Tampa Bay (86-56) is coming off a 7-4 comeback win against Seattle (79-62) on Friday, a result that evened the four-game series at one victory apiece. Rene Pinto and Harold Ramirez each hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning as the Rays erased a 4-2 deficit, and Isaac Paredes added a solo shot in the eighth.
"We're just looking for a good pitch," Ramirez said after his bomb gave Tampa Bay the lead. "We're just (trying to) make a good decision when we're going to attack."
That goes for the game as well as the rest of the season. The Rays have 20 games to go and sit four games back of the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the competitive American League East.
Ramirez and his teammates are not ready to concede the race quite yet.
"I think everybody is just focused because we need to win and win no matter what," Ramirez said. "Everybody is focused. We're looking for that division."
Meanwhile, Seattle is wrapped up in a tight race of its own. The Mariners are jockeying with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in the AL West, and a couple of games could separate a division winner from the third-place finisher at the end of the season.
Seattle won 12 of 13 games from Aug. 15-28 to catch the league's attention. Since then, however, the Mariners have gone 4-6, leaving them a half-game behind Houston (80-62) and 2 1/2 games up on Texas (76-64).
In the Mariners' loss on Friday, starting pitcher George Kirby entered the seventh inning with a 4-2 lead before surrendering Pinto's game-tying home run.
Kirby had thrown 93 pitches prior to the inning, and after the game he questioned why manager Scott Servais kept him in the game rather than turning to the bullpen to start the frame.
"I wish I wasn't out there for the seventh, to be honest," Kirby said. "I was at (more than) 90 pitches. I didn't think I needed to go any more. But it is what it is."
A couple wins over the weekend could help to sweep Kirby's comments under the rug. But if the Mariners continue to falter and frustration continues to build, it could derail some of the success that Seattle has established throughout the season.
Rays right-hander Aaron Civale (7-3, 2.76 ERA) is set to make his 20th start of the season. Civale has gone 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA in six starts with the Rays since they acquired him before the trade deadline from the Cleveland Guardians.
In five career starts against the Mariners, Civale is 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA, including a 1-1 mark with a 2.84 ERA in two starts this year (both for Cleveland in April).
Seattle will rely upon a bullpen day after Servais opted to skip Bryan Woo's turn in the rotation to give the rookie right-hander extra rest.
Mariners right-hander Luke Weaver (2-5, 6.71 ERA) likely will receive the bulk of the workload as the bullpen looks to fill nine innings. Weaver is 0-1 with a 5.00 in four games (one start) since joining Seattle from the Cincinnati Reds.
Weaver never has faced the Rays in his eight-year major league career.
—Field Level Media