As the Seattle Mariners make their push for the playoffs, manager Scott Servais knows his club is going to have to be resourceful.
Now just a half-game back of the first-place Houston Astros (80-61) in the American League West, the Mariners (79-61) are in position to make up more ground on Friday in the second game of their four-game series with the Rays.
Tampa Bay (85-56) is 5 1/2 games ahead of Seattle for the top American League wild-card spot.
"If you get into the playoffs or deep into September, you're going to have nights where it's just tough," Servais said postgame Thursday. "We hit some balls hard late. We had some people (on base), but we didn't do much early. You've got to figure out ways to grind through it."
Seattle right fielder Teoscar Hernandez had two hits on Thursday, extending his hit streak to 16 games. It's the longest active streak in the American League.
More quality pitching is expected on Friday.
Seattle is scheduled to start All-Star right-hander George Kirby (10-9, 3.39 ERA).
Tampa Bay will counter with rookie right-hander Taj Bradley (5-7, 5.42 ERA).
On May 8, 2022, Kirby made his major league debut against the Rays, throwing six shutout innings while striking out seven in a no-decision. He has faced Tampa Bay only once since, when he pitched seven innings of two-run ball this year in a win on July 1.
The 25-year-old is one of the top young starters in the American League, and the former first-round pick from Elon will be making his 27th start of the year. In 159 1/3 innings, Kirby has 145 strikeouts.
Kirby is seeking his first victory since Aug. 5, when he defeated the Los Angeles Angels. In his start following that seven-inning outing, the right-hander threw nine shutout innings, yielding just three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles.
Kirby has struggled in his past three starts, giving up 11 runs, 10 earned, in 14 2/3 innings (6.14 ERA).
In his latest outing, a loss to the New York Mets on Sunday, Kirby surrendered four runs (three earned) in three innings.
Bradley is seeking his first victory since June 21 against the Orioles. In his past seven starts, he is 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA.
The results haven't always been favorable for Bradley, but the rookie has shown the ability to pick up strikeouts. In 79 2/3 innings, he has fanned 106.
On Sunday, Bradley threw five innings, allowing two runs, one earned, in a no-decision against the Cleveland Guardians. He struck out seven but walked five.
"The strikeouts against a team that doesn't strike out that much, he did really good in that aspect," Rays manager Kevin Cash said after that contest. "The walks are a little uncharacteristic. Taj has pitched up here enough for us to know that's really not him."
—Field Level Media