Mariners Insider Blog

Watchpoints: Struggling Phillies provide Mariners with an opportunity

James Paxton looks to end a personal three-game winless streak Tuesday when he faces Philadelphia in the series opener at Safeco Field.
James Paxton looks to end a personal three-game winless streak Tuesday when he faces Philadelphia in the series opener at Safeco Field. AP

As investment firms like to stress: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. But facts are facts. The Philadelphia Phillies, who arrive Tuesday for a two-game series at Safeco Field, are baseball’s worst club.

The Phillies are 24-51, including two losses to the Mariners during a previous two-game series in May in Philadelphia.

But…those victories weren’t walkovers. The Mariners rallied from a four-run deficit for a 10-9 victory in the opener and pulled away from a tie game in the seventh inning for an 11-6 victory in the second game.

That 21-run burst preceded the Mariners’ worst stretch of the season. They went to Toronto, scored six runs in four games and got swept. That started a 4-12 stumble in which they scored just 36 runs (2.25 a game).

But while the Mariners pulled out of their slide — they are 18-10 since that point — Philadelphia remains in a power dive. The Phillies started the season, surprisingly, by winning 11 of their first 20. Since then, they are 13-42.

If nothing else, the next two days provide the Mariners (39-39) with an opportunity to erase the sour taste from a weekend series against Houston that concluded with two losses after a Friday victory.

The Mariners also have James Paxton and Felix Hernandez lined up to face the Phillies before, after an open date Thursday, they head to Anaheim for a three-game weekend series against the Angels.

Other watchpoints:

***The pitching matchup Tuesday is Paxton (5-2 with a 3.39 ERA) against Philadelphia right-hander Aaron Nola (4-5, 4.32). The game starts at 7:10 p.m. and can be seen on Root Sports Northwest.

***Paxton is winless in his last three starts, and his ERA jumped from 1.69 to 3.39 in that span.

***Nola, 24, was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. He missed a month earlier this season because of strained lower back. He is 2-5 in seven starts since returning on May 21.

***Outfielder Aaron Altherr gave the Mariners fits in Philadelphia. He went 4-for-9 in the two games with three homers and seven RBIs. He is batting .283 overall with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 66 games.

***Left fielder Ben Gamel, the American League’s leading hitter at .346, missed Sunday’s game against Houston because of a slight groin strain. It’s not believed to be serious, but his status for Tuesday is uncertain.

***First baseman Danny Valencia’s status is also uncertain after missing the last two games because of a sore right wrist. He had four hits Friday against the Astros, which raised his average to .273.

***The Phillies’ rotation has eight quality starts over the last 10 games.

***Philadelphia utilityman Howie Kendrick is batting .373 (31-for-83) in 22 games since returning May 29 from the disabled list. Kendrick played for the Angels from 2006-14 and has faced the Mariners more than any other opponent. He has a .261 average with eight homers and 65 RBIs in 135 games against the Mariners.

***The Phillies have another familiar face in reliever Pat Neshek, who spent four of the five previous seasons in the American League West with Oakland and Houston. He has an 0.59 ERA this season in 33 games. He has a 4.44 ERA in 30 career games against the Mariners.

***Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera has 13 doubles this month and needs one more to tie the franchise record for June, which Pinky Whitney set in 1931.

TIME CAPSULE

It was 18 years ago Tuesday — June 27, 1999 — that the Mariners won the final game played at the Kingdome. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a three-run homer in the first inning against future Mariner Aaron Sele in a 5-2 victory over Texas.

Freddy Garcia got the victory, and Jose Mesa recorded the final out by retiring Rusty Greer on a fly ball to left fielder Brian Hunter. A crowd of 56,530 saw it.

The Mariners were 852-903 from 1977-99 at the Kingdome.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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