Mariners unveil new pieces in opener against O's
(SportsNetwork.com) - Chasing their first playoff appearance since 2001, the Seattle Mariners altered the look of their outfield ahead of Thursday's non- waiver trade deadline.
The Mariners are likely to debut Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia on Friday night when they begin a three-game series with the American League East- leading Baltimore Orioles.
Despite losing six of their last nine, the Mariners are just three games back of the second wild card spot in the AL as they took two of three from Cleveland to begin the week. That came after losing three of four to the visiting Orioles last weekend.
Prior to a 6-5 win over the Indians on Thursday, one keyed by Mike Zunino's two-run homer in the eighth inning, the Mariners acquired Denorfia from the San Diego Padres for a pair of minor leaguers, then got involved in a three- team deal that sent Tampa Bay ace David Price to the Detroit Tigers.
For the Mariners, they received Jackson from the Tigers while sending infielder Nick Franklin to the Rays.
Jackson is hitting .273 on the season, just below his career average, and brings speed and solid defense to the center field spot for Seattle. He'll also reunite with Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, a former hitting coach for Detroit.
"I think defensively he's probably one of the top three center fielders in all of baseball. He gets those kind of jumps and he's played in the biggest center field in all of baseball in Detroit," McClendon said of Jackson. "And offensively, you look at his numbers and this guy is pretty accomplished. A couple of years he had close to 200 hits, he scores close to 100 runs, he's good at the top of the order, he steals bases and he knows what he's doing. He's a veteran hitter."
The 34-year-old Denorfia, meanwhile, is hitting .242 with a homer and 16 RBI in 89 games on the season. Expected to play right field at times for Seattle, he is a lifetime .301 hitter against left-handers.
Sitting 1 1/2 games up on Toronto for first place in the AL East, the Orioles didn't make a big splash prior to the trade deadline, though they did add a valuable piece in left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.
Acquired from the Boston Red Sox for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, Miller has allowed just 25 hits while striking out 69 over 42 1/3 innings this season as he has emerged as a very reliable reliever.
Baltimore is 7-3 over its past 10 games and had a three-game winning streak snapped on Thursday with a 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in 13 innings. It marked the Orioles' first setback in their last eight extra inning games.
Wei-Yin Chen gets the call for the Orioles on some extra rest, having not pitched since he beat Seattle 4-0 on July 24. He hurled eight scoreless innings of five-hit ball, walking just one and striking out three.
"That's one of the best games I've seen him throw," Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph said of Chen.
The 29-year-old lefty improved to 11-3 on the season and lowered his earned run average to 3.92. He also moved to 1-2 in his career versus Seattle with a 3.41 ERA.
Roenis Elias goes for the Mariners looking to improve on his 8-8 mark and 4.31 ERA on the season.
Elias, who turns 26 today, snapped a three-start slide with a win over the New York Mets on July 21, then got a no-decision against Baltimore on Sunday.
Facing the O's for the first time, the lefty yielded a run on four hits and three walks over five innings, striking out six.
"(Elias) threw the ball really well today," said Zunino. "He had all three pitches working for strikes."
Seattle won two of three in Baltimore last season.
08/01 10:58:40 ET