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Mariners, Nationals set to pack full series into one DH

Jul 12, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals grounds crew puts the tarp on the field before the game between the Washington Nationals and the Seattle Mariners at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Mariners, who carry an eight-game winning streak, face a sprint to the All-Star break, playing six road games in five days.

That stretch begins with a day-night doubleheader Wednesday against the host Washington Nationals. Seattle’s scheduled Tuesday game at Washington was postponed due to the threat of severe weather, leaving the entire two-game set now to be played in one day.

The Mariners might have more decisions regarding their pitching for the twin bill. They had been slated to go with a bullpen day to get through the Tuesday game, figuring there were extra pitchers available after both teams were off Monday.

Seattle hasn’t played since beating the visiting Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 on Sunday. After that game, manager Scott Servais said, “Chaos ball is back.”

Little did he know that there would be a different form of chaos with the schedule before another game was played.

Mariners right-hander Chris Flexen (5-8, 4.00 ERA), the scheduled Tuesday starter, will get the call in Game 1 on Wednesday. He has won each of his past three starts, with two of those on the road.

Seattle left-hander Tommy Milone (0-1, 3.60) is expected to open Game 2 on the mound. It will be his first start and sixth appearance of the season.

Flexen has never faced the Nationals, while Milone has superb career stats vs. Washington, his first major league club: 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in six games (five starts).

Also an issue for the Mariners is the status of outfielder Julio Rodriguez, who had a suspension stemming from the June 26 brawl with the Los Angeles Angels reduced from two games to one and was planning to serve that punishment on Tuesday. He figures to sit out one of the Wednesday games, and then all of the sanctioned Mariners will have served their suspensions.

Following the doubleheader, the Mariners must travel to Texas in advance of a Thursday game that opens a four-game series. It remains to be seen if the schedule will wear down a club that has 11 victories in its past 12 games.

“Credit to our guys; we’ve found a way to get through it,” Servais said, according to MLB.com. “We’ve persevered and found a way to win games.”

The Mariners’ staff will have to contend with Washington outfielder Juan Soto. The slugger is motivated to get his hitting stroke tuned up ahead of the Home Run Derby as part of All-Star festivities next week in Los Angeles.

“You can tell my last couple weeks, I’ve been feeling really good at the plate,” said Soto, who is 11-for-24 (.458) with three homers in nine games this month. “I’ve been hitting the ball to where I want, hitting to the other side of the field. It’s been working for me, and I hope it keeps working.”

Soto said last year’s appearance in the Home Run Derby helped catapult him to a strong conclusion to the season. He hopes there’s a repeat of that coming.

“It worked last year,” he said. “You see the second half that I had.”

On Wednesday, Washington will have right-handers Josiah Gray (7-5, 4.14) and Erick Fedde (5-6, 5.01) as its starting pitchers.

Gray is aiming to pick up a second consecutive victory for the fourth time this season. He will be pitching on six days of rest after beating the host Philadelphia Phillies on July 6, when he tossed six innings of two-run ball and struck out 11.

Fedde will try to make a personal turnaround after a Friday loss at Atlanta, where he surrendered eight runs in three-plus innings. He had lasted five or more innings in his previous five starts.

Fedde has been hurt by walks, issuing 40 in 82 2/3 innings. All of last year, he walked 48 in 133 1/3 innings.

Both Gray and Fedde will be facing the Mariners for the first time.

–Field Level Media