Seattle Mariners Sweep Tampa Bay Rays, Move Up In Wild Card Race And American League West Standings

The Seattle Mariners beat up on the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday (June 4), completing a series sweep in front of the Safeco Field crowd. The 7-1 victory was an important one for the Mariners, as it continued a trend of the team surging up the American League Wild Card standings.

Starting for the Mariners, Ariel Miranda pitched his first career complete game, giving up just four hits in his nine innings of work. Miranda improved to 6-2 on the season with this victory, lowering his ERA to just 3.74 in the process. During a season where the Mariners have suffered a number of injuries to starting pitchers, Miranda has emerged as one of the most important members of the staff.

Helping on offense were Nelson Cruz, Mike Zunino, and Danny Valencia, who each posted two more hits in this game. Cruz hit a first-inning homer for the Mariners, marking the 14th time he has left the yard this season. He raised his batting average to 0.297 and could be on a path to be the starting designated hitter for the AL at the All-Star Game this summer.

Mike Zunino, who has been working on his hitting with Edgar Martinez, continues to be hot at the plate for the Seattle Mariners. Zunino went 2-for-4 in this game, marking the fifth time in his last six games that the Mariners’ starting catcher has had at least two hits. While going 11-for-23 at the plate in that span, Zunino also has five extra-base hits and 11 RBIs.

This Seattle Mariners sweep makes the team winners in 7-of-8 games and keeps them on an upward swing. In the updated MLB standings, the Mariners moved into a tie with the Los Angeles Angels for second place in the American League West. At 28-30, the Mariners are still 13 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros for first place in the division, but fans are currently more interested in how the Wild Card race is progressing.

The Boston Red Sox (31-25) hold the first AL Wild Card spot, while the Baltimore Orioles (29-26) and Cleveland Indians (29-26) are tied for the second spot. This leaves the Mariners just two-and-a-half games out of a playoff spot, showing that the team could easily move up with a few more wins during this homestand. There had been a number of Seattle Mariners rumors about breaking up the team, but the recent success has quieted some of that talk.

After a much-deserved day off on Monday (June 5), the Mariners will continue the current homestand with three games against the Minnesota Twins and then three games against the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s an important time to take advantage of the schedule and put some more games in the win column. Following the homestand, the Mariners are back on the road for four games against the Twins and three against the Texas Rangers.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Mariners are finally starting to get healthy again. James Paxton just came off the disabled list, while Felix Hernandez and Mitch Haniger begin rehab assignments in the coming week. It will be huge for the team to get both starters back on the 25-man roster, but first, they will spend some time with the Tacoma Rainiers to get back to game speed. Tacoma fans should enjoy seeing them play there for about a week.

The Mariners still have a lot of work to do to get back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001 season, but this past week has given some heavy hints that the team is finally starting to put things together. Even though they lost starting shortstop Jean Segura to the disabled list with a high ankle sprain, key players like Mike Zunino are finally starting to do good things at the plate. If the team can keep putting together wins like they did against the Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays, the Seattle Mariners might soon be printing off playoff tickets again.

[Featured Image by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images]

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