What's new: Though the Mariners are playing out another lost season, they have some pieces to make things challenging for contenders. There's starter Hisashi Iwakuma — the Rays will miss Felix Hernandez — a bullpen that leads the majors in strikeouts per nine innings and home run power; Raul Ibanez has 26, Kyle Seager 22 and Kendrys Morales 18. Rookie middle infielders Nick Franklin and Brad Miller, both from the Orlando area, have been impressive. INF/OF Michael Morse was traded to Baltimore.
Key stat: The Mariners have hit a majors-most 26 homers in the first inning and an AL-most 19 in the ninth inning or later.
Connections: Rays coach Jamie Nelson played 40 games for the Mariners in 1983.
Series history: Rays lead 2-1 this season; Mariners lead 74-64 overall, 34-32 in Seattle.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer