Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. -- RHP Doug Fister (3-8, 3.53) vs. RHP Livan Hernandez (4-8, 3.77)
TV: MASN2 Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM
Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. -- LHP Erik Bedard (4-4, 3.16) vs. LHP John Lannan (4-5, 3.52)
TV: MASN Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM
Thursday, 1:05 p.m. -- RHP Michael Pineda (7-4, 2.64) vs. RHP Jason Marquis (7-2, 3.86)
TV: MASN Radio: 1500 AM, 1580 AM
Seattle makes its first trip to D.C. in six years on something of a roll, having won three of its last four (including two of three from the Phillies over the weekend). Boasting a fantastic pitching staff (and a terrible lineup), the Mariners have managed to stick around the AL West race and enter this series two games over .500 and two games behind the Rangers.
It all starts with a rotation that features five starters with ERAs under 4.00. The Nationals catch a break this week in missing reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, but that doesn't mean they'll be facing chump change. Doug Fister has recorded seven quality starts (though he's lost three straight). Former Oriole Erik Bedard is rejuvenated after missing all of 2010 following shoulder surgery. And 22-year-old flamethrower Michael Pineda has burst onto the scene and is an early candidate for AL Rookie of the Year honors.
The face of the franchise for the last decade, of course, is Ichiro Suzuki, the most successful Japanese player ever to come to America. Now 37, the right fielder is enduring through his toughest season in the majors, the first one in which he has failed to hit at least .300. It appears, though, a rare benching last week has reinvigorated Ichiro; he's got 16 hits over his last eight games and has raised his batting average 25 points in the process.
The newest addition to the roster is second baseman Dustin Ackley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft (right behind Stephen Strasburg) who made his big-league debut Friday, slugged his first career homer Saturday and looks to provide some much-needed spark to an offense that sports a major-league-worst .229 average and .298 on-base percentage.
Ackley's arrival does bump veteran Adam Kennedy from a starting job. A bust with the Nationals last season, Kennedy has proven a valuable piece in Seattle, one of the club's most-consistent hitters with a .274 average, 12 doubles and five homers. He's likely to see action at a variety of positions now, including third base.
WASHINGTON BATTERS VS. SEATTLE PITCHERS
Nats' best vs. Fister -- Ivan Rodriguez (2-for-3, 2B).
Nats' worst vs. Fister -- Jerry Hairston (0-for-3).
Nats' best vs. Bedard -- Ivan Rodriguez (4-for-7, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 K), Ryan Zimmerman (1-for-3, 2B, K).
Nats' worst vs. Bedard -- Jerry Hairston (0-for-5, K), Jayson Werth (0-for-2, BB, K), Matt Stairs (2-for-8, BB, 5 K).
Nats' best vs. Pineda -- Never faced.
Nats' worst vs. Pineda -- Never faced.
SEATTLE BATTERS VS. WASHINGTON PITCHERS
Mariners' best vs. Hernandez -- Brendan Ryan (6-for-10, HR, 2 RBI, BB), Miguel Olivo (8-for-23, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 K), Ichiro Suzuki (3-for-7, 2B, BB), Adam Kennedy (5-for-12, 2B, K).
Mariners' worst vs. Hernandez -- Jack Cust (0-for-2, BB, K), Jack Wilson (5-for-21, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 K).
Mariners' best vs. Lannan -- Miguel Olivo (1-for-2, RBI, BB, K), Jack Wilson (2-for-6, 2B, RBI).
Mariners' worst vs. Lannan -- Brendan Ryan (1-for-10), Adam Kennedy (0-for-3).
Mariners' best vs. Marquis -- Chone Figgins (2-for-3), Brendan Ryan (2-for-5, 3B, RBI, K), Franklin Gutierrez (2-for-6, 2B).
Mariners' worst vs. Marquis -- Miguel Olivo (0-for-4, RBI, K), Ichiro Suzuki (2-for-8, 2 BB), Jack Wilson (12-for-47, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 5 K).