Seattle (55-32, 32-18 home) 1st place: AL West
Minnesota (48-49, 26-23 away) 2nd place: AL Central
Monday, July 21, 5:05 p.m. UPN
Seattle: Joel Pineiro #38 (R) (11-5, 3.28 ERA)
Baltimore: Kyle Lohse #49 (R) (6-8, 4.78)
Tuesday, July 22, 5:05 p.m. FSN
Seattle: Freddy Garcia #34 (R) (9-9, 4.66)
Baltimore: Rick Reed #31 (R) (5-9, 4.85)
NEWS & NOTES:
The Mariners continue their tour of the AL Central in this abbreviated two-game series. Seattle leads the season series so far, winning five out of the seven games.
The two pitchers that have beat the Mariners from the Twins are pitching in this series. Kyle Lohse beat the M's with a complete game effor on May 24. Then the next day Rick Reed out-dueled Ryan Franklin in a victory on the ESPN Game of the Week.
Lohse will face one of the Mariners hottest pitchers in Joel Pineiro, who has won six consecutive starts with his last loss coming June 11.
Reed will face Freddy Garcia, who has continued to have an up-and-down season for the Mariners. "The Chief" has yet to win a game in July after going 5-0 in June.
Ichiro comes into the series with league's highest batting average at .347. He is also first in hits with 140 and tied for first in the stolen base category with 26.
Bret Boone is also among the AL stat leaders in two important categories; he is now tied for third in homers with 24 - behind Giambi and Delgado - and fifth in RBI with 76.
However, the bats have been silenced of late, with only one regular player accumulating an average over .300 over the past week, that being DH Edgar Martinez with a mark of .308.
It seems as if Jeff Nelson is ready to get over his first half struggles. Nelson pitched an 1.2 innings in two separate games; he didn't give up a hit.
Shigetoshi Hasegawa converted his only save opportunity as he continues to fill the shoes of Kaz Sasaki very well.
The Twins have caught fire since returning from the All-Star break. Some say it has been due to the addition of leadoff man Shannon Stewart from Toronto. No matter what the reason, the Twins swept the four-game series against Oakland and are playing excellent baseball just in time for the Mariners.
2B Chris Gomez has had an excellent week for his standards, hitting .313 over the past seven days.
Torii Hunter had a strong series against the A's, hitting two homers and four RBI.
Rick Reed won his last start Thursday against the A's. He pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on eight hits. The former replacement player is one of the two pitchers to defeat the M's this season.
The Mariners haven't played very well since coming back from the All-Star break, and a large part of it has been due to the glaring lack of offensive production.
Willie Bloomquist had a big coming out party last Sunday, the day before the All-Star Break, but since then he is only 1-15. He scored a run the only time he reached base. Bloomquist has been seeing a lot of time at 3B instead of the slumping Jeff Cirillo.
Cirillo was hitless in six at bats in the Kansas City series and his season average is down to an almost comical .212 mark.
Arthur Rhodes struggles continue. In two appearances he has given up two runs in only an 1.2 innings.
Former All-Star SS Christian Guzman continues his season long slump. He is only 1-14 since coming back from the break. Guzman's inability to hit is really the only low point the Twins have had since coming back from the break.
Richie enjoys long walks on the beach, star gazing on a clear night, and reading feedback from the best fans in baseball. He can be reached at email@example.com.