Mariners-Pirates Preview

After getting hit hard in his first three starts, Aaron Harang
earned the win with an impressive showing his last time out.

He’s piled up his fair share of victories against the Pittsburgh
Pirates over the course of his career.

Looking to win a sixth consecutive start at PNC Park, Harang
faces a familiar foe Tuesday night as the Seattle Mariners open a
two-game set against the Pirates.

Acquired from Colorado on April 11, Harang (1-3, 8.68 ERA)
compiled an 11.37 ERA in losing his first three outings. The
right-hander, though, showed signs of coming around Wednesday
versus Baltimore, scattering four hits over six innings of two-run
ball in an 8-3 win.

“He’s got too good a track record not to be better than his
numbers so far,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He will
pitch well.”

Now in his 12th season in the majors, Harang credits his first
quality start to a change in his mechanics.

“We did some towel drill work,” he told MLB’s official website.
“Sometimes, it all goes back to stuff we were taught when we were
seven, eight years old. People think (mechanical changes) are
something huge, a big deal. It’s something usually so minor and
basic that no one looks at it. Sometimes you go right back to the
basics of throwing.”

Harang surely is feeling good about his chances of building on
his latest outing against the Pirates (17-14). Having spent the
majority of his career in the NL, Harang is 15-6 lifetime versus
Pittsburgh – his most wins against opponent. He’s posted a 3.16 ERA
during his five-start winning streak at PNC Park.

The Mariners (15-18) had won three straight and six of seven
before falling 10-2 at Toronto on Sunday. Michael Morse, Jason Bay,
Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley, the team’s Nos. 4-7 hitters, went a
combined 0 for 13 as Seattle was limited to a season-low three
hits.

“We struggled a little bit, but we have to separate from it,”
manager Eric Wedge said. “We are in the business of trying to win
series. We won our series here and now we have to be ready to go to
work in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.”

The Mariners are 5-1 against the Pirates and 3-0 in Pittsburgh.
The two clubs haven’t met since 2007, though.

The Pirates are coming off their first back-to-back home losses,
falling 6-2 in Sunday’s series finale versus Washington. Starling
Marte led off the bottom of the first with his fourth homer in five
games but Pittsburgh went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring
position.

After Marte went deep, the Pirates loaded the bases with no outs
but couldn’t come through.

“Bunch of guys on real fast … we’ve got to take advantage of
that,” catcher Michael McKenry said.

Pittsburgh was set to try to bounce back behind James McDonald,
but it scratched the right-hander and put him on the disabled list
Tuesday afternoon with stiffness in his right shoulder. McDonald
had a 7.13 ERA in his previous four starts.

Instead, the Pirates will turn to Jeanmar Gomez (1-0, 3.06), who
allowed three runs and four hits – two homers – in four innings in
a spot start Wednesday at Milwaukee. Gomez faced the Mariners once
in 2010 with Cleveland, giving up two runs over six frames.

Robert Andino and Kendrys Morales are the only two Mariners to
have hits off Gomez, but Bay – the face of the Pirates’ franchise
from 2004-08 – has never faced the righty. While Bay’s seven-game
hitting streak was snapped Sunday, he’s batting .370 with two
homers and seven RBIs over his last eight contests.

Bay is hitting .143 in six matchups against his former club.