Rays-Mariners Preview

It took nearly four years for the Seattle Mariners to hit four

homers in one game at Safeco Field. The pitcher they’ll face next

hasn’t had much success keeping the ball in the park anywhere this

season.

The Mariners will try to continue their power surge Friday night

when they continue a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Seattle (29-27) was last in the major leagues with 29 homers

heading into Thursday’s opener before erupting for four off James

Shields in the first four innings en route to an 8-2 win.

“The Mariners are a nice ballclub, but they’re not (known) right

now for that kind of outburst,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Jack Cust hit a solo homer and Carlos Peguero added a three-run

shot to cap a five-run second. Peguero and Justin Smoak hit solo

homers in the fourth as the Mariners won for the 12th time in 15

games.

It also marked the first time Seattle hit four homers in one

home game since June 23, 2007, in a 9-1 victory over

Cincinnati.

Seattle skipper Eric Wedge is impressed by Peguero, despite a

.190 average in 20 games since his call-up from the minors.

”He’s strong. He has tremendous raw power,” he said.

The Mariners will next face Andy Sonnanstine (0-1, 4.39 ERA),

who will make his first start in nearly two weeks for Tampa Bay

(29-27).

With Jeff Niemann (lower back) on the disabled list, Sonnanstine

has been called upon to make three starts among his 10 appearances.

As a starter, he’s 0-1 with a 6.08 ERA and has surrendered five

homers in 13 1-3 innings.

Facing Florida on May 20, the right-hander gave up three runs

and seven hits – including two home runs – in five innings of the

Rays’ 5-3 loss. Sonnanstine also served up a homer for his only hit

in one inning of relief during an 11-5 loss to Texas on Monday.

In five appearances with four starts against Seattle,

Sonnanstine is 1-2 with a 2.96 ERA.

Major league batting leader Matt Joyce had two hits, including

his 10th homer, for the Rays Thursday. Joyce is hitting .364 and

holds a four-point lead over Toronto’s Jose Bautista.

Following a dominant outing by 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner

Felix Hernandez, who fanned 11 in seven innings, Seattle will send

out Jason Vargas (3-3, 4.50). The left-hander is 0-2 with a 5.00

ERA in three career starts against the Rays.

Vargas is coming off his shortest outing in 76 career starts. He

threw 82 pitches over three innings Sunday, and was reached for six

runs and four walks in a 7-1 loss to the New York Yankees.

“When you give them an opportunity to see that many pitches they

will be patient and wait for you to make mistakes,” said Vargas,

who had allowed one run over 14 2-3 innings while winning his

previous two home starts.