Series Preview: Tampa Bay

Lou Piniella stole the sports headlines across the country earlier in the week when he lived up to his bet and died his hair blonde. Friday Piniella was the only topic in Seattle, where fans remember him for his incredible competitiveness, his fiery outbursts and his endless list of hilarious quotes. It figures to be a memorable three games as Mariners fans welcome Sweet Lou back to the Pacific Northwest.

Safeco Field
Seattle, WA

Seattle (56-34 overall, 25-19 home) 1st place: AL West
Tampa Bay (31-58 overall, 12-30 road) 5th place: AL East

Pitching Matchups:

Friday, July 11, 7:05 p.m. FSN
Seattle: Jamie Moyer (L) (11-5, 2.99 ERA)
Tampa Bay: Jeremi Gonzalez (R) (3-4, 4.12)

Saturday, July 12, 7:05 p.m. UPN
Seattle: Gil Meche (R) (10-4, 3.35)
Tampa Bay: Victor Zambrano (R) (5-4, 3.69)

Sunday, July 13, 1:05 p.m. FSN
Seattle: Joel Pineiro (R) (10-5, 3.32)
Tampa Bay: Jason Standridge (R) (0-4, 5.74)

Seattle comes into the Tampa Bay series reeling a bit, having played poorly as of late. The Mariners are only 14-14 in their last 28 games after a torrid start to the season.

Tampa Bay brings its young group of players across the country to Safeco Field. The Devil Rays have struggled mightily on the road, winning only 12 of 42 games away from Tropicana Field so far this season.

The Devil Rays batting average of .279 in July ranks third in the American League, as the additiion of infielder and former Mariner farmhand Antonio Perez has ignited the lineup.

Tampa Bay won three consecutive games - spanning from July 3-5 - for the first time this season. The feat caused Piniella to dye his hair; the manager had vowed to do the deed if his team could pull off the accomplishment at any time during the season.


Ichiro Suzuki has two hits in 8 of 9 games in July. In doing so, he's raised his average from .340 to .350.

Ben Davis has been right on seemingly every pitch thrown his way in July. He's started five games in the month, going 8-16. He went 3-4 Wednesday against Baltimore, then followed that performance with a 2-3 day versus the Orioles on Thursday.

Randy Winn and Edgar Martinez each had a nice week from the plate. Winn went 7-22 for a .318 average. Edgar was 7-23, hitting at a.304 clip.

Tampa Bay:
Rookie outfielder Rocco Baldelli has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games, and enters the series batting .308. His seven triples rank him third in the American League.

The Devil Rays are doing it with their youngsters; 21-year-old outfielder Carl Crawford is 9-21 over the past week with two doubles, a homerun and six RBI. Antonio Perez, who came over from Seattle in the Lou Pineilla/Randy Winn deal, got called up at the end of June and has batted .429 (6-14) in July. Perez is only 23.

Capital High product Travis Lee, a former No. 1 pick by Minnesota and Arizona, has had a solid month thus far. He's 10-33, but more impressively, is 7-22 over the past week.

Victor Zambrano lowered his ERA from 4.04 to 3.69 with eight scoreless innings against the White Sox on the Fourth of July. He didn't get a decision, however.


Jeff Cirillo's hot May is now long forgotten. The much criticized, light-hitting third baseman is just 2-26 (.115) in July. He batted only .211 in June and his season average is now dipping embarrassingly low, down to .218.

First baseman John Olerud had a tough week from the plate with only two hits in 14 at bats.

Freddy Garcia, who was the AL Pitcher of the Month in June, has been hit hard this month. In two outings and 13.1 innings, he's allowed 16 hits and 10 earned runs. Both appearances resulted in losses, dropping his mark to 9-8 for the year.

Tampa Bay:
3B Damian Rolls is just 5-23 in his past six games, batting at a .217 clip. Second baseman Marlon Anderson is one for his last 10, opening the door for Perez to make a statement at that position.

Jason Standridge is coming off a horrible start. He gave up eight hits and seven earned runs in two innings against the Chicago White Sox on July 6. It raised his season ERA from 3.99 to 5.74. Standridge will start Sunday against Seattle's Joel Pineiro.

Joe Kaiser is the publisher of He welcomes your thoughts and suggestions at

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