Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 4/30/12
Cold to Hot back to Cold?

April 30th – May 3rd

The Seattle Mariners (11-12) are 4-2 so far on this road trip after sweeping the Tigers and taking one of three in Toronto.  Tampa Bay (14-8) is off to a stellar start and have been dominating the competition.

This is especially true in games against the A.L. West including sweeping the Angels and taking two of three in a series against Texas.

Pitching match ups:

Game 24: RHP – Felix Hernandez vs. RHP – Jeremy Hellickson

Felix held the Tigers to just a single run in his 7 innings of work in his last start.  The King seems to have settled nicely on his throne.  If his velocity is concerning his control is not.  That is good news.

  • Last year’s Tampa Bay team hit only .218 against Felix
  • Left handed batters are having better luck against the former Cy Young award winner with .235 vs .171 for righties so far this year.
  • Felix’s current line: 2-1 /  2.48 ERA  / 33 SO / 8 BB / 1.02 WHIP
  • Hellickson who was 13-10 for the Rays last season is off to a good start so far this year going 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 4 games.
  • Opponents are hitting only .221 against Hellickson this season
  • In 3 games against Hellickson last season (This is embarrassing) Mariners hitters drove 2 runs, giving the young pitcher a 0.81 ERA against Seattle
Game 25: RHP – Hector Noesi vs. LHP – Matt Moore

Noesi has been unpredictable for Seattle so far this season, but has potential to pitch well if his mental game is on track.  As a rookie Noesi played in 5 games against the Rays last season with a 4.22 ERA and 5 walks in 10.2 innings.

  • Noesi’s first two innings may indicate the type of performance he will have.  He likes to throw a first pitch strike followed by another pitch over the plate.  If he can learn to throw to hitters instead of to the strike zone, he may have more success
  • Moore is a left handed pitcher that struggles against left handed batters, which the Mariners have a stack of.  So far this season Lefties are hitting an even .500 against Moore.  Hopefully this will give the Mariners a chance of success.
  • Current line: 0-1 / 4.68 ERA / 17 SO / 14 BB / 1.56 Whip
Game 26: RHP – Blake Beaven vs. RHP – James Shields

Beaven has been a strike throwing machine this season giving up only 2 walks in his first 25 innings of work.  Although he is pitching well he is only 1-2 in his first four starts due to a lack of offensive efforts from his team.

  • Opponents are hitting .260 against Bevan with success coming better from lefties.
  • This will be Beaven’s first career start against Tampa and has only faced 2 of the Ray’s hitters before: Brandon Allen and Jose Molina who are hitting a combined .429 against the hard throwing right hander
  • Shields come into this game with a .547 winning percentage and 1055 strike outs for his career.  He is currently 4-0 with 28 strike outs this season alone.
  • Despite an impressive career Shields has struggled against Seattle.  Over the past 3 years he has a 2-3 record in 7 games with a 5.28 ERA allowing 10 Mariner Home Runs.
Game 27: RHP – Kevin Millwood vs. RHP – Jeff Niemann

Millwood’s last outing gave the Mariners bullpen a much needed rest, but is still winless since starting with Seattle

  • Current line: 0-2 / 5.24 ERA / 15 SO / 8 BB / 1.61 WHIP
  • Millwood may want to pitch around Even Longoria who has faced Millwood in 6 At Bats and has 3 hits, 2 walks and a home run.
  • Niemann is off to a rough start this season but has always fared well against Seattle (4-0 2.87 ERA in 6 starts)
  • Chone Figgins has a .500 average against Nieman
  • Right handed batters are hitting only .098 against Neimann this season
Mariners vs. Rays Series Predictions

Game 1:

The M’s have not been consistent this year, but they have been surprising.  This is especially true of some of the young back up players like Michael Saunders and Alex Liddi.  The Rays are likely coming into this game underestimating this Seattle team.

Mariners vs. Rays Game 24: RHP – Felix Hernandez vs. RHP – Jeremy Hellickson

With Felix on the mound the Mariners have an opportunity to use the advantage of surprise and break Hellickson’s record against the M’s.

But I don’t think it will be enough. Prediction:  Loss (Mariners 2 – Rays 3)

Game 2:

Noesi and the M’s offense is so unpredictable at this point that this game is almost impossible to sort out statistically.  The Rays starter has struggled this year against lefties so the M’s have the advantage on that front, but in every other category they are really is trouble.

Could be a high scoring game.  It will come down to which team out hits the other.

In that case the M’s are in trouble. Prediction: Loss (Mariners 8 – Rays 12)

Game 3:

Shields has struggled against the Mariners and hopefully that trend continues in this ball game.  Look for the Mariners to be aggressive from the beginning of the game.

The will need to get some early runs to take advantage of another quality start from Blake Beaven who has shown tremendous control so far this season. Prediction: Win (Mariners 5 – Rays 4)

Game 4:

Millwood will get his first win while the offensive efforts will be awakened for this afternoon game.  This M’s team will be excited to go home and show their fans that they can split a series with one of the most dominant teams in baseball. Prediction: Win (Mariners 6 – Rays 3)

More Mariners/Rays News

Hernandez is 3-2 with a 2.42 ERA in nine starts against the Rays, with 67 strikeouts in as many innings.

Current Tampa Bay hitters are 22-for-135 (.163) against him with no home runs.

The Mariners are 5-1 in Hernandez’s last six road starts, while Tampa Bay has won five of Hellickson’s last six trips to the mound at home. The Rays have been tough to beat at home, starting a major league-best 8-1 and winning 36 of their last 52 at Tropicana Field dating back to last season.

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© Danny Ferguson for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Alex Liddi, Blake Beaven, Chone Figgins, Eric Wedge, Felix Hernandez, Hector Noesi, Jeremy Hellickson, Justin Smoak, Kevin Millwood, Mariners blog, Mariners Predictions, Mariners vs. Rays, Matt Moore, Michael Saunders, Miquel Olivo, MLB Series Preview, Seattle Mariners Blog, Seattle vs. Tampa Bay, Series picks, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Rays

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