For the past couple of decades, the Seattle Mariners have had few reasons to check the out-of-town scoreboard at this point in the season.
After all, they hadn’t been in first place in the American League West this late in a campaign since 2003.
Until now, that is.
The Mariners, who have won nine of their past 10 games, are tied with the Texas Rangers for the division lead. Seattle will look to continue its surge in a Saturday afternoon game against the visiting Kansas City Royals.
J.P. Crawford hit the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning for a home run, Eugenio Suarez had three hits and three RBIs, and Andres Munoz escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth as the Mariners beat the Royals 7-5 Friday.
“We look at (the standings) all the time, or at least I do,” Crawford said. “There’s a lot at stake right now. All these games matter, and if there’s a chance to see a score or something, yeah, I’m looking at it. …
“That’s the goal at the beginning of the season — try to win the division and go for the World Series, and we’re in a good spot. If we just keep playing the way we are and everyone has each other’s backs, we’re going to be in a good spot.”
The Mariners were 10 games out of first place on July 19 before going on a 25-8 run.
“It’s a credit to our players, the staff and the organization,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We got off to a rough start this year with really high expectations.”
The Royals, meanwhile, are headed in the opposite direction, having lost eight of their past 10 games.
Kansas City’s Kyle Isbel, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs Friday while making a couple of strong plays in center field.
“He swung the bat great,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “He had a great night offensively and defensively.”
The Saturday matinee is scheduled to feature a pair of right-handers — Kansas City’s Jordan Lyles (3-14, 6.20 ERA) and Seattle’s Logan Gilbert (11-5, 3.77).
Lyles took a 4-3 loss Sunday against the host Chicago Cubs despite pitching an eight-inning complete game. He allowed four runs on five hits.
Lyles is 2-5 with a 6.36 ERA in 13 career appearances against Seattle, including 11 starts. He didn’t get a decision in a 10-8, 10-inning loss to the Mariners on Aug. 15 in Kansas City. Lyles went five innings in that game and allowed seven runs (six earned) on nine hits, with Seattle launching four home runs off him.
Gilbert defeated the Houston Astros 10-3 last Saturday, when he went six innings and gave up two runs on eight hits.
Gilbert is 1-0 with a 6.64 ERA in four career starts against the Royals. He didn’t get a decision in Seattle’s 7-6 loss Aug. 14 at Kansas City. He was knocked out after 4 1/3 innings, having allowed four runs on seven hits.
—Field Level Media
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