Hey, it's interleague time again! Nothing quite like checking the ol' schedule to see if the Philadelphia Phillies are playing the Nationals or Padres or what and finding out that it's…The Seattle Mariners? Huh? The two teams have not faced off since 2005 and have played only six times total, with the Phils winning but one of the half-dozen contests. Ryan Howard has never even faced the Mariners, and no one on the lineup has faced Mariners rookie pitcher Michael Pineda, who will be taking the hill in Seattle tonight. It's just a nice little change of pace from the daily grind—even if the same-old, same-old has been particularly nice to the Phils over their recent seven-game winning streak.
Unfortunately, the storyline from this series that would have packed a little sizzle—Cliff Lee's return to the team that deadline-dealt him after just 13 starts last year—will not come to its fruition, as Lee's turn in the rotation will not come until the Cardinals series later next week. Instead, the Mariners will have to suffice with the come back of Mr. Raul Ibanez, seeing the team he played ten seasons (five partial and five full) for for the first time since signing with Philly as a free agent. Will Raul be greeted with boos upon his return, or with Rauuuuuuuls? Will we even be able to tell the difference?
Anyway, the Mariners appear to be continuing their recent pattern of trading off years of everyone thinking they'd be good and them sucking, and everyone thinking they'd suck and them being…almost good. This year, they've overperformed to the tune of a 35-34 record, good for just a game out of the division lead in the weak AL West this season. Pineda, pitching the series opener, is a big reason why—at 6-4 with a 2.72 and an impressive 3.48 K/BB ratio, he's an early front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year, and a potential rotation co-anchor with Felix Hernandez for years to come in the city of grunge. (Unless, of course, Felix gets traded to the Yankees in a month and a half. Damnation.) Also of interest will be the possible debut for the M's of second baseman Dustin Ackley, a highly touted call-up who was taken by Seattle with the #2 overall pick in '09.
10:10 first pitch from Safeco Field. We'll be throwing out no slouch ourselves in the pitching department, with Roy Oswalt suiting up tonight for the Fightins. Can we push for the double-digit win streak by the time the series wraps on Sunday?