Mariners try to improve playoff bid playing Orioles

The Seattle Mariners are trying to stay on the fringe of the American League wild-card race and will get another chance to do so when they take on the Baltimore Orioles in the second game of their series on Tuesday at Safeco Field.

Seattle won the first contest of this three-game series by edging the Orioles 2-1 Monday night. The Mariners got the winning run in the fifth on a Dee Gordon sacrifice fly that snapped a 1-1 tie and handed Baltimore its fourth straight loss.

The Mariners came into Monday’s series six games behind the final wild-card spot, so they don’t have much room to play with as the season is in its final month. But they’ve been perfect against the Orioles in 2018, coming into this game with a 5-0 record.

Alex Cobb (4-15, 5.11) will start for Baltimore on Tuesday against Wade LeBlanc of Seattle. LeBlanc (8-3, 3.71) has been having a strong season while helping the Mariners remain in the playoff hunt.

The second half of the season has been much kinder to Cobb. He had some problems with a blister and being able to grip the ball right in his last start, where the right-hander came away with a no-decision in a 10-5 victory over the Blue Jays even though he allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Cobb has a 2-4 career record with a 7.14 ERA versus Seattle.

LeBlanc has changed from a relief pitcher back to a starter for the first time in several years this season, and it’s a move that’s paid off handsomely for the Mariners.

He’s been effective in most of his starts and a pleasant surprise for Seattle this season. LeBlanc has a 1-2 career record with a 4.58 ERA versus Baltimore.

The Mariners kept Nelson Cruz in the lineup Monday despite the former Oriole dealing with a sore ankle and struggling while running. He was pulled for a pinch-runner in the eighth.

“It was pretty sore,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told the media. “You’re not going to get Nelson out (of) the lineup, but it wasn’t pretty on the bases.”

Josh Rogers (1-1) may be shut down for the season after his start for Baltimore on Monday night. He went 5 1/3 innings and gave up two runs in his second major league start and appearance with the Orioles — but the club doesn’t want to push him any harder.

Also, for Baltimore, first baseman Chris Davis (illness) was pulled from the lineup before Monday’s game. He appears to be day-to-day.

“He wants to play but he’s dragging,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told the media. “(I’m) going to seize that opportunity to get a young player some at-bats.”

The Orioles also made a few roster moves on Monday. They called up catcher Chance Sisco from Triple-A Norfolk. He’s been with Baltimore a few times this season but struggled badly at the plate, hitting only .158 in 68 games.

Baltimore also brought up pitcher Jimmy Yacabonis from Norfolk. They’ve been converting him into a starter this season, and Yacabonis has pitched in seven games for the Orioles this season — making his third appearance in relief Monday with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

He’s now got an 0-2 record along with a 7.71 ERA. Yacabonis made 21 starts in Triple-A.