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Thursday Night Baseball: Seattle Mariners Vs. Kansas City Royals
Pitching Matchup: James Paxton (3-4, 3.70 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (9-12, 3.43 ERA)
James: Paxton: The Canadian lefty was predicted to be an important part of the Seattle Mariners rotation in 2015, but an injury that held him out all of June, July and August quickly changed that. Paxton has made two starts since returning from the DL, going 0-1 with a 3.70 ERA. The Mariners are, for all intends and purposes, out of the Wild Card hunt but Paxton should consider these final few starts important in preparation for next year. In his only career start against the Royals, Paxton is 1-0 allowing no runs over seven strong innings.
Johnny Cueto: When the Royals acquired Johnny Cueto at the trade deadline this year, many – if not all - baseball pundits deemed it an excellent move to solidify the Royals place atop the American League – but more on that later. Since joining the Royals, Cueto is 2-6 with an ERA of 5.12 and a WHIP of 1.405 – his worst since his rookie season. Cueto’s failure in Kansas City has been well documented and has not seemed to dissipate as he adjusts to life in the AL. Cueto has one career start against the Mariners in his career, going 0-1 but allowing only 1 run over 5.2 innings pitched.
Post Deadline Depression
The Royals, since Cueto’s first start with the team on July 31st, have not been playing at the same calibre as they were during the first two-thirds of the season. Up until Cueto’s first start for the organization, the Royals were leading the AL by four games and had a winning percentage of .600. Since then the Royals are 25-22 and their lead has slipped to 1.5 games. The Mariners even hold a better record from the beginning of August, going 27-19. The Royals still are one of the better teams in the AL, but they no longer are the leading choice to representation the AL in the World Series.
On “Cruz” Control
Only one Mariner has ever led the American League in home runs – although this Hall of Famer did it four times – but Nelson Cruz has a serious chance of sharing that honour with the great Ken Griffey Jr. Cruz, who was a Baltimore Oriole last season, led the league in homers in 2014 and currently trials his former team - Chris Davis - by only one. With just under a dozen games left, a little friendly competition between former teammates and friends, should make for a few extra fireworks for the Mariners.
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