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Tampa Bay Rays: Anyone but the Mariners, please

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ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - AUGUST 04: Ji-Man Choi #26 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after scoring in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field on August 04, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - AUGUST 04: Ji-Man Choi #26 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after scoring in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field on August 04, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
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First, let it be said that the Tampa Bay Rays fear no man or group of men.

Having said that, please, Lord, don’t let our opponents be the Seattle Mariners.

A week ago, it seemed highly likely that the Wild Card showdown would be between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Now, however, in the final weekend of regular-season play the Yankees are ahead by one game for the first Wild Card spot.

For the second spot, the Boston Red Sox have a one-game edge over the Seattle Mariners, and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Of the Eastern Division teams, a Rays fan can confidently expect the Rays would emerge victoriously. The Rays were 11-8 against the Red Sox in the regular season and 9-7 against the Yankees. They were also 11-8 against Toronto.  Against Seattle, however, the news was not as good.

The Mariners could be a bad playoff opponent for the Rays

The Rays went 1-6 against the Mariners this season, and the Rays’ win came in their last meeting.

Seattle took the first six games over the Rays. including six at Seattle and two in Tampa, until the Rays took a 4-3 victory in the last game of a homestand.

Rays’ bats have not been very productive against the Mariners. Randy Arozarena leads the list with a .385 average, three homers, and six RBI against Seattle, and Manuel Margot had a .333 average. After that, the top average was .250 (both Nelson Cruz and Joey Wendle).

There were 10 Rays players at .208 or lower, including Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe, and Wander Franco, among others.

The pitching side was not much better. Michael Wacha’s two starts resulted in two losses and a 12.91 ERA. The four other losses were by JP Feyereisen, Pete Fairbanks, Luis Patino, and, ironically, Diego Castillo before he was traded to Seattle for fellow reliever JT Chargois.

Starters for Seattle Chris Flexen and Yusei Kikuchi were 1-0 and 2-0, respectively, against the Rays and are both still in the rotation.  The .269 batting average that Rays’ hitters had against Flexen was the highest against any Mariners pitcher.

Offensively, Mariners’ hitters did much better than did the Rays. Infielder Ty France had three homers, six RBI, and scored six runs while batting .370 against the Rays this season.  Shortstop JP Crawford also had good production against the Rays.

In the end, the Rays scored 21 runs in those seven games, the Mariners scored 38.  The Mariners are a classic example of having another team’s “number.”  Entering this season, the Rays were 36-55 all-time against the Mariners.

It’s one of those anomalies in baseball.  It is also the reason we are rooting for anyone but Seattle to win the Wild Card race.

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