What's new: The M's come to town on a roll, having won five straight over the Tigers, Yankees and Braves. The success under new manager Lloyd McClendon has been a team effort, with strong starting pitching, a solid (though occasionally adventurous) bullpen led by former Ray Fernando Rodney and an offense that has been productive despite a lower batting average than the Rays, anchored by former Yankees star Robinson Cano. 3B Kyle Seager has been hot lately.
Key stat: The Mariners are at the last stop on a road trip in which they will fly 6,000 miles, part of their MLB-most 51,540 for the season.
Connections: Mariners relievers Joe Beimel and Rodney are former Rays, hitting coach Howard Johnson was a Clearwater High star, C Mike Zunino is a former Gator. Rays pitchers Erik Bedard and Josh Lueke are former Mariners.
Series history: Rays lead 2-1 this season; M's lead 77-67 overall, 35-32 at Trop.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer