What's new: The Mariners (28-27) have used their solid starting pitching, anchored by American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, to pull within 11/2 games of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. Seattle fell 2-1 to the Orioles on Wednesday at Safeco Field but have nonetheless won 11 of 14 and 12 of 16. Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is batting .276, an off year so far by his standards. Former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan has added punch to the top of their lineup.
Key stat: 3B Chone Figgins, a Tampa native, is batting .190 with 12 RBIs and was benched for Wednesday's game against the Orioles.
Local connections: Figgins is a former Brandon High star. Rays 1B Casey Kotchman played for the Mariners last season, then became a free agent and signed with Tampa Bay.
Series history: The Mariners lead all-time 65-50, but the Rays went 7-2 against Seattle in 2010.
Rick Stroud, Times staff writer