Mariners face Red Sox knuckleballer Wright

Kyle Seager was asked before Thursday’s series opener against the Boston Red Sox what it’s like to face a knuckleball pitcher.

A look of horror crossed the face of the Seattle Mariners third baseman.

“Is that tonight?” Seager asked.

Told the Mariners wouldn’t be facing Steven Wright until Saturday’s game in Seattle, Seager exhaled.

“Wow, don’t scare me like that,” said Seager, who could be excused for losing track as his wife is expecting their third child.

Seager said he has faced knuckleballers Wright, R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield during his career. He is 2-for-6 against Wright.

“It’s just a difficult pitch, one you don’t see that often,” Seager said. “They all throw it a little different; it goes all over the place. It can be fun, you just have to laugh at it a little bit.”

Mariners first baseman Ryon Healy, whose locker is next to Seager’s in the home clubhouse at Safeco Field, said he got his first major-league hit off Dickey.

“My hitting coach said don’t worry about your approach,” said Healy, who was with the Oakland Athletics at the time. “Just swing and hope it’s in the strike zone.”

Wright (2-0, 1.21 ERA) is 2-1 with a 1.32 ERA is three career appearances against the Mariners, including one start.

This will be Wright’s third start of the season. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in the previous two. He post a 6-0 victory over Detroit on June 5 in which he allowed two hits in seven innings with three walks and six strikeouts. He gave up four hits in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision on Monday at Baltimore, when he walked three and struck out five in a 2-0, 12-inning Red Sox victory.

“Out of the bullpen he was lights out, and then these past two starts have been pretty unreal,” Red Sox utility man Brock Holt told NESN. “That knuckleball dances around. It’s funny when you’re playing defense behind him and guys get on, they let you know how much it moves. It’s a difficult pitch to hit and he’s been able to throw strikes with it.”

Wright hasn’t allowed a run in his past 22 2/3 innings, the longest active streak in the majors.

“The thing with knuckleballs is people think you throw just one knuckleball, but the thing is, they’re big-league hitters,” Wright said. “The biggest thing is timing, and a pitcher’s got to disrupt their timing. So, for me, especially as a starter … I really just try to go back and forth with the velocity.”

The Mariners are scheduled to start left-hander Wade LeBlanc (2-0, 3.00), who has a 6.00 ERA but no decisions in two career starts against Boston.

LeBlanc, in his second stint with the Mariners, hasn’t lost in 16 starts for Seattle, tied for the fifth-longest such streak for a pitcher starting his tenure with a team in the live-ball era. LeBlanc is tied with former San Francisco starter Noah Lowry (2004-05), trailing only the New York Yankees’ Whitey Ford (22 starts in 1950-53), Montreal’s Kirk Rueter (22, 1993-94), Cincinnati’s Brooks Lawrence (18, 1956) and the Yankees’ Jim Coates (17, 1959-60).