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Nationals seek to slow visiting Mariners’ momentum

Jul 10, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Mariners first baseman Carlos Santana (41) points to the dugout as he runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams with completely different recent results are matched up in interleague play this week.

The Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals open a rare series Tuesday night in Washington, D.C.

Seattle is riding an eight-game winning streak and has scored five or more runs in five of its last six contests.

That’s a good stretch but no reason to get carried away, Mariners skipper Scott Servais cautioned.

“We’re not there yet,” he said.

The extremes have gone in the other direction for the Nationals, who’ve lost four in a row and 10 of their last 11 games. Washington absorbed a three-game sweep at Atlanta, capped by Sunday’s 4-3 defeat in 12 innings.

After both teams were off Monday, this is a two-game set.

The Mariners are on a 16-3 run since June 21, the organization’s best three-week stretch since 2003.

Carlos Santana provided Seattle with three home runs in the last two games against Toronto over the weekend.

“Everything is positive right now, so we have to keep it up,” Santana said. “Everything is great.”

The Nationals have been stymied frequently on offense by double-play grounders.

“We’ve got to start driving in runs with guys on third base with less than two outs,” Washington manager Davey Martinez said. “You’ve got to start hitting the ball in the air in certain moments in the game. Especially in those situations like that where one run either way you could either win or lose with one run.”

All of Washington’s runs Sunday came on a pinch-hit, three-run home run from Lane Thomas.

“That great swing and he sat back there and really got his hands through and got the ball up in the air,” Martinez said. “When he does that, he’s really good so that was definitely encouraging.”

Right-hander Josiah Gray (7-5, 4.14 ERA) goes to the mound for the Nationals looking to pick up his second consecutive win. He owns the only Washington victory this month with last Wednesday’s six-inning, 11-strikeout outing at Philadelphia.

Right-hander Chris Flexen (5-8, 4.00) gets the call for the Mariners, looking to build on his recent roll. He has won his last three starts, with two of those on the road.

Seattle lost its first five road games when Flexen started but that has turned around. That comes in part because Flexen has yielded just one homer in his last four road assignments.

This will be the first time either of the starting pitchers has faced this particular opponent.

Even with Sunday’s extra-inning game, the Nationals should be in good shape with their bullpen. Plus, reliever Hunter Harvey has come off the injured list and been added to the roster.

Meanwhile, the Mariners could have extra motivation from first baseman Ty France, who wasn’t a selection for the All-Star Game despite a .306 batting average, 25 extra-base hits and 45 RBIs.

“Hopefully, he will still get in (as a replacement player),” Servais said. “But very disappointed that he did not get in.”

–Field Level Media