Mariners still flirting with .500 as Mets arrive (Jul 28, 2017)

BY AP • July 28, 2017

SEATTLE -- The .500 mark is a hurdle the Seattle Mariners struggle to clear.

Eight times this season, including the season opener, they had a chance to push past the break-even mark. Only once did they win.

In 103 games, they have spent only three games above .500.

"I've heard about six times this year, 'This is the most important series of the year,'" Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We had a slow start (1-6) and an uphill climb. We get excited to get to .500 but haven't been able to kick it into gear and get over. We haven't seen a 15 of 19 (streak) to get six or seven games over (.500)."

Seattle had another chance to get on the right side of the ledger Wednesday, but the Mariners were blanked 4-0 by Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox to drop to 51-52.

The Mariners will try to get back to .500 on Friday night at Safeco Field when they open a three-game series against the New York Mets. Seattle left-hander Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.30 ERA) is scheduled to oppose by New York right-hander Rafael Montero (1-7, 5.19).

The Mariners are 8-5 since the All-Star break, having won three of their four series. With the expected return of outfielder Jarrod Dyson on Friday, they might be as healthy as they have been in this injury-ravaged season. Dyson has been out since hyperextending his left big toe when running into the center field fence Saturday.

Rookie left fielder Ben Gamel has a 13-game hitting streak, his third streak of at least 10 games this season. He is batting .324, just behind shortstop Jean Segura, who is at .326, for the team lead.

The Mets (47-53) lost 7-5 at San Diego on Thursday night, their second consecutive defeat after they opened the series with two wins over the Padres.

New York is in sell mode as the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline approaches. The Mets sent first baseman Lucas Duda, the longest-tenured player on the team, to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday for right-hander Drew Smith, a third-round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2015.

Duda, 31, who is eligible for free agency after the season, was batting .246 with 17 home runs and 37 RBIs for the Mets.

"I've heard rumors and stuff," Duda said in the visiting clubhouse in San Diego. "Kind of a mixed emotion. Guys here I've really grown pretty close to."

Mets manager Terry Collins praised Duda for his professionalism.

"He's been a tremendous part of this team for a long time, and we wish him all the best and thank him for everything he's done in New York," Collins said. "He was very responsible for our success in 2015 and 2016."

Smith, 23, has pitched at three levels of the Rays' organization this season, including Triple-A, and he has a 1.60 ERA in 31 minor league appearances in 2017. His fastball has been clocked at 98 mph and scouts believe he has the capability to be a closer in the majors.

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