The Seattle Mariners take their .500 record — 28-28 — back to the Bronx to make up a game that was postponed May 1. The New York Yankees (29-26), like the M’s, have struggled to score runs consistently. The two foes rank No. 9 and 12 in the American League in runs scored, and Seattle ranks much higher away from Safeco Field.
The M’s swept the abbreviated series in New York behind Chris Young and Roenis Elias and the Yankees’ offense struggled both in the month of May and during their recent series versus the Minnesota Twins.
The M’s and their not-so-secret weapon hope to continue that trend.
Felix Hernandez, RHP vs. David Phelps, RHP
Hernandez is coming off another stellar outing and he’s taken care of the Yankees in his career, but the current Yankees’ roster has had some success against The King.
Jacoby Ellsbury (8-for-25, 2B, 2 HR), Brett Gardner (9-for-24, 2-2B) and Brian Roberts (12-for-33, 5-2B, 6 BB, 9 SO) lead that charge, though it’s clear Roberts isn’t the player he was when he did that damage. Mark Teixeira (19-for-64, 4-2B, 5 HR, 8 BB, 15 SO) is the biggest gun, but he’s suffering from wrist pain and reportedly will not play in this game.
Hernandez’s last start displayed a firmer fastball, sitting 93-94 mph and touching 95, a vintage Hernandez curveball and a good changeup. The difference for the M’s ace is that he commanded his fastball and sinker, and if he does that again the Yankees are in for a long day.
Phelps (1-2, 3.38 ERA) has been up and down as a starter after beginning 2014 in the bullpen. The right-hander has slowed down the White Sox on the road, striking out eight and walking one, after holding the Pirates scoreless for five innings. May 11, Phelps struggled at Milwaukee and last time out at St. Louis he yielded three earned runs on eight hits and two walks and left after 109 pitches.
He’s faced Seattle just twice, once in a starting role, with no current Mariners batter having more than three plate appearances against him.
The 27-year-old will come at the M’s with a 90 mph fastball, mid-80s slider and a knuckle-curve n the 79-81 mph range. He will cut the fastball some to get in on left-handed batters and does a good job burying the slider and getting good use of his changeup in favorable counts against lefties.
The slider has been better in the past but it’s still a weapon, particularly versus right-handed batters.
Phelps has had some problems throwing strikes consistently and is walking nearly four batters per nine innings, but he keeps his fastball down and on the edges enough to avoid the home run. Batters can elevate the ball against him, but his outfield defense covers a ton of ground and he’s shown he won’t surrender when he falls behind. If he stays away from the free pass, Phelps has a good chance to get through six innings.
The Mariners enter this game with a plus-13 run differential, No. 5 in the league, despite the circuit’s worst wRC+ in the league at 83 and the lowest wOBA at .293. The clubs performance with runners in scoring position — .254/.316/.419 — isn’t that impressive but they rank near the top of the league with runners in scoring position and two out, batting .251/.332/.402 against a league average of .221/.317/.337 … The club batted just .233/.300/.358 in May, but Robinson Cano (.355/.393/.458), Michael Saunders (.318/.357/.477), James Jones (.276/.330/.379, 5 SB), and Kyle Seager (.272/.348/.447) each had good months … Brad Miller may be showing signs of breaking out his season-long slump. He went 2-for-3 Thursday, was given Saturday off after an 0-for-3 versus Justin Verlander then took Max Scherzer yard to center field in Sunday’s finale. Despite the poor overall numbers, Miller drew 11 walks in May and chased just two pitches in two-strike counts since May 14. March 31 through May 13, Miller chased 19 such pitches … While Saunders has not faced Phelps, he is 3-for-8 with a home run off former M’s lefty Matt Thornton, so watch for that matchup late in the game … Left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush has owned Ellsbury (0-for-6, 3 SO) and Brett Gardner (o-for-3, 3 SO), both lefty bats, so that’s a late-inning matchup to consider, too.
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