The Seattle Mariners welcomed back power hitter Eugenio Suarez on Tuesday night, but the club still is looking for a spark.
The Mariners (83-70) will look to rebound on Wednesday night after falling 5-0 to the Texas Rangers (66-87) in Seattle.
Suarez (fractured index finger) was reinstated from the injured list and started at designated hitter on Tuesday but went hitless in three at-bats with a walk.
Still, Suarez, who has 31 home runs this season, is a threat. And the Mariners received more good injury-related news as rookie center fielder Julio Rodriguez (low back strain) is close to resuming baseball activities.
On Wednesday, the Mariners will start right-hander George Kirby (7-4, 3.30 ERA). It will be the rookie’s fourth start against the Rangers, as he’s 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA over the three previous meetings.
Seattle holds a 3 1/2-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the race for the third and final wild-card spot in the American League.
Texas will counter with left-hander Martin Perez (12-6, 2.90). This will be the 31-year-old’s 31st start, and his fourth of the season against Seattle.
In three previous outings — all no-decisions — against his division rival, Perez has a 2.12 ERA, with 23 strikeouts in 17 innings. Lifetime, Perez is 8-5 with a 3.28 ERA against Seattle.
The Mariners are closing in on reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2001, the longest active postseason drought in the majors.
What does it mean for the Mariners to re-energize the Seattle baseball market?
Justin Hollander, the Mariners’ vice president and assistant general manager of baseball operations, addressed the topic on MLB Network.
“I think it would mean everything to our players, our coaches and our staff,” Hollander said. “More importantly, to our community, the Pacific Northwest, Seattle. When we give them a reason, they come out and they are loud. It’s like a college football environment here.”
The Mariners have won 12 of the 17 games in the season series against the Rangers.
In Tuesday’s win, Rangers shortstop Corey Seager was replaced in the eighth inning after being hit by a pitch.
Perez last faced Seattle on Aug. 14, allowing three runs (one earned) in six innings.
In these final games, some Rangers have a chance to reach individual milestones. Second baseman Marcus Semien, now with 97 runs after scoring on Tuesday, is seeking to reach at least 100 runs for the third straight full season.
Semien scored 123 in 2019 and 115 last year. The 2020 season was reduced to 60 games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rangers have had a down year, but interim manager Tony Beasley said during his pregame radio show that the hope is to win 70 games.
Texas also has a chance to play spoiler against the playoff-hopeful Mariners.
“Once again, we have a chance to affect the outcome of the playoff, and just mess with the dynamics a little bit,” Beasley said. “Hopefully, we can come in here and win the series. It would be great for us. Plus, we’d like to finish the season on a strong note ourselves.”