It’s Edgar Martinez Weekend at Safeco Field and much more as the Mariners open their only August homestand Thursday with the first of four games against the Los Angeles Angels.
The Mariners return from a 6-3 trip through Texas, Kansas City and Oakland in sole possession of the American League’s final wild-card berth. Big crowds are expected throughout the weekend.
"We’ll give them more than just the retirement (ceremony) to be fired up about," manager Scott Servais vowed. "We’re in a good spot. We’ve battled our tails off all year to get this opportunity.
"The last 45-50 games are going to be pretty exciting for Mariners fans. We’re looking forward to it."
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The Mariners have, quietly, been in an extended surge since bottoming out in late May with two shutout losses at Boston.
Their 16-9 record since the All-Star break is the best among American League clubs. They are also 38-27 since May 28, which roughly matches Houston (37-26) for the league’s best record in that span.
The Mariners (59-56) open the series with a one-game lead over Kansas City (57-56) and Tampa Bay (58-57) for the final wild-card spot. Minnesota, Los Angeles and Baltimore are all within 2 1/2 games of the Mariners.
Lefty James Paxton (12-3 with a 2.70 ERA) will pitch the series opener Thursday against the Angels. He has won each of his last seven starts and was the American League pitcher of the month in July.
The Mariners are honoring Martinez, a franchise icon who now serves as their hitting coach, by retiring his No. 11 in a ceremony prior to Saturday's game. They are marking the weekend with a series of promotional giveaways.
The first 45,000 fans attending each game get a Martinez bobblehead doll on Friday, a replica of his commemorative plaque on Saturday, and a replica No. 11 jersey on Sunday.
Safeco Field’s listed capacity is 47,943.
The Mariners are home for seven games — four with the Angels and three with Baltimore — before heading back to the road for 12 games in a four-city trip to Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New York and Baltimore.
That gets them to September, when they play 15 of their final 28 games at home.
***The Angels are starting left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-2 with a 4.32 ERA) in the series opener. The game starts at 7:10 p.m. and can be seen on Root Sports Northwest.
***Paxton has a victory and a no-decision this season in two previous starts against the Angels while allowing two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings. He is 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA in nine career starts against the Angels.
***Skaggs is making just his second start since returning from the 60-day disabled list after suffering a strained right oblique muscle in late April. He gave up three runs and six hits over four innings on Aug. 5 in a 5-0 loss to Oakland.
***The Angels hold a 5-4 edge in the season series, but the Mariners won two of three when the clubs played May 2-4 at Safeco Field. The teams play two more time: Sept. 8-10 at Safeco before closing the season Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in Anaheim.
***While Paxton has won seven straight decisions, he’s not even halfway to the franchise record. Randy Johnson won 16 in a row over parts of three seasons (1995-97).
***Mike Trout is 3-for-22 with 11 strikeouts in his career against Paxton, while Albert Pujols is just 5-for-24 but has two homers. Kole Calhoun is 7-for-28.
***Skaggs is 1-2 with a 5.72 ERA in five career starts against the Mariners, including 1-1 and 4.42 in three starts at Safeco Field.
***Robinson Cano is 6-for-12 in his career against Skaggs, and Kyle Seager is 6-for-13. But Nelson Cruz has just one hit in 12 at-bats.
***Paxton’s 2.70 ERA would rank third among AL pitchers if he had sufficient innings to qualify (one inning per games played by the player’s club). He needs to pitch at least three innings Thursday to gain the qualifying standard.
***The Mariners rank seventh among the 15 AL clubs in scoring at 4.75 runs per game. The Angels are last at 4.25. The league average is 4.69.
***The Angels rank fifth among AL clubs with a 4.19 ERA. The Mariners are eighth at 4.44. The league average is 4.36.
***LA shortstop Andrelton Simmons trails only Houston second baseman Jose Altuve in the WAR (wins above replacement) metric among AL players. Altuve is 6.4, and Simmons is 6.0. Trout is seventh at 5.0.
***Cruz leads the league with 88 RBIs. Baltimore second baseman Jonathan Schoop is second at 82. Cano is seventh with 75.
***Jarrod Dyson leads the league with 27 stolen bases. Angels outfielder Cameron Maybin is second with 25.
It was four years ago Thursday — Aug. 10, 2013 — that a crowd of 46,027 saw Ken Griffey Jr. inducted as the seventh member of the Mariners Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony at Safeco Field.
The Mariners then marked the occasion by losing 10-0 to Milwaukee.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners