averaging over four runs per game. That may not sound like much, but it could be enough if Archer stays hot. Take the Tampa Bay Rays +118 over Seattle Mariners on Saturday.