Seattle Mariners right-hander George Kirby blanked the perennially pennant-contending Tampa Bay Rays for six innings in his first start in the majors last Sunday.
Now, he’ll pitch against one of his home-area teams with a chance to hand the New York Mets their first series loss of the season.
Kirby is slated to make his second appearance Saturday night, when he’ll take the mound for the visiting Mariners against the Mets in the middle game of a three-game series.
Kirby (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will oppose fellow right-hander Chris Bassitt (4-2, 2.45).
The Mariners, playing the Mets in New York for the first time since 2008, won their Citi Field debut Friday night, when Ty France scored the tying run in the fourth inning and singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of a 2-1 victory.
With an off-day Thursday, the Mariners could have skipped Kirby — who grew up a little more than 20 miles north of Citi Field in Rye, NY — and pitched veteran Chris Flexen and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray on their normal four days rest Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
But manager Scott Servais said Kirby made the decision for the Mariners after allowing four hits, walking none and striking out seven in the 2-1, 10-inning win over the Rays.
“George Kirby showed up the other day,” Servais said Friday afternoon. “Thought it was best to pitch him when we did and then keep it going from here. Marco (Gonzalez) tonight, George pitching Saturday and then Robbie gets the last day.”
One more win this weekend by the Mariners will make them the first team this season to record a series win against the Mets, who are 9-0-1 in series play with only a four-game split with the Atlanta Braves last week keeping them from perfection.
The 10-series unbeaten streak is the longest to start a season in Mets history.
The Mets scored their lone run in the first inning Friday night and came within a few feet of tying the game in the eighth. Pete Alonso’s well-struck ball off former teammate Paul Sewald hung in the air on a dreary night before centerfielder Julio Rodriguez caught it on the warning track.
“Off contact and the sound? Absolutely, I thought it had what it took to go over the wall,” Alonso said. “Pretty bad night, lot of fog out, it’s raining. Just pretty much not a good night to hit the ball over the wall and every once in a while, it’s better to hit the ball on the ground.”
Bassitt earned the win on Sunday, when he allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings as the Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-1, in the second game of a doubleheader.
Bassitt, who spent the previous seven seasons pitching for the Oakland Athletics in the American League West, is 1-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) against the Mariners, whom he’s faced more than any other team.
–Field Level Media