Ariel Miranda's only previous start against Tampa Bay ended in the only complete game of his career. That was June 4 at Safeco Field when he held the Rays to four hits in a 7-1 victory.
Miranda (7-6 with a 4.75 ERA) will face the Rays again at 3:10 p.m. Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and, just maybe, that can pull him out of an extended funk.
It’s been a rough two-plus months for Miranda since that complete game: 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA in 12 starts. He is winless in his last seven starts — and for one big reason: Home runs.
Miranda has allowed 30 home runs, which puts him one behind the Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who leads (trails?) the majors with 31.
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"It’s just part of the game," Miranda said. "If you're going to pitch, you’re going to give up homers. It’s just a matter of making bad pitches. You’ve got to limit those."
Manager Scott Servais offered a deeper explanation.
"He lives at the top of the strike zone because of his ball has some life on it," Servais said. "When it doesn’t have as much life and it’s not all the way at the top of the zone, when it’s in that middle range, it gets hit.
"And it typically goes in the air…We’ve got to find a way to get him back on the right track because it has been rough."
The ball could be flying Saturday at The Trop because Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 4.30) is allowing homers at an even higher rate than Miranda: an MLB-leading 2.06 per nine innings (and 24 overall).
Miranda ranks seventh at 1.98.
***The Mariners are 62-61 after Friday's 7-1 victory over the Rays in the series opener. They are tied with Kansas City at one-half game behind Los Angeles and Minnesota in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth.
***Odorizzi gave up eight runs in 2 1/3 innings June 2 when the Mariners rolled to a 12-4 victory at Safeco Field. An error by Rays second baseman Brad Miller led to five unearned runs in the first inning.
***Nelson Cruz leads the American League with 98 RBIs and needs two to reach triple figures for the third time in four years. He is just 10 shy of his career high of 108, set in 2014 in Baltimore.
***Odorizzi is 1-2 with a 3.20 ERA in five career starts against the Mariners.
***Robinson Cano had a single in Friday’s victory for his 205th career hit against the Rays. Only three other players have reached 200 and all are retired: Derek Jeter (317), Alex Rodriguez (245) and David Ortiz (234).
***The Mariners are 4-0 this season against the Rays and have won 15 of the last 20 games between the clubs.
***When Erasmo Ramirez got the victory in Friday’s series opener, he became the 21st different Mariners pitcher to record a victory this season. That matches a franchise record set a year ago.
***The Rays have lost 11 of their last 14 games while being outscored 50-24. They scored three or fewer runs in 12 of those 14 games.
***The Mariners are 42-35 in their history at Tropicana Field. It is the only road venue in the American League where they have a winning record.
It was 16 years ago Saturday — Aug. 19, 2001 — that Mike Cameron set a career high and tied a franchise record by getting eight RBIs in a 10-2 victory over the Yankees in New York.
Cameron went 4-for-4 with two homers, a three-run drive in first inning against Andy Pettitte and a grand slam in the seventh inning against Jay Witasick. Cameron also had an RBI single in the fifth inning.
Alvin Davis set the franchise record with eight RBIs in 1986 against Toronto, and Mike Blowers matched it in 1995 against Boston. Cameron is the only other Mariner to do it.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners